Best beaches in Devon

Places to Go

Best beaches in Devon

Rich, red hues and long sandy beaches all lined with the varying greens of the Devonian countryside, is it any wonder why Devon is known to have some of the best beaches in the UK (if not the world?

Along the 125 miles of outstanding coastline, you’ll find secluded coves you can enjoy all by yourself, massive beaches with fish and chips and ice creams galore, and pretty inlets that have been the backbone of fishermen (and smugglers) for as long as anyone can remember.

So, whether you’re looking for a sandy pitstop as you walk (or cycle) along the South West Coast Path or a turquoise and gold haven to spend a lazy day, here are some of the best beaches in Devon so you can start planning your holiday amidst sea, sand, and sun.

Take a look at our compilation of the best gardens in Devon to extend  your day of Devonian beauty even further or check out our guide on what to pack for a UK beach holiday to make sure you don't forget anything!

 

Ladram Bay, Sidmouth

A bird's eye view of the incredible, red sandstone cliffs at Ladram Bay, one of the best beaches in Devon

•Lifeguard cover: No

•Parking: There are a limited number of spaces in the car park at Ladram Bay Holiday Park

•Accessibility: Easy access via the slipway

•Facilities: There are toilets and a restaurant in the holiday park

•Dog friendly: No

 

Framed by the famous rusty hue of Devonian sandstone cliffs, Ladram Bay is certainly a sight for happy eyes. Perhaps the most eye-catching feature of this popular beach is the pair of sandstone stacks that stand at the foot of the bay, offering an ancient addition to your holiday pics. In fact, all along this section of the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and South West Coast Path, you can expect to find hints of our palaeontological past in the form of fossils and geological marvels.

Of course, for those who simply want to enjoy the sand and sea, Ladram Bay can certainly provide a relaxing day out. Thanks to the clear waters and easy access slipway, the bay is popular with swimmers and watersports enthusiasts alike so whatever you do, don’t forget your swimsuit!

 

Westward Ho! beach, Westward Ho!

Looking out over the green at Westward Ho! beach

•Lifeguard cover: Seasonal (May to September)

•Parking: Car park close to the beach

•Accessibility: Various access points included a ramp from Westward Ho! and the gently sloping Pebble Ridge at the northern end

•Facilities: Toilets, visitor centre, as well as cafés, restaurants, and amusement arcades in the village

•Dog friendly: Seasonal restrictions (May to September, except for a 200m stretch in front of Sandymere, which is dog-friendly all year)

 

Beautifully sea-smoothed pebbles, golden sand, seriously surf-worthy waves, and a dog-friendly patch at the northern end… Westward Ho! is really making sure it caters to every beachgoer and we love it! You can even learn to surf with North Devon Surf School. While the surf is fantastic here, it’s worth noting that the waves can get very high, so always stay within your comfort zone. The sea also comes in rather quickly at low tide so a base camp higher up the beach is always a good idea to keep your shoes dry and land-based.

Perched on the beach’s doorstep is Traditional Fish and Chips, so you can dine in true seaside style during your visit, or you can stroll into town for a slap-up, sit-down meal at one of the many lovely restaurants or cafés.

 

Beer beach, nr Seaton

One of the pretty boats at Beer beach in Devon

•Lifeguard cover: No

•Parking: Parking is limited by the beach, but there is a large car park in the village, which is only a short walk away

•Accessibility: Access is via a sloping road or steps on the eastern end

•Facilities: Toilets, cafés, and pubs in the village

•Dog friendly: Seasonal restrictions (May to September on the western part of the beach)

 

What was once a smuggler’s haven, is now a haven for families and beachgoers thanks to the pretty shingle beach and impressive surrounding cliffs. Colourful fishing boats decorate the shore at Beer and offer an interesting sight when they return with their daily catch of mackerel, crab, and lobster. You can even head out to sea yourself with Beer Self-drive Motorboats, a lovely collection of wooden boats that will have you singing sea shanties and basking in the fresh sea air in no time.

If you want to throw in even more spectacular sights during your visit, why not walk here from Sidmouth? It’s a lovely stretch of the East Devon World Heritage Coast and one of our top walks in Devon. Stop along the way for some fuel with a view at Beer Head Bistro or grab an ice cream at one of the beach-side cafés – it is a holiday after all!

 

Saunton Sands, nr Northam

Looking out across the cliffs and the far reaching Saunton Sands in Devon

•Lifeguard cover: No

•Parking: Car park by the beach

•Accessibility: Easy disabled access

•Facilities: Toilets, food outlets, beach shops, Landeez all-terrain wheelchair

•Dog friendly: Yes

 

A beach so popular we included it in our list of top things to do in North Devon, Saunton Sands is definitely one of the best beaches in Devon, and possibly even the UK. It’s 3.5 miles long, full of soft, golden sand, and it’s even got a Robbie Williams music video and blockbuster film to its name – now, that’s impressive! Family-friendly and hugely popular with longboarders, Saunton Sands is a summery haze of sand, surf and good times, perfect for every type of beachgoer.

Behind the expanse of welcoming sand (yep, this gorgeous beach is dog-friendly), you’ve also got the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Braunton Burrows, which is one of the largest sand dune systems in the UK and home to all manner of flora and fauna. Or, if you prefer a more linear trek, a quick stroll up to Crow Point will reward you with some astonishing views of the coastline.

 

Croyde Bay, nr Northam

The beautiful sand dunes at Croyde Bay in Devon

•Lifeguard cover: Seasonal (May to September as well as October weekends and half-term)

•Parking: Car park by the beach

•Accessibility: Slipway down to the beach

•Facilities: Toilets, shops, food outlets, surfboard hire

•Dog friendly: Seasonal restrictions (May to September)

 

Just round the corner from Saunton Sands, you’ll find another one of Devon’s top beaches, Croyde Bay. Following in the footsteps of its larger neighbour, Croyde Bay is backed by more fantastic sand dunes and boasts some serious waves… it’s actually listed amongst the best surfing beaches in the world! While the sand at the top of the beach is wonderfully fine, as you get closer to the water’s edge the sand gets firmer, creating great materials for some impressive sandcastles.

There are some lovely eateries in the village or you can stroll down the beach to The Beach Café where you can pick up some seriously mouth-watering Sri Lankan food. On the other end of the beach, a pretty walk will take you to the National Trust must-visit, Baggy Point, where the views are unmatched.

 

Bigbury-on-Sea beach, nr Kingsbridge

Looking out across the beach at Bigbury-on-Sea at Burgh Island

•Lifeguard cover: Seasonal (May to September)

•Parking: There is a large car park that’s accessed by Marine Drive

•Accessibility: Sloping road from the main car park

•Facilities: Toilets, café, beach shop

•Dog friendly: Seasonal restrictions (May to September, except for west of the causeway, which allows dogs all year)

 

If you’re looking for a family-friendly beach for the kids, then look no further than Bigbury-on-Sea. Rockpools provide endless entertainment for curious eyes, the shallow waters are perfect for paddling, and the disappearing causeway and sea tractor never fail to capture the imagination – which is perhaps why Agatha Christie found inspiration for And Then There Were None from Burgh Island. While the main beach itself operated under seasonal restrictions for dogs, Sedgewell Cove and the westernmost section of the beach are dog-friendly year-round, so the pooch needn’t miss out on all the fun!

The area itself is another one of Devon’s AONBs, which means there are some lovely walking routes to help shake off the sand after a day on the beach. You can also try out one of the many watersport activities the beach is known for, including kitesurfing, bodyboarding, and kayaking, or you can simply sip on a hot chocolate at the nearby beach café for the ultimate lazy day at the beach.

 

Fishcombe Cove, Brixham

Looking across the turquoise water at Fishcombe Cove with Fishcombe Cove Cafe perched above

•Lifeguard cover: No

•Parking: Car park just above the beach

•Accessibility: Steep steps from the car park

•Facilities: Café, deck chair hire

•Dog friendly: Yes

 

When it comes to beautiful beaches, sometimes the beauty is all the more captivating after an exerted effort, which is certainly the case for the beach at Fishcombe Cove. Accessed via some pretty, albeit steep, steps, this hidden gem is ideal for those wanting a tranquil spot to watch the world drift by. Thanks to the surrounded wood-topped cliffs, the cove is lovely and sheltered, making it great for swimming. In fact, you might not be alone in the waters when taking a dip as seals love the area as much as we do!

If you feel a sudden urge for a cream tea, a few short steps will lead you to the lovely Fishcombe Cove Café, which overlooks the shingle beach and offers a welcome array of tasty treats.

 

Blackpool Sands, Dartmouth

Looking through the trees at the golden semi circle of Blackpool Sands in Devon

•Lifeguard cover: Seasonal (May to September)

•Parking: Parking by the beach

•Accessibility: Easy access from the car park

•Facilities: Toilets, showers, café, beach shop

•Dog friendly: Seasonal restrictions (Easter to November)

 

We must admit, as far as names go, Blackpool Sands is perhaps the most creatively chosen as the beach is neither near Blackpool nor sandy. Luckily, this blue-flag, shingle beach more than makes up for its odd name with stunning views and incredible water quality, making it very popular with families. Once you can tear your eyes away from the crystal-clear waters, you can check out the many facilities along the beach, which even includes sandpits for the kids to play in - not to mention one of the best places to eat in South Devon, Venus Beach Café!

Kayaks and paddleboards are available to hire here and provide an exceptional way to experience the beauty of the bay. While there are seasonal restrictions in place on the beach and in the car park for dogs, the pooch is welcome to come and enjoy the sights and smells between November and February. 

 

Soar Mill Cove, Salcombe

Looking up the sands at the beautiful beach and cliffs at Soar Mill Cove in Devon

•Lifeguard cover: No

•Parking: You can either park in Salcombe and walk along the coast path or park at the Soar Mill Hotel

•Accessibility: It’s a steep walk from the hotel car park as well as a rugged coastal walk from Salcombe

•Facilities: None

•Dog friendly: Yes

 

Tucked away between dramatic cliffs and backed by the ever-beautiful South Ham hills, Soar Mill Cove is as far removed from the modern world as you can get, making it a dreamy escape during your Devonian stay. The inlet might be on the smaller side, but the rugged and removed locale means the beach is rarely busy. While the walk from Salcombe is stunning and well worth the effort, intrepid adventurers also love visiting this hidden inlet by sea so you can often see kayaks and canoes hauled up the beach while their owners enjoy a picnic with an unbeatable view.

There are no cafés or facilities here, so make sure to pack your bags with all the comforts and treats you need. Upon returning to Salcombe, if you fancy continuing your seaside adventures, why not head out for an exhilarating RIB ride with Sea-n-Shore? Not only is it one of the best things to do in South Devon, but it’s one of the best (and gravity-defying) ways to round off your visit to this beautiful area.

 

Excited to hit the beach? Check out our lovely catalogue of cottages in Devon and start planning your beachy getaway.

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