Sea Swimming at Portscatho, Cornwall

When it was announced that lockdown restrictions were being lifted, I couldn’t wait to get in the sea and go swimming.

There are so many benefits to sea swimming.

Believe it or not, it’s not just a summer activity here, many of us like a winter dip as well.

With the spring sunshine warming up the water, the main decision I had to make was, which beach should we go to ?

Portscatho Harbour Fishing Boats on the Beach


Portscatho is a small seaside village along the coast of the Roseland Peninsula and is home to small fishing harbour. It may not be the most obvious place for a sea swim but we love it.

If you’re interested in exploring the Roseland Peninsula, you may like my essential guide to coastal villages in the area.

Admittedly, living in Cornwall, we’re a bit spoilt for choice. There’s wonderful Carne that stretches out at low tide to Pendower, offering a mile of sandy loveliness, and of course there’s nearby Porthcurnick.

But it seems we like hopping over to Portscatho, or as we like to call it, ‘Scath. 

I’m always trying to encourage my son to come open water swimming with me. He can be a reluctant customer at times.

On one of our many daily walks on the South West coast path we took in the view of Portscatho harbour. The May sun beamed down, setting the sea aglow. It was bright turquoise and crystal clear. For a moment I felt like I was on holiday. “Can we come swimming here tomorrow?” he asked.

I didn’t need asking twice. 

There’s no doubt that the wonderful May weather brought the Cornish coast to life and enticed us into the sea.

The coast’s pretty spectacular all year round but when the sun blesses us with its presence, the scenery takes on jewel-like hues. The sea becomes a vivid, clear blue, and the emerald green seaweed pops out against the silver rocks.

Fishing Boats In Portscatho Harbour
Portscatho fishing boat Saucy Pollock

The Sea Swimming Experience

What I like about Portscatho, especially right now, is how quiet, secluded and intimate it feels. So far we’ve seen the same family there each time so we’re not the only ones who love it.

There’s no sprawling beach at Portscatho, even at low tide, which means there isn’t a lot of room. Fishing boats rest here too. I think Saucy Pollack and Big Red Tomatoes have to be my favourite local boat names, so far. 

It’s been gentle and calm each time we’ve been sea swimming at Portscatho. Henry impressed me, on one occasion, asking to swim to the buoy and back with me. In hindsight, I wish I’d let him.

The sea is so clean and clear, taking in the view under the sea is as impressive as the coastal views surrounding us. The seaweed idly swayed beneath us but on this occasion, there wasn’t a fish to be seen.

While we haven’t swum any great distance, it would be totally feasible to swim from Portscatho to Porthcurnick beach. I doubt it’s even a mile.

You could, if you were up to it, swim to your right from Portscatho, around the rocks and make your way to a lovely, secret cove, only accessible via the coast path.

Either way, always make sure it’s safe to swim. If you’re going alone, let someone know.

Woman in the sea swimming next to boats
Woman sea swimming in a wetsuit

Isolation Chronicles

Sea swimming at Portscatho has given us many sweet lockdown memories. Pier jumping at high tide, messing about and wave jumping as well as swimming out to different points that initially looked beyond our reach.

Sea swimming is so easy and accessible to us (what a blessing), and it’s something we both enjoy.

It’s also reminiscent of my childhood when summers felt infinite and many hours were spent on the beach and in the sea, with friends. I love that I’m recreating these again; for myself and Henry. 

Mother and son wetsuits laughing

Author: plbedford

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  • I might even give it a go myself if the weather fulfills its hot promise this week! Love the photo of you and Henry – big smiles all round.

  • I’m hoping to visit in April from the 1st. If you want a swim buddy let me know as i hate swimming alone and would need a knowledgable friend.

  • Recently moved to Portscatho . Love to join ladies who swim . If you have any info I’d be so grateful. Novice to sea swimming!
    Many thanks

    • Hi Jennie, welcome to the area! If you’re on Facebook there is a Roseland Sea Swimmers group. I’ve not really been out with them but there is a chat on messenger where people say if they want to go out and where.