Cornwall is possibly the best place to kitesurf in the UK and boasts some world-class locations when the wind conditions are right. It has the largest area of coastline in England, nine river estuaries and over 300 beaches. It would take too long to write about all of them, but here are eight of the best Cornwall kite beaches that you may want to check out if heading down with your kite.
To get the lowdown on the best Cornwall kite beaches we asked local kite expert, Timo of Mobius Kite School his favourites. Being a thoroughly helpful chap, and a great kite instructor, he not just told us his favorites but wrote the below guide to each.
Guide to eight of the best Cornwall kite beaches
Whether you’re just a first time flyer or a sponsored kitesurfing pro there is something to challenge everyone in Cornwall. As with most beaches in the UK, high tide leaves little space, so don’t go to any of these locations at least two hours either side of the high-tide. Some beaches have further restrictions so please read them carefully, as failure to adhere to them could jeopardize the future of kitesurfing at the location.
Also please make sure that you have valid insurance of at least £5 million. Instant worldwide cover is available online from the BKSA for only £33. This covers all kite activities, even snowkiting, and as with any adventure sport accidents can happen so by having valid insurance you are covered.
Daymer Bay (and Hawkers)
Starting with the most northerly beach in this guide, we have Daymer Bay. Located at the river mouth, just up from Rock and Padsteins, here you’ll find a truly awesome spot offering flat shallow water for everyone to play in. Daymer works best when the wind blows from the NW, out in the river it also works on a northerly.
The main danger is the river currents and the tidal flow so don’t head out of your swimming distance and avoid spring tides. Daymer has a car park right near the beach where you can check out the conditions before getting suited up. Watch out for the guy at the gate who will not only charge for a parking ticket but also a launching fee. This beach has a kite-flying ban in place in July and August between 10am and 6pm.
Tide: never go tw0-hours either side of high tide
Hazards: strong current in river, passing boats and very busy beach in the summer
Wind direction: N and NW (NE over the other side at Hawkers)
Restrictions: no kite-flying in July and August between 10am to 6pm
Just further down the coast from Daymer, about ten-minutes above Newquay, and close to Newquay airport, lies the most famous kitesurfing location in the UK, Watergate Bay. The BKSA tour visits this two and a half-mile long beach annually and it hosted the first European championship a few years back. The place has plenty of room for everyone to fly and has a complete range of facilities right on the slipway.
Sail here on a prevailing SW and if it veers W, NW or even N it is still safe to stay out. Big Atlantic swells do come in quite often, so be ready to turn quickly if you’re trying to get out the back and they start dwarfing you. Don’t let this put you off if you’re still learning the ropes though, it is still safe to stay on the inside and play on the large flat sheets of water where it remains shallow.
Getting upwind then becomes a little tricky and you usually end up sat on the beach once the water has retreated. Main dangers are a small strip of rocks, just to the right of the beach when looking out to sea, and the high cliffs that effect the wind if you get to close. No restrictions, but kitesurfers are directed to walk up the beach to the quieter areas before setting up.
Tide: never go two hours either side of high tide or when the water touches the rocks
Hazards: small strip of rocks just below the high-water line can get big swell, and there are big cliffs
Wind direction: N, NW, W, and SW
Restrictions: no restrictions but you should walk to the ends of the beach before going out
Perranporth (Perran Sands and Penhale)
The other side of Newquay there is another expansive beach called Perranporth, another of the best Cornwall kite beaches. It is slightly longer than Watergate, stretching three-miles, and has sand dunes at one end. As it is very exposed, it allows you to kitesurf on a SW, W, NW and N. There are two ends you can park, the main sea front car park in Perranporth or the Penhale car park at the back of the Perran Sands Campsite.
There are no facilities at the Penhale end of the beach, but as there are sand dunes at the top and not cliffs, it means that you can often get a bit more time on the water before the tide comes in and it is much quieter in the summer. The hike back up the dunes is a bit of a killer with all your kit, but it’s still worth it.
At the town end there are restricted zones marked on the lifeguard signs. The zone starts at the flat rocks just past the lifeguard hut, and ends at the next life-guarded area at the penhale end of the beach. The second life-guarded area is usually only open during the peak holiday months from 10.00 – 17.00, so for the most of the year you have a two-mile uninterrupted playground. The restrictions are in place all year, so even if the beach is dead please stay in the right area.
Tide: never go two hours either side of high tide or when the water touches flat rocks
Hazards: can get big Atlantic swell out the back
Wind direction: N, NW, W, and SW
Restrictions: zoning marked on the lifeguard signs. The zoning is enforced all year so please stay in the right areas. For more info contact Mobius Kiteschool 01637 831383
Gwithians (and Godrevy)
The last of the Titans is Gwithians, located in St Ives bay about 30-minutes down the coast. This beach is the longest continuous piece of sand in Cornwall but it is named differently depending upon where you park up. The Gwithians section is up near the lighthouse end, named after the nearby village. Gwithians works on N, NW, W and SW and just like Watergate and Perranporth it is a great spot for wave riding, making it one of the best Cornwall kite beaches.
The car park is situated on top of the cliffs so you get a perfect view of riders already out and can make sure the wind is right. As usual, make sure you avoid high tide. There are a couple of big rocks that you need to pinpoint before the water covers them and the water tends to come right up to the cliffs on big tides. If you keep to the North-end towards Godrevy you can sometimes stay out longer but it generally gets busy with holidaymakers and surfers. There are no restrictions as yet so lets keep it this way by being considerate to all other beach users. There is also a café for refreshments.
Tide: never go two-hours either side of high tide or when the water touches the rocks
Hazards: another big wave location and two big rocks below the high-tide line
Wind direction: N, NW, W, and SW
Restrictions: no restrictions as yet, so make sure you stay in a clear area
Hayle (a.k.a. The Bluff) is also located in St Ives bay and, like Daymer bay, is another river estuary providing flat shallow water as well as some swell where the water deepens. This is regarded by some people as amongst the best Cornwall kite beaches, but you can only go there when the wind is N, NW or NE.
Again, as with all river mouths, there are strong currents so keep in the shallows where you can stand up to launch your kite and retrieve your board. Often boards are lost here, so please be courteous by helping pick up run-aways. The river changes course and depths frequently as the sand banks relocate so keep in the water where your fins don’t bottom-out or you will be eating sand.
You will see a line of telegraph posts down the other side that marks a boats passageway and no kitesurfing is permitted in this channel without joining the local Kernow Kitesurf Club. Once the tide fills all the lagoons the water also becomes choppier as it is no longer sheltered by sand, it is then time to pack up and go for a pint in The Bluff Inn (where you get your car park money back if you produce your ticket when you buy a drink). Club members get free parking further down the estuary as part of the membership.
Tide: never go two hours either side of high tide
Hazards: strong current in river, passing boats and a few telegraph posts
Wind direction: NE, N, and NW (gusty on W so please don’t go there then)
Restrictions: no kitesurfing in the river unless you are a Kernow Kitesurf Club member (membership is only £10 if you are a BKSA member)
Marazion (and Longrock)
The next beach involves hopping across to the south coast. Only fifteen-minutes away, Marazion is home to the historic island of St Michael’s Mount, making it a nice backdrop for pictures. You will pull up right next to a small wall that separates the beach from the tarmac – obviously concrete being at the top of the beach has dangerous consequences as well as the positives of not having to walk too far.
Always pick the clearest area to pump-up, and you may want to wear booties when walking down over the coarse sand to where the beach levels out. Swell tends to be smaller here than on the north coast but the S, SW or SE winds can still generate messy breaks for you to contend with. Mobius tend to teach their students a little way down the beach towards the village of Marazion, but recreational kitesurfers park near the sea wall.
Further up the beach towards Penzance is an outlet pipe and also Longrock beach. Some kitesurfers will head over there for flatter conditions but there is the odd small rock and thick kelp so local knowledge should be sought. Getting the tide right here is the most important factor as once the waves hit the steeper bank it creates a lovely shore break that destroys kites. There is a pay and display car park that has a pub, toilets and Jordan’s Café where you can buy tasty panninis.
Tide: never go two-hours plus either side of high tide or when the water is on the steep bank
Hazards: road and seawall at the top of beach, coarse sand so booties recommended and big shore dump if good swell and near high tide
Wind direction: SE, S, and SW
Restrictions: no restrictions but please do not kitesurf at high tide right next to the sea wall
Further on from Marazion, the beaches become smaller and more dangerous with The Lizard only having tiny rocky coves. The next place is called Pentewan just a few miles south of St Austell on the Mevagissy road. E wind is required here but you can also sail on a NE and SE. A campsite privately owns this beach, so access is only given to those who stay there.
If you just want to kite, then you have to park in the village and walk through, make sure you check the conditions first from the beach, as it will be sheltered in the car park. The beach is similar to Marazion, so booties are good and a shore break builds up when the tide hits the steep shelved sandbank. There is no stonewall downwind but there is a fence, a children’s play area and some caravans in certain areas to stay well clear of.
Even though there are not any restrictions enforced, the beach does get very busy with happy campers and roped buoys are laid out in the summer. You can chill out after kiting by sitting in the beer garden outside the pub in the centre of the village or in the driftwood bistro half way down the beach.
Tide: never go two-hours either side of high tide or when the water is on the steep bank
Hazards: campsite, fence and children’s play area at the top of beach. Coarse sand so booties recommended and big shore dump if good swell and near to high tide
Wind direction: SE, E, and (NE – better to go to the North Coast on this direction though)
Restrictions: no restrictions as yet, so stay clear of bathers and avoid sunny summer days
The final destination in this best Cornwall kite beaches guide is Par. Here you will come across all the south coast boys who kite here on the prevailing SW and make the most of S winds too. Follow black signs to Par docks until turning right into Par Sands campsite and either stop in the car park provided or keep going until you can pull up on the left hand side of the road.
A fairly sheltered beach from the waves as it remains fairly shallow for a long way out and some sandbanks emerge creating areas with sheltered water. There is a long row of rocks that start from where the small river flows into the sea on the far side. The rocks do create mirror flat water on the inside but you do not want to drop your kite, as this is where green slime clings to the lines preventing a re-launch and you resurface as the swamp thing.
Tide: never go two-hours either side of high tide
Hazards: rocks below the high-tide line (you must check it out at low tide first), and radioactive water (only joking, but the west-end of the beach has green seaweed)
Wind direction: SW, S, and SSE (too much SE will result in the wind being gusty = dangerous)
Restrictions: no restrictions as yet, so stay clear of any bathers and other beach users.
If you require any more information about the best Cornwall kite beaches or need some lessons to help you progress more quickly, you can contact Timo at Mobius Kite School. Mobius are the only BKSA approved school in Cornwall to use different locations for changing wind conditions. All locations are no more than 30-minutes from their base at Perranporth.