Guide to Porthleven Cornwall

Porthleven is mainland England’s most southerly fishing port, sitting between Lands End and the Lizard Point in Cornwall.

Porthleven harbour
Looking back towards Porthleven Inner Harbour

Porthleven has built up around the need for a harbour, with the location chosen because there had been many shipwrecks in the bay. The harbour offers a historic character and a very interesting structure. The rock and pier entrance is followed by a winding route to an enclosed inner harbour, all constructed to provide a safe tidal harbour within the bay.

The nearest beach is Porthleven Beach, which lies to the east of the town beside the entrance to the harbour and is separated from the harbour by a granite pier, which stands in front of the Porthleven Institute and clock tower. When the tide is out, the beach extends for many miles to Gunwalloe in the east, although it all but disappears at high tide. Loe Bar is within the middle of this stretch, a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and well worth visiting. The Loe is the largest natural freshwater lake in Cornwall, and the Bar is a half-mile shingle/flint bank that separates the Loe from the sea. Loe Bar is approximately a two-mile gentle walk from Porthleven along the coast path or, if you are lucky the tide is out the sandy beach.

The location and conditions make this a great surfing location on either side of the harbour entrance, with the pier being a perfect spot to watch.

Porthleven harbour front
Looking from the Inner harbour out towards the sea

If you want something other than the beach, Porthleven has a good range of interesting shops and galleries offering local Cornish art and crafts.

Time spent on the beach or exploring the shops can be thirsty and hungry work. You have a wide selection of cafes, restaurants and pubs that can cover everything from tea and cake, to a Cornish pasty or a full meal with options of locally caught fish.

If you visit in bad weather, you can understand why they needed to build a safe harbour. Thus, the weather may impact a trip, as seen in the two videos below, which were taken just two days apart in early July.

A car is the best option to get to Porthleven, from Truro follow the A39 to Penzance, at Helston follow the signs to Porthleven. The main car park can get full, but most of the roads have on-street parking.

For more information on the area have a look at our Lizard destination or Cornwall destination pages.