8 Cornish Tidal Pools
Take a dip at the beach without braving the waves. Cornwall’s pretty tide pools are ideal for kids and less confident swimmers.
Fancy a spot of wild swimming that’s more, er, well tame? Shielded from the dangers of the open ocean current and crashing waves, tide pools are ideal for families and those slightly less adventurous. Spurred on by the gorgeous weather here’s my round up of my favourite places to cool off. Always remember kids – check the tides though or you might not find some of these at all.
Tinker Bunny’s Bathing Pool, Trevone (Nr Padstow)
The beautiful beach of Trevone is popular with families and surfers, and lifeguarded in the summer months. The pool itself though is found by taking the coastal path out the back of the beach to the left as you face the sea and then very carefully climbing down the rocks. Popular with holiday makers and locals alike, the pool is looked after by a dedicated team of volunteers, who most recently have fundraised to mend a leak.
Good for: Families and a reasonable size for a swim too, as it’s bigger than some of the tidal pools mentioned below. If your child is a Mallory Towers fan, this is the tidal pool used in the BBC series (the filming for series 3 happened last month FYI, so expect to see pool scenes again!).
Watch out for: The rocks down can be very slippery, so easy does it. The Padstow coastguard team have been known to be called to rescue stricken swimmers who’ve slipped, so you’ve been warned. Also watch out for the depth – the leak means water levels aren’t as deep as usual.
Parking: Park at Trevone Beach and walk.
Open: All year
How to find it: PL28 8QY
Treyarnon Bay Tidal Pool, Nr Padstow
Just round the corner from Constantine, is Treyarnon Bay, another glorious sandy lifeguarded beach, and one of the so-called ‘seven bay’ of Padstow. Treyarnon is a true natural tidal pool – there’s no reinforcing walls which means it is a lovely place for a dip, although it’s not uniformly deep, so take care and no diving.
Good for: Families, swimmers who prefer to float around and get the benefit without feeling obliged to swim lots of lengths, swimmers with dogs as Treyarnon is dog-friendly all year.
Watch out for: Like Trevone, the rocks can get slippery. Access is from the beach or coast path at low tide, so it goes without saying that it is possible to get cut off / the tide be too high to swim.
Parking: There is a good size carpark at Treyarnon, or, park at Constantine or even up at the NT carpark between Boobies and Mother Ivey, and walk along the coast path.
Open: All year
How to find it: PL28 8JN
Chapel Rock Tidal Pool, Perranporth
You could visit Perranporth time and time again and still be none the wiser about this sweet little pool literally on the middle of the beach! See that rock above, the iconic Chapel Rock complete with its own flag? Head to the sea-side of the rock facing back to the land (like the view above) and among the rockpools at the base you’ll find the pool.
Good for: Families and a quick dip away from the surf in the (hopefully) sun warmed waters.
Watch out for: The tide… the rock gets surrounded by water on all sides when the tide comes in, so don’t get cut off.
Parking: Parking is available on the beach, or up on Cliff Road.
Open: All year
How to find it: TR6 0ND
Bude sea pool, Summerleaze, Bude
Popular with tourists, locals and the Muddy kids (its right on Summerleaze Beach, and only a 5 minute flat walk from town) Bude sea pool is a huge lido, part man made, part natural. Its so popular, someone voted it best Family Attraction in one of the past Muddy Awards! The pool is topped up twice daily by the old man of the sea. Deep enough for jumping in with shallower areas for little ones the pool provides safe swimming conditions for everyone.
Good for: Anytime swimming. This is a great pool for those with restricted movement. Wheelchair access is good and you can even hire a beach wheelchair from the Summerleaze Beach office
Watch out for: Crowds! Due to access and location this is a very popular spot in the summer.
Parking: Parking is available right on the beach (if you can find a space!)
Open: All year
How to find it: EX23 8HN and see the website here.
Chapel Pool, Polperro
This tidal pool in Polperro has been used for generations by Cornish families. Accessible at half tide, it warms up nicely to bath like temperatures due to its south facing aspect. Perfect for a summer paddle. You’ll find the pool at the south side of the harbour entrance (above).
Good for: Families. Snorkelling.
Watch out for: At high tide the pool is totally covered – so plan ahead and check the tide times. Access is tricky – prepare yourself for a lot of steps. The walk from the carpark is a really long one. Willy Wilcox’ ghost! The caves are a reputed smuggling area.
Parking: There’s a main carpark on the outskirts of Polperro village, but its pricey, and a good walk from the beach, but unavoidable.
Open: All year, but do check the tides, and frankly, you’d be nuts to go in the depths of December. Late summer is best as that’s when its warmest.
How to find it: PL13 2QR
Priests Cove, Cape Cornwall
Off the radar for most tourist trails, but just south of Cape Cornwall, Priest’s cove is well worth a visit with little ones. This is a small lido, carved out of the rocks, just to the side of the slipway (you can see the walls just at the bottom of the pic above).
Good for: paddling at low tide and snorkelling when the tide is in. Picnics.
Watch out for: Its a fairish walk from the car park, so younger children might complain. Access isn’t level either. No lifeguard action.
Parking: There’s a designated National Trust car park in Cape Cornwall. Follow the way markers and take the footpath down the slipway and on to the beach.
Open: All year, but tide dependent.
How to find it: TR19 7NN
Portreath Tidal Baths, Portreath
Portreath is not just for surfing you know. To the right of the beach, up against the harbour wall is a cute little tidal pool, and to the left you’ll find six even smaller bath-shaped pools that were carved out for Lady Frances Bassett during the 19th century (sounds a bit Veruca Salt if you ask me). One of the baths is hidden inside a cave and accessible via a ladder – how exciting is that?
Good for: adventurers, cave swimmers.
Watch out for: Access is tricky. The coastal paths are a bit crumbly
Parking: Park in the car park overlooking the beach or find a free space on the side of the road.
Open: Not managed by anyone, so whenever the fancy takes you. The swell can be tricky and care should be taken at all times.
How to find it: TR16 4NR
Jubilee Pool Penzance
Britain’s largest salt-water Lido, Penzance’s art deco triangular pool is re-filled with water only during the highest of spring tides and offers impressive views out across Mounts Bay. The long awaited geothermal pool is now open too, so you can get your salt water fix without freezing!
Good for: Families – this pool is has a kiddy pool bit down one end shallow enough for little ones, the warmer bit (book that separately) and reassuringly has life guards – plus loos, showers and changing facilities. There’s a cafe on site too. If you’re part of the PZ massive, you can enjoy a residents discount.
Watch out for: Queues! (and you must book, even for the cold bit).
Parking: if you’re early enough, you can park on the prom. If not, there’s ample parking on the South harbour. The pool is just a 10 minute walk from Penzance train station though, so why not make an adventure of it and leave the car at home.
Open:Tuesday to Sunday until the end of September
How to find it: The pool has its own website TR18 4UU