The Best Wild Swimming Locations in Cornwall


 Discover the allure of Cornwall, the southernmost county in the UK, renowned for its breathtaking rural landscapes, sun-kissed sandy shores, and delightful coastal hamlets. This remarkable region stands out as a premier destination for indulging in the exhilarating activity of wild swimming. Whether you seek tranquil hillside pools or concealed enclaves nestled along the coastline, Cornwall's waters beckon, promising unforgettable experiences. With an abundance of splendid locations, it can be challenging to decide where to embark on your aquatic adventures. But fret not, for we have compiled an exclusive roster of Cornwall's finest wild swimming spots, ensuring an extraordinary summer exploration awaits you.

Swimming Safety

Open water is known for its unpredictability and potential dangers, necessitating the adoption of necessary precautions for swimming. Prior to entering the water, it is crucial to be mindful of the associated risks and safety measures. One important aspect is understanding how to navigate and escape rip currents while swimming in the sea.

Furthermore, it is essential to carry appropriate equipment when venturing into the water. Equipment such as tow floats, dry bags, and swim caps used in wild swimming serve the purpose of enhancing your visibility in the water. By doing so, not only does it decrease the likelihood of injuries, but it also facilitates quicker locating by rescue teams in case of emergencies.

Holywell Bay

  • Location: Holywell
  • Summer lifeguards?: Yes

Introducing our top pick for wild swimming: Holywell Bay, a captivating spot under the ownership of the National Trust. With its expansive 1-mile sandy beach and picturesque 60ft dunes, this location offers the perfect sanctuary for a serene sea swim, shielded from gusts of wind and turbulent waves. As the tide recedes, the bay unveils its enchanting treasures, including the mystical Holywell cave. Additionally, emerging from the depths of the ocean and onto the shore, you'll discover the haunting remains of a 1917 Argentinean cargo ship laden with coal. Holywell Bay is a truly unique destination for a remarkable aquatic adventure.

Carn Marth

  • Location: Redruth
  • Summer lifeguards?: No

If you seek an inland spot for an adventurous swim, Carn Marth could be perfect. Situated atop a hill adorned with gorse and wildflowers, it offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding area. This former granite quarry boasts relatively warmer waters during the summer, making it an inviting outdoor swimming spot when the sea is turbulent and unsafe. Additionally, there is an island in the middle of the quarry that serves as a convenient resting spot during your swim.

Portreath Beach

  • Location: Portreath
  • Summer lifeguards?: Yes

Portreath Beach offers a range of options for your open water swim. When the waters are calm, you can wade in for a sea swim along the gentle sandy slope into the water, ideal for outdoor swimmers and paddling children. On the right-hand side of the beach near the harbour wall, you’ll find a tidal pool which offers a more protected option for a wild swim while still being able to enjoy the fresh sea air. You could also go exploring to find the 6 smaller tidal pools on the left-hand side of the beach. These small pools were carved into the rocks in the 19th Century to provide bathing areas on the beach for Lady Frances Bassett. 

Portreath Beach provides various options for open water swimming. When the sea is calm, you can easily enter the water from the sandy slope, making it perfect for outdoor swimmers and children who want to paddle. On the right side of the beach, close to the harbour wall, there is a tidal pool that offers a more sheltered environment for a wild swim while still allowing you to enjoy the invigorating sea breeze. Alternatively, you can explore the beach to discover six smaller tidal pools on the left side. These pools were created in the 19th Century by carving into the rocks, serving as bathing areas for Lady Frances Bassett.

Bossiney Cove

  • Location: Bossiney
  • Summer lifeguards?: No

Located on the northern coast of Cornwall, close to the historic village of Tintagel, lies Bossiney Cove, also known as Bossiney Haven. This picturesque cove boasts a captivating sandy beach that can be explored on foot during low tide. However, if you're seeking a thrilling wild swim, it's advisable to time your swim with high tide. During calm sea conditions and high tide, an enticing opportunity awaits as you can traverse the rock arch on the left-hand side of the beach, famously named Elephant Rock. Accessing this beach requires a steep half-mile trek from the car park and restroom facilities, rendering it unsuitable for families with strollers.

River Fowey

  • Location: Bodmin
  • Summer lifeguards?: No

Lanhydrock Estate, situated in Cornwall's heartland near Bodmin, is a captivating property owned by the National Trust. Within the estate's grounds, the graceful River Fowey meanders, offering delightful riverside strolls, picturesque bridges, and a collection of enchanting outdoor swimming pools. This idyllic setting provides an ideal opportunity for seasoned wild swimmers seeking a bit more excitement, as the river's crystal-clear waters occasionally flow with gentle strength and reach depths of up to 2 metres. Moreover, one of the advantages of this swimming spot is the convenient presence of toilets and a café, where swimmers can replenish their energy with a warming beverage and a snack post-swim.

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