Porthtowan name comes from the sandy beaches and dunes (towans). It became a seaside resort in Victorian and Edwardian times
Porthtowan Beach is a 5 minute walk down Sandy lane from the car park in the village, or by car turn right out of South Wheal Towan along the coast road there is parking in the Beach car park. The Beach is one of the best for surfing in the area, with a board and wet suit hire shop on the beach.
Porthtowan Surf Life Saving Club operate both in the water, and socially out of it.
Above Porthtowan is Wheal Towan mine. It was one of Cornwall's most productive 18th century copper mines and made a fortune for Ralph Allen Daniell of Trelissick, "guinea a minute" became his nickname as he was reckoned to make that every minute day and night. Only in rare cases were steam engines positioned underground, the first was at Wheal Towan in 1785
In 1897 the Rose of Devon floundered offshore. She was owned by one Onesimus Dorey when she wrecked off the coast of Cornwall on 29 Nov 1897. The dead bodies of sailors washed ashore from the wreck were buried at Mount Hawke and marked by a large Celtic Cross.