Having grown up less than a 10 minute drive from a number of beautiful beaches on Waterford’s Copper Coast, it usually takes a long haul flight and a major soar in temperature for my jaw to drop in awe.
But less than half an hour after landing in Newquay Airport from Dublin – courtesy of Aer Lingus pilot Captain Fidelma Mulligan — it was clear that the Cornish coast was going to do just that.
With its sublime turquoise seas and coastline stretching over 300miles, you’ll find picturesque fishing towns, wave-crashing surf beaches, dramatic cliffs, walking trails and more in this south westerly corner of England.
A six-hour drive from London, without traffic, Cornwall feels like its own perfect little piece of paradise.
With St Ives and Beachspoke’s Moon Shadow cottage our ultimate destination, we headed first for Watergate Bay and a late lunch at The Beach Hut.
Overlooking the glistening Atlantic, there were plenty of locals and tourists alike enjoying the mid afternoon sun, carefully sculpting sand castles and watching the surfers brave the white foam-encrusted swells.
Satisfied by salad, seafood risotto and steak, followed by a quick stroll along the beach, we returned to our car — sunglasses, check; road map, check – and with a quick ‘hurray for holidays’ we were on our way south to St Ives.
For those with more than a long weekend on their hands, there are fabulous driving routes north of Newquay towards Padstow where you can take in a multitude of golden beaches and the Seven Bays.
Just mind how you go on the hairpin bends.
With the sun beginning its evening descent we meandered our way to Fistral beach, beyond which you’ll discover secluded coves and lush greenery, as well as World Heritage sites such as St Agnes that give a glimpse of the area’s industrial mining past.
We stopped in for dinner and a quick overnight stay at the Fistral Beach Hotel and Spa, where you can enjoy supper with sweeping seaviews and a warm Irish welcome.
Restaurant manager Jake Conway will guide you through the food and wine menu, which includes a refreshing selection of Cornwall’s finest from local vineyards.
The following day we journeyed into St Ives — a haven for artists, food lovers and sun seekers — where an impressive bay exudes a warm welcome to the seaside town.
Driving along its cobbled streets there’s charm and character at every turn as the gulls swoop overhead, the water laps invitingly and the lure of a Cornish ice-cream becomes irresistible.
With galleries, restaurants, pubs and seaside shops in abundance the town exudes the casual and relaxed vacation vibes you normally find in Europe’s Med or Balearic islands.
Nestled a hop, skip and jump behind Porthmeor Beach, Moon Shadow is the perfect hideaway from which to explore St Ives.
Its luxurious design, with creative touches carefully chosen to delight in every corner, gives this boutique fisherman’s cottage a wonderfully romantic allure — the perfect pad for two.
Split over two levels there’s an open living space and kitchen downstairs with the entire of the upper floor devoted to bed and bath — complete with a walk-in rain shower and a six foot king size bed that screams ‘dream and doze’.
Meanwhile the toe-thawing underfloor heating will make you want to run home and rip up your own floorboards to put in the same.
Downstairs the Chesterfield sofa and tea light-strewn fireplace offers the perfect spot from which to enjoy a cosy glass of red after a day exploring the nearby coastline.
Beachspoke has five gorgeous properties on its books priding itself on offering ‘architecturally adventurous properties with personality’.
Check out Black Moon on the nearby Bamaluz Beach for beach-side views you could only dream of — we’ll definitely be back!
Beachspoke has teamed up with London-turned-local masseuse Sarah Lund who offers a selection of relaxation therapies from deep tissue massage to aromatherapy facial, reiki and reflexology direct to you in your cottage (Prices from £25 to £85).
It’s worth the splurge to iron out any remaining stresses that your time in Cornwall hasn’t already calmed.
Porthmeor beach is no more than 50 steps from the front door of Moon Shadow, so make sure to take off your shoes and walk bare foot along the sand giving yourself enough time to work up an appetite for brunch at Porthmeor Beach Café.
With Cornish-style tapas, fresh juices and smoothies on offer, your taste buds will tingle in no time whether you’re there for surf’s up or watching the sun set.
With seating indoor and cushion-clad booths on its terrace, you’ll be hard pressed to choose from dishes like grilled baby courgette, fig and sticky port balsamic; chilli, ginger and lemongrass king prawns; cauliflower, corn and ricotta fritters; chorizo potato bravos or the seared scallops and Cornish black pudding.
For dinner there’s plenty of great restaurants.
We ventured to the Portminster Kitchen where an Appletising cocktail made with Cornish Polgoon cider, vodka, apple and mint kick-started the evening.
Nibble on some bacon dust popcorn and salt-baked baby beetroot while you peruse the menu.
For starters we tried the boneless mackerel fillet with celeriac remoulade and pan-fired baby squid with wild garlic (both £5), followed by butter poached cod with green pea and crushed potatoes (£15).
It would be easy to come to St Ives and while away the days with leisurely strolls through the town’s quaint shopping streets and coves, but do take advantage of the tourist trails on offer further south along the coast.
There are sweeping views from Zennor down towards Sennan (for lunch try Ben Tunnicliffe’s in Sennan Cove and look out for the Irish Lady rock formation) and beyond there you’ll find mighty cliffs at every twist and turn as you reach Land’s End - England’s most westerly point.
Next stop New York! Only some 3,147 miles away.
Journey on then to Porthcurno and you’ll find the Minack Theatre - Britain’s famous open-air cliffside theatre that looks like it wouldn’t be out of place in the Greek islands.
Built by the formidable Rowena Cade, wander through the visitor centre to discover the fascinating story behind this marvellous venue as your inner thespian threatens to break through and make a run for the stage.
Where we stayed
Moon Shadow cottage by Beachspoke
Porthmeor Road, St Ives
How we got there
Aer Lingus Regional has launched a new direct route from Dublin to Newquay in Cornwall.
There are now five flights in operation per week — Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.