With summer finally making an appearance (on some days at least) thoughts inevitably turn to what makes Cornwall one of the most popular tourist destinations in the UK – our beaches.

From picturesque coves to soft sand for sunbathing, the Duchy has the full range on offer.

One beach, however, has been attracting attention not just from the UK but worldwide.

Last month Kynance Cove in Cornwall was named one of The World’s 50 Best Beaches by worlds50beaches.com

It’s quite the accolade – but does it live up to such a prestigious title? We paid a visit to find out.

If you live in Cornwall, or have even just come here on holiday, the chances are you’ve heard of Kynance Cove.

It’s the one just outside the village of The Lizard, and in peak tourist season the National Trust regularly has to close the car park by 10.30am due to it already being full.

It’s clearly popular – but what is it that draws such crowds?

When we visited the sun was shining, but there was a brisk breeze as we pulled into the car park.

The car park can get busy earlyThe car park can get busy early (Image: Helston Packet)

Parking is well marshalled by the National Trust team, with someone to greet cars and another to direct you to a space.

Prices for 2024 are £2 for one hour’s parking, £5 for four hours and £10 for five hours or more. It’s important to note that the pay and display machines are coin only and although the PayByPhone app is available to use, there is very limited signal.

Just outside the car park is an information board with details about Kynance, together with a wooden finger post giving your two access options: a five to ten-minute walk down a series of rough steps, or a longer, but more accessible, half a mile walk that avoids the steps.

With only an hour on the car, we opted for the former and headed off down the gravel track.

It’s a pretty easy walk for the most of it, with only the final part a bit hard to navigate, although coming back up is a slightly different story (but more on that later).

One path has steps, the other is more accessibleOne path has steps, the other is more accessible (Image: Helston Packet)

As we rounded a corner about halfway down ‘That View’ came into sight. You’ve probably seen it yourself, even if you’ve never stepped foot over the Cornish border: it’s the one gracing a hundred different postcards and on almost every website promoting Cornwall’s beaches.

There’s no denying though, it is stunning. Whether it’s the pleasingly placed cliffs and rock formations or that azure sea that seems to glow from within, it’s pretty special.

We weren’t there yet, however, and after passing a handy ‘half way bench’ we continued down towards the cove.

Towards the end is a bit of a scramble, as the path turns in to rough steps cut into the cliff, and the gravel underfoot can be a bit slippy, but provided you have reasonable mobility and some sturdy shoes on it shouldn’t pose too many problems if you take it steady.

For me the best part of Kynance is actually that final bit of clifftop, above the beach. You get to look down over the sea in all its glory and it’s the perfect place for a picnic, to bring fish and chips or simply just sit and take it all in – which many people were doing.

Stunning azure sea is one of its highlightsStunning azure sea is one of its highlights (Image: Helston Packet)

Should you want to go down onto the beach itself, however, this will require a bit more clambering down some even steeper steps.

With the tide being pretty much all the way in (we didn’t time it well, but other commitments meant we were restricted on when we could go) we decided not to attempt the scramble.

So here’s the thing. What you need to know about Kynance is that while the view is stunning, the beach itself is, in my opinion…less so. Unless the tide is completely out, a lot of the beach is more grey shingle than sand, although you could see a promise of this shimmering under the clear water for when the water retreated.

The beach is largely shingle unless at low tideThe beach is largely shingle unless at low tide (Image: Helston Packet)

It’s also not particularly big as a beach so can feel crowded when it’s busy and, personally, I feel not particularly great for what you’d call ‘family swimming’. Although not dangerous as such, caution should be used as there are strong currents – particularly at the changing tides.

Stronger swimmers love exploring the various sea pools, but this requires going further out, swimming through rocks and you need to know what you’re doing. Otherwise you’re better off just paddling, or sticking to the water immediately overlooked by the beach – and you should never attempt to enter in unfavourable weather conditions.

It’s pretty accepted by locals that if you want a proper beaching day, Kynance is probably not going to be your first thought. There is, however, a nice café just above the beach for those wanting to stay a little longer and in need of refreshment (or simply as your main destination).

A handy bench for a rest halfway downA handy bench for a rest halfway down (Image: Helston Packet)

After admiring the view for a bit longer (the wildflowers were starting to come out across the top of the cliff and the sun sparkling onto the sea produced a glittering effect that was quite magical) we set out minds, and feet, towards heading back up to the car park.

The climb back up is harder going if you’re not especially fit. It’s no wonder that Kynance is one of the most ‘popular’ (if that’s the right term) callout spots for the coastguards each summer. And carrying a fallen walker back up those steps, in full coastguard gear, is no mean feat.

Rough steps cut into the cliffRough steps cut into the cliff (Image: Helston Packet)

So – top 50 best beach in the entire world?

If the award was ‘Most picturesque beach’ then without question Kynance would be up there.

But for outright ‘best beach’, I personally can think of many other Cornish contenders that offer more in terms of an all-round beach experience – Praa Sands with its family friendly stretch of sand and swimmable sea in the west, or Hayle Towans with its vast expanse of white sand on the north coast that on a sunny day could pass for the Caribbean.

Of course, as with everything in life, it all depends on what you’re looking for. Fortunately, Cornwall has plenty to choose from.