Looe, Cornwall is a coastal town and working fishing port on the southeast coast of the county. The town is divided by the River Looe, and the east and west are connected by a seven arched Victorian bridge. The town is a popular family holiday resort, and East Looe is the main tourist hub. There are so many ways to enjoy your time in Looe, from exploring surrounding bays to meeting rescued monkeys.
A Brief History of Looe
Looe became a flourishing trading and fishing port as it was one of Cornwall’s largest ports. As well as fishing and boat building industries, the town also exported local tin, arsenic and granite, and town records show that Looe provided 20 ships for the siege of Calais in 1347. The textile industry also played a large part in the town’s economy, as well as trade and transportation to and from Newfoundland. However in the early 1800s, the town’s economy started to decline. The effect of the war against Napoleon meant that Looe’s fishing fleet was prevented from getting to its fishing ground, the main source of income for the town. A few decades later, the building of a canal brought fortune back to the town. The canal was first used to transport lime from Wales which was used in farming, and later to carry copper and granite. Eventually, the canal couldn’t keep up with demand and so a railway was built to connect Looe with surrounding towns. Towards the end of the 1800s, the mining industry came to an end and the railways was used to bring in holiday makers.
Things to do in Looe
East Looe Beach
The calm waters of East Looe Beach make it the perfect spot for swimming, and the soft sand is just right for building sandcastles. Situated right in front of the town, the beach is within easy reach of cafes, restaurants and shops. On one side of the beach is Banjo Pier, where you can watch the boats come and go, or try crabbing along the harbour walls.
If you’re looking for a quieter beach, the twin coves of Talland Bay is a beautiful, unspoilt part of the Cornish coast. It’s part of the Polperro Heritage Coast, an AONB. Talland Sand is the main beach on the west side of the bay. It’s safe to swim and during low tide there are tons of rock pools. You’ll also be able to spot the boiler of ‘Marguerite’, a former French trawler which was shipwrecked in 1922. On the other side of the bay is the quieter Rotterdam Beach, overlooked by St Tallanus Church.
Looe Island is a marine nature reserve owned by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust. Between March and the end of September, the island is accessible by boat from the floating pontoon near the RNLI lifeboat station slipway. The 22 acre island boasts a variety of wildlife habitats including woodland, maritime, grassland, sand, shingle and rocky reef. You can take a guided walk around the island and learn about the Trust’s work in protecting the island’s wildlife. The wardens will help you spot wildlife including grey seals and great black-backed gulls.
Wild Futures, The Monkey Sanctuary
Since 1964, Wild Futures have provided a safe haven for monkeys. The sanctuary takes care of a range of different species of rescued monkeys. Open from April to October, you can take a tour of the monkey enclosure, learn more about our fascinating cousins and the work that goes into protecting them. Meet marmosets, Barbary macaques, South American woolly monkeys and Capuchin monkeys. Enjoy a snack at the tea rooms, take a walk around the Wildlife Gardens and admire the views out to sea.
Places to Stay in Looe
Talland Bay Hotel
This luxury hilltop hotel overlooks the stunning Talland Bay. Each room is unique, offering views of the sparkling blue sea. There are a few garden suites available for groups or families, while still giving access to the facilities in the main hotel. Enjoy meals at the hotel restaurant which holds a double AA Rosette award.
Silver Birch Guesthouse
This guest house is a beautiful period property with views of Looe, the iconic bridge and the fishing boats. The ensuite rooms come with TV, tea and coffee making facilities. There is also a patio where you can enjoy breakfasts and unrivalled sunset views.
The Rivercroft Hotel and Apartments boasts stunning views over the Looe River. All the rooms have fresh, contemporary decor with all the modern amenities. If you prefer self-catering accommodation, the Rivercroft also has spacious apartments sleeping up to four people.
Places to Eat & Drink in Looe
The Old Sail Loft
Set in a former quayside warehouse dating back 450 years, The Old Sail Loft is thought to be a former haunt for smugglers. Today, it serves up steaks and fresh local catch from the quay.
The Sardine Factory
The Sardine Factory serves innovative and modern seafood dishes and is a great place to make the most of the local cuisine. Only the freshest ingredients are used from the fish market opposite the restaurant.
Smugglers Cott was built in 1420 using timbers salvaged from the Spanish Armada, and was once a hangout for smugglers. A restaurant for the past 50 years, it cooks up quality food like local seafood, steaks and rib roast carvery.