Spending time by the sea, especially in Cornwall, is food for the soul. The influence of the sea is everywhere in our seaside town, shaping Looe’s traditions, livelihoods and the way of life. In Looe, you can enjoy a holiday or short break simply watching the world go by, relaxing and recharging mind, body and spirit.
If you prefer a more energetic holiday, you can pack in a number of activities. Take advantage of being by the sea to try a new watersport like paddle boarding or a new hobby such as fishing, bird-watching or snorkelling.
If trying local food is one of your holiday pleasures, then eating the UK’s freshest fish, landed in Looe, with a sea view and a glass of wine or beer might be at the top of your list.
10 things to do on holiday by the sea
1. Walk by the sea in Looe
Walking by the sea in Looe need not be a strenuous exercise. The Hannafore seafront at West Looe is on the flat, with free parking and is a lovely place to stroll or sit looking out to Looe Bay and Looe Island.
At the end of Hannafore, the South West Coast path sets off across three fields toward Polperro with little or no gradient before you reach any serious climbing. It’s a wonderful way of smelling the ozone and exercising without too much effort. You can also take an easy riverside walk in ancient woodlands at Kilminorth Woods, West Looe.
2. Eat by the sea in Looe
Eating by the sea has got to be one of the joys of a Cornish holiday. Our favourite spot to enjoy an al fresco lunch or a cream tea is the Island View Café round at Hannafore next to the tennis courts. If you prefer a river view, try Tasty Corner on West Looe Quay or The Look Out on East Looe Quay. Bring your fish ‘n chips round to Hannafore and eat them looking out to Looe Island.
Enjoy seafood at the tiny Harbour Café tucked around the back of the Harbour Commission with the best uninterrupted view of the harbour and the ferry boats. Sit on the upstairs balcony at the Plough on the Quay sipping a Tarquin’s gin or a pint of lager at the nearby beach at Millendreath. What’s not to like!
3. Fishing in Looe
Fishing and Looe go hand in hand. You can while away a couple of hours with your own tackle from the rocks on West Looe Quay, or float fishing the rocky gullies beyond Hannafore. Book a two-hour mackerel fishing trip or spend a day aboard a deep-sea charter catching bottom-dwelling fish. Even book yourself on a shark fishing trip. All sharks captured are tagged and released alive.
4. Visit Looe Island
No other seaside town in Cornwall has an unspoilt island nature reserve lying just 20 minutes by boat from the town. Our volunteer roles with Looe Marine Conservation Group have allowed us to experience the unique peace and relaxation to be found on Looe Island also known as St George’s Island.
You can book a trip to Looe Island, and be totally at one with nature. Your only company will be the black-backed gulls, cormorants and shags, the merino sheep, the seals hauled out on the rocks or bottling in the water. You can join an escorted walk with the island’s wardens or roam around using a self-guided map. Only official trips booked through the Cornwall Wildlife Trust are permitted. No unofficial landing on the island is allowed.
5. Swimming in Looe
In Looe, you have a choice of two beaches. East Looe is most popular with families with young children as it has gentle access to the water with toilet facilities, shops and cafes nearby. The recent popularity of wild swimming sees many people swimming in more secluded locations in and around Looe such as Port Nadler and Hannafore Beach at West Looe which has lovely sandy inlets separating the rockpools. There is now an annual charity fundraising swim from Looe Island.
6. Spot wildlife in Looe
Anyone who lives in Looe or visits on holiday will appreciate how lucky we are to have an amazing variety of wildlife. A statue of Nelson, Looe’s famous grey seal, stands guard over the river. Sightings of grey seals are common as they haul out on Looe Island. Looe Bay is visited by pods of common dolphins and occasionally by basking sharks. In May 2018 one even spent an hour serenely cruising around the entrance to Looe Harbour.
Looe has one of Cornwall’s best rockpooling beaches. It’s also a birdwatchers’ paradise with several habitats from seashore to river providing shelter for many different species including wading birds, black-backed gulls and kingfishers. And the woodlands provide habitat for dormice, bats and badgers, moths and flora and fauna – the list is endless.
7. Rockpooling in Looe
Some of Cornwall’s richest marine habitats lie off the shores of Looe between Hannafore and Looe Island which falls within a marine conservation zone. For children and anyone who loves poking around in rock pools, you’ll discover a weird and wonderful world whose inhabitants only make an appearance twice a day with the ebb and flow of the tide.
What will you find? Crabs, anemones, pipefish, starfish, jellyfish and beautiful seaweeds and shells and lots more! As founding members of Looe Marine Conservation Group, we can share lots of knowledge during your stay.
8. Snorkel in the sea
A magic world lies beyond the shoreline in Looe. The sun-kissed shallows come to life when you don a mask and flippers and go snorkelling. It’s no wonder Looe and Whitsand Bay has acquired special status as a marine conservation zone.
What will you see? Kelp forests sway in the current; lobsters and crabs scuttle across the seabed; flounders lay camouflaged in the sand and many species of fish use the seagrass beds as their nursery grounds. Look out for alien looking cuttle fish, rare gobies, blennies , stalked jellyfish. The inquisitive grey seals become ballerinas under the water.
9. Crabbing by the river
The pastime of catching crabs on crab lines using either fish bait or bacon is part of Looe’s heritage as a family-friendly seaside town. It’s very popular as it provides hours of cheap entertainment for all the family.
Looe has pioneered the introduction of a crabbing code and the UK’s first crab line recycling scheme to encourage people to consider the welfare of the crabs and ensure they dispose of their crab lines in a responsible way.
10. Kayaking in Looe
Within the Looe area, there are several places to undertake watersports. The Old Sardine Factory on West Looe Quay hires out canoes, kayaks and paddleboards, giving lessons, escorting adventure trips on the river and out on the water. The nearby beach of Millendreath also has a watersports facility.
A public slipway at the end of the Millpool Car Park charges a small flat fee for launching your own leisure craft. If you stay at Polraen as a hotel guest, you can bring your own boat or kayak to Cornwall and park for free at Polraen. (Please arrange in advance of stay arrival.)