Newtrain Beach, Cornwall
Padstow is certainly no secret, but while most visitors rush to find space on Harlyn Bay or Trevone Bay, those unbothered by a rocky beach should opt instead for quieter Newtrain, which has its own natural swimming pool as well as brilliant rock pools and opportunities for shell-collecting at low tide. Opening this July in Trevone Bay is Atlanta House, a Victorian holiday home offering Hamptons-style beachside luxury and sleeping 6-10 guests (from £1,450 per week; atlantatrevonebay.com) with optional extras such as wild-cooking lessons with chef James Strawbridge, beach horse-riding, and den-building. And, if you’re looking for a sandy beach while you are here, Porthmissen Bay, which lies beneath a natural blowhole, is also nearby.
Tyrella Beach, Downpatrick
Set within a conservation area, this flat, sandy beach, which is over a mile long and backed by 25 hectares of mature dunes, is an important habitat for local fauna and flora, and kept impeccably clean. It is an idyllic spot for picnics and watersports, yet it still feels off the tourist trail, perhaps because there’s not much else around it. Your best bet for dinner after a day at the beach is the Squid Shack in nearby Dundrum (facebook.com/squidshack), and Meelmore Lodge offers rooms from £70 (meelmorelodge.co.uk).
The Cornwall conundrum
It’s easy to love Cornwall – its natural beauty speaks for itself – but photos of overcrowded beaches and snide comments from locals may have put you off. Don’t let it. It is still possible to find quiet spots if you think smart, heed local advice, and be prepared to work a little harder for it.
Travel at quieter times
We know it’s not always possible, but if you can avoid school holidays (Inset days, anyone?), then you will be amazed at how much quieter things are. Similarly, while it is tempting to only travel to the beach in blazing heat, venture out on a cooler day and you will be wondering where everyone else is.
A seaside break that’s not by the sea? That’s just silly. Well yes, and no. Coastal hotels and campsites are often booked up way in advance, but stay a few miles inland and availability is usually better – plus, you will still be much closer to the coast than if you had stayed at home.
Ditch the car
We’ve all experienced the tailbacks driving into Cornwall, but what if you took the train and then swapped your normal four wheels for two? Think how smug you will feel when you arrive at the beach by bike and watch everyone else scrambling around trying to find a parking space.
Avoid the hotspots
An obvious one, but if you are looking for a quieter beach, then don’t visit Polzeath or Watergate. Ask locals where they like to go. It might not be quite as Instagram-worthy, but this is Cornwall: none of the beaches are ugly. Rather than Sennen Cove, for instance, why not try Porth Nanven – it might not be quite as easy to find, but that’s rather the point, isn’t it?