For a Cornish village to retain its charm you have to be able to imagine that it is a dangerous place full of pirates and smugglers.
This is difficult in St Ives where you're surrounded by crowds speaking broad estuarine, and the streets have the worn look of a busy commuter station platform.
The only danger appears to be from the drunken youths outside the night club (use the beach path to avoid this area at night) and the nearest thing to a smuggler or pirate you are likely to meet is Shanty Baba.
As you might guess, Shanty Baba is a former Chartered Accountant from Surrey who, having found accountancy too exciting, moved to Cornwall to tell ghost stories and research local history.
He takes guided tours on 'Ghost Walks' around the town early evening and tries hard to evoke the St Ives of old. He does this very well, but the cries of "Hello Shanty me old son" from the local drunks do nothing to aid the suspension of disbelief. Recommended none the less.
The places to eat appears to cater for the three distinct groups that inhabit St Ives in the summer.
- There are the beautifully situated expensive hotels serving indifferent food, patronised by the die hard middle class visitors.
- There are the very expensive gourmet restaurants for the arty lot. We only went to one (the Porthminster Beach Café) it was OK, but not really worth the money.
- And there are the very down market cafes and take-away's for the caravan park crowds.
Only the Italian restaurants seemed to offer good food at decent prices.
In general though, you'd do better to travel a little way out of St Ives to one of the village pubs. Somewhere like the Watermill Inn at Lelant for instance.