An icy Christmas Day swim in South Devon has been a tradition for some time now, but in the...
The village of Bigbury-on-Sea is situated on South Devon’s west coast, overlooking Bigbury Bay, South Devon’s largest sandy beach, and the iconic Burgh Island. What was once a sleepy fishing village consisting of just a few fisherman’s cottages and fish cellars, Bigbury-on-Sea is now a much loved retreat for families, outdoor enthusiasts, history buffs and foodies alike.
Located in the heart of South Devon’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, nestled between the beaches of Bantham and Challaborough, Bigbury Beach is one of the region’s most loved coastal boltholes. The large sandy expanse is joined by a causeway to the iconic Burgh Island, and is backed by rocky cliffs and rolling South Devon countryside. Reputed as being extremely family friendly, the facilities are second to none, and boast a sea tractor passenger ferry to Burgh Island, disabled access to the beach, well managed toilets and showers, a first aid room, seasonal lifeguards, thriving beach cafe, a year-round surf school, and a well stocked beach shop. Its spacious sandy shores and shallow waters provide the perfect playground for eager explorers, and what’s more, the beach is peppered with rock pools that are teeming with wildlife which budding marine biologists of every age love to investigate!
Bigbury Beach is the ultimate natural playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Not only is it a mecca for watersports, such as surfing, kayaking and stand up paddleboarding, but the area is also a paradise for walkers too, and provides direct access to the South West Coast Path. Burgh Island helps to make it the kind of beach that not only attracts swimmers and surfers, but also nature-spotters, history buffs, artists and Agatha Christie fans. One of South Devon’s most loved places to spend the day, you certainly won’t find yourself short of things to do in Bigbury-on-Sea…
Discovery Surf School is a popular, established family run operation offering a variety of water based lessons in surfing, stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking. Operating from the two beachside locations of Bigbury and Challaborough Beach (in the peak summer months), you can also rent equipment such as surfboards, bodyboards, wetsuits, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards should you want to navigate your own adventure. Visit the Discovery Surf School website to find out more, and book your lesson.
Popular in both summer and winter, Bigbury Beach is a haven for those after an injection of adrenaline. The wide range of watersports available make this beach a great spot for an adventure, regardless of age or ability! For surfers, the unique geography of the bay provides ideal wave conditions for beginners, and the neighbouring bays, angled slightly differently, present perfect back up waves for when the swell is a bit bigger. Surfing aside, windsurfing and kitesurfing are also popular pastimes, particularly when the onshore wind is prevailing. On calmer days, stand up paddleboarding and kayaking are both popular activities, and if you’re up for the challenge, why not circumnavigate Burgh Island. Regardless of what you choose to do, you can launch your vessel straight from the beach into crystal clear waters – don’t forget to bring your snorkel and mask!
An iconic tidal island, Burgh Island sits around 250 metres from the sandy shores of Bigbury Beach. The island has an abundance of interesting flora and fauna, and is home to thousands of seabirds – be sure to tread the myriad of footpaths that lead around the island, keeping your eyes peeled for butterflies, foxes, rabbits, badgers and hedgehogs. It also plays host to the famous art deco Burgh Island Hotel, the popular public house of The Pilchard Inn, and three private houses.
Although accessible to walk to Burgh Island by foot at low tide, when the tide is in, the sandy causeway disappears and the only way to access the island is via the ever-popular sea tractor – an adventure that everyone enjoys, regardless of age! Read our comprehensive Burgh Island guide for even more information
Bigbury-on-Sea is well regarded amongst keen ramblers, and enjoys a breadth of walking routes that navigate coast paths, countryside and estuaries. Situated on the South West Coast Path, the village enjoys walking routes in both directions. One of our favourite routes heads west and passes Challaborough Beach, Ayrmer Cove and also the remote and ruggedly beautiful Westcombe Beach. We also love walking in the opposite direction, across the Avon Estuary towards the beaches of Bantham and South Milton. For something a little less strenuous, but equally as rewarding, why not loop around Burgh Island, which is accessible by foot at low tide, and aided by the famous hydraulic Burgh Island sea tractor at high tide.
The Pilchard Inn resides on Burgh Island, and is one of the oldest pubs in England with a history dating back to 1336! The inn’s patrons were once fishermen who lived on the island, and also the smugglers and wreckers who lured ships onto the Western rocks, and now hotel guests and the public. As you can imagine, The Pilchard Inn is steeped in tales of old, and there is nowhere better to sit in front of a roaring fire and watch the tides ‘meet’ and ‘part’ while nursing a beverage and tucking into a sumptuous fresh crab baguette.
Situated directly on the beachside and taking in panoramic ocean views, the Venus Café Bigbury offers a variety of food and drink options, including sumptuous ice creams for hot summer days. If you are desperate to get in on the action ahead of your visit, then take a look at the Venus Cafe Bigbury-on-Sea webcam to view the beach.
Bigbury-on-Sea operates a seasonal dog ban, and as such, dogs are permitted on the main beach from October to the end of May. However, dogs are allowed on the smaller beach to the west of the causeway all year round. For the full lowdown on exploring South Devon’s dog-friendly beaches with your canine companion, read our guide to dog-friendly beaches in South Devon.
South Devon’s coastline is peppered with beautiful beaches, from long sandy stretches to small secluded coves and shingle bays. Should you want to explore a little further, Bantham Beach is situated nextdoor to Bigbury Beach, and when standing on it’s golden shores you can clearly spot Burgh Island across the water. This expansive beach boasts shallow waters and excellent surfing conditions, and you can usually spot people enjoying a mellow wave. Another beach just a short walk from Bigbury, along the South West Coast Path is the sandy cove of Challaborough.
South Milton Sands is similarly popular with surfers and other water sports enthusiasts. Owned by the National Trust, the beach is well known for its pristine waters that attract regular visits from seals and even dolphins. The facilities are excellent, and include the thriving Beachhouse Cafe, perfect for enjoying a sumptuous hot chocolate or well earned sundowner beverage.
For sat nav users, use the postcode TQ7 4AZ. Alternatively, should you wish to travel by bus, there is a service that runs between Plymouth and Bigbury-on-Sea. Click here for the Traveline South West bus times.
There is ample parking at Bigbury-on-Sea. The long stay council run car park is situated at the edge of Bigbury Beach, and parking costs before 6pm are £1.50 an hour, with flexible options thereafter (for a maximum duration of 24 hours). For more information, check out the Bigbury Beach car park details on the South Hams District Council website. Additionally, throughout the peak season there is also an economy car park a short walk away, where you can leave your car for just £2 – £3 for the whole day.
Coast & Country Cottages have a fantastic selection of Bigbury-on-Sea holiday cottages, ranging from luxury apartments with sweeping ocean views to countryside barn conversions just a stone’s throw from the beach. Regardless, we have a South Devon holiday cottage to suit every taste and budget, from family-friendly homes with sea views to pet-friendly properties nearby.
Sleeping up to four guest, 25 Burgh Island Causeway is situated in a prime location, and takes in panoramic views of Bigbury Beach and Burgh Island. With direct access to the beach, and also the South West Coast Path, it is the perfect coastal bolthole. What’s more, guests receive free membership to the newly refurbished leisure club for the duration of their stay.
Book your stay at 25 Burgh Island Causeway today
Also sleeping up to four guests, Honeysuckle Cottage is every inch as idyllic as the name suggests. Nestled within the picture postcard village of Bigbury, the charming barn conversion enjoys outstanding countryside views, and is within easy reach of the sandy shores of Bigbury Beach. Also pet friendly, this is a great spot for those travelling with their canine companions!
Book your stay at Honeysuckle Cottage today