The small Cornish fishing village of St Mawes has a mighty reputation.

It sits at the end of the Roseland Peninsula on the county’s south coast, with picture-perfect rows of pastel-painted cottages, a mild microclimate and some of the finest sailing waters in the British Isles.

This summer Which? magazine crowned it best UK coastal town.

“St Mawes has always been exclusive,” says Mark Wilson, director of local estate agents, H Tiddy. “It is quiet, friendly and chilled with two pubs and two high-quality hotels. It is not overly commercial but has one of everything you need, from chemists to a supermarket and deli.

“It is surrounded by National Trust land, steeped in history with a castle dating back to Henry VIII and best of all, it has the deepest sailing waters in Carrick Roads, the estuary of the River Fal.”

Offering wonderful coastal walks and gentle beach life, the peninsula is an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and families return year after year, says Chris Clifford of Savills Cornwall.

“Second home buyers often have an emotional connection to St Mawes. It’s safe, somewhere children can run free, jump off the harbour wall or learn to sail. Families love the beaches which are generally quieter than those on the north coast.”

Property ranges from studio flats for £250,000 up to £4 million for trophy waterfront homes, but supply is tight.

The average house price across the peninsula is £450,000 but it’s double that in St Mawes.

“Buyers priced out of St Mawes look to Fowey, Polruan or Portscatho as well as Mevagissey and Looe where you get a lot more bang for your buck,” says Chris Clifford.

These are waterfront towns and villages on the south coast, all east of St Mawes.

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£450,000: a top floor two-bedroom apartment 50 yards from the waterfront

Savills has a five-bedroom modern house in Polruan at £850,000 and a two-bedroom house in Fowey, an ideal holiday let or lock-and-leave second home, for £450,000.

Back in St Mawes, a three-bedroom converted chapel with sea and harbour views is £850,000 and a three-bedroom semi looking towards St Anthony’s Lighthouse is £690,000, both with H Tiddy, where Mark Wilson adds: “With excellent public and private schools and quick connections to London by train and plane, people can have a top-quality lifestyle in South Cornwall.”

Karen Richards and her husband, David, bought a waterfront house in St Mawes 16 years ago and it has been a much-loved holiday home ever since for them and their three now-adult children.

David’s motor sports career, ranging from professional rally driver to chairman of Aston Martin, meant frequent overseas travel but Karen ensured the family was fully immersed in St Mawes’ close-knit community.

“St Mawes is magical and has changed very little over time,” she says. “From the fireworks at Christmas to summer regattas, this is a unique and sociable place where we all know and look out for each other.”

In 2013 the couple bought and refurbished The Idle Rocks (idlerocks.com; rooms, £150-£450 per night), now a 20-room Relais & Châteaux hotel with an acclaimed chef.

“I want the hotel to be a home from home, comfortable, relaxed and welcoming,” says Karen. “I love introducing people to this special place.”

Her elegant design includes rich GP & J Baker fabrics and vintage furniture.

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