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I have a beach scene here and when rendering in cycles, the sand at the front looks very low-poly even with smooth shading. I turned off the displacement map but that also took away the bumps in the sand. the plane has a lot of geometry and it looks fine in material preview and Eevee. what am I doing wrong?

all textures are packed

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eevee cycles viewport scene basics bad sand render

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It seems like you simply have too little geometry on that plane. That it looks better in Eevee seems to have to do with how shadows are being handled: there is far less contrast, so it's harder to tell if the vertices are low-poly.
Try increasing the amount of subdivisions of the beach.

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