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An icy Christmas Day swim has been a tradition across the UK for some time now, but in the last few years, it has exploded with popularity. Whether you’re looking for an adrenaline fuelled activity to burn off a chocolate rich breakfast, or a wild escape from the formalities of Christmas as you know it, making a chilly dash into South Devon’s cold waters is sure to be a festive highlight. Although many festive swims are organised, the majority are spontaneous, and you will find South Devon jam packed with sheltered coves and sandy beaches, all of which invite you to take the plunge, regardless of season. The team at Coast & Country Cottages are avid sea swimmers, some of whom wouldn’t be without their tradition of a Christmas Day dip! If you feel up for the challenge, check out our favourite beaches for a Christmas Day swim in South Devon. Best of all, some of the best spots also have beachside pubs, which are open for a tipple or two over the lunchtime period on Christmas Day.

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7 amazing beaches for a Christmas Day swim in South Devon…

  1. Cellar Beach

This small secluded cove is approximately a 35 minute walk from The Ship Inn, Noss Mayo (only open for drinks on Christmas Day). Enjoy stretching your legs walking along the clifftop (with Santa hats on of course!) – the perfect warm up for your dip in the sea. Take a flask of hot chocolate to warm you up after your swim and, if you’re not too full after an indulgent breakfast, why not take a picnic bag full to the brim with delicious local goodies?

Read our Noss Mayo Village Guide for more information about the area.


  1. Bantham

walking to Bantham Beach for a Christmas Day swim in South Devon

This large, sandy beach that overlooks the iconic Burgh Island is a popular family beach where you will find people of all ages braving a quick dip, enjoying a blustery walk, and even cooking sausages on the stove. The Sloop Inn, situated in the heart of Bantham village, is open on Christmas Day for drinks between 12 – 1.30pm.

Read our Bantham Beach guide.


  1. Thurlestone Beach – South Milton Sands

Thurlestone Beah and South Milton Sands - Christmas Day swim in South Devon

Thurlestone Beach and South Milton Sands blend together to create one beautiful stretch of golden sand – extremely popular amongst locals for a Christmas Day dip. These striking beaches overlook the iconic Thurlestone rock arch, and won’t disappoint! Afterwards, why not walk or drive up to The Village Inn, Thurlestone, a traditional pub with a fireplace to keep you warm and toasty after your swim.

Read our Thurlestone Beach and South Milton Sands guides.


  1. Hope Cove

Christmas Day swim in South Devon - Hope Cove

The two beaches of Hope Cove are amongst some of the most popular in South Devon, regardless of season, rain or shine. The village of Hope Cove boasts a combination of stunning natural scenery and excellent facilities (even on Christmas Day!), making it a convenient location for those in search of a wild festive adventure. Both the Hope & Anchor Inn, and The Cove Café Bar are open on Christmas Day over lunchtime for a sumptuous hot chocolate, or perhaps something a little stronger. Or, if you’ve already booked a buffet spread in your very own ‘pod’ at The Lobster Pod, simply stroll to your feast that awaits.

Read our comprehensive guide to Hope Cove beaches


  1. North Sands, Salcombe

Christmas Day swim in South Devon - North Sands

A popular sandy cove just a short walk from Salcombe town centre, North Sands beach enjoys stunning views across the harbour. The beach here often avoids the winter storms and currents, making it a great, safe place to run in for a quick dip.

Read our North Sands beach guide


  1. Beesands

Christmas Day swim in South Devon - Beesands

This mile-long beach, backed by fields and a freshwater lake, offers stunning views of Start Bay and is a popular spot for a festive swim – you can even run to the sea from your holiday home! After all, who wants to be lounging on the sofa after a Christmas Day feast when you could be laughing yourselves silly at the beach?

Read our Beesands beach guide


  1. Slapton Sands

Slapton Sands is a beautiful shingle beach that stretches for three miles along Start Bay, providing ample space for those that would rather a solitary swim. The beach has a steep shelf upon entering the water, so be prepared for full immersion! The Start Bay Inn, situated at the Torcross end of the beach, is open on Christmas Day between 12 – 2pm for those that want to spectate the madness, or are in need of a little warmth post swim.

Read our Slapton Sands beach guide


Whilst a Christmas Day swim in South Devon is positively exhilarating, be sure to follow a few simple steps to ensure you are safe at all times. Firstly, be sure to check the weather, tides and currents before your swim. When you arrive at the beach, run around a little to get your blood pumping, and come prepared with bundles of warm clothes and blankets. Whilst children tend to be amongst the bravest cold water enthusiasts, don’t let them stay in for too long as they get cold very quickly. There are no lifeguards on the beaches at this time of year, so regardless of where you choose to swim, ensure all swimmers are confident with the conditions of the water.

For more inspiration for your South Devon Christmas holiday, read our festive blogs:

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