Latitude:50° 20.60′ North
Longitude: 5° 09.21′ West
OS Grid:SW:762 573
Penhale Sands


Penhale Sands is open for business! BN Representatives made recommendations for the management of the beach which were welcomed by the other organisations concerned. Devon & Cornwall Constabulary has been particularly helpful and both they and the MoD police are using the BN Beach Code. The strategy is to isolate and marginalise the criminal elements so it is very important that law-abiding naturists use the beach. The problems could recur so please inform BN of all contact with MoD personnel, the police or any others. The beach code is available from the BN web site.

The ban on using the top of the beach has been lifted but the Ministry of Defence could change its minds again tomorrow. The situation is complex and much remains to be done. Forming an effective beach user group is essential.

An article in the West Briton (4/8/2005) suggests that this beach might be lost to naturism due to inappropriate behaviour. Some of the comments from this website were quoted in the article. Attempts are being made in conjunction with the MOD, police and a gay, lesbian and transgender group as well as naturists to ensure that the situation is dealt with in a sensible manner and that the beach remains available for all responsible users.

A further article in the West Briton, (3/8/2006) headed “Beach Nudity Banned” suggested that, “The days of baring all on a stretch of Perranporth beach are numbered as a ban is to be introduced. The decision follows incidents of cottaging (homosexual men having sex in public) at the Perran Sands end of the beach. The area has been an unofficial nudist beach for many years but the community has been concerned about activities in the past few years.” The report continued, “Now Perranzabuloe Parish Council, the Ministry of Defence and Haven Holiday Park have agreed to support a full ban.”

Once again activities that have nothing to do with naturism and with which naturism wants not to be connected is being given as a reason for banning naturism. We wonder if naturism was not such a minority activity this action would be considered reasonable or fair. Again nakedness is being associated with sexual behaviour, when will people learn not to associate the two? Naturists, too need their rights protected from the people acting in the unacceptable manner.


It is quite possible to walk along the beach from Perranporth until you reach the naturist section at the furthest end of the beach.

From the A30, follow the B3285 through Goonhaven towards Perranporth. At the top of a hill before reaching the town, close to the entrance to the Perran Sands Holiday Village, turn north on to a minor road that leads to the small hamlet of Mount and by foot, to “St Pirran’s Oratory”. Approximately a quarter of a mile along this road, park and follow the footpath past the Oratory, over dunes, to the sea.


Perranporth benefits from a wonderful, wide, sandy beach backed by the dunes of Penhale Sands. Naturists use of the top part of the two mile long beach is well known and tolerated.

There are good facilities in Perranporth.

The beach is patrolled by RNLI lifeguards during the holiday season but they do not trouble naturist users at the northerly end of the beach.


Caution! – This north coast beach, like many others, is exposed to North Atlantic waves. This often results in surf that is a major attraction to expert surfers from far afield. If you are not a surfer swim with care when the surf is up. Windbreaks are also popular!

Naturists also use Holywell Bay about a mile to the north, beyond the village of Holywell.


  1. Was on the beach recently and saw plenty of MoD signs stating Nude Sunbathing is Prohibited on MoD land. These signs were the full length of the beach.
    Why can BN not campaign for Penhale to be officially a naturist beach. Cornwall has the most coast line of any county but not a single official naturist beach. [28 Dec 07]

  2. Following this week’s West Briton article, [3/8/2006] it looks like this beach too is going to be closed. We have not been there for about three years, due to the increasing bad behaviour of men in the dunes, which, even then, was spilling over onto the beach itself. Sounds like things have got worse and they’ve spoiled it for everyone. Best wishes,

  3. Many of your readers may not know but the beach and sand dune area (approximately 1000 acres) to the North of the Bourne Leisure Caravan Park (middle of the beach) belongs to the Ministry of Defence (MOD); ownership extending to the mean high water mark.

    To clarify a point, the MOD does not allow nude sunbathing on this beach. The unofficial naturist activity that happens at the very northern end, against the cliffs, has been tolerated because it has been, in the past, done with discretion. Unfortunately, because of the inappropriate actions and behaviour of a few individuals, this tolerance is now being reviewed.

    The reason for this is that the training activities that go on at Penhale Camp include many young persons with Cadet Forces and indeed groups from local schools. Recently there has been an instance of a lewd approach to a group of young persons and an instance of a group, while map reading, stumbling upon a couple engaged in inappropriate sexual activity in, effectively, a public space. The MOD has a Duty of Care for all persons, especially these youngsters, and must keep their welfare as a priority.

    I would point out that blame is not laid at any particular section of the community. While some naturists blame the gay community, it is clear that some naturists now inhabit the fore dunes and have extended their ‘patch’ along the beach. Far from being discreet they now blatantly ‘parade’ along the beach and down to the water. This has caused offence to the local population and to tourists who walk the beach as it forms part of the SW Coastal Path.

    The MOD is now reviewing the situation with a view to the future use of the MOD owned part of the beach. Until a final decision is made, all genuine naturists are requested to ensure that they keep to the far Northern end of the beach, do not enter the sand dunes (MOD training area) and comply with the reasonable requests of the MOD representatives who manage the area.

    Finally, to try and prevent any more inappropriate behaviour the MOD Police, in cooperation with the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary will be patrolling the area.

  4. I was in Cornwall for the last 2 weeks and took advantage of the beach at the top end of Perranporth where I was joined by between 20 and 30 similar minded people of all ages and many families enjoying the sun sea and sand with a touch of surf a good time was had by all and it was very friendly and relaxed. The locals and the lifeguards turn a blind eye to the top of the beach.

  5. My wife and I have holidayed in Perranporth for about five years and fortunately for us, Penhale sands was the first place we managed to fulfil a longing to be naturist in the burning summer sun. The locals on the beach, as in Perranporth itself, were also very friendly and the beach has the most beautiful sands and sea views, an entire day can be wasted there with the family ! My wife and I are fascinated with Cornwall, and have been for years.

  6. We spent a fine day here in Summer 1999 and hope to return soon. It was odd, considering the publicity and promotion of the beach, that it seemed around 80% clothed at first. As the day wore on, however, this was reversed to around 80% naturist.

    Maybe it took enough brave souls to lead the way. Not us ! We thought we were in the wrong place !

    I recommend parking yourself near the top of the beach. Although the natural alcoves in the cliffs which appear at low tide are lovely, the tide comes in very fast.

  7. Following your instructions I managed to find my way to the far end of Penhale Sands, where a very pleasant afternoon was had. Many thanks for the details.

    P. S. Is it just me or do other people find the activities of single men in the dunes off putting?, and why do they bob up and down like Meer Cats?

  8. Nearly two miles of sand to stroll across at your own pace….cliffs, caverns, sand dunes, and a naturist-tolerant policy at the Northern end- a prime stretch of coastline. Certainly one of the best beaches I have visited in the UK. A great spot for families wanting to enjoy the beach, with good access from the town (though it’s rather a long walk from there to the Naturist side). The sea is pretty choppy – a favourite spot for surfers – so care is needed when swimming. I hope to make many more trips to this one.

  9. My very first introduction to naturism was enjoyed at the north end of Perranporth beach some 10 or so years ago, and I have returned for a holiday almost every year since. If you’re reasonably fit, the long walk from the town end is certainly worth it, and good exercise too! But remember – there are no facilities available at all, and for these you will need to backtrack some distance…a small price to pay for a beautiful place.

  10. In your directions to the Perranporth beach in Cornwall, you say “From the A30, follow the B3285 through Goonhilly towards Perranporth”.

    Goonhilly is MILES away on the Lizard! What you mean is GOONHAVERN!

  11. Have spent a couple of days on the Perranporth beach but have been put off by the men in the sand dunes spying on my girlfriend and I. She felt totally intimidated by them, and one guy was clearly pleasuring

    Will not be visiting again.

  12. Dear all, firstly, may I support your efforts in bringing together a website for all fellow naturists. Long may it continue, in these times when following our way of life is becoming increasingly more difficult.

    However, we are living in the 21st century, and regrettably, behaviour in these `couldn’t give a damn’ society are manifesting themselves more and more. Recently, I took my family, (4 children under 10) to Perranporth beach (accepted, not an official beach) but has been tolerated for many years. I am sad to report, that yet again, unscrupulous single males are `cottaging’ and displaying acts of anti-social behaviour guaranteed to make the hackles of any right-thinking person to stand on end.

    We were subjected to, some very inappropriate activity and were forced to leave as I do not wish my children to be subjected to such unsolicited and abhorrent acts.

    Would it be possible to alert well-meaning and genuine naturists to the potential perils of visiting this beautiful stretch of sands and hopefully stamp out this unwarranted behaviour by the sheer pressure of numbers.

    Sadly, it appears to be a sign of the times. Keep up the good work. Many thanks for all your efforts.

  13. I have been surfing at Penhale beach for 10 years and just in the last couple of years there seems to have been a big increase in the number of ‘dune perverts’ and gays . Best thing to do is to sit right in the top corner away from the dunes then you also have rock pools to look around in as well!

    Beautiful beach,great waves.

  14. I first tried naturism here at Penhale sands during the summer of 2003 and am a convert this is a great beach and has great views. At low tide you can walk out and explore caves and rock pools. There are nice people that seem to use the beach throughout the summer and are a pleasure to talk to.

    A word of warning though, don’t venture into the sand dunes as this seems to breed and vast amount of perv’s.

    If you want to save yourself a long walk to the far end of the beach you can park all day for £1.50 in the “surfers car park” that can be reached by going though Perran Sands holiday park (you have to pay to park at the reception).

    Have a great summer guys & gals.

  15. Since the early ’90s I have enjoyed the Penhale Sands beach more or less on a yearly vacation basis, and have found that mid to late June is perhaps the best time to be free of the problems of dune perverts which, judging by the previous reports, I assume must become more apparent later in the season. I have never witnessed any inappropriate behaviour whilst I’ve been there. But probably best to avoid weekends. The setting is splendid and I mix my naturism with sketching the rocks and pools under the cliffs, which are magic. This is a great place, and any saddos that happen to be around should not be allowed to ruin it.

    Swimming at the naturist end of the beach is not allowed due to strong currents. A lifeguard does visit that end regularly though on a quad bike, but they are not interested in any naturistic presence…just checking all is well.

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