Holywell Bay

Beach facilities

View map of beach Parking available South West Coast Path SSSI Dog friendly RNLI lifeguard cover May 18 - September 29 Beach cleaned regularly Good water quality for swimming

Extra autumn photo gallery

Season: spring

The extreme low tide on this visit enabled me to see the Holy Well, as in Holywell Bay.  The camera could only cope with the entrance to the cave, in the first film, below, so here’s a still from deep inside the cave, showing the calcareous deposits that form the white well itself.  A couple of thanks are due – to Alex Davies for pointing me at the cave and to Theresa at The Well Cafe and Crafts in Cubert, for putting me onto Quiller-Couch’s guide to Cornish Holy Wells.  If you go to the Holy Well at low tide, please don’t be so seduced by its beauty that you forget the tide.

The Holy Well, at Holywell Bay in North Cornwall.

Hendra Holiday Park


What the beach means to a local girl, Sharon, who, like so many, had to leave but has returned to live in Cornwall.

The friend Sharon mentions, Don, kindly sent me the photo in question.  Here it is:


The empty beach at low tide.

Season: spring

As a spring tide ebbed to its lowest level, the wide expanse of the beach at Holywell Bay became apparent.  Storm clouds and a blustery wind lent an atmospheric edge to proceedings, as the day’s visitors started to make their way back home from the beach.  The winding river and extensive dunes of Penhale Sands make both arrival and departure events in themselves, as you cross over a small footbridge and then over the road to the National Trust car park.

Spring visit photo gallery


The pull of west coast beaches for Christine and Kevin.


A view of the beach from its western headland.


Under storm clouds at low tide.

Season: spring

This is a magnificent, iconic North Cornwall beach at any time, but it was a particular pleasure to catch the scene just after low tide on an early spring day, with the beach largely deserted and the rocks exposed on the waterline.  Holywell Bay is known for its dune system, separating the village from the beach and creating an unspoilt, natural feel, next to the Atlantic breakers.

Spring visit photo gallery


Jamie’s eulogy to this beach.


A view of the beach at low tide, from the high dunes behind.

Extra autumn visit photo gallery

Season: summer

The colours were from a silver grey palette this evening at Holywell Bay.  On a rising tide, the expansive, flat beach shone silver, as each waves receded after breaking.  There was a wistful, reflective atmosphere in the early evening light, with couples having a last look at today’s sea, before going for a drink or back home.

Summer visit photo gallery


With Simon, fishing from the beach in the early evening.


Holywell Bay beach, from the waterline.

Season: winter

It was a cold and still morning for my winter re-visit to Holywell Bay at the start of February.  The sand crunched under my feet as I walked down to the beach, among the first frost of this mild winter.  The sea shone silver against a pale sky, mirroring the fragile beauty of the sand dunes next to the beach.

Winter visit photo


With Carol and Tony, on the beach at Holywell Bay, explaining the changes in the structure of the dunes over time.


There’s an attractive, flat walk from the National Trust car park to the beach.  The scenery is striking, made up of reed beds, sand dunes and a river with a bridge.  All the time you can hear the waves calling as they crash on the beach.  Here’s the tranquility and natural surroundings of the sand dunes at Holywell Bay.

Season: autumn

It was very windy during my Holywell Bay trip, but hopefully you can still appreciate the appeal of this beach.  Although located between Newquay and Perranporth, it has a less commercial feel, despite the presence of a large pub near the dunes and its proximity to the defunct Penhale army camp.  There is a National Trust car park, but it takes a walk through the dunes to get to the sea.  On the beach, there’s an unspoilt feel, with the Atlantic breakers crashing in.


This film shows the raw elemental power of the sea, which is most often seen on Cornwall’s North Coast.  It was windy, adding to the drama.


I interviewed Jenny at the National Trust car park near to the beach.  The organisation have protected so much of the coastline for us from unscrupulous development, so this was a chance to say thanks.

7 thoughts on “Holywell Bay

  1. Alex Davies

    Just wondering if you have ever been in the ‘holy well’ cave with the amazing mineral deposit formations that’s at the far end of the beach at low tide? I expect you must have seen the cave. I bet it might be a little dark for you to film it though!

  2. Alex Davies

    Thanks for the thanks at the top of the Holywell Bay page Manonabeach! I am glad you found the Holy Well in the cliffs at Holywell! I hope you were as amazed by it as we were the first time we saw it. As you say, you can only view at very low tide & have to keep a mind on the waves coming in but well worth the effort to see such an unusual sight! I have read that apparently women used to dip their babies in the mineral water hoping it would cure them of any ills. Also in one of the Poldark books 3 characters visit a Holy Well on a visit to a beach; author Winston Graham got the idea from the very same cave at Holywell!

  3. Don

    Hi manonabeach,
    You interviewed Sharon on Holywell beach recently & she mentioned a nice photo that a friend took. Well I’m the friend & have a cool photo I took last april of the sun setting over the undulating sand. Can send it to you if you want mate. I love walking along the beach & also the sky, hence take lots of piccies. Let me know yeah 🙂
    Cheers Don

  4. Sangeeta

    To me the beach means wide, open horizons; space to breath and contemplate my place; surf; playing with the kids; rock-pooling; lazy days; a feeling of well-being; peace; exciting strand-line finds; scanning the horizons for passing sea creatures; and finally the beach means to me my favourite environment –the sea – the one which I love to study and to help conserve.

  5. Melia

    We walked to Holywell Bay from Crantock last month whilst on holiday. We didn’t get to see the Holy Well but will definitely try to track it down next time. Love the photo you’ve posted by Don of the lunar beach!

  6. Stacey

    For me the beach is my chance to switch off and relax. Over the years i have spent many a day with family and friends just enjoying the beach and all it has to offer, even having a go at surfing. I look forward to many more of these days. I love to take a walk along the beach with my Springer Spaniel Harvey who loves nothing better than running through the water or digging for stones in the sand. There is also something very calming about sitting down to watch and listen to the sea, to me it is the best form of relaxation.


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