Harlyn Bay is a great beach for families, surfers and those who want to sun-bathe and relax. It is almost a kilometre long with fine golden sand, dunes and cliffs at the back and plenty of nooks and crannies down its full length. It is one of the more sheltered beaches – and is busy throughout spring and summer. If you walk a little further down the beach, or come down the steps into the middle of the beach, you can always find your own private and secluded piece of paradise.
Most come to the beach via the car parks at the east (Padstow) end of the beach – one gravel, and one in the field just above. Steps lead down to the beach from the car parks, where a stream runs across the beach. Even at high tide there is wide stretch of soft sand, while at low tide a huge expanse of sand emerges. There are often barbecues here towards the end of the afternoon in the summer – the smell of sausages or more exotic wafting across the top of the beach.
The road runs through Harlyn itself, passing over a small bridge at the back of the beach. The Harlyn Inn is located here along with a small shop. However, the beach is not commercialised and still feels very special.
The beach can be busy at this car park end, and slowly thins out as one walks further along. Half way along there are steps coming down to the beach, from The Field and Sandy Lane, where Raintree’s houses are located. Although quick to walk down to the lane to the pub and the car park, it is often ideal to come down the footpath and arrive at the centre of the beach.
The atmosphere at the far (west) end of the beach can often be very special – feeling almost tropical when warm and sunny. The water here is very clear, and there are interesting rock formations at the back of the beach. It’s great to explore right up to the rocks at the far end of the beach, below the Cellars, the farmhouse on the cliff path. This path does run along the top of beach, and itself is an attractive way to walk.
Harlyn Bay is also often sheltered from the prevailing winds. Unusually for this coastline, Harlyn faces north – allowing shelter to be sought when a strong south-westerly is blowing. This makes the beach a favourite for surfers – Constantine, Booby’s, Porthcothan or Treyarnon on light winds, but when a stronger prevailing breeze sets in, all the surfers come to Harlyn. Being such a family friendly beach, this makes a great mix – with often a great vista of activity across the sea. The waves are normally a foot or two smaller than on some of the more un-protected beaches.
Many surf schools teach mainly at Harlyn – so take your choice and try a few hours lesson! Or just hire a surfboard and have a go!
From Harlyn, you can walk east to Trevone. This is quite an easy walk by well-worn footpath and generally flat. Going west from Harlyn, you will find Mother Ivey’s Bay, a beach sheltered behind Trevose Head – and then can go on to the wonderful architecturally-designed lifeboat station and the lighthouse on Trevose. From Harlyn you can walk across the base of Trevose Head to Constantine and Booby’s – taking probably about an hour.
The beach is patrolled by lifeguards May to September and is generally one of the ‘safer’ beaches in the area. Of course, care must always be taken.
For shopping, Padstow is only about 5 minute’s drive – very quick and easy to reach. The farmshop is located just to this side of Padstow and is great for all vegetables and meat. St Merryn is also less than 5 minutes drive up through Harlyn – there is a bakery, grocery shops, post office, newsagent, 2 pubs including Rick Stein’s Cornish Arms and two or three restaurants.