‘South Devon’ and ‘beaches’ go together like clotted cream and scones. But with plenty of craggy cliffs, coves, and caves in addition the sandy bays we all know and love, there’s more to the region’s coastline than most people probably realise. That’s why we’ve compiled this comprehensive guide to South Devon beaches.
Whether you’re looking for a safe place to swim in Salcombe, a dog-friendly beach near Dartmouth or a paradise for picnickers somewhere along on the South West Coast Path, there’s a beach for every occasion here in the South Hams.
Coast and Country Cottages’ South Devon Beach Bible is full of useful information about our favourite spots by the sea. We’ll keep adding more individual guides until we’ve covered all the beaches in South Devon, and we’d love to hear about your favourite ones too.
South Devon Beach Bible: the guides
Here are our guides to the best South Devon beaches. There’s information about how to find them and what you can do there, alongside lots of inspiring images and details about what to expect when you arrive.
- Ayrmer Cove
- Bantham beach
- Bigbury on Sea beach
- Blackpool Sands
- Challaborough Beach
- East Portlemouth beach
- Gara Rock Beach
- Hope Cove beaches
- Lannacombe beach
- Man Sands (nr. Kingswear & Brixham)
- Mattiscombe beach
- North Sands, Salcombe
- Prawle Point
- Slapton Sands
- Soar Mill Cove
- South Milton Sands
- South Sands, Salcombe
- Thurlestone beach
- Westcombe Beach
Blue Flag beaches in South Devon
The Blue Flag is the most prestigious international accreditation that a beach can receive. To achieve Blue Flag status, a beach must have the highest standards of water quality, safety, services, environmental management, education and information.
There are two Blue Flag Beaches in South Devon.
- Challaborough Beach is a beautiful sandy cove which sits just north of the better-known beaches of Bigbury-On-Sea and Bantham. It provides views of Burgh Island and is in the perfect spot for walks north to Ayrmer Cove or Westcombe Beach, was well as South towards Hope Cove.
- Blackpool Sands is a stunning cove to the north of Start Bay, situated just a short drive from Dartmouth. It has an excellent Venus Cafe and beach shop, beachside parking, toilets and showers.
All of South Devon’s 17 Designated Bathing Waters currently reach the standards required by the Environment Agency for safe bathing.
Lots of dog owners simply can’t bear the thought of leaving their canine companions behind when they set off on holiday. One of the joys of a South Devon self-catering break is that you don’t have to, as your four-legged family members will find plenty to do in the region.
Other beaches welcome dogs only at certain times of the year (usually between October and March/April), such as Bigbury-on-Sea beach, Blackpool Sands, Hope Cove and South Sands.
In addition to these beautiful beaches, don’t forget there’s over 45 miles of the South West Coast Path to explore with your dog – another reason that South Devon is such a good choice for dog-friendly holidays in the UK.
To get away from the crowds, there are are some wonderfully rugged and remote stretches of coastline in South Devon, such as Soar Mill Cove, Westcombe Beach, Lannacombe Beach, Mattiscombe Beach and Prawle Point. The walk between them provides some truly dramatic views, as does carrying on west towards Gara Rock Beach or making your way north to the iconic lighthouse at Start Point. If you’re staying in or exploring Dartmouth or the English Riviera, you might also enjoy a visit to the secluded Man Sands beach.
Beaches for watersports
Kayaking, surfing and Stand-Up Paddleboarding are all popular beach activities in South Devon. For example, South Sands is home to Sea Kayak Salcombe, who provide both kayaking and paddle-boarding tuition and equipment. There’s a Discovery Surf School at Bigbury-on-Sea beach, and at Blackpool Sands Venus Company can provide you with a range of watersports equipment for hire.
Looking for something a little more unusual?
Why not give stand-up paddleboarding yoga a try at Salcombe South Sands?
Beaches for walking
Some of these walks involve steep hills and rocky paths, but there are also some more accessible beaches such as Beesands and Slapton Sands which are suitable for those with restricted mobility.
We have lots of information about our favourite South Devon walks here.
South Devon – the perfect base for beach-lovers
You won’t believe the number and variety of beaches in South Devon, which is one reason it’s the ideal base for a break by the sea. Another is our mild microclimate, which gives us higher average temperatures and fewer days of rain than the UK average.
Perhaps you’d like to book a break in a river- or beach-side holiday home so that you’ll never have to stray far from the water. Or perhaps you’d rather drive to a different stretch of sand every day, making the most of the wonderful natural contrasts on your doorstep. In South Devon, the choice is yours.
Browse our extensive range of around 400 stunning South Devon properties and start planning your break now.
Which beach in South Devon is your favourite? Vote on the poll below: