The seaside town of Looe keeps visitors entertained all year round while still retaining a working fishing port. Children love the safe sandy beach and its nearby rockpools whilst adults love to watch the boats return every evening before dining on fresh fish in a local restaurant.
Spoilt for choice
Looe's main beach at East Looe offers soft golden sand and slopes gently to provide safe swimming and a regular sun trap. It is easily accessible from the town providing all you need for a relaxing day including cafes and shops. Bordered by the unique Banjo Pier, visitors have been enjoying the beach and its bathing waters for over 200 years.
On the opposite side of the river, at Hannafore, there’s a different beach, a rocky one full of pools rich in mini-beasts. Looe Marine Conservation Group run regular rockpool rambles for kids of all ages where you will be introduced to squat lobsters, sea lettuce, strawberry anemones and many other wonderful creatures. When the tide is in, it’s a great place to snorkel.
A short walk out of town will bring you to other beaches, usually quieter than the main beaches due to the fact that they often require a climb down to them. Probably the most popular is Talland Bay, between Looe and Polperro, with its purple and green rocks and large sandy beach., there's even cafe's for refreshments.
Fish and Ships
Looe prides itself on its fresh fish, and be it award winning fish and chips near the river, or gourmet menus in smart restaurants overlooking the harbour, you know you won't be disappointed. Happy to cook at home, there’s a fishmongers on the quayside selling everything from cockles to cod.
Boats have fished out of Looe for hundreds, maybe thousands, of years and a small fleet still call the harbour home. Visitors can sign up to spend time out at sea in search of everything from mackerel to tuna. They can even try their hand at shark fishing, Looe being the main centre for this 'sport' in England. These days all sharks are tagged and recorded when caught and returned to the sea straight away.
Younger members of the family can enjoy catching crabs from the side of the harbour. A line with a net full of fish, a bucket of water and a bit of patience is all you need to keep the kids entertained for hours on end as they haul the crabs in, watch them scuttle around in the bucket and then release them back into the river, only to be caught again.
The Looe Valley Line is perhaps the most picturesque branch line in the UK, running down the valley from Liskeard to Looe. The half hour journey includes a steep descent from the mainline before following the East Looe River as it gains in size until the railway ends up running above the water as it reaches Looe.
Once a holy pilgrimage site, Looe Island, which sits just off the seafront at West Looe, is now a sanctuary for rare plants and wildlife. Left to the Cornwall Wildlife Trust in 2004 by the Atkins sisters who had lived and owned the island since the mid-1960s, the trust has continued to manage the island as a nature reserve ever since. They allow visitors to explore the island throughout the summer via boat trips from the harbour at Looe.
The island is home to many nesting birds such as cormorants, shags and oystercatchers. It has the largest breeding colony in Cornwall of the majestic great black-backed gull. In 2010 a great black-backed gull ringing project was started on the island. So far over 500 birds have been rung and sightings of the young birds have been reported from as far afield as north-west Spain.
On the rocks and in the waters around the island, grey seals can often be seen in the summer months. With adult males weighing over 200 kg, they are Britain's largest mammal and although common in the seas around Cornwall, are quite rare elsewhere in the UK.
Looe’s harbour and river separates east from west and is spanned by a Victorian bridge. Surrounded by hotels and restaurants, it’s the ever changing focal point of the town as the tide goes in and out, boats come and go and there’s a constant flow of people going about their daily life.
Plan your trip
Everything you need to know to plan your perfect trip to Looe
From the M5 at Exeter continue down the A38 to Plymouth and cross the Tamar Bridge into Cornwall. At Trerulefoot Roundabout turn left onto the A374 then right onto the A387 and follow the signs to Looe.
There are car parks on both sides of the river as you reach the town, the main one being the Millpool car park, which is over the bridge on the West Looe side.
Looe is served by busses from Plymouth, Liskeard and Polperro.
The nearest National Express stop is in Liskeard, eight miles away.
The Looe Valley Line is perhaps the most picturesque branch line in the UK, running down the valley from Liskeard to Looe, the last stretch right beside the river.
All mainline trains stop at Liskeard connecting with the Looe trains.
No, and many would say it doesn't need one. There are four convenience stores dotted around East and West Looe and several bakers (Good for pasties!), a greengrocer (which also sells meat), a fishmonger and a health food shop.
If you are really desperate for a supermarket, there's a couple at Liskeard, eight miles away.
It's an argument that's been going on for hundreds of years, and not one Visit Cornwall wishes to take sides on!
East Looe is the bigger of the two former towns. It has the most shops and a nice sandy beach. However, many prefer West Looe as it is a little quieter and if you know where to go, the beach at Hannafore provides lots of hidden corners for sunbathing, it's also great for rockpooling.
We have been informed the local saying is "One's the moneyside and one's the sunnyside" but which is which we are not sure?
It depends which beach, the main sandy beach at East Looe has a dog ban all year around, whereas Hannafore Beach at West Looe is fine for dogs.
No, but then again it is generally a safe beach with gently sloping sand and usually sheltered from big waves and currents.
Visitors should be aware that jumping from the pier is not allowed and dangerous.
Also you should not swim in the river.
Discover your Cornwall
Long sandy beaches, hidden coves, rugged moorland, quaint fishing villages, deep wooded valleys, bustling seaside resorts, industrial heritage, rocky headlands, colourful gardens, idyllic rivers and a bijou city, Cornwall has a bit of everything for those who want to explore.
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