Gara Rock Beach (Seacombe Sands) | South Devon Beach Bible

By Ross Purdy on August 25, 2017

Gara Rock Beach, also known as Seacombe Sands

Gara Rock Beach, also known as Seacombe Sands, is an unspoilt sandy cove on the South Devon coast, between Prawle Point and the mouth of the Salcombe-Kingsbridge Estuary.


Jump to a section using the quick links below or read on for the full guide, which is part of our South Devon Beach Bible series.

Quick links

  1. Map and directions
  2. Parking
  3. Activities
  4. Our guide
  5. Holiday homes near Gara Rock beach
  6. Similar beaches

Map

Directions

Sat nav users, enter the postcode TQ8 8FA for Gara Rock Beach.

From Salcombe

If you’d like to visit Gara Rock beach from Salcombe, it’s easier and probably faster to cross the estuary on the passenger ferry and walk rather than to take your car.

However, if you’d prefer to drive, it’s a 16-mile journey via Kingsbridge.

  1. Leave Salcombe on Salcombe Road, passing through Malborough and following signs to Kingsbridge. When you arrive in Kingsbridge, take the second exit at the roundabout onto Ilbert Road.
  2. At the next roundabout, take the second exit (A379).
  3. Stay on the A379 (Embankment Road) until you come to the village of Frogmore.
  4. Shortly after you pass @The Bakery on the right, turn right over the little bridge (signposted for South Pool).
  5. Turn right at the end of the road.
  6. Continue on this road until you come to the village of Chivelstone.
  7. 1 mile on from Chivelstone, turn right, signposted for East Portlemouth.
  8. Carry on another 1.5 miles, then turn left, signposted ‘Parking for Gara Beach’.
  9. You’ll come to two left turns next to each other. Take the second in order to park.

From Dartmouth

Gara Rock beach is also around 16 miles from Dartmouth.

  1. Leaving Dartmouth up College Way, turn left at the first roundabout you come to, signposted for Stoke Fleming and Strete
  2. Follow this road through the villages of Stoke Fleming and Strete. You will wind downhill to Strete Gate, where Slapton Sands will appear on your right
  3. Continue along the length of the beach. When you pass Torcross village, follow the road around to the right (there is a slightly faster way but it involves a narrower lane with few passing places)
  4. Continue until you reach the village of Stokenham. At the first roundabout you reach, turn left.
  5. Continue for a little over four miles. Take a right when you see a turning for East Portlemouth.
  6. Carry on for another mile then turn left, signposted ‘Parking for Gara Beach’.
  7. You’ll come to two left turns next to each other. Take the second in order to park.

Parking

Limited parking is available close to the hotel and café, which is about half a mile from the hotel (fairly steep). An alternative is to park at Mill Bay National Trust car park (£7 per day) and walk a little under two miles along the South West Coast Path until you reach Gara Rock Beach.

Activities

There are no lifeguards or supervised activities, but the beach is often used for:

  • Paddling and swimming
  • Rockpooling and beachcombing
  • Surfing
  • Picnics (especially as there are lots of cosy nooks on the beach)

Our guide to Gara Rock Beach

Like Soar Mill Cove, Gara Rock Beach is a much-loved ‘secret’ spot amongst Salcombe residents and visitors who love to visit secluded and unspoilt sections of the local coastline.

Gara Rock Beach from the South West Coast Path


The walk down to the beach, whether that’s from the car park at the top of the hill or from either direction along the South West Coast Path, is steep in places and the terrain is uneven. This could make heading down with young children challenging, but they’ll love exploring the rockpools, tunnels and miniature caves when you have reached the bottom.

Caves and tunnels at Seacombe Sands near Salcombe


The main beach will feel remote enough for most visitors throughout the year, but a fortuitous arrangement of rocks means there’s a mostly cut-off secondary beach on the eastern side – a great place to set up a picnic, but do be sure to keep an eye on the tide!

Gara Rock Beach has a second smaller beach, partly concealed by rocks


Gara Rock Beach is dog-friendly all year round, making it a popular place to bring your four-legged friend on a scenic coastal walk.

At around 150 metres across, the beach is bigger than it looks from above, and the scattered rocks give way to an expansive unbroken stretch of sand in the middle.

Looking out to sea from Seacombe Sands


This makes the beach suitable for paddling, swimming or even surfing for those with sufficient skill and experience. (Be aware, you’ll be a long way from help if something goes wrong!)

A surfer at Gara Rock Beach


The remoteness of this cove means there are no facilities on site, but there are toilets at the café above the beach (half a mile, for customers only) and public toilets back at the Mill Bay National Trust car park. You can also stop by the Lollapalooza van next to Mill Bay, where tasty crepes, ice creams and drinks are served (seasonal only).

Lollapalooza by Mill Bay


A five-minute walk further will take you to Venus Takeaway, on the edge of East Portlemouth beach, where there’s an extensive menu of freshly prepared, locally-sourced snacks and drinks.

Holiday homes near Gara Rock Beach

Under two miles from Gara Rock Beach at East Portlemouth, where easy access to Salcombe is also provided by a regular passenger ferry, Coast & Country Cottages offers a stunning range of self-catering holiday homes.

East Portlemouth Beach

Ferryside with views of the Salcombe EstuaryFerryside (sleeps 8) is a spacious waterfront cottage, within just a few steps of the slipway and sandy beaches of East Portlemouth and Mill Bay.


Views from the Master Bedroom at Bow CottageBow Cottage (sleeps 4), in the popular village of East Portlemouth, providing stunning views of the Kingsbridge-Salcombe Estuary and offers quick access to the beach.

 


Views from Holset HouseHolset House (sleeps 12) is a luxurious and substantial detached house, just a few minutes drive from East Portlemouth and Mill Bay beaches.


Views from Ferrycot in East PortlemouthFerrycot (sleeps 9) is a beautifully appointed waterfront cottage on the very edge of the sandy beach of East Portlemouth, and the jetty that serves the passenger ferry for Salcombe.


In walking distance of the beach, Moorings (sleeps 6) is a stylish semi-detached house in East Portlemouth village, offering spectacular views over Salcombe and the estuary.

 

Get to know stunning South Devon better this year, and book a luxurious self-catering break with Coast and Country Cottages.

Similar beaches

Take a look at our article on secret South Devon beaches to find out more about similarly remote coves within the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Soar Mill Cove from the South West Coast Path

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For more information about all of South Devon’s best beaches, browse our South Devon Beach Bible today.