The man was killed after being hit by falling rocks from the cliffs at Sandymouth beach, in Cornwall, yesterday morning.
Emergency services were called but it is understood the man's body was trapped under the boulders and could not be retrieved by the time the tide came in.
The roads leading to the beach in Bude remain sealed off and an operation to retrieve his body is in place.
Coastguard teams, land and air ambulances and the fire service all attended the scene.
Devon and Cornwall Police later confirmed that the man had died.
A spokesperson said: "We were called just before midday with reports of a cliff fall involving a man at Sandymouth Beach in Bude. Emergency services attended and sadly the man was confirmed deceased at the scene. His next of kin have been informed. Coastguard and fire remain the scene and enquiries are ongoing."
Rescue teams began their operation to extract his body this afternoon.
Neil Oliver, HM Coastguard senior operations officer, said: "We were called to a report of a person trapped under rocks from a cliff fall. We treated the casualty at the scene and the gentleman was declared deceased a short time later by doctor.
"He was trapped by quite a weight on top of him. There's one big rock that I'd estimate weighs 1.5 tonnes.
"He was away from the base of the cliff. There's a little pinnacle that comes out - he wasn't even right in under the cliff. There was just some unstable rock around the pinnacle.
"He was climbing around the area around the pinnacle about 15 metres above the beach and must have dislodged something. Something from above must have fallen as he was climbing around.
"It's distressing for the family but we are doing what we can."