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Bigbury-on-Sea beach, near Burgh Island

Burgh Island, famously the inspiration for the settings of Dame Agatha Christie’s best-selling novel ‘And then there were none’, is an iconic tidal island across from the beautiful beaches of Bigbury-on-Sea and Bantham.

Burgh Island

Our Guide to Burgh Island

Burgh Island isn’t a beach as such, but we thought no guide to the best beaches in South Devon would be complete without some information about this famous landmark. It is after all, part of what makes a day at Bigbury-on-Sea Beach so memorable.

Burgh Island sits about 250 m from the mainland and is criss-crossed with enticing walking trails (although be aware that the island is privately owned and access to some places is restricted). Walk around the island, visit Burgh Island Hotel and stop off at The Pilchard Inn on your way back to Bigbury-on-Sea.

Burgh Island Bigbury-on-Sea sea tractor

Burgh Island sea tractor

Although accessible to walk to Burgh Island by foot at low tide, when the tide is in, the sandy causeway disappears and the only access to the island is via the ever-popular sea tractor. This iconic sea tractor has been ferrying visitors back and forth since 1969!

Burgh Island art deco interior

Burgh Island Hotel

On Burgh Island is the famous, luxury Burgh Island Hotel built in 1929- a must-visit for art deco enthusiasts. Renowned for its history of high-profile guests such as Winston Churchill, The Beatles and Agatha Christie, step back in time to where so many influential people spent their time in the roaring 20’s and 30’s. Now an iconic destination for those wanting to experience this time in history, everywhere you look inside and out reflects the art deco movement.

Visitors who are not residents at the hotel are welcome to enjoy Sunday lunch at the restaurant and can attend their black tie dinners in the evening. Afternoon tea is now open for visitors, served until 5pm. It is essential for visitors to pre-book to dine at Burgh Island.

The Pilchard Inn at Burgh Island near Bigbury-on-Sea

The Pilchard Inn

Apart from exploring and appreciating the views, many visitors like to stop by the Pilchard Inn for a drink or snack. For centuries a haunt for smugglers and wreckers, it’s now a popular spot to sit and look back across the causeway towards Bigbury-on-Sea, watching the waves lap against both sides of the beach as the tide rises and falls – a slightly otherworldly sight, as if you’re looking at a drawing by M. C. Escher!

Burgh Island is also near to the vast and scenic Bigbury Golf Course. Click here to explore 3 great golf courses in South Devon.

Beaches near Burgh Island

Bigbury Beach near Modbury, overlooking Burgh Island

Bigbury-on-Sea Beach

Burgh Island is a fantastic place to spend hours exploring, taking pictures and enjoying the views. Looking out to the coastline are some of the best beaches in the region, and indeed the country, so you can easily fill the rest of your day at either of these.

Bigbury-on-Sea Beach has a popular Venus Café, and rockpools for exploring.

Bantham Beach near Burgh Island

Bantham Beach

Nearby Bantham Beach boasts some of the best surfing in the country, where you can learn to surf with the help of Discover Surf School. After building an appetite surfing, you can indulge in tasty food at the popular Gastro Bus – great for al fresco dining.

Challaborough Beach

Challaborough beach is a sheltered Blue Flag Awarded beach, just a short walk away along the South West Coast Path.

Visit our South Devon Beach Bible for information about all the best beaches in South Devon.

Facilities at Burgh Island:

• Burgh Island Hotel
• Historic pub (The Pilchard Inn)
• You’ll find the full range of beach facilities across the causeway at Bigbury-on-Sea, including toilets, showers, the Venus café and a beach shop.

Is the beach near Burgh Island dog-friendly?

Bigbury-on-Sea beach near Burgh Island is dog-friendly

Dogs are permitted on the main beach at Bigbury-on-Sea from October to the end of May only. However, dogs are allowed on the smaller beach to the west of the causeway all year round. If you’re hoping to visit nearby beaches during your stay, read our guide to dog-friendly beaches in South Devon to find out the best places to take your pet.

How to get to Burgh Island

The only way to get to Burgh Island is via the sandy causeway from Bigbury-on-Sea (either on the sea tractor or on foot during low tide). What follows are directions to Bigbury-on-Sea, although it’s perfectly feasible to travel by car to Bantham Beach or further along the South West Coast Path and then walk to the causeway at low tide.

By car:

Sat nav users can use the postcode TQ7 4AZ, which will take you to Bigbury-on-Sea car park.

From Salcombe:

The nearest car park to Burgh Island (at Bigbury-on-Sea) is around 12 miles from Salcombe.
1. Leave Salcombe on Salcombe Road (A381).
2. Turn left to stay on the A381, signposted for Plymouth, Modbury, Totnes and Thurlestone. At the roundabout go straight onto the A379, signposted for Aveton Gifford, Modbury and Plymouth.
3. At the next roundabout, take the first exit, which will take you onto Tidal Road/Stakes Hill. (Note that this is tide-dependent.) Alternatively, you can go straight on, following the A379, then take a left at the next roundabout, joining the B3392 and following this road until you reach Bigbury-on-Sea.
4. Continue until you come to St Ann’s Chapel. At the junction, turn left, following the sign to Bigbury-on-Sea (B392).
5. Follow this road until the Bigbury-on-Sea beach car park appears to your left.

From Dartmouth:

Bigbury-on-Sea is around 21 miles from Dartmouth.

Option 1:

1. Leave Dartmouth on the A3122 and continue for seven miles.
2. Turn left at the junction, joining the A381.
3. Take the first right, signposted for Moreleigh.
4. Take a left, just as you enter Moreleigh.
5. Follow this road until you come to a crossroad (California Cross).
6. Turn left onto the B3392 and follow this road all the way to Bigbury-on-Sea.
7. As you approach the beach, turn left to enter the car park.

Option 2 (tide-dependent)

1. Leave Dartmouth on the A3122 and continue for seven miles.
2. Turn left at the junction, joining the A381.
3. Take the second exit at the first roundabout you come to.
4. At the next roundabout, take the second exit.
5. Continue through Churchstow and turn right at the next roundabout, staying on the A379.
6. Cross the Aveton Gifford Bridge and then take the first left at the roundabout, which will take you onto Tidal Road/Stakes Hill. Please note that this dependent on the tidal estuary.
7. Continue until you come to St Ann’s Chapel. At the junction, turn left, following the sign to Bigbury-on-Sea (B392).
8. Follow this road until the Bigbury-on-Sea beach car park appears to your left.

By bus:

The 875 bus service runs between Plymouth and Bigbury-on-Sea. Click here to download a timetable.
From Bigbury-on-Sea beach you can walk across the tidal causeway to Burgh Island or ride on the popular sea tractor.

On foot:

Walking along the South West Coast Path from Hope Cove, South Milton Sands, Thurlestone Beach or Bantham Beach will provide you with various levels of challenge and some amazing views.

Salcombe to Bigbury-on-Sea is a popular walk for sturdy hikers with the stamina to manage 13 miles of winding Coast Path – at times it’s strenuous but well worth it for some of the most spectacular views in South Devon. A shorter walk from Hope Cove (around 4 miles each way) is another excellent option.

For more walks around the local area, take a read of our downloadable South Devon Walking Guide.

Parking at Burgh Island:

Bigbury car park looking over Burgh Island

There is a council-run car park at the edge of the beach, where parking before 6 pm costs £1.50 an hour, with options up to 24 hours (£12.00). Charges apply for parking after 6 pm during peak season.

During 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.

Accommodation near Burgh Island

Bigbury-on-Sea, a charming coastal village with a vast sandy beach, amazing views and some excellent walks along the coast path, is the perfect place for your holiday by the sea.
Take a look at our luxurious holiday cottages in this unforgettable spot.

Seaspray near Burgh Island


Sleeps 8

Seaspray is a wonderful single storey holiday home, perfect for a multi-generational family break. Boasting fantastic sea views and a wonderful garden as well as two terraces, this property brings you the best of the outdoors. Featuring nautical interiors, this spacious home makes the most of its coastal positioning. With a fireplace and spacious outdoor area, enjoy retreating indoors to cuddle up on the sofa after dining al fresco and breezy beach walks.

Book your stay at Seaspray

We have a range of properties near Burgh Island, including holiday homes with sea views in Bigbury-on-Sea and cottages in Bantham. Click here to browse our portfolio of South Devon holiday homes, from properties with pools to dog-friendly cottages near the beach and our complete collection of coastal cottages.