Perranporth Beach - great for surfing and dogs

We’ve been to many places in Cornwall over the years, our favourite usually being the serene village of Malpas, just outside of Truro and right on the river. It’s the kind of place you can while away the hours with a cup of tea looking at the landscape and also within easy distance of lots of great beaches and pubs. We love The Heron, in the village and you can’t beat The Pandora at Restronguet Creek for river side pints and crabbing (there are millions) for the kids off the pontoon. Even better if you’ve hired a boat from Mylor or have one of your own as you can tie up right at the pub (don’t forget to check the tides) It’s five minutes from Truro, which is great if you fancy some shopping and not far from great beaches at St Agnes, Gwithian, Perranporth, Holywell, Porthcurnick (home to The Hidden Hut) and an easy drive to Falmouth, one of our favourite places for a wander and the Maritime museum is always a hit with the kids.  It’s a really great place to holiday.

Looking out over Truro River towards the Fal


Since Covid, however, our usual house  has had long lets in, and as we didn’t like the thought of being there without being in our favourite spot, we’ve ventured to pastures new of late, last year having an amazing week in Sennen Cove and this year saw us stay for the first time in Perranporth.  

It’s a beach we’ve been to for surfing quite a few times over the years, but we’ve never actually stayed there. We were looking for somewhere last minute and had the luck of grabbing a spot just ten metres from the sand at The Dunes apartments, and even better it was a cancellation so there was a useful discount on it too – thank you Beach Retreats!

What we didn’t bank on was our car breaking down on the very first day, rendering us stuck and unable to get out and explore. We’re usually a different-kind-of-beach-every-day family, so it was a novel experience being on the same one for 6 days straight; as it turned out, it couldn’t have mattered less, and we found it a great spot for the age and stage of our kids, plus the dog loved it.


The Beach

If you know Perranporth, you probably think of Chapel Rock - the big rock with a flag on top in the middle of the beach. The lower centre of the rock is home to a tidal pool and is a great place for a swim or for kids to potter about and is easily accessible at low tide when the beach opens up to stretch some three miles and merge with Perran Sands. With great caves, rock formations and rocks pools over at Droskyn Point as well, this beach has a bit of everything.

Chapel Rock
View from the footpath above Perranporth Beach
Rock formations and caves and Droskyn Point

The two things that initially brought us to this beach are surfing and dogs. Perranporth is one of the few beaches where dogs are allowed on the sand all day in the summer months – they do have to be on leads from 10am-5pm , but it’s massively helpful knowing that you can take them out and we were pleasantly surprised that, from what we could see, the owners were all diligent in cleaning up after them. Best though, was being able to nip down first and last thing in the day when the crowds had gone and the beach was empty. If that happened to be timed with low tide, even better.

In terms of surfing, there are a number of surf schools to choose from and places to rent boards. We love Bathsheba for a super friendly, family run surf shop. We’ve got everything from wetsuits, towelling robes, t-shirts, hoodies and boards from them over the years. Another wetsuit was needed for the eldest this year, so it was great to hear from them that they’ll trade in wetsuits bought instore; perfect for the ever-growing kids. There’s a load of other shops up St Pirran Road, as well as Perranporth Surf School on the beach, who are great. You can also rent a foamie from under Alcatraz, which is right on the beach, for about £15. We did this for our eldest one day as he normally shares with his dad. He’s been moving more away from body boarding in the last couple of years and Perranporth was perfect for him to practice popping up in the shallows. It’s RNLI lifeguarded as well.


The Apartment

We loved our apartment in The Dunes, super comfy and spotlessly clean. The location was incredible, right on the beach, which was ideal for the age of our kids, as we could let them wander into town or to the beach café together without having to worry. They could also head back from the surf on their own and we were close enough that we could even watch their dad catching waves through the binoculars. I also loved that we could pop back for lunch. The beach was busy, particularly by the town and it was lovely to be able to choose the quieter times to head out.


The Town

The main stretch of shops is up St Pirran road. A mix of surf shops, homewares and gift shops, a butcher, post office and two well stocked co-ops. It’s a great place for a wander and the kids particularly liked looking at all the nick nacks in the gift shops. My weakness is Atlantic Blankets – I have 5 already and still find it hard to resist each time I pass by. Everyone is really friendly and there is a great buzzy vibe without feeling too hectic, which we really liked. If you’re up for more activities there’s a golf club, boating lake and some beautiful coastline walks and riding on the beach as well.


We didn’t eat out a lot at all and really made use of the fact that we could keep popping back to the flat. The butcher was great for a rotisserie chicken for lunchtime sandwiches and served my eldest’s  favourite pasties. I personally preferred Alcatraz’s, a great café on the beach with a roof top perfect for sunset drinks or just whiling away the day. My daughter loved the smoothies from there too.

The one place we did eat out and can wholly recommend was The Summer House. I really loved that this restaurant is completely owned and run by women. The staff are all super friendly, dogs are very welcome and I can confirm the fish tacos and burgers were delish. We both loved the Verdant Lager and they also stock Lucky Saint, which is my favourite Zero.

If you’re lucky to grab a spot on the balcony as the sun goes down it’s a pretty epic place for a couple of drinks and a game of cards.

Fish Tacos from The Summer House

I must also mention The Watering Hole, the UK’s only bar on the beach and where Tunes in the Dunes originated from. They often have live dj’s and bands playing, and it's a great place for a drink with your toes in the sand.

The verdict

We had a great week and if we had to break down, being somewhere with shops, where you can walk to the surf was a complete bonus.  Would we stay there again? Yes definitely. For the age and stage of kids we’re at, the popping in and out was great,  I did miss the variety of driving around to different beaches each day (though no one could have foreseen the broken down car) and I can’t deny that it was busy, which Cornwall always is in the summer, and as the week went on the numbers definitely got higher. We didn’t need to worry about parking this year though, which was great; I remember from years gone by that the car park does get busy in summer, so if you go for a day trip, get there early!

I’d personally love to go back in autumn, which is  my favourite time of year anywhere, but especially in Cornwall. I love a chilly but sunny autumn day when the beaches are quieter. It’s a great time to explore the different beaches and I actually love the car park wetsuit dance of trying to get changed and feeling so cosy when you’ve got the jumper on. Even better if you’ve made a thermos of Horlicks (old school) and you have it out the boot of the car. Whether it’s a full week or a day trip, we’ll definitely be back.

Horlicks out the boot after an autumn surf