The name Port Isaac is derived from Port Izzyck, and is said to mean ‘corn port’. It has always been a prosperous fishing port, the main catch being pilchards. There were many shops; butchers, bakers, greengrocers, cobbler’s etc. and even a cinema. Boat building was a thriving industry with two boat yards. During the twentieth century the pilchard shoals declined and Port Isaac’s way of life began to change. Its isolation became the attraction to an ‘upwardly mobile society’ and 70% of the old village has been bought by second home owners. It has also attracted the film and TV industry and become a major tourist stop in north Cornwall.
Despite the changes Port Isaac is still a working harbour and fishermen ply their trade, harvesting the seas in all weathers as their predecessors did before them. Crab and Lobster are now the main catch although at the fish cellars in the harbour many varieties of fish are on sale. There are several interesting shops, a pottery and various places to wine and dine in whatever style you choose.
Accommodation in the form of B&B’s. hotels and self catering cottages are available. Further information and booking may be obtained at Visitors Centres and TIC’s in the area or on line.
A stroll around the harbour reveals picturesque cottages, the famous Squeezee Belly Alley - just 18 inches across at its narrowest point, and is recorded as the world’s narrowest thoroughfare. The small passageway next to the Golden Lion known as an Ope leads to Bloody Bones Yard where a body was once found in a wheelbarrow. (the murderer was never found) It is said that pirates used the tunnel for smuggling. A salvaged WWII naval gun now guards the tunnel.
The village is a rest point for walkers on the South West Coast Path, the next point northwards is
Tintagel and Southwards Rock and the ferry to Padstow.
During the summer months the St. Breward Silver Band play on the Platt, in the harbour every Thursday evening. Visitors follow the band up the hill to the strains of the famous Floral Dance.
On Friday evenings from late May until late August, The Fisherman’s Friends, a local sea shanty singing group (which started as an impromptu singing evening), can be heard singing on The Platt. The group have gone from strength to strength, appearing at The Royal Albert Hall and on TV.
A Lifeboat Fun Day to raise funds for the RNLI is held in August. Port Isaac has an active inshore lifeboat and with the help of the Coast Guard puts on a display at Fun Day along with stalls, raffles and a BBQ.