Looe is the major tourist centre along the south-east coast of Cornwall and is divided into West Looe and East Looe by the Looe River. The Town has an important fishing tradition and today has an important fishing fleet which is based alongside the quay at East Looe adjacent to the fish market. The centre of East Looe is made up of narrow streets which have lots charm and contains the majority of the shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs. Looe in Cornish is ‘Logh’ meaning deep water inlet and iswhere two wonderful wooded valleys converge and meet the sea. East Looe has a memorable sandy beach bounded by the iconic Banjo Pier (and the River) on one side and Pen Rocks on the other and backed by a Town seafront which is packed with facilities. Beyond Pen Rocks in an easterly direction there is a shingle and stony beach which stretches to Plaidy and it is possible to walk along the foreshore all the way to Millendreath at low water. On the other side of the River there are small beach areas of West Looe next to the River mouth and the more extensive but rocky Hannafore Beach beyond.
PL13 1HA – From the west and St.Austell take the A390 to Middle Taphouse and then the B3359 all the way to West Looe. From the north and Liskeard and the A38 follow the B3254 or the B3252 to East Looe and from the Plymouth, Torpoint and the east the A374. There is little or no parking in the Town Centre or anywhere close to the beach. The Millpool car park (capacity over 900cars) at West Looe is the best option although it is over 700m from the beach. There are two smaller car parks in East Looe either side of the bridge over the river (capacity 80 and 150 cars) but in the summer they can be full early in the day. An alternative way of getting to Looe is using the train from Liskeard; it is a scenic ride down the valley and thoroughly recommended. The station is about 800m from the beach.
From the bridge over the river it is walk down Fore Street then any of the three Market Streets or the two Chapel Streets and the Town Centre to the seafront. It is a great walk through the narrow streets and all the hustle and bustle. There are two slipway access points to the beach which makes it suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs plus a variety of other steps. There is also a path from East Cliff Road down to the seafront. To get to the beach beyond Pen Rocks continue to the far end of the seafront and down steps to the beach. This length of beach is over 700m long to Chough Rocks and Plaidy Beach and there is a public footpath down the cliffs from the Coast Path and Bay View Drive (a residential area of East Looe) some 500m from the main beach.
Currently no access beyond Pen Rocks due to cliff-fall
The main beach between Banjo Pier and Pen Rocks is one of the best along this stretch of coastline. It is over 250m wide and over 150m deep at low water and sandy at all stages of the tide with s narrow string usually above the high water mark. Facing south it has a wonderful aspect and is quite sheltered. It is a very popular beach in the height of summer and can get fairly crowded. The rocks on the easterly side of the beach are a favourite with children. It is one of the few beaches in Cornwall with a seafront which is used a natural extension of the beach, especially at high water, with lots of places to sit. The easterly end of the seafront is an interesting matrix of concrete structures (mainly for sea defence purposes) but provides some popular shapes and levels.
The beach beyond the seafront is nothing like as sandy but has much to offer. It is largely stony above high water and the beach immediately east of Pen Rocks is mostly a large flat rock platform (the Limmicks) but becomes sandier further east but with almost continuous rocky ledges at low water. It is much less crowded than the main beach. At low water there is a small sandy beach on the river side of Banjo Pier next to the Sailing Club.
There is safety equipment on the seafront but nothing along the easterly beach and no Lifeguard Service.
The main beach is a good for swimming at all stages of the tide. The easterly beach is not so good at low water because of the rocks. Swimming is dangerous in the small beach by the river. None of the beaches are good for surfing but occasionally can have conditions suitable for bodyboarding. Inflatables should not be used when there is an offshore wind.
There are numerous interesting rock pools at low water around Pen Rocks and beyond. The rocky areas provide some good snorkelling all the way to Plaidy.
Dogs are not permitted at any time on the main beach but there are no restrictions on the easterly beach.
Toilets and a range of cafes, restaurants and shops are on, or next to the seafront, with pubs and other facilities in the Town Centre.
Vehicular access to the main slipway is not really possible in summer. The main beach is owned by the Looe Town Trust who are responsible for cleaning it. Water quality is variable. There are boat and fishing trips from the main quay; Looe is a well known base for shark fishing trips.
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