Your guide to St Ives with dogs: our favourite things to do & see
Planning a doggy day out in St Ives? You’re barking up the right tree — this beautiful Cornish harbour town offers some excellent opportunities for four-legged fun.
If you were to choose a place in Cornwall that truly has a bit of everything — incredible restaurants, unspoiled beaches, rugged coastline, walking routes, cosy bays, old buildings, cultural activities — then it has to be St Ives.
The best things to do with dogs in & around St Ives
If there’s one thing that’s better than exploring everything this charming harbour town has to offer, it’s doing it with your canine companions. Hit up the sands of Bamaluz, head along the SW Coast Path, explore ‘The Island’, stretch your legs around Trewyn Subtropical Gardens or recharge and refuel at one of the town’s excellent independent dog-friendly pubs.
1. Head to one of the nearby dog-friendly beaches
Beaches provide perhaps the perfect backdrop for human-canine quality time — those strolls along stunning golden sands, refreshing swims in the ocean and lungfuls of sea breeze can hardly be beaten. Walkies with a difference, in other words.
There are several dog friendly beaches in St. Ives — Bamaluz, Porthkidney Sands and Mexico Towans are some of the most dog friendly in the area, able to be enjoyed by you and your furry friend at any time of the year.
Bamaluz is a smaller beach, nestled at the very north end of St. Ives, between St. Ives Harbour and Porthgwidden Beach (postcode TR26 1PR). Its secluded location lends itself to a quiet, relaxing location for a day by the sea near dog-friendly restaurants and pubs. Keep your eye on the tide times for Bamaluz beach, however — the high tide can come in fast and almost the entire beach returns to the sea.
Porthkidney — if you don’t mind heading just a little outside of central St Ives, Porthkidney’s stunning golden sands are great for dog owners looking for a bit more space for their pup to roam free. For optimal opportunity to stretch all four legs, checkout the tide times — it expands up to a mile out into the bay at low tide! The beach has a car park located at TR26 3DU.
Mexico Towans — this beach forms the central part of a three-mile slice of coastline collectively known as The Towans. Like Porthkidney, this one’s just slightly outside of St Ives near neighbouring Hayle, but it’s well worth the very short drive. Mexico Towans’ unspoiled sands are as popular for walkies as its waves are for surfing. There’s a free car park at TR27 5BS, from where you can navigate through the sand dunes (did you know that ‘towan’ is Cornish for ‘sand dune’?) to arrive at the vast expanse of pro-pup golden sand.
Although they have restrictions during peak season, honourable mention must also go to some of the other beautiful beaches in and around St Ives. If you’re not visiting during the summer, dogs are welcome at Porthmeor, Porthminster, and Porthgwidden, but follow the links to double check the dates on their seasonal dog restrictions before you visit.
2. Go for walkies along the South West Coast Path
For the uninitiated, the South West Coast Path is 630 miles of dedicated walkway starting at Somerset in the north, looping around Cornwall’s entire coastline before finishing up in South Devon.
The longest National Trail in Britain, it offers up an unparalleled array of incredible coastal landscapes — cliffs, beaches, dunes, geological wonders — and the sections of the SW Coast Path that pass through and nearby St Ives are no different.
Starting at Porthmeor beach car park near The Tate, take the path west and you’ll pass by Mans Head, Clodgy Point and then Hellesveor Cliff before the path forks into two — keep right to continue the long trek towards Zennor, or head left to slip back into St Ives.
If you and your pup are looking for some serious exercise and tackle the long route, Zennor’s dog-friendly local pub (The Tinners Arms) is ideal for some well-deserved homemade refreshment and sumptuous local ale. With a large beer garden, it’s one of Cornwall’s oldest pubs and has a grade II-listed building. The round trip takes around four hours, so prepare accordingly and bring plenty of water and snacks for everyone.
You can also head in the other direction, joining the SW Coast Path near Carbis Bay railway station, taking you eastwards past Hawkes Point and onto Hayle.
The trail is usually marked ‘SW Coast Path’ on any smartphone navigation app, so it’s no trouble to find. We’ve actually written a guide to our favourite sections of the trail!
Hellesveor Cliff along the South West Coast Path.
3. Enjoy a homemade bite to eat or mouthwatering local ale at a dog-friendly pub
St Ives, like the rest of Cornwall caters extremely well for pets and their owners when it comes to places to eat and drink.
Whether you’re a local or visitor, The Castle Inn guarantees a warm welcome for yourself and your furry friend. In fact, they claim to offer ‘the best welcome in St Ives with dog biscuits, water and plenty of love’ — so your canine companion is bound to feel included!
Not only that, but they offer an incredible selection of Cornish gins and real ales, with an excellent Sunday roast and selection of pies. The Castle Inn’s Facebook page provides an up-to-date rundown of what’s happening, which often includes details of live entertainment and photos of owners enjoying a pint with their pups in tow.
For some cosy, inviting atmosphere, The Union Inn is more tucked away but offers a similarly superb selection of ales and food, with live music. If you’re in the mood for something a touch more fancy coupled with excellent panoramic views, check out Pedn-Olva. Sitting atop granite rocks above St Ives Bay, well-behaved pooches are welcomed.
Nearby Zennor is home to The Tinners Arms. As we mentioned earlier, it’s a 700-year-old pub whose grade II-listed building and large beer garden are totally dog friendly. Well worth the short trip outside St Ives, or an excellent pit stop if you’re talking the St Ives–Zennor walk with your furry pal.
Image credit: The Tinners Arms, Facebook.
4. Soak up sea views, wildlife & history with a walk around ‘The Island’
On the north end of St. Ives is The Island (TR26 1SZ), home to 13th-century St Nicholas Chapel. Though more of a peninsula than an island, this area features a nice, relaxing route on which you can walk your dog, with breathtaking sea views from nearly every part of the path.
Just a short walk from the main town centre of St Ives, it’s easily accessible and fairly flat, making for the perfect stroll for older dogs or families with children.
The Island has an interesting bit of history. A famous lookout in St Ives, it was originally called Pendinas, roughly translating to ‘fortified headland’. Whilst functioning as a chapel initially, by the 1800s it’s believed St Nicholas Chapel was used as a lookout post.
In the mid-1800s, a gun battery was installed on The Island to protect from French invasion. What’s now SurfHouse St Ives used to function as the barracks for the gunners. Around 1945, The Island became a coastguard lookout before being stood down in the 1990s.
Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife — as a jutting headland, it provides an excellent pitstop for migratory birds in autumn. Puffins and even seals have been spotted, too. On the first Saturday in August, The Island even comes alive with its own summer disco!
5. Stroll around St Ives’ hidden gardens
Don’t fancy going too far? For a low-key relaxing bit of light activity with Fido, the Trewyn Subtropical Gardens is nestled at the heart of St. Ives.
Named after sculptor Barbara Hepworth’s studio, Trewyn, it’s an immaculate little hidden gem located just off Bedford Road, up the hill by the Methodist church (TR26 1AG). Beware, it’s inconspicuous and easy to miss!
Whilst small, it offers a lovely, landscaped refuge from the crowds you’ll both enjoy. Dogs need to be on the leads, but they’re sure to be entertained by the sights, sounds and smells provided by a few leisurely laps of the garden.
Meanwhile, in the nearby town of Carbis Bay, the Chy-An-Gweal Gardens (TR26 2JN) are another fabulous spot for you and your furry friend to enjoy a nice stroll. Take in the beautiful and calming flower gardens and the stunning views of the Godrevy lighthouse.
Stay a while in St Ives…
St Ives and its surroundings are a pooch’s paradise. Experience everything it has to offer by booking a holiday home, luxury lodge or camping and touring holiday at Parbola, our perfectly-placed holiday park nestled in the quiet Cornish countryside. We’re just a short drive or relaxing stroll from St Ives, Hayle and the world-famous sands of The Towans.
St Ives is one of a catalogue of beautiful, charming port towns and seaside villages dotted around the stunning Cornish coast, of course.
Maybe head to Cornwall’s cuisine capital by booking a holiday at Padstow Holiday Village, or discover magnificent Mawgan Porth and Newquay at Sun Haven. Then there’s our Penmarlam park, providing mind blowing panoramic views of Fowey’s estuary with Cornwall’s stunning South Coast at your fingertips.
If you’re truly in love with Cornwall, then you might also be interested to learn that we offer holiday home ownership at all four of our Cornish parks!