This superb sandy, family friendly beach is on the easterly side of the magnificent St.Ives Bay with memorable views towards Godrevy Lighthouse. It is closely associated with St.Ives which is less than 2km away and only a 300m walk along the Coast Path from Porthminster Beach. It is however historically linked to neighbouring Lelant and at low water it is possible to walk on the sand around the headland Carrack Gladden to Porthkidney Sands. Carbis Bay is somewhat unusual for Cornwall in that it faces north east and is very sheltered for a north coast beach with the headland going to Porthminster Point lined with large mature trees. It is sometimes referred to as Barrepta Cove although this would appear to be more of a historical term based on the Cornish ‘Porth Reb Tor’, meaning cove beside the eminence. Backed by hotels and holiday accommodation it firmly has the character of a small holiday resort which is enhanced by the Branch railway line from Lelant to St.Ives which winds its way around the Bay with a station above the beach, the latter being privately owned and managed and in 2012 received the prestigious Blue Flag Award.
TR26 2NW – From the A30 at Hayle, follow the A3074 to St.Ives through Lelant and after 2kms at crossroads Carbis Bay Beach is signposted; it is then 950m to the beach and a small parking area (capacity 135+ cars) next to it. If there is one downside to Carbis Bay is the lack of convenient parking for a beach of its size and popularity. There is a large car park (capacity 220+ cars) just below the Church in Porthrepta Road but this is some 630m from the beach and means walking back up a fairly steep hill. Alternatively, there is a certain amount of roadside parking where there are no restrictions in Boskerris Road and the residential area around it; however, this can involve a lengthy walk down to the beach and care needs to be taken not to obstruct the road and gateways to properties. It is also possible to park at the station.
Access from the car park next to the beach is easy and straightforward and suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs. However, parking above the station means a strenuous walk back up Beach Road. Just below the bridge over the railway are steps to the Coast Path which after 300m leads to a path on the left and down some steps to the less crowded end of the beach but beware of the green weed on the steps which makes them very slippery.
The fine golden sand is the major feature of the beach. At low water it stretches for over 900m and is between 500m and 650m at high tide with a substantial area above high water mark which means that despite its popularity it only gets crowded in the area adjacent to the facilities with the easterly end usually fairly quiet. The stream that comes down the Carbis Valley crosses the middle of the beach and as a result is a popular area with children.
There is rescue/safety equipment above the beach. RNLI Lifeguards are on duty from early July until the beginning of September.
It is unusual along the North Coast of Cornwall for a beach to be safe for swimming but Carbis Bay certainly is and at all stages of the tide. Part of the reason for this is that it is largely sheltered from the Atlantic swell that characterizes the North Coast; it is also sheltered from the prevailing westerly winds and even cold northerly winds. When there is a strong easterly wind it can be quite rough and conditions are not suitable for swimming.
It is not a surfing beach although conditions sometimes are suitable for bodyboarding especially at low water. It is used for windsurfing although the nature of the cliffs tends to lead to inconsistent wind conditions.
It might not seem a good snorkelling beach but it can be very good close to the rocks that lead out to Porthminster Point where there are a number of small coves that are worth exploring. There are only a few small rock pools and they are not a feature of the beach.
There are restrictions on dogs from Easter Day until the beginning of October from 8.00hrs to 19.00hrs.
There are toilets next to the beach next to other facilities. The beach cafe and shop are located above the middle of the beach. There are restaurant facilities at nearby Hotels and a full range of facilities at St.Ives. A line of beach huts are located below the Carbis Bay Hotel.
The slipway can be used to launch kayaks and similar small craft but in the height of summer the crowded beach can be a problem.
Water quality is good and the beach is regularly cleaned. It is a fine family beach. A good way to visit Carbis Bay and avoid parking is to catch the train from St.Erth, Lelant or St.Ives.
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