Visiting Porthcurno: what you need to know

The beach at Porthcurno

Visiting Porthcurno this summer? Here's some useful information to help you plan your visit.

Parking and when you arrive

The car park at Porthcurno is not managed by the National Trust, there is a parking charge in place. During the summer months, school holidays and bank holidays the car park at Porthcurno can be very busy and spaces fill up quickly. If the car park is full please respect the local area and plan to visit on another day. We ask that you do not park on the road or nearby verges as this could block emergency access. To avoid disappointment we would suggest getting there early, use the public bus service or visit in the quieter winter months.

Staying safe

To help keep everyone safe, please follow social distancing and government guidance when you visit. And look out for signs while you’re here which will explain any changes to how you can access different parts of the site, such as a one-way system down to Porthcurno beach. If you’re showing any of the symptoms of coronavirus or if you’ve been in contact with anyone that has the virus in the last 14 days, please don’t visit.

The RNLI provide lifeguards at Porthcurno beach 14 May – 25 September 2022, 10am - 6pm. Please follow their advice and swim between the flags when safe to do so. Please also make yourself aware of the location of life-saving equipment, such as buoys or emergency telephones and any beach safety signage. More guidance on water safety can be found on the RNLI website

There is no lifeguard cover at the neighbouring beach Pedn Vounder. Access to this beach is extremely difficult and dangerous at times, with sudden and unguarded steep drops and a near vertical climb down a rock face to get onto the beach itself. We strongly discourage access to this beach and suggest visitors use the main beach at Porthcurno.

Tide times

It's easy for the tides to take us by surprise so it can be a good idea to check the tide times before you arrive at the beach. Tide times tell us at what time the sea will be nearest the land and furthest away. At high tide the sea is closest to the land and at low tide there is the most beach available.

Coastal wildlife

The coast is filled with opportunities to watch wildlife. Help to protect nature and yourself by keeping safety in mind:

  • We recommend bringing binoculars so you can give nature plenty of space. 
  • If you see seals, remember they are easily disturbed by people. Seals can be extremely vicious; a bite would require immediate hospital treatment and so it’s best for your safety and theirs, to keep your distance.
  • Although rarely seen by humans, adders are often found in sand dunes during sunny weather and can cause a nasty bite to dogs. Please keep dogs under control at all times and if you suspect an adder bite, seek the advice of a vet.
  • At low tide, weever fish can be found at many sandy beaches. Wearing beach or wetsuit shoes in the sea at low tide helps avoid painful weever fish stings. If stung,  the advice is to immerse the area affected in hot water for 30-90 minutes.

Cliff safety

Cliffs are constantly changing, creating the beautiful coastline that we see today. Cliff falls and landslides can happen at any time and without warning. We urge you to stay well back from the edges when walking coast paths along cliff tops, and away from the undercliff when on the beaches. Please follow safety signs on site and do not climb or walk over rock fall debris, especially after wet weather.


You can access the beach by using either the steps on the left hand side or the sandy slope access on the right hand side, when going down to the beach. The sand on the beach is shifting which can sometimes lead to a steep drop onto the beach from the last step, therefore we would advise you to use the sandy slope access to avoid any incidents or injuries.  

Dog taking in the view of the sea at Porthcurno Beach, Cornwall
Dog taking in the view of the sea at Porthcurno Beach, Cornwall
Dog taking in the view of the sea at Porthcurno Beach, Cornwall

Dogs are welcome on the beach September – July, with a seasonal ban in place from 1st July – 31st August 10am – 6pm (Cornwall Council). Please help us keep Porthcurno beautiful for everyone and pick up after your dog and dispose in the correct bin or take it home with you.

Caring for the countryside

You can help us keep Porthcurno safe and enjoyable by following a few simple guidelines during your visit and observing the Countryside Code.

Porthcurno is now a plastic free community, awarded by environmental charity Surfers Against Sewage. Issues such as littering can cause significant harm to wildlife and impact the enviroment, please take your litter home with you helping us keep Porthcurno clean. 

It one takes one stray spark from a BBQ or campfire to start a wildfire that can damage large areas of countryside. With your help we can avoid these problems and continue protecting these places for generations to come.

Our car parks in this area do not permit overnight camping or parking. We understand many people want to enjoy spending time in the outdoors but there can be an unintended impact on flora, fauna and wildlife.


Why isn't camping allowed in National Trust car parks?

  • Sadly, many visitors leave rubbish, empty glass bottles and disposable BBQ’s which pose a risk of fire.
  • There are no toilet facilities and so human waste and used toilet paper is often left in hedges. This isn’t good for wildlife or nice for our rangers when strimming or undertaking other conservation work.
  • There is no planning permission in place and camping is in breach of National Trust bye-laws.

By not wild camping you are helping to look after and protect the wildlife that makes this place their home. Thank you.

Facilities that are open

There are toilets in the car park (not managed by National Trust)

Looking for refreshments? There is a beach café in the village and a café at PK Porthcurno and Minnack Theatre.

Keeping the South West special