How to plan a sustainable tourism trip to Cornwall's coastal areas?

11 June 2024

Engaging in sustainable tourism means preserving the natural environment, promoting local culture, and stimulating the economy of the places you visit. The beautiful county of Cornwall, located in the southwest of England, offers an array of coastal areas that are perfect for a sustainable tourism trip. Below, we'll guide you through the process of planning such a trip, focusing on the best times to visit, the most scenic beach towns, and how to respect and help sustain the local environment and economy.

When is the Best Time to Visit Cornwall’s Coastal Towns?

Understanding the best time to visit Cornwall can significantly improve your trip. Cornwall's coastal areas are stunning year-round, but it's the Summer months where they truly shine. However, consider planning your visit in the shoulder seasons—Spring and Autumn—to avoid the peak tourist traffic.

Spring offers a quieter stay, as many tourists are yet to begin their travels. The weather is generally mild during this time, making it perfect for long coastal walks and picnics on the beach. The spring flower blooms, particularly the wild primroses and bluebells, add an extra touch of magic to the Cornish countryside.

Autumn, on the other hand, provides a different perspective of Cornwall's coastal beauty. The mild weather persists, and the changing colors of the foliage create a picturesque backdrop for your trip. This is also a great time for bird-watching, as numerous migratory species pass through Cornwall at this time.

Remember, sustainable tourism means avoiding contributing to over-tourism, so consider these less busy times for your visit.

How to Choose the Best Coastal Towns to Visit?

Cornwall is brimming with charming coastal towns each with its unique allure. Here are a few towns that you should consider for your sustainable tourism trip.

St Ives is a must-visit. Known for its thriving arts scene, you can visit the Tate St Ives and the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden. It's also home to Porthminster Beach, where you can relax on the sand or take a dip in the clear blue waters. St Ives also offers a range of sustainable accommodation options, from eco-friendly hotels to self-catering cottages.

Looe is another town that will captivate you. This fishing town is split into East Looe and West Looe by the river running through its center. Here, you can enjoy fresh, locally-caught seafood, explore the narrow streets filled with independent shops, or visit the local wildlife on Looe Island.

Lastly, consider a visit to Bude, a tranquil town known for its stunning beaches and outdoor activities. You can surf at Summerleaze Beach, walk along the Bude Sea Pool, or explore the Bude Canal. It's a haven for those looking to connect with nature.

Each of these towns offers a unique slice of Cornish life and provides opportunities for you to support local businesses and engage in eco-friendly activities.

How to Enjoy Cornwall’s Beaches Sustainably?

Cornwall boasts over 300 miles of coastline, which includes some of the best beaches in England. Being a responsible visitor means enjoying these natural wonders without causing harm.

Follow the countryside code: leave no trace. Take your litter with you or dispose of it properly in provided bins. Stick to marked paths when walking to prevent erosion and disturbance to local wildlife.

Consider using eco-friendly sunscreens to protect the marine life. Many traditional sunscreens contain chemicals harmful to coral and other marine organisms. Also, if you're planning a beach barbecue or picnic, make sure it's permitted and ensure you leave no trace behind.

Where to Stay for a Sustainable Trip?

Choosing accommodation that adheres to sustainable practices is a crucial part of planning your trip. Look for establishments that use renewable energy, recycle waste, employ local staff, and support community initiatives.

Cornwall offers a variety of eco-friendly hotels and guesthouses. The Scarlet Hotel in Mawgan Porth, for example, is an adults-only hotel known for its eco-credentials. It uses renewable energy, has a natural reed-bed swimming pool, and offers locally-sourced organic food.

For a family-friendly option, consider the Bedruthan Hotel and Spa, sister property to the Scarlet. It provides similar eco-friendly features, but with additional family-centered facilities.

If hotels aren't your style, consider eco-camping or staying in a sustainable self-catering cottage. There are plenty of options available, each offering a unique way to connect with Cornwall's natural beauty.

Planning a sustainable tourism trip takes some effort, but the rewards are immense. Not only do you get to enjoy Cornwall's stunning coastal areas, but you also play a part in preserving these wonderful places for future generations.

Exploring the South West Coast Path and Other Attractions Sustainably

One of the most captivating features of Cornwall is the South West Coast Path, a 630-mile long trail that spans from Somerset's Minehead on the edge of the Exmoor National Park to the shores of Poole Harbour in Dorset. As you wind your way along the Cornish leg of this path, you'll pass through picturesque fishing villages, cliff-top lookouts, and stretches of golden beaches.

To minimize your carbon footprint, consider exploring the path on foot, by bike, or even on horseback. There are numerous car parks located at various points along the path, allowing you to venture out for day trips. Pay attention to signage and stick to the designated path to protect the delicate ecosystems that line this coastal walk.

During your trip, be sure to visit some of the area's other eco-friendly attractions. The Eden Project, nestled in a reclaimed china clay pit, is home to thousands of plant species from around the world. This spectacular project emphasizes the importance of sustainable living and conservation.

For history buffs, St Michael's Mount is a must-see. This tidal island is a part of the National Trust and has been inhabited since the Iron Age. You can explore the castle, gardens, and small community that calls this unique place home.

Remember, when visiting these attractions, respect the rules in place, and always aim to leave no trace of your visit.

Engaging in Eco-Friendly Activities in Cornwall

Apart from exploring the coastal path and visiting attractions, you can also engage in a range of eco-friendly activities that allow you to truly appreciate the Cornish coast.

If you're a water sports enthusiast, the crystal-clear waters of the West Coast and the North Cornwall coast provide great opportunities for surfing, kayaking, and paddleboarding. However, ensure that you use equipment from sustainable sources and avoid disturbing marine life.

The numerous fishing villages dotted along the coast, such as Port Isaac, offer fishing excursions. Participating in these can help support the local economy. Remember to follow guidelines to prevent overfishing and respect protected marine areas.

The Lizard Peninsula is an exceptional place for bird watching. While observing these creatures, keep a respectful distance and avoid causing any disturbance to their habitats.

After a day of exploring, you might want to refuel with some local cuisine. Look for eateries that use locally sourced ingredients, as supporting these businesses helps stimulate the local economy and reduces the carbon footprint associated with transporting food.


Planning a sustainable tourism trip to Cornwall's coastal areas requires careful consideration and thoughtful choices. From deciding when to visit, choosing less crowded towns, picking eco-friendly accommodations, and engaging in sustainable activities – each aspect plays a crucial role in ensuring your trip leaves a minimal impact on the environment.

As you marvel at the breathtaking landscapes along the South West Coast Path, explore the Eden Project, or relax in one of the many fishing villages, remember that your actions directly impact these beautiful places.

Whether you're absorbing the history of St Michael's Mount, enjoying water sports on the North Cornwall coast, or sampling local cuisine, remember to respect the environment and support the local community.

Your sustainable road trip to Cornwall may require a bit more planning, but the rewards are well worth it. You'll have the satisfaction of knowing that you're helping to preserve the beauty and integrity of Cornwall for future generations. So why wait? Start planning your visit to the Cornish coast today!

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