Five to try: Outdoor sea pools

The coast of Cornwall is dotted with outdoor sea pools which are as salty and as fresh as the ocean but with the added advantage of being without dangerous waves and unexpected currents…

Jubilee Pool, Penzance
It’s got bucket loads of Art Deco touches, spectacular views out to sea and the proud title of being the UK’s largest seawater lido; the Jubilee Pool sandwiched between the Promenade and harbour is one of Penzance’s most loved treasures. It’s been attracting swimmers and sunbathers since its opening in 1935 and has since acquired Listed status. In 2020 a geothermal pool was opened in one corner of the pool meaning you can now swim all year around in temperatures of up to 35 degrees, a UK first. Lifeguards and a toddlers’ pool make it a hit among families and the Poolside Cafe is a favoured spot in its own right. In 2024, they will be open from May to October.

Bude Sea Pool, Bude
This part man-made, part natural, sea pool nestles under the cliffs at Summerleaze Beach in Bude and is another example of Cornish handiwork from the 1930s. Built with the aim to provide a safe swimming haven, it is topped up twice a day by the waves of the Atlantic creating a unique environment which is close to the ferocity of the natural environment but sheltered from its extreme effects. Everyone from little ones getting their toes salty for the first time, to sporty-types practicing before braving the waves, are fans. It is now in the hands of the Friends of Bude Sea Pool; fervent supporters committed to raising enough money for its ongoing costs.

Chapel Rock, Perranporth
With St Piran’s flag flying ceremoniously on its summit, Chapel Rock on Perranporth beach is a recognisable feature on this three mile long stretch of golden sand. Home to a natural open air pool which is filled with sea water at high tide and warmed by the sun during the day, Chapel Rock is a honey pot for families. The sight of windbreaks and blankets propped up beside it and clusters of wetsuit clad children scrambling over it to splash through the sea pool is a familiar one, but an eye should be kept on the tide as dangerous rips form here.

Polperro bathing pool, Polperro
On the seaward side of Chapel Cliff, on the western side of Polperro's harbour mouth, lies a small tidal bathing pool. Although man-made, it looks like a giant rockpool, and you will find seaweed, starfish and crabs sharing your swim. There’s also a call for a head for heights and steady legs, for the steps going down the cliff giving access to the pool are steep. For those not so adventourous, there is a small paddling pool on the main beach at the entrance to the harbour.

Tidal sea water pool, Cape Cornwall
Tucked under the headland of Cape Cornwall and its iconic chimney, sits Priests Cove, a rocky beach with a slipway still used by a handful of fisherman whose little sheds sit adjacent to it. In amongst the rocks is a rectangular pool used by locals and visitors alike. There can't be a finer place to swim in safety in Cornwall with stunning views out into the Atlantic Ocean.

Please be careful when using sea pools and check the tides and lifeguard services before visiting.

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