Cornwall's rugged coastline is not only a sight to behold above water, but it also hides a fascinating underwater world waiting to be explored.
In this blog post, we'll take a closer look at the top spots for snorkelling in Cornwall, including some of the best places to observe species of sharks, explore kelp forests, and encounter spider crabs.
With its clear waters, diverse marine life, and stunning scenery, Cornwall is a top destination for snorkelling enthusiasts of all levels. Whether you're a seasoned pro or a beginner, there's no shortage of great places to discover.
What is Snorkelling?
Snorkelling is a popular water-based activity that involves swimming on the surface of the water while wearing a diving mask, snorkel tube and fins.
The snorkel tube allows the snorkeller to breathe while keeping their face underwater, while the fins help to provide propulsion and manoeuvrability.
Snorkelling allows people to explore the underwater world without the need for scuba diving equipment, making it a popular activity for those who want to enjoy the beauty of the ocean without the added cost and training requirements of scuba diving. It's a great way to get up close and personal with marine life and to see the underwater world in a whole new way.
Tips for Safe Snorkelling in Cornwall
- Check tide times and weather conditions before you go: It's important to know when the tide is coming in or going out, as well as what the weather forecast looks like. Snorkelling during low tide can be dangerous, as you may get caught in strong currents or shallow waters. High tide, on the other hand, can provide better visibility and easier access to deeper waters.
- Stay aware of your surroundings: Keep an eye out for boats, surfers, and other snorkelers in the area. Avoid swimming near fishing boats or in areas where boats are entering or leaving harbours.
- Know what to do in case of an emergency: Make sure you know how to signal for help and what to do in case of a suspected shark bite or other emergency. Keep a close eye on your snorkelling buddies and make sure you have a plan in case someone gets separated from the group.
- Avoid snorkelling alone: Always snorkel with a buddy or in a group. This way, you can keep an eye on each other and help each other out in case of an emergency.
Best Places for Snorkelling in Cornwall
St Ives Bay
St. Ives Bay is a large bay and there are several spots within it that are great for snorkeling.
A sheltered bay just east of St. Ives, Carbis Bay is a great spot for snorkelling, thanks to the calm and shallow water. You can see a variety of marine life here, including crabs, fish, and starfish.
This lovely sandy beach is located in the heart of St. Ives and is a popular spot for snorkelling. Its clear waters are home to a variety of marine life, including sea anemones and crabs.
Godrevy located on the northern end of St. Ives Bay is a great spot for snorkelling, especially during high tide when the water is deeper. You can see a variety of fish species here, as well as crabs and other marine life.
Gwithian Beach is a long, sandy beach and is known for its excellent surfing conditions. However, it's also a great spot for snorkelling due to its clear waters and abundance of marine life. The beach is backed by sand dunes with wild grass, and at low tide, there are miles of sand to enjoy with large areas of rock pools and caves, making it ideal for exploring the underwater world.
This secluded cove on the north coast of Cornwall is a great spot for snorkelling and exploring the underwater world. It's also a good spot for seeing species of sharks such as porbeagle sharks.
Porthcurno Beach is a stunning beach located on the south coast of Cornwall, and it's known for its clear turquoise waters, golden sand, and spectacular cliffs.
The beach is located in a cove that provides natural protection from the wind and waves, making it a perfect spot for snorkelling, especially during calm weather conditions. The waters are home to a variety of marine life, including fish species like wrasse, blennies, and gobies, as well as crabs and starfish.
The beach is also located near the Minack Theatre, an open-air theatre with various plays and shows throughout the year, which makes it a great spot to combine a cultural experience too.
The Lizard Peninsula is a great location for snorkelling and offers several spots that are worth exploring.
This cove, located near the village of Gunwalloe, is a popular spot for snorkelling due to its clear waters and abundance of marine life. You can see a variety of fish species here, as well as basking sharks and blue sharks (in the summer months).
The cove is also home to some interesting rock formations and caves. However, it's important to note that the cove can be affected by strong currents, so it's important to check the weather and tide conditions before entering the water.
This long, sandy beach is a great spot for snorkelling and other water sports. Its clear waters are home to a variety of marine life, including spider crabs, cuttlefish, and lobsters.
The beach also offers plenty of rock pools to explore, which are full of interesting marine life.
This sheltered cove is a great spot for snorkelling, especially during low tide when the water is calm and clear.
The National Trust has worked to protect Poldhu Cove's natural reserve, which is home to a variety of marine life, including sea anemones, starfish, and crabs.
The southernmost point of mainland Britain is a great spot for snorkelling and diving. The point is surrounded by rocky cliffs and is home to a variety of fish species, including wrasse, bass, and pollock, as well as crabs and starfish. The area is also known for its kelp forests and underwater caves, which are worth exploring.
Kynance Cove is known for its crystal-clear waters, white sand beaches, and dramatic rock formations, which make it a perfect spot for snorkelling. The cove is surrounded by cliffs and is home to a variety of marine life, including fish species like wrasse, blennies, and gobies, as well as crabs and starfish.
Housel Bay Beach
The bay is known for its stunningly pretty little cove, near-white sand, and clear turquoise waters, which make it a perfect spot for snorkelling. The bay is set at the bottom of craggy cliffs, and its relatively sheltered location provides natural protection from the wind and waves
Falmouth Bay offers several excellent snorkelling spots within its vast body of water.
This small, sandy beach is located near Pendennis Castle and is a popular spot for snorkelling. Its clear waters are home to a variety of marine life, including sea anemones, starfish, and crabs.
This sheltered cove is good for snorkelling, especially during high tide when the water is deeper. You can see a variety of fish species here, as well as sea urchins and other marine life.
This sandy beach is located on the outskirts of Falmouth and is a great spot for snorkelling, especially during low tide when the water is calm and shallow.
The beach faces east across Falmouth Bay, and its shallow waters are perfect for children and beginners. You can see a variety of marine life here, including tompot blennies and cuttlefish.
This popular beach is located in the heart of Falmouth and is a great place for snorkelling and other water sports. Its clear waters are home to a variety of marine life, including sea anemones and starfish.
The beach is located on the south coast of Cornwall near St Austell and is a popular spot for water sports, including snorkelling. With its clear waters and abundance of marine life, Polkerris Beach is a great place to explore the underwater world.
Talland Bay is a small, quiet beach near Looe on the south coast of Cornwall, and it's known for its clear waters and abundance of marine life. The beach is a popular spot for swimming, kayaking, and other water sports, as well as snorkelling.
The beach is also home to lots of rock pools to explore, which are full of interesting marine life.
This small island off the coast of Looe is a protected marine reserve and a great spot for snorkelling. You can see a variety of marine life here, including seals, dolphins, and a variety of fish species. You'll need to charter a boat to reach it, but it's definitely worth it when you get here.
Snorkelling Experience Trips
There are several companies that run snorkelling trips in Cornwall. One of the best-known is Blue Shark Snorkel (operating from Penzance harbour) which offers full-day snorkelling trips to see blue sharks in the area. Previous snorkelling experience is required, and equipment is available to hire.
Cornwall Snorkelling Experience run by Cornwall Adventures operate around the Falmouth/Lizard area and offers 3-hour guided snorkel sessions for groups of up to 4 people.
Frequently Asked Questions
The best time to go snorkelling in Cornwall is during the summer months, when the waters are warm and clear
Yes, there are several species of sharks that can be spotted while snorkelling in Cornwall, including blue sharks, porbeagle sharks, and basking sharks.
If you suspect that you have been bitten by a shark while snorkelling in Cornwall, seek medical attention immediately. Contact the HM Coastguard for assistance and report the incident.
It's recommended to wear a wetsuit, fins, and a snorkel mask when snorkelling in Cornwall. It's also a good idea to wear a rash vest or wetsuit top to protect your skin from the sun and any potential jellyfish stings.
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