These days it's most famous for the tall ships in the harbour, and both they and the harbour itself have featured extensively in films and on television.
This is the view out to sea from the tiny harbour.
Throughout the nineteenth century the little dock was packed with ships and the harbourside sheds and warehouses thronged with busy businesses, including boatbuilding, ropemaking, brickworks, lime burning, net houses, bark houses and pilchard curing.
This photo (left) looks from the harbour entrance into the port.
You cross from one side to the other on a tiny bridge which runs across the top of the lock gate. You need to cross to get to the pub on the other side. It's a lovely place to sit and drink beer or have a cream tea and watch the world go by. When the tide is in, the local children don their wetsuits and jump off the harbour walls into the water and have enormous fun.
It all looked very glamerous and romantic, but you couldn't go on board any of these boats or even get nearer than I was when taking the photos. They don't make their money from tourists!
After a couple of drinks in the pub I mentioned earlier, it was easy to imagine Jack Sparrow walking along the quayside. (Pierhouse is the beige coloured building at the end, and the Harbourside Inn is behind the white van)
A pretty place then, with lots of tiny cottages that seemed for rent above the harbourside and a couple of good pubs serving reasonable food.
We stayed in a Best Western Hotel in Carlyon Bay which was about a mile and a half (using the cliff footpath) from Charlestown. We walked down every evening of our stay, and walked back up again afterwards which was much harder. It helps to fortify yourself before hand ...again I have to mention the pub.
The hotel was good. We stayed in a deluxe double room with breakfast (£72), and we paid an extra £10 per night for a sea view. The room was large and clean, and the breakfast substantial. The staff were friendly and helpful and it was really good value for money. I'd certainly stay there again.
Hotel: Best Western Carlyon Bay 4/5 stars
Charlestown Harbourside Inn 3.5/5 stars (good pint of Doombar) and freshly cooked good food. Especially recommend the Blackened Cod and the Pies. Fruit machines and tvs popular I guess, but cause a loss of points with me. Friendly staff.
Pierhouse: Seems to be owned by the same folk that run the above! Food good, and didn't notice fruit machines or TV. Has accommodation but I imagine it could be a little noisy; you can't get much nearer to the sea though!