Location guide: Devon beaches
Part of the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this is a top-quality beach. There are great views from the beach to Bigbury Bay and Burgh Island. Bantham is shallow and sandy so it’s ideal for children, who can do a little swimming or paddling. Lifeguards are on duty from May to September.
The waves here are also ideal for surfers of all levels – there’s a surf academy here for anyone who fancies some lessons. The beach has a shop and a large car park.
Combe Martin is a small resort east of Ilfracombe, located at the western edge of the Exmoor National Park. There are shops and food establishments close to the beach and dogs are welcome from October to April. The beach is mainly shingle and pebbles towards the top end, but low tide reveals plenty of golden sand and rock pools. There are also caves that become exposed in the high cliffs. Due to the beach being quite narrow, it has a sheltered position that keeps the sea protected from strong currents and waves.
Photo courtesy of Anthony Brown/stock.adobe.com
One of the finest beaches in the West Country, having won numerous awards, including one of Tripadvisor’s top five beaches in Europe, Woolacombe Bay is on Devon’s north coast. A big favourite with surfers, this three-mile stretch of golden sand backed by dunes has plenty of space for all. The sheer length of the beach means that even in the height of summer you can still find quieter spaces away from the crowds. The beach has easy access and three large car parks to choose from. There are lifeuards on duty from Easter to September, plus toilet facilities and a café. Dogs are welcome on the beach but there are some restrictions from April to November.
A vast sandy beach, lapped by shallow waters, Bigbury is dotted with rockpools. It’s located on a peninsula between Plymouth and Dartmouth, which are both about 20 miles away. A selection of watersports is available, including the adrenaline-filled kitesurfing. The beach has good facilities including a café that specialises in selling organic and locally produced food. Bigbury’s famous landmark is Burgh Island. Accessible at low tide, when the waters reveal a causeway that links it to the beach, the island overlooks Bigbury itself. When the tide is in, you can still reach the island by taking a ride on the ‘sea tractor’. It’s the only one in the world and was designed in 1969; the fare is just £2 each way. Well worth the experience! The island has a hotel with an upmarket restaurant and an inn that is over 700 years old.
Photo courtsesy of david hughes/stock.adobe.com
Saunton, between Croyde (to the north) and the Taw-Torridge Estuary, is a unique beach in several ways. It is a long, straight, sandy beach, backed by the Braunton Burrows UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. This dune system is one of the longest and most impressive in Britain. This is the only beach in north Devon to have a Landeez all-terrain wheelchair which allows less abled and disabled people to have full enjoyment of the beach, from the sands to the sea. The beach is popular with surfers and families due to the long stretch of water. Dogs are allowed on the beach all year round. There is a large car park, a couple of shops and places to eat right by the beach. Surf lessons are available and deckchairs and beach huts can be hired.
Don’t be confused! The name of this beach may be the same as the resort on the Irish Sea but the Blackpool Sands in Devon is a gem of a place, quiet and very beautiful. This is a sheltered bay close to Dartmouth, with a Blue Flag award, and is privately managed. The fine shingle beach is backed by evergreens and scented pines, giving it a Mediterranean feel. The beach is on the South West Coast Path and has plenty of facilities including toilets and showers, a shop, a café and lifeguards from July to September. For those who fancy an adrenaline fix, you can hire wetsuits, kayaks and paddleboards.
There are two sandy beaches at Hope Cove, near to Salcombe in south Devon. The one to the north, Mouthwell Sands, is the nearest beach to the car park and the longer Harbour Beach is to the south. The latter has a small harbour at the back, as the name suggests. Both beaches are a mix of sand and rocky areas. Mouthwell Sands is the more popular beach and is particularly good for sandcastles, sunbathing and exploring the rock pools. There is a seasonal lifeguard service for this beach. There is a seasonal dog ban on Mouthwell Beach, but dogs are allowed on neighbouring Harbour Beach all year round as long as they are on leads.
If you're tempted by Devon for your holiday home or park home location or for your next holiday, read more about the county and neighbouring Cornwall in the rest of our regional guide:
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