Downderry Beach, Cornwall



Heading to Downderry beach in Cornwall, I was dubious that it was going to impress me much more than the other more famously beautiful beaches in the county.

Downderry beach is a semi-secluded Cornish beach between Looe and Torpoint in the tiny village of Downderry, which has a handful of facilities - a local shop and not much else. It’s pretty remote, but you can get to the village in about 30mins via public transport on the number 75 bus from either Torpoint or Looe. It’s quite an infrequent service so check the times before you go as on Sunday's there is a very limited service which could leave you stranded until the next day!

Landing on the beach was like appearing unexpectedly in the Garden of Eden. It is a beautiful, wild beach, and so long that it has three defined sections. There are two ways you can reach the beach; you can approach from the village of Downderry itself, taking a footpath that runs alongside a primary school onto the sand, and coming over a raised series of rocks you’ll find yourself in a naked wonderland.
Or, you can approach from the opposite end, and come round the back over a gate and through a wooded area bringing you halfway along the beach. 

Like many nudist beaches, there is an informal layout that people seem to mostly stick to:

The first and easiest to get to section of the beach is generally where couples, families and individual nudists tend to stay and though this one is almost always reachable regardless of tide it can require a slight scramble at highest tide.

The second section is a large hunk of beach that is popular with single men and the occasional couple and is the area that will get cut off from the largest furthest portion of the beach when the tide is in - when this happens, the only way to get to it is to swim round, or approach from the back as described before.

The third section is the largest part of the beach and seems to be nearly exclusively single men, many of whom might come alone but don’t seem to stay that way for the time that they are here. What this seemed to mean is that whatever you want from your day on the nudist beach, you’ll be able to get it here if you go to the right part.

To walk from one end of Downderry to the other takes around 20 minutes or so as the course sand can take a bit of stomping to traverse, making you trudge in slow motion. I was able to see every part of the cliff-backed beach (prone to frequent cliff fall, so watch out), from the small rocky cove that makes up the first section, to the wide open second stretch and the third section with it’s little individual coves that make for the natural equivalent of private booths. On this day the water was clear and ideal for a dip - just note that the third section is the only section that is partly overlooked, so if someone was up there in the wooded area with binoculars you wouldn’t know about it.

Which brings us to the only niggle - when I visited the beach, it was populated with the usual suspects, all retirement aged men with Prince Albert piercings glinting in the sun, and probably no interest in real naturism, most seemed to be there to hook up. 

I must say, I really loved it there. The water was green/blue and crystal clear and it sparkled in the sun the way I didn’t know it could in England. It was absurdly hot too and getting to walk uninterrupted for a full half an hour completely naked was a rare treat. In fact, in terms of scale, the quality of the water, how relatively safe you are from prying eyes, it reminded me of Alexandria Bay in Noosa, Australia but on a larger scale, and attended in greater numbers than even that beach was.

I’ll definitely be back to this beach the next time the sun is out - I’ll check the tides beforehand, make sure I have enough water and snacks with me. It’s also handily close (around a 20 minute walk) to a nudist camp-site (Carbeil Holiday Park) so I could even make a weekend of it. If you catch it on the right day, I can hardly imagine a more handsome place to feel the breeze on your skin, and to stroll, carefree - and clothes free - in the sun.