It is impossible to not fall in love with St Ives. The town is incredibly pretty with its jumble of fishermen’s cottages, quaint little shops and art galleries. The boats bob in the harbour, the light is amazing, and the greenery lush and inviting.
The St Ives Art Scene
St Ives is like a sub-tropical paradise on the tip of Cornwall, which is why it has been a magnet for artists over the years. Back in the 1920s and 30s, the town became the centre of the Cornish art scene, with famous painters such as J M V Turner, Barbara Hepworth, Patrick Heron and Ben Nicholson all finding inspiration in the town at various times.
Today the St Ives art scene thrives. There is a local branch of the Tate Gallery there, which contains a modern art collection housed in an imposing concrete building by the sea.
The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden offers a unique insight into the life and work of this amazingly prolific sculptress. The museum garden is full of her wonderful stone, wood and bronze sculptures; inside the house and studio, you will find her paintings and drawings.
You may also wish to visit the Leach Pottery, which is sculptor Bernard Leach’s former studio. Today the studio houses some of his work, as well as a new museum and working pottery studio. There are also a great number of small galleries and studios scattered throughout the town, where you can admire and buy local artwork.
St Ives Beaches
St Ives beaches are famous. Thanks to the Gulf Stream, the local climate in St Ives is far warmer than its latitude would suggest. The summers are hot and the winters mild, so the local beaches are a huge draw from holidaymakers.
The four main beaches are Porthminster, Porthmeor, Harbour Beach and Porthgwidden. Porthminster is popular with surfers. If conditions are right, head out into the water, but if you don’t have a clue, take some surfing lessons first. From the beach, you will see Godrevy Lighthouse, made famous by Virginia Woolf’s novel, To The Lighthouse.
Explore St Ive’s Cobbled Streets
Behind Harbour Beach is a maze of small fishermen’s cottages. The narrow cobbled streets wind up and down, lined with small shops selling trinkets, arts and crafts, and of course locally made Cornish pasties. The 14th century Sloop Inn is a good place to stop for a drink, but if you want to learn more about the town’s fishing, art, and tin mining heritage, pay a visit to the local museum.
Harbour Boat Trips
Boat trips from the harbour are very popular with visitors. Seal Island lies a few kilometres to the west of St Ives. A small colony of seals lives on the island and they are a friendly bunch.
If you visit St Ives in the height of summer, be sure to book your accommodation in advance. The town is extremely busy in the high season, as visitors come to enjoy the great weather, wonderful beaches and beguiling scenery.