Having walked on Praa (pronounced pray) Sands without a coat in December, it is true and easy to say it is a beautifully warm, sheltered spot. With its blindingly white sand against a turquoise sea, it could be the Caribbean. The surrounding area is wonderful, too. It lies within the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The beach, between Penzance and Helston, is but a short stroll from the car park, so if you fancy a fabulous beach-based holiday, Praa may be the place for you.
By car, it is simple. Take the A30, until you reach Newtown roundabout, Penzance, where you turn onto the first exit, the A394. Follow signs.
By rail, take the train to Penzance Station via Exeter, then catch a bus from Penzance bus station. The journey only takes 23 minutes but they do not run very frequently (4 hourly).
The car park is at the western end of the beach, where most people congregate, but you don’t have to walk far to get away from it all. The Hendra end is pretty quiet.
The best places to eat at Praa Sands are limited. It is very much a beach rather than a resort. What is available is the lovely Sandbar, which overlooks the beach with panoramic views of the ocean. The food is Cornish local produce, with a Mediterranean twist and they also stock a wide variety of drinks. It also has a pool table and air hockey, perfect for entertaining the children while waiting for your food. The Beachcomber Cafe offers lovely cream teas, milkshakes and hot food, accompanied by a cracking view.
Or there is The Boathouse Bar and Restaurant which is located in a holiday park.
Praa Sands is a beach resort, perfect for building sandcastles, so for other fun, you need to step further afield. Try the Lizard Lighthouse Heritage Centre at Helston, Porthcurno Telegraph Museum, or Geevor Tin Mine – they will learn something new and exciting at each one. Of course, if the weather is good and they are outdoorsy souls, then buckets and spades, surfing and other water sports will easily fill their days.
Try the Lizard Lighthouse Heritage Centre at Helston, Porthcurno Telegraph Museum, or Geevor Tin Mine – they will learn something new and exciting at each one. Of course, if the weather is good and they are outdoorsy souls, then buckets and spades, surfing and other water sports will easily fill their days.
Try guided Coasteering Adventures for family and small groups from Praa Sands, if you fancy an adrenaline hike, while discovering one of Cornwall’s most spectacular stretches of coastline. Kernow Coasteering will give you a chance to experience the wild side of Cornwall, a company which has been running coasteering at Praa Sands since 2014.
Surfing is also very popular here. It is the south coast’s premier surfing beach for both beginners and experienced surfers – the waves can be quite powerful so if you are starting out, a surf school is a good idea. Try out Global Boarders by booking a lesson to see if surfing is for you.
Within 4 miles is the Andrew Giddens Cornish Art Gallery at Perranuthnoe. His paintings are inspired by the Cornish coast and the incredible Cornish light, so well worth a viewing. Otherwise, galleries are at Penzance, or even pop up to St Ives.
The beach is a mile long, a truly romantic Cornish idyll, especially out of season. Its white, tropical-style sand is made from sparkly seashells that have been pulverised by waves over millions of years. It has the bonus of being sheltered, for it is backed by sand dunes, located within the south-west facing bend between Penwith and the Lizard (perfect for beach volleyball).
You can soak up the sun here on the vast expanse of beach, build sandcastles, paddle in the shallows and even surf further out. The winter waves are particularly spectacular, with powerful surf. Lifeguards patrol the beach peak season, so it is perfect for families to have safe fun in the sun. Please note that there is a seasonal dog ban.
People do not really go to Praa Sands for the shopping, as it is really a flippers, snorkels and flip-flop vibe, but there is a surf/beach shop called Stonesreef, a fish and chip shop, post office and general stores to cover any essentials.
Book a tour of Pengersick Castle. It is said to be haunted, but that may have been a myth put out by smugglers to keep people away. The bedroom in the tower is said to be one of the most haunted rooms and look out for the ghost of a black-robed monk whose restless soul wanders the grounds.
There are lots of walks around Folly Rocks. The South West Coast Path offers short strolls through smuggling and wrecking areas, with some of the best views in Cornwall; there is also plenty of fascinating local history on their website. Praa is an ideal location from which to explore Mount’s Bay and the Lizard Peninsula. To the east is the high cliff scenery of Rinsey Head, with its impressive engine houses.
On the green behind the beach (towards the middle) is a memorial to the crew of a British seaplane which crash landed here in 1943. The plane was heavily damaged by German planes over the Bay of Biscay, 800 miles away, but the pilot amazingly managed to get the plane home without loss of life, and the crew was cared for by kind villagers.
The climate here is mild, but prone to rain. Rain is the lowest in June, and highest in November. July is the hottest month of the year and February is the coldest. But these are only averages, and Praa has been delightfully sunny and warm in December.
Toilets are situated near the slipway, by the car park.
Praa Sands offers sandy beaches, famous Cornish attractions and great food in the area.