An icy Christmas Day swim in South Devon has been a tradition for some time now, but in the...
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.
Sat nav users, enter the postcode TQ8 8FA for Gara Rock Beach.
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.
Gara Rock beach is also around 16 miles from Dartmouth.
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.
There are no lifeguards or supervised activities, but the beach is often used for:
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.
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.
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 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.
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!)
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).
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.
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.
Ferryside (sleeps 8) is a spacious waterfront cottage, within just a few steps of the slipway and sandy beaches of East Portlemouth and Mill Bay.
Bow 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.
Ferrycot (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.
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.
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For more information about all of South Devon’s best beaches, browse our South Devon Beach Bible today.