So as you know, Joe and I spend most of our time taking quick flights to nearby European countries for quick weekend city breaks. But almost every person we meet from the U.K. always tells us we need to make sure we spend time exploring this country as well. We started off by taking a trip to Cambridge in February, but now that it was getting warmer, it was time to go to Cornwall. I can’t even count the number of people who told us we HAD to go here, without even knowing we were beach people. Since Joe is such a “seasoned” surfer, he had heard about Cornwall over the years, so was eager to get there as soon as possible. Now as soon as surfing comes in to the picture, there’s no one else we’d rather plan a trip with than AJ & Steph (PS – This was not planned as a surf trip, but Joe and AJ love torturing me that it would be….), so when April rolled around, we were so excited to literally hit the road and explore the south coast of England.
Getting to Cornwall from England is not that easy – our options were a 5 hour drive, a 5 hour train journey, or a 1 hour flight…. With limited time, we opted for flying, which I think was our best decision. We flew into Newquay (pronounced: new-key), which is a super small airport, so once off the plane, we were on our way in no time.
We went back and forth a bunch on where to stay while in Cornwall, but after much deliberation, we decided on St.Ives based on location and the reputation it has for being one of the nicest towns due to it’s beautiful beaches and hip, artsy vibe. Although we arrived nearing midnight, we wanted to check out the town a little bit and noticed driving in that there seemed to be one pub open around the block from our Airbnb. Enter: The Sloop Inn – a quintessential English pub with a seaside feel. It felt more like a locals spot this time of year, but we were secretly happy about that. We packed into a booth with a couple pints of Doom Bar and enjoyed some live music by an awesome duo, singing plenty of our favourite American tunes. We all agreed this was the best welcome to Cornwall, and if the rest of the trip went anything like our first few hours, we were in for a good time 🙂
The biggest misconception we had about Cornwall was that it was one town, when in reality it is made up of over 50 towns and 1,300 miles! As mentioned before, we did a lot of research on where to stay and although we chose St.Ives as our home base, there were so many other cool locations we knew we had to check out. Luckily, AJ volunteered as our designated other-side-of-the-road-manual-car-driver for the weekend, otherwise, we would not have been able to see half as much as we did! We woke up nice and early the next morning, as the first activity to conquer would be Joe & AJ’s surf time.
Before we headed off, we had to wait for our rental car to be delivered. We thought it’d be best to get a quick bite for breakfast at one of the cafes nearby, and the four stools outside at Pels were calling our names. We shared a smorgasbord of things including scones & clotted cream, breakfast crepes, AND the main event, a chip butty aka a french fry sandwich. Yes, this exists and yes it was really delicious. Don’t judge me! #carbqueen
The boys found a surf shop in Hayle, where they picked up some boards before heading to Godrevy beach. We drove in through rolling hills and beautiful coastlines. We got so lucky that day because even though it wasn’t super warm, the sun was gleaming down. As soon as we parked the car, the boys jumped into their wetsuits and hit the sand. The beach itself is very big there, super wide and grainy. Godrevy is part of the National Trust, so it is extremely well maintained with pristine shores and grounds. After taking a few pictures of the boys, Steph and I went for a walk to grab a tea at Godrevy Cafe to warm up a bit. The boys shockingly only spent an hour or so surfing (they were cold!) so after a bit we packed up the boards and headed to our next destination…
Penzance was the next stop on our coastal tour, about 30 minutes south west of where we were, a bit further out onto the Cornwall peninsula. Penzance is one of the larger towns in Cornwall, and has a busy high street with lots of shops and restaurants. We popped in to a traditional Cornish “pasty” shop for a snack – basically just a baked pastry filled with beef and veggies. We then spent some time walking around the town where we saw St.Paul’s Church, some interesting vintage stores, and the port area. Joe and AJ can’t walk past a surf store without going in, and they left Global Boarders with new shirts in tow. We also saw the famous Jubilee Pool, a public outdoor swimming pool right on the water that has been open since the 30’s! It was closed when we were there in March, but I can imagine now that all the work is done, it’s getting plenty of use by locals and tourists alike.
We were then off to the tiny town of Marazion to visit the main attraction there, St. Michael’s Mount. This is a small tidal island off the coast of mainland Britain that is accessed via a causeway during low tide, and by boat once the water comes up. There is a castle and gardens there that was once the site of a monastery sometime before the 11th century. We were bummed when we got there to see that the walkway was quickly disappearing. Walking the causeway was definitely something we wanted to do, so we decided to have lunch and see some places nearby to burn time until low tide again. We were hit with another disappointment when we realized Ben’s Cornish Kitchen was closed for lunch. This was AJ’s pick, but I had also read that the food is supposed to be amazing. But instead we opted for our first round of fish & chips from a beachside cafe that we took to The Kings Arms to enjoy with a pint of Korev Cornish larger – talk about immersing ourselves in the local culture!
We took a gorgeous 40 minute drive south east to The Lizard Heritage Coast. We drove through beautiful countryside filled with quaint stone homes. Our first stop was Kynance Cove, an incredible Natural Trust protected inlet that is truly breathtaking. This is a gorgeous cove surrounded by towering red rocks, green hills, and the most vivid turquoise-green sea. We took a bunch of pictures along the cliffs, and at one point while I was snapping away, a seagull pooped on me! It’s actually funny, there are SO many seagulls in Cornwall, and I noticed it almost first thing that morning, and thought to myself that it was bound to happen to one of us….
The final stop was The Lizard, which was seriously the cutest little village ever! All of the people dining outside amongst all the flowers and overgrown bushes. rows and rows of thatched roofs, and super charming shop fronts. We walked out to where the lighthouse is on Lizard Point, and it was the most picturesque time of day, with the sun going down and glistening over the horizon. But it was time now to head back to St.Michael’s Mount before we lost the daylight. When we arrived, the causeway was perfectly visible and we were in the clear to walk the path to the mount. It was a really cool experience, and we kept revelling at the fact that only a few hours earlier, this area was completely submerged in the sea. It was after museum hours so we only got to quickly see the grounds of the castle and head back, but we all agreed it was well worth the wait to do the walk during low tide. This was definitely a trip highlight for our group.
Once we got back to St.Ives we quickly changed and literally RAN to dinner. We learned the hard way the first night that during the off season, it’s common for lots of places to close before 10pm. BUT since we already learned our lesson, we made sure to phone The Porthminster Cafe to reserve a table and ensure we would be there for dinner. After arriving out of breath, we dove right in. We discovered our favourite new beer, Boilers Golden Cornish Ale from the St.Ives Brewery. Besides the delicious taste, I loved the labels – I can totally admit that I am often guilty of judging a book by its cover, especially when it comes to beer and wine 😉 We started with crispy calamari and an amaaaaazing cauliflower three ways starter. I had my guilty pleasure of crab and seafood linguine, and it was so, so delicious. There may or may not have been another order of fish and chips at the table as well. Any excuse to eat the fresh seafood!! After our dinner, we ended up at The Sloop for a nightcap and wound up even making friends with some locals. I think we would have spent a lot more time at this place if we were in St.Ives longer….
Friday was already our last day so we knew we had to get up and get a head start. We still had a lot of ground to cover, so after getting in the last bits of St.Ives, where I became obsessed with the infamous moss covered homes of Cornwall, and a quick brekkie at The Digey (more scones!), we were ready to hit the road. Our first stop was Sennen Cove, another massive beach with a tiny town. Not much to see except, Sennen Surf Company, surprise surprise. This was just a blip on the radar in comparison to the main event, Lands End, the most southwestern point in the country and one of the most iconic landmarks in Cornwall. There is a small visitor center and museum there, as well as a multitude of trails for people to walk down. We roamed along the clifftops for a bit, soaking in the incredible views. We all agreed it would have been awesome to do a hike down to the bottom, but with limited time, we had to carry on with our trip. (But only after we each had a chance to test drive stick shift on the right side of the car in the parking lot, and a quick drive-by of a surfer church.)
The next drive was the longest of our road trip, taking about an hour and a half to get to Padstow, the northernmost town we had visited while in Cornwall. Attractions here include a bustling fishing town and busy port area with plenty of streets full of stores and pubs. Padstow is also known as the Cornwall foodie destination due to the fact that Rick Stein has multiple restaurants here. As self-proclaimed foodies, Steph and I insisted on eating at his Fish & Chips restaurant on the harbor. (if you are counting, this was our 3rd in 2 days) After lunch, we leisurely strolled around this pretty village picking up some last minute gifts and of course, stopping in yet another surf shop – Jam Industries. Steph and I lost the boys in here for a good half hour, as they wound up chatting up the owner about his new endeavor and past surf adventures. (Turns out, this guy is semi-famous and was once on a popular London TV show we watch, Made in Chelsea. Small world!) Did I mention this place was known for food? We decided to go out with a bang and end at a traditional Cornish creamery. We all got delicious double scoops of flavours like clotted cream, salted caramel, and honeycomb. At this point, we were all ready to be rolled out of there.
We seriously had the best time exploring Cornwall, and it was the perfect location to travel with our adventurous, seafood & beer loving beach buddies, AJ & Steph! We were so lucky we got to see so much of this beautiful area thanks to Mr.Wellington and his excellent driving skills. I would absolutely love to come back and visit all of the places we never made it to including the town of Falmouth, Tintagel Castle – King Arthur’s birthplace, and Eden Project. I’ve also heard great things about Devon – the area north of Cornwall also known for it’s lovely beaches & medieval villages, which I would love to visit as well. It’s so hard to pick just one place, but we will certainly be making a trip down to the southwest English coast again before we leave.
Sorry in advance for the picture overload!
Kynance Cove & The Lizard