Carbis Bay sits just north of beautiful St Ives on the west coast of Cornwall. Recently it was in the spotlight for the G7 Summit, and we understand why it was chosen for such a prestigious event… it’s a truly special part of the world.
Less known than nearby St Ives, Carbis Bay’s best attribute is its stunning sandy beach, privately-owned, this 25-acre Blue Flag and Seaside-Awarded Cornish beach is one of Cornwall’s finest, and is ideally suited to families.
If driving, you can either take the motorway (M5) to Exeter, or take the more scenic A303 route (this does tend to build traffic, particularly during the summer months). With either route you’ll end up on the A30, the dual carriageway that runs across Cornwall. For Carbis Bay, you need the A3074 to reach your destination.
If you’re driving to West Cornwall in a plug-in electric vehicle, see our list of charging locations here.
If you wanted to fly, the nearest airport is Newquay Airport, but it’s almost an hour away. Flying time from London to Newquay is approximately 1 hour 10 minutes.
The train is an option too. It is probably faster and easier to take a train from London Paddington, or Birmingham or Bristol, on the line to Penzance, changing at St Erth station for Carbis Bay. It’ll take you between 5-6 hours, which is similar to driving.
There is one small car park by the beach, but as you can imagine it’s always very busy.
Porthrepta car park is run by Cornwall Council, there’s 180 parking spaces, parking charges start at £1.10 for an hour and £4.20 for 24 hours, or £29.30 for the week. This is quite large and considerably cheaper than the beach car park, but there is a 5-10 minute steep walk down to the beach so it’s not suitable for all.
Another option is to make use of the park and ride system during the peak months and park at either St Erth (the beginning of the St Ives Bay Line) or at Lelant Saltings station (with over 500 parking spaces between 2 car parks). You’ll need to buy a parking ticket and a train ticket. The trains run about every half hour and is a wonderfully scenic journey.
For guests that like to eat out, Carbis Bay has plenty to choose from.
The Gannet Inn, sister hotel of Carbis Bay Hotel, is an award-winning restaurant set back on the St Ives Road, which features classic British recipes with a modern twist, all dishes are packed full of locally- sourced ingredients from the finest Cornish producers. Closer to the sea, appealing to those with international tastes, but also bringing in the British classics is Walter’s on the Beach. Open for lunch, dinner, bar snacks and a tasty cocktail menu, the restaurant overlooks the white sandy beach. Next door, however, is all about the finest of dining. MasterChef finalist, British chef and restaurateur Adam Handling made his mark in Carbis Bay in 2021 launching Ugly Butterfly. Using locally sourced, quality ingredients, diners can expect beautifully presented dishes which are packed full of flavour – complemented by one of the finest beachside views.
Spain comes to Cornwall with La Casita, a warm Spanish eatery. Expect tapas style dishes, delicious paella and sangria. If you’re looking for something a little more traditional then it’s tough to beat Beck’s Fish and Chips, who offer both a dine-in and takeaway service. Why not take them down to beach for the true Cornish experience. For another traditional option, The Cornish Arms is a charming pub, you’ll find all the pub classics on the menu and a welcoming atmosphere.
The Bean Inn is a vegetarian and vegan restaurant and their plates are always full of colour. They also offer a takeaway and meal kit service. Una Kitchen has something delicious to offer whatever your palate. With a Mediterranean-inspired menu, from the freshest fish to wood-fired pizzas it’s bound to be a hit.
A little further out (roughly 2 miles) towards St Ives, but well worth the trip is the ‘small plate’ experience at Porthminster Kitchen, overlooking the beach.
The beautiful sandy beach with gentle turquoise sea is the obvious choice for a bucket and spade day out with kids. Carbis Bay is the perfect spot for younger ones to try bodyboarding.
If you’ve a train enthusiast on your hands, then a trip on the St Ives Bay Line is a must. The train only takes 3 minutes so you may want to go further up the line to take in more views.
Ocean Sports Centre at Carbis Bay is AALS (Adventurous Activity Licensing Service) approved and offers a host of specialist watersports adventures, such as Hawaiian canoeing, outrigging and foiling (hydrofoils). Fear not, they also lessons in surfing, paddleboarding and kayaking so there is sure to be something there you have never tried before.
While Carbis Bay is full of inspiration, you’ll need to travel to nearby St Ives to get your gallery fix, for there are plenty there. The Tate St Ives is one of only four Tate galleries in the UK and St Ives is renowned for its light that has inspired artists for generations.
Aerial view of Tate St Ives © Kirstin Prisk
Carbis Bay’s beach is one of Cornwall’s finest; a Blue Flag award, meaning it is super-clean. A rarity around these parts, the beach has little surf (more like ripples) and is sheltered from the wind. Perfect for families with young children, the water is just right for swimming, and usually free of surfers/body boarders. On a hot summer’s day, you could almost be in the Caribbean with warm azure seas and white – gold sand. If you prefer to sunbathe and relax, the spotlessly clean beach is around a mile long. With a beautifully clear sea, this fine beach is quiet; wonderful, too, for a sunset walk.
If you tire of Carbis Bay, Porthkidney is a good alternative beach, with its vast sandy landscape. It’s an all-year dog-friendly beach with no restrictions, so perfect for your four-legged friends.
Carbis Bay isn’t known for its shopping, you’ll need to head to St Ives for its collection of fabulous independent shops.
For adults, check in to the newly enhanced C Bay Spa at Carbis Bay Hotel. Unwind and soak up the bubbles in the hydropool, embrace a seaweed wrap or a Lava Shell massage and enjoy the heated outdoor swimming pool and sauna pod with panoramic views of the bay.
If you have kids to entertain, about 25 minutes away is Gwel an Mor, in Portreath, home to Base Camp. An indoor activity centre with climbing walls and soft play galore. It is open to all 7 days a week, 9 am – 9 pm for those aged 4 to adulthood. With over 2,000 square feet of soft play, the only ‘clip’n’climb’ climbing walls in West Cornwall, plus free access to iPads and tablets in the Cafe, Base Camp offers hours of indoor fun.
Not far from Carbis Bay is Lelant, a small quaint village steeped in charm that offers beautiful views back over the Hayle Estuary. The artist, John Miller, was inspired by the views from his Lelant Beach House and produced many works. It’s also famed for its access to wildlife. Wigeons, Teals, Oystercatchers and Little Egrets are just a few of the birds to be found here by keen ornithologists.
A little further afield, roughly 10 miles away is Polgoon Vineyard, where you can enjoy a self-guided or guided tour. From its first wine harvest in 2006, now Polgoon has a wide range of award-winning sparkling and still wines, ciders and juices sold across the country.
Carbis Bay to St Ives is a 2 miles or 4.5 mile circular walk. Start your walk from Carbis Bay train station and follow the path all the way to Porthmeor Beach, home to Tate St Ives and an excellent beach cafe too. You can extend it when the tide’s out by walking along the sand to Porthgwidden or make it a loop and head back to Carbis Bay in-land, via Trelyon Downs and Steeple Woods nature reserve.
Carbis Bay landed itself on the map, when Cornwall was selected to host the G7 summit. Cornwall was chosen because of its green technology credentials and Carbis Bay is also an incredibly environmentally friendly place to stay.
Carbis Bay beach was also one of the dramatic Cornish backdrops to feature in the final series of BBC’s historical drama, Poldark.
As with most of Cornwall the best time to visit Carbis Bay is during the summer season, the hottest months tend to be from June to September.
Toilets are located just before the beach, opposite the café.
With a beautiful golden sandy beach, blue skies and palm trees, what more could you want...