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The Cornish fishing village of St Ives. Picture: Martin Keene/PA Photos.
The Cornish fishing village of St Ives. Picture: Martin Keene/PA Photos.

There it is, that shimmering light, that jewel stretching down from the cliff-top to the glorious sandy beach below.

The resplendent Carbis Bay Hotel, the base for our week-long family holiday in Cornwall - and it’s just come into view from our boat.

The Carbis Bay Hotel is rather special. Unlike the fool’s gold so prevalent in this part of the world - a remnant of the region’s famous mining industry - this is the real thing.

We’re out on a Hawaiian canoe, discovering the hidden coves of this beautiful area, just a mile or so from St Ives.

Our guide is Ocean Sports Centre owner Glenn, a man with genuine insight and passion for the region’s craggy coastline and varied marine life.

Glenn wowed the kids with talk of pirates, ancient shipwrecks and treasure islands and, as we gently paddle back to Carbis Bay beach and back to the Carbis Bay Hotel, I think there cannot be a more glorious destination in the country.

Lucky visitors have been enjoying this view since the hotel was built in 1894 by celebrated architect Silvanus Trevail.

While beach lovers may simply fancy a week down on the Carbis Bay sands, those after a bit more action are just around the corner from St Ives. It’s an easy drive, a pleasant journey by train and an even better walk by coastal path.

Fish and chips, cream teas, ice cream, quaint art and winding streets have helped make St Ives one of Cornwall’s most popular resorts, but you also can’t miss the opportunity to hit the open water for a journey to Seal Island with St Ives Boats, based just outside the town’s lifeboat station.

Viewing the rugged coastline as the boat smashes over waves for 6km, before finally reaching Western Carracks, where dozens of seals play in the water or simply bask in the sun on the rocks, makes for a brilliant, memorable holiday experience.

Flambards theme park is also great for a family day out. It houses a host of rides that are, with very few exceptions, suitable for children of all ages.

My son Charlie was able to go on most rides, including a pretty speedy rollercoaster and log flume - where he shielded his dad from getting wet - and, helpfully, there are plenty of clearly-marked measuring posts to prevent any wasted queuing.

No trip to Cornwall would be complete without a day at the Eden Project, which has become one of the UK’s most celebrated attractions.

It is an ecological theme park where visitors can learn about our place within the environment and find out more about the plants and trees that provide our food, fuel, materials and medicines.

The attraction is famous for two vast domes - the Rainforest biome and Mediterranean biome - with acres and acres of gardens and The Core, an interactive learning zone. There are fun outdoor activities too, with a bit of den-building from recycled materials a pretty good way to spend an hour or so of the visit.

I’m not sure what Trevail would make of our ramshackle effort, but I’m a huge fan of his work. Almost 125 years after he cut his finest gem on Cornwall’s coast, the Carbis Bay Hotel remains a masterpiece.