An icy Christmas Day swim has been a tradition across the UK for some time now, but in the...
It’s not only the number of famous golden beaches that makes the South Hams such a paradise for holidaymakers, but also the variety, with secret Devon beaches awaiting to be discovered! As well as popular family beaches with all the facilities you need for a fun-packed day out, South Devon’s coastline coasts dozens of tiny coves, many of which are only accessible on foot, and even some that you can only reach from the water.
Spending time at one of Devon’s more secluded beaches can sometimes feel as if you have your own private stretch of coastline. In our view, what these ‘secret’ beaches lack in facilities they make up for in rugged beauty and serenity.
Our locally-based team have picked out some of our favourite peaceful coves for you to visit on your South Devon holiday.
Gara Rock Beach, Seacombe Sands or simply ‘Gara Beach’ as others call it, is a large secluded sandy beach near Salcombe, with rocky edges ripe for rockpooling and some unforgettable views.
You’ll find Gara Rock Beach between East Portlemouth and East Prawle. From Mill Bay car park, if you take the more direct walking route through Rickham, it’s a little under a mile, which equates to around a 15-minute walk. Alternatively, you can walk along the Coast Path for a slightly longer, picturesque route. For more information on how to find this secluded beach on foot, read our visual guide to the walk from East Portlemouth/Mill Bay to Gara Rock Beach. For those feeling less adventurous, drive to the Gara Rock car park and take the shorter walk down to the beach.
To find out more, visit our guide to Gara Rock Beach.
Expect narrow lanes, steep hills and plenty of potholes on your drive to Lannacombe Beach, which is one of Devon’s best kept secrets when it comes to quiet, secluded beaches. Lannacombe Beach is about 14 miles from both Dartmouth and Salcombe. It’s a south-facing sandy cove which sits to the west of Start Point. On the other hand, there’s no tricky walk at the end: you’ll find a car park (charges apply) right next to the sand. It’s easily worth the relatively lengthy drive from South Devon’s towns to explore this beautiful section of coastline.
Frequented by local dog walkers and occasional shore anglers, Lannacombe Beach is a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.
See our dedicated article for comprehensive information about Lannacombe Beach including directions, photos and more.
Like Lannacombe Beach, Mattiscombe Sands is a good-sized sandy cove with some rocky parts. It’s around 15 miles from Salcombe and slightly less from Dartmouth. While the drive includes some single-track road, it’s an easier journey than getting to Lannacombe Beach. On the other hand, getting to the sand itself does involve a 10-minute fairly steep walk, culminating with some steep uneven steps at the end. This means it’s probably not an advisable destination for those with limited mobility or very young children.
Once you’re down on the sand you’re unlikely to feel that you’ve wasted the journey. It’s a beautiful spot to relax and take in the rugged, unspoilt scenery, and the shallow water makes it suitable for paddling and swimming (with due care taken!)
Visit our article on Mattiscombe Beach for detailed information about this well-kept South Devon secret.
You might also be interested in Westcombe Beach and Ayrmer Cove, both secluded beaches within walking distance of Bigbury-On-Sea and Challaborough. We also love Soar Mill Cove near Salcombe for its seclusion and beauty. Close to Kingswear, Man Sands is another nicely secluded and surprising spacious beach.
There’s much more information about the best and most popular beaches in South Devon in our South Devon Beach Bible, including links to comprehensive articles about the best-loved bays and coves in the area.
Looking for a peaceful getaway this year? South Devon has miles of secluded Coast Path to explore, along which you’ll find dozens of hidden coves and beaches. Inland, the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty provides countless walks through unspoilt countryside to help you unwind in the fresh, clean air.