75 Years at Pentewan

One of Cornwall’s best-loved holiday parks is already making preparations for next year when it will celebrate a major milestone anniversary after successfully establishing itself as a staple destination for holidaymakers visiting the south coast.

Family-owned Pentewan Sands first opened its doors almost three quarters of a century ago. Now the five-star holiday park, based in an unbeatable location on its own private beach overlooking Mevagissey Bay, is due to mark its 75th anniversary in 2020.

The park’s sister site, the equally popular Heligan Caravan and Camping Park, is just a few miles away alongside the famous Lost Gardens of Heligan. It is celebrating its own milestone anniversary this year, with the park reaching its 16th year of operation in 2019, after first opening in 2003.

Both venues are still owned by the same family which originally opened Pentewan Sands in 1945. They have become well-established holiday parks in the UK over the years, with some guests returning every year, including some of the regular visitors to Pentewan Sands having holidayed consecutively at the park for more than 30 years.

John Tremayne Willis, Owner and Director of both Pentewan Sands Holiday Park and Heligan Caravan and Camping Park, said: “Both sites have been part of our family for almost three-quarters of a century, and, for us, that’s the draw. We are an independent, family-owned business, and our parks have a huge focus on being family-friendly, where everyone is welcome. I think that’s why people return time and time again, year after year, wanting to spend a summer with us in our own slice of paradise. Pentewan and Heligan are both in stunning locations, completely individual, offering something that little bit different for guests visiting Cornwall.”

Pentewan Beach

Located between St Austell and Mevagissey, Pentewan was once home to a thriving harbour used mainly to export China Clay from the hills above St Austell, a rival to Charlestown. A narrow-gauge railway linked Pentewan with St Austell, this is now a recreational route used by walkers and cyclists. The harbour fell into decline during the 1940s, the lack of trade meaning there was no need to stop the entrance from silting up. Shortly after this a decision was made to transform the beautiful Pentewan Sands into a holiday destination.

The park was the brainchild of Air Marshal Sir John Tremayne, his World War One air force observer Sir Victor Sasson and submariner Cecil Malleson VC. Incorporated on 5 April 1945, the trio set out to welcome holidaymakers to their paradise by the sea and the holiday park opened later that year.

Situated on a privately-owned beach with unparalleled views of the beautiful Mevagissey Bay, it isn’t hard to see why Pentewan Sands was an instant success.  Almost 75 years on, the five-star holiday park is still under the ownership of the Tremayne/Willis family, relatives of the original founder Sir John Tremayne whose family also owned the Heligan estate.

Family friendly

Today Pentewan Sands offers more than 400 pitches for tents, caravans or motorhomes, and 131 modern holiday homes which are available to rent each year, including their new flagship home ‘The Lookout’. Many holiday homes are booked in advance by the park’s long-standing regular visitors,  Pentewan enjoys 79 per cent of repeat and recommended visitor bookings year on year, with a long waiting list for peak dates in school holidays. In 2020, the park will be adding another wheelchair-friendly holiday home to its offering.

One couple, Shirl and Merv Randall from Churchdown, Gloucestershire, have been visiting for 37 years.  Shirl said  “Even on our very first visit to Pentewan Sands 37 years ago it was a beautiful place to holiday, but since then, the site facilities have grown so much, and it all makes our holidays very enjoyable.”

For families there’s plenty to keep the kids entertained in all weathers, with an outdoor play park on the beach and excellent facilities at The Seahorse leisure centre, a state-of-the-art clubhouse which boasts two large indoor swimming pools, a 200-seat restaurant and entertainment area, a soft-play centre, a modern arcade and a large exterior balcony overlooking the beach. Other on-site facilities include a fish and chip shop, a small supermarket, and a popular Cornish burger café which opens from a beach venue each season. All this goes someway to explaining why the park has been the recipitant of a Cornwall Tourism Award for the last four years.


As well as its privately-owned glorious mile and half long beach, Pentewan Sands’ appeal includes its strong watersports offer – holidaymakers can hire kayaks and paddleboards from the watersports centre by the beach. There are also tennis courts and there is cycle hire available for those wanting to explore the route up the valley or cycle to the Lost Gardens of Heligan. Those that enjoy walking can explore the South West Coast Path towards Mevagissey or St Austell. The path runs right around the parks perimeter.

Pentewan Harbour

Pentewan village itself has a friendly pub, The Ship Inn, and several cafes and shops including a Post Office. A bus service runs between Mevagissey and St Austell, stopping at Pentewan. St Austell is on the mainline railway. If you have not visited this part of Cornwall before, or just driven through on your way to Heligan, perhaps take time to visit and see for yourself why people love it so much?