St Ives is a small seaside town at the very end of Cornwall, almost as far south as you can go on UK soil. The town is the perfect balance of sunny beaches and buzzy town centre and is visited by thousands of families every year. St Ives was traditionally a fishing town, although over the years it has attracted many artists due to the quality of light. The sea surrounds the town, making it seem exceptionally bright. Nowadays the streets are filled with galleries dotted between the bakeries and surf shops.
The main attraction for a UK coastal holiday is the beaches. St Ives has a host of beaches, from the calm waters of Porthminster overlooked by the beautiful railway bridge to the huge expanse of Porthmeor, where you can watch the town’s surfers show off their skills. The harbour is also sandy, and at low tide is a prime location for dog walking. This is the perfect place to sit and eat your fish and chips. Seals frequent the harbour at high tide, particularly the area around the lifeboat station, so keep a lookout for them in the water! Although the waters look turquoise and tropical, they can be very cold! Thankfully many shops offer wetsuit rentals for around £25 per week, and you can buy a long adult wetsuit for under £40 in some stores. I would also recommend buying some wetshoes to keep your feet warm and protect your feet from rocks and weever fish.
It is easy to find holiday rentals in the area, and although there are a few campsites, none of them offer the location advantage that renting a small house in the town centre has. Due to the absence of nightclubs, noise is not an issue during the night and during the day you will be busy enjoying what the town has to offer! Entertainment-wise, if you find yourself bored on a day too wet for the beach, there is a small cinema, plenty of pubs and restaurants, a host of shops, the Tate gallery and a large leisure centre. So you won’t be bored for long! Some pubs play live music and if you fancy a treat, book yourself in for a treatment at the St Ives Harbour Hotel and Spa. The food, treatment and swimming pool there are excellent and the staff very helpful.
Getting to the town is the only downside. Driving takes about 7 hours from London and once you get there the streets are narrow, crowded and mostly one way. It is easier to get the train – it takes less time and has beautiful rural and coastal views for the last half of the journey. My top tip is to bring a sketchbook – even if you’re not much of an artist, you will want to be by the end of your week in St Ives.
Image credit: http://www.22stives.co.uk/