St Ives, Cornwall; there’s nowhere in the UK quite like it. Year on year, visitors are compelled to return to their favourite beaches and natural landmarks, or discover for the first time a whole host of outdoor activities. Is it the scenery; the wildlife? Or is it the opportunities for family-friendly fun?
Whatever it is that attracts tourists to St Ives and its surrounding area, there’s little wonder with so much to see and do. First-off, the beaches; and they’re as suited to sunbathing and swimming (well, if you’re here in the summer) as they are to extreme sports. Few activities allow you to appreciate Cornwall’s wide, open sands as power kiting—a rather windy and wild affair on the shore—and if you’ve ever fancied coasteering, Cornwall’s cliffs and clear waters make for perfect conditions. With Vertical Descents, even beginners can get to grips with wetsuits, waves and wild days out: just check their site for details.
All a little too adrenalin-filled? Don’t worry: there are four main beaches in St Ives itself (Porthmeor, Porthgwidden, Porthminster and the Harbour), and you can make the most of them in other ways, too. Try your hand at bodyboarding at Porthmeor, enjoy a brisk walk along the shore of Porthgwidden, watch the boats bob in the pretty Harbour or splash around in the sea at Porthminster; if you’re brave enough! In the unlikely event that you tire of all that sand and surf, Cool Places offers some great ideas for alternatives—and it’s always handy to have a back-up in case the British weather does its worst! From the Royal Cinema to Leach Pottery, there are a host of attractions for a rainy day (or two).
Of course, it doesn’t have to be wet for you to want to wind down; in fact, there are plenty of reasons in St Ives to do so. Head to the Tate Gallery where you’ll take in contemporary art exhibitions (most artists attempt to capture the magic of the coastal environment), or peruse the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Gardens, with their subtropical plants and masterful sculptures. If little ones are itching for something more suited to their tastes, there are chocolate-making workshops, puppet panto’s and visits to Santa’s grotto to consider; taking place every weekend throughout December, simply check St Ives in December for more events and festivities.
Once you’ve explored on land, it’ll be time to find your sea legs at the Harbour: from here, you can take a number of trips to local landmarks, dotted along St Ives Bay. There’s Godrevy Lighthouse (made famous in Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse), Seal Island (this one’s pretty self-explanatory!), and lastly, but by no means least, the ominously named Hell’s Mouth. This is an incredible destination along the South West Coastal Path, its cliffs standing 88 metres high and home to fulmars, guillemots, kittiwakes and razorbills. Make sure to bring the camera, but stay safe: no number of beginner’s surfing lessons could prepare you for these surges!
Come evening, and St Ives’ crashing coast gives way to a more serene setting: even on chilly evenings, its winding cobbled streets and quaint fishermen’s cottages are made all the more lovely by the charming buzz about the town. Delicious scents of freshly cooked fish fill the air, and the shops open late for post-dinner strolls. If it all gets a bit too blustery, why not book a ticket to see Dick Whittington at St Ives Theatre? It’ll be running on the 21, 22, 27, 28 and 29 December at 2pm and 6.30pm every day. With all this and yet so much more, it’s little wonder the website All About Cornwall lists St Ives as the top-rated place to visit in Cornwall. Bringing the pooch along? Then check out their Cornwall Dog Guide; or, for more great ideas about what to see, do and experience in this stunning part of Cornwall this winter, simply check out their website. Find our great selection of holiday homes in St Ives.
Sophie Gackowski is a freelance travel writer based in Scotland. While she loves nothing more than jetting off to exotic places, she knows all too well the beauty to be found in and around her home in Britain.