Par Beach is on the South coast of Cornwall in St. Austell Bay (previously Tywardreath Bay), it is a wide, shallow, sandy beach with dunes (which are growing) backing on to a local nature reserve. It is a well known beach for families, dogs, bird watching and kite surfing.
The main entrance with parking is off the A3082 at Polmear (just out of Par, heading towards Fowey), you'll see the road just by The Ship Inn. Main access grid ref: SX 087 531 and for SatNavs, the postcode is PL24 2AS.
Parking - Cornwall Council charge for parking, the charging period is 15th March to 31st October, from 9am to 5pm, daily with no exceptions. Blue badge users must also pay unless they have a valid tax disc marked nil & disabled or the vehicle parked is a specially adapted vehicle. This year (2012) has seen the introduction of parking meters which sadly replace our helpful car park attendants. There's one machine in the main car park and another by the toilet block. You will need to purchase a ticket "before you park" which means you'd best get a ticket before parking at the western end for example. The ticketing covers the whole area, so parking on a verge instead of a designated area does not prevent you from receiving a fine for un-payed parking. We would of course encourage you not to park on verges as this can ruin the vegetation and spoils it for everyone. The charges are up to one hour is 60p, day session £3.50. The main car park has 300 spaces and all the parking areas are of a rough surface of stone/sand with plenty of pot holes, there is a picnic area to the side of the car park. A little further along the access road past the main car park entrance are two small areas for parking next to the public toilets (inc. a disabled toilet), opposite the pond/pool. Onwards again, opposite the caravan park reception (Par Sands) is an all ability access to a viewing area with a bench and a wooden ramp down to the sand. At the far end of the access road (the Western end) is another small car park area where you can see some of the beach while sat in a car. It is a good spot for watching waders and other birds from.
Seating - Friends of Par Beach were delighted to provide four new benches for the beach after much fundraising from our members, in 2012. There is a bench at the Polmear (eastern) end of the beach, two benches at the far western end near the car park there and a fourth which is in the "orchid field". There is also the bench (provided by the council) at the top of the wooden ramp mentioned above.
Water Quality - The Environment Agency publicises the water quality of Par Beach, that direct link to their site takes you to the index of years that the data is available for (1988 to present). There is also a Par Beach Bathing Water Profile available on the EA's website.
Refreshments - Currently the Par Beach cafe is closed with plans afoot for a refurbishment or a rebuild in the future but nothing concrete has been agreed yet. It is owned by Cornwall Council. In the meantime, Par Sands caravan park has (March 2011) won a 12 month lease to run a mobile refreshments unit by the old cafe. It is tucked at the west side of the cafe building and has a little seating area in front of it. They sell hot/cold drinks, snacks (even a cream tea). There is often an ice cream van in the main car park during the holiday season. Alternatively there's the Ship Inn or the Royal Masala Indian Restaurant (both located at the entrance of the beach access road), the Welcome Home Inn and Par Inn are easily accessed from footpaths across the local nature reserve and the caravan park, along with Costcutters, Spar, Val's fish and chips shop, pasties at the Post Office to name but a few of the places refreshments are available in Par. You may wish to stroll round to Polkerris on the SW Coast Path for the Rashleigh Inn or Sam's On The Beach.
Dogs are still welcome all year round on the beach. Please keep your dogs under control especially by the duck pond and remember to clean up after them, there are plenty of dog waste bins around the site and the parking toll hut invariably has spare plastic bags if you need one. Dog wardens are often out and about and they will fine anyone seen to be avoiding scooping the poop as it were.
The South West Coast Path (read the new SWC Path safety code) which covers 630 miles of coastal paths from Minehead round to Poole runs along the beach. The beach also abuts The Saints’ Way (both paths are marked by red diamonds with red dots inbetween on the map above). In Oct 2009, the Telegraph named The Saints’ Way as no.2 in the top 5 pilgrim routes in Britain. The Saints’ way covers almost 30 miles from Padstow across to Fowey.
Par Sands caravan park no longer accepts tents or campervans but they do have 'vans for hire. The site is currently open between March 7th and January 7th each year.