Harlyn Bay

Beach facilities

View map of beach Parking available Toilets available South West Coast Path SSSI Dog friendly RNLI lifeguard cover Easter weekend and May 4 - September 29 Beach cleaned regularly Good water quality for swimming

Season: spring

The low tide for this spring re-visit showed off the wide expanse of Harlyn Bay in all its glory.  An early morning walk next to the waves is a great pleasure.  The air feels so fresh here and the Atlantic breakers are usually white-topped, clean and arcing, ideal for surfers.  The sand at the back of the beach and the houses’ viewing platforms had all been torn away by the elements during winter storms and the beach had returned to its natural demeanour, unsullied by human tinkering.

Spring visit photo gallery


This beach as part of Chris’ routine.


A view from the back of the beach at Harlyn Bay.

Season: winter

Harlyn Bay is one of the most picturesque beaches on the North Cornwall Coast, popular with locals, visitors and surfers alike.  The low tide and bright sunshine made for a benign winter scene, with messy, white-topped Atlantic surf and a sheen on the beach from the receding tide.  The beach is flat and ideal for an unwinding winter stroll, or as a place from which to gaze out to sea.

Winter visit photo gallery


The sound of the sea, with Ben and Hannah.


Low tide in the winter sunshine at Harlyn Bay.

Season: summer

Many visitors were enjoying Harlyn Bay, under clear blue skies.  The rising tide still leaves plenty of room on this expansive stretch of seaside.  Bathers are well protected by RNLI crew, with a cabin on the beach.  This part of North Cornwall boasts many exquisite beaches, with Mother Ivy’s, Trevone and Constantine Bays in close proximity.  Harlyn Bay is also well placed for trips to nearby Padstow, a great visitor attraction itself.

Summer visit photo gallery


The natural appeal of the beach for Sue.


Summertime at Harlyn Bay.

Season: summer

A grey, blustery afternoon on Cornwall’s North Coast coincided with a high tide at Harlyn Bay.  I was just able to reach the far end of the beach, away from other hardy beachgoers.  The geology here is striking, as if the sedimentary slabs of black rock have been systematically dismantled.  Today Atlantic breakers coursed in relentlessly, as visitors bobbed about on boogie boards in the surf.

Summer visit photo gallery


With Chloe and Ben, on the beach at Harlyn Bay.


A different perspective, at the end of the beach.

Season: winter

The sea was wild and rugged for this winter re-visit.  It was misty and mild, a counterpoint to the pounding sound of the waves.  I met two couples, who each explained what pulled them to the beach.  It felt great to be near the elemental power of Cornwall’s North Coast at this time of year.

Winter visit photo


With Max and Sarah, who explain what the beach means to them.


John and Wendy, on holiday from Bath, compare Cornwall to the sea near to their home.


The beach at Harlyn Bay in winter.

Season: autumn

This is a popular North Coast tourist beach.  I was struck by how much more sand there was on the beach compared to my last visit, which reminded me how much sand can be moved by the motion of the tides.  I saw the seasonal end of the tourist time for the beach, with a surf lesson taking place for some visitors from Southampton.


I chatted to a surfing instructor, Ollie, who considered Cornwall’s place in a wider society today.  Ollie had spent his whole life in the county and explained some of the pressures facing young people.


Harry reminded me how thrilling it is to visit Cornwall on a spontaneous trip with friends.  You can see he’s just having a good time.  The juxtaposition and nature of the two interviews on this beach is interesting.


Harlyn Bay beach, in the morning after a storm.

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