Lying in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Talland Bay sits on the unspoilt coastline between Looe and Polperro. There are two small sheltered beaches here: Talland Sand to the west and Rotterdam Beach to the east. Just a few hundred yards from one another, they are both excellent spots for swimming and fishing, and at low tide are particularly good for rock-pooling. If you fancy being a little more adventurous you can take to the water in a kayak, which can be hired from the Talland Bay Beach Café.
The South West Coast Path runs right through Talland Bay, so there are plenty of opportunities to explore the spectacular scenery. It’s just 1.5 miles along the coast path to the quaint fishing village of Polperro, which is pedestrianised, so is best accessed on foot anyway. If you want to travel a little further afield, how about a day out at the Eden Project, the Lost Gardens of Heligan or simply spend time relaxing on one of the bigger nearby beaches such as Seaton, Downderry or Lansallos.
Talland Bay is small but classically Cornish with its own long history of smuggling and shipwrecks. You also might notice the two large towers on the eastern side of the bay. These are “measured mile markers” used by ships to calculate their speed. If you walk the coast path to Looe you’ll find two more on the hillside above Hannahfore. Along the way keep your eye out for the array of wildlife, from skylarks hovering and buzzards soaring in the skies overhead to butterflies visiting the wildflowers which surround the cliff paths.
Talland Bay is a great base from which to get out and explore the rest of Cornwall, but if you’re in need of some quality relaxation time, the local beach is the perfect place to enjoy a few lazy days unwinding in a naturally beautiful setting.
In The Warren overlooking the harbour, the Polperro Heritage Museum of Smuggling and Fishing houses a collection of exhibits and 19th century photographs that date back to a time when both smuggling and fishing thrived in Polperro. It brings to life the little village’s beautiful history and the lives of the people who lived there, having depended on fishing for generations and been home to no less than three factories close by at one point. A delightful opportunity for children and adults alike to learn about local history in this little Cornish village, entry is £1.75 for adults and 50p for children.
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This museum is packed with interesting facts and some great photos, so even though small we spent a good hour there. Definitely worth a visit to learn more on the local history (including about the more recent floods and storms), fishy facts and smuggling tales!
An utterly charming day out for the family, Polperro Model Village and Land of Legend is two attractions in one. The village is, quite literally, the coastal town in miniature and has been around for more than 60 years, surviving both fire and floods – so don’t underestimate the strength of these little guys. Meanwhile, Land of Legend is your chance to explore Cornish folklore, derived from tales of pirates and smugglers who thrived in and around Cornwall from the early modern period through to the 19th century. It is a unique show of lights, sound and animation. The site also houses a model railway, and prices are £3 for adults and £2 for children, open daily from Easter to October.
On an island just off the coast of Looe, the aptly named Looe Island Nature Reserve is brimming with marine wildlife. The island provides a variety of habitats including woodland, maritime, grassland, sand, shingle and rocky reef, and is part of the Whitsand and Looe Bay Marine Conservation Zone. Trips run from Easter until around the end of September, although all visits are weather and tide dependent. The crossing via a passenger boat named Moonraker takes 20 minutes and you will then have about two hours to explore. The return boat fee is £7 per adult and £5 per child, and then there’s a landing fee of £4 per adult and £1 per child. You can then book guided walks online in advance, which are £25 including the boat and landing fee. What makes the island so beautiful is its ruggedness and as such there are not any cafes or refreshments available, and dogs are not permitted. However, there is a compost toilet should you need it.
A friendly licensed café situated on the coast path from Looe to Polperro, with spectacular views across Talland Bay. Serving a delicious selection of homemade hot and cold food, cream teas in a stunning location. Open seasonally.
Smugglers Rest, Talland Bay, Looe PL13 2JA (T: 01503 272259)
A pretty pastel-hued beach café enjoying beautiful sea views. Providing a warm welcome and good quality produce at a fair price.
Serving speciality teas and coffees, paninis, pasties, homemade cakes, cream tea and ice creams. The perfect place to refuel during a day on the beach. Open seasonally.
Talland Bay Beach Café, Talland Bay, Looe PL13 2JA (T: 01503 272088)
Lovely coffee, and amazing location. A smile from the staff wouldn't have gone a miss though!
The oldest pub in Polperro, full of historic charm with a hillside garden overlooking the village. Here you will be served hearty homemade meals including fresh seafood, along with a range of well-kept wines, beers and lagers.
The Three Pilchards, The Quay, Looe PL13 2QZ (Tel: 01503 272233)
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Lovely food, brilliant, welcoming people! Thank you
Lovely pub. Excellent service and food. Very friendly staff.
A small, quiet beach between Looe and Polperro, Talland Bay actually comprises two beaches, one of which has sand both at low and high tide and is good for swimming all the time, while the other is less sandy and is easiest to swim from at high tide. There is a ramp for launching boats from the main beach and there are lots of small coves and tidal pools to swim in as well, so it’s a delightful area to explore in the water. Parking is limited, but there is a small, free car park by the beach and paid parking at The Beach Café, all of which provide easy access to the sand. Thanks to the nearby café, visitors can also benefit from the accompanying facilities, on-site shop, and tuck into Roskillys Cornish Ice-Cream as well.
In South East Cornwall, Polperro is widely thought to be one of the area’s most picturesque fishing villages. Brimming with whitewashed cottages all the way down the harbour, the beach sits in a sheltered position under the cliffs, only visible at low tide and close to the harbour. Unsurprisingly, it’s a popular destination and can get busy in the summer months. Dogs are not permitted at the beach during peak season, from Easter to October, and while parking in the village itself is all but impossible, but there’s a large car park about a mile up the valley with a regular shuttle service going up and down the hill.
In East Looe, the beach sits directly in front of the old town, sheltered by the Banjo Pier and overlooked from the east by the hillside of Mount Ararat. A good family beach that has something for everyone, at low tide the sandy location is safe for swimming although it’s recommended you steer clear of the river mouth beyond the pier. The beach backs on to a seafront walkway which runs its length all the way to Second Beach to the east, where it tends to be less busy and it’s good for snorkeling. As it’s in the centre of the town there are lots of facilities and cafes nearby, but in the summer it’s a very popular spot and parking can be tricky, with traffic prohibited during these months, so be prepared for a bit of a walk.
Half a mile west of Looe, stretching along the coast, Hannafore Beach is a sandy, shingle bay with a rocky reef and views of St George’s Island. At low tide it’s brimming with rock pools, making it fun and games for the whole family to enjoy, and it’s a wonderful sun trap in summer months thanks to its south east facing position. Because of its location over the river, the beach never really becomes too busy, but equally there aren’t any facilities nearby. It’s popular with dog walkers as it’s amongst the few dog-friendly beaches in the area, and having explored you can extend your excursion to a stroll along the promenade or a potter around the coast path to the wonderfully scenic Talland Bay. There is roadside parking along the sea front above the beach, but it can be difficult to find a space. Alternatively, there is a large car park in West Looe, around 10 minutes away on foot.
A small and pleasant grey sand beach with rocks exposed at low tide, Plaidy Beach is simply a nice place to visit and take in the scenery. There aren’t any facilities, and there’s no parking nearby so it’s one to reach on foot. There’s a slipway to the beach, but you will have to access it by walking along the coast path, parking at Millendreath or Looe and it’s worth keeping in mind that it’s quite steep from both directions. Millendreath is closer and the walk should take around 20 minutes. Dogs are allowed on the beach all year round, so it’s a charming place to take them for a walk while you’re in the area.