Burgh Island, famously the inspiration for the settings of Dame Agatha Christie’s best-selling novel ‘And then there were none’,...
‘South Devon’ and ‘beaches’ go together like clotted cream and scones. But with plenty of craggy cliffs, coves, and caves in addition the sandy bays we all know and love, there’s more to the region’s coastline than most people probably realise. That’s why we’ve compiled this comprehensive guide to South Devon beaches.
Whether you’re looking for a safe place to swim in Salcombe, a dog-friendly beach near Dartmouth or a paradise for picnickers somewhere along on the coast path, there’s a South Devon beach for every occasion here in the South Hams.
Coast & Country Cottages’ South Devon Beach Bible is full of useful information about our favourite spots by the sea. We’ve included all the essential information that you would need for a great day out to the beach, like directions, facilities, places to eat and drink, activities and much more. If you’re looking for a particular kind of beach, from dog-friendly to Blue Flag-awarded for example, we’ve drawn our extensive knowledge of the area to provide you with an all you need to know.
The Blue Flag award is the most prestigious international accreditation that a beach can receive. To achieve Blue Flag status, a beach must have the highest standards of water quality, safety, services, environmental management, education and information. This all ensures that a Blue flag beach will always have clean water, a lifeguard on service and there are suitable facilities available, all which ultimately provide the perfect family friendly beach. It’s worth noting that this award scheme tends to favour beaches that cater for families and have a greater range of facilities, and not those which are more secluded and remote, so be sure to know that the rest of the beaches in Devon are still amazing!
Challaborough Beach is a beautiful sandy cove with a sheltered position and a magnificent outlook. It lies just north of the well-known beaches of Bigbury-on-Sea and Bantham Beach. Being just a stone’s throw away from these iconic beaches means that it is sometimes overlooked by visitors and locals alike – but as a Blue Flag beach, it is sure to have everything you and your family need for a perfect day out. Soak up the sun while gazing out over the iconic Burgh Island, where just meters from the beach you will find fantastic spots to eat, drink and keep the kids entertained. Its location is also ideal for walks north to Aymer Cove or Westcombe Beach, as well as south towards Hope Cove.
With its sparkling turquoise waters framed by the sheltered crescent of the sandy beach, it is easy to see why Blackpool Sands is Blue Flag accredited. This often calm and protected bay, with a gradual sloping sea floor, is the perfect destination for swimming and a vast array of watersports. Located just four miles out of Dartmouth, this beach boasts not only a stunning location, but has all the amenities and facilities you need. With summer lifeguards on patrol, toilet and shower facilities, ample parking, a beach shop and the fantastic Venus café, it’s the perfect spot for a family to spend the entire day relaxing at the beach.
Lots of dog owners simply couldn’t bear the thought of leaving their canine companions behind when they set off on holiday. One of the joys of a South Devon self-catering break is that you don’t have to, as your four-legged family members will find plenty to do in the region.
There are several dog-friendly beaches in South Devon, including Beesands, East Portlemouth Beach, Slapton Sands, North Sands, and Thurlestone Beach. Other beaches welcome dogs only at certain times of the year (usually between October and April/May), such as Bigbury-on-Sea beach, Blackpool Sands, Hope Cove and South Sands.
To find out more about these beaches and their dog restrictions, why not read our comprehensive guide to dog-friendly beaches in South Devon.
In addition to these beautiful beaches, don’t forget there’s over 45 miles of the South West Coast Path to explore with your dog – another reason that South Devon is such a good choice for dog-friendly holidays in the UK.
For those a little more adventurous and seeking a peaceful retreat with the chance to escape the crowds, South Devon’s wonderfully rugged and remote stretches of coastline have all you need. Spending time at one of the more secluded beaches makes you feel as though you have your own private stretch of paradise. These spots are generally remote and sometimes difficult to get to, so while they may not have the facilities some of the more popular beaches have, it certainly makes up for it in serenity and beauty.
While there are plenty to choose from, our favourite quiet beaches include:
The walk between them provides some truly dramatic views, as does carrying on west towards Gara Rock Beach or making your way north to the iconic lighthouse at Start Point. If you’re staying in or exploring Dartmouth, you might also enjoy a visit to the secluded Man Sands Beach.
Visit our blog for details on the best secluded beaches in South Devon.
Watersports in South Devon are a favourite activity for everyone visiting or living in this stunning part of the world.
With the many rivers, creeks and coves to explore, kayaking is a particularly favourite pastime. Take in the stunning natural scenery, see castles, forts and historic houses from a new perspective, and catch a glimpse of some wonderful wildlife. Visit Sea Kayak Salcombe in South Sands where they provide kayak hire and tuition.
One of the most iconic sea-based watersports, surfing is synonymous with South Devon beaches. Catching waves throughout the year, avid surfers flock to beaches like Bigbury-on Sea and Bantham beach. If the idea of surfing in South Devon appeals to you, there are plenty of fantastic local companies like Discovery Surf School who provide tuition and equipment hire.
One of the fastest growing watersports worldwide, stand up paddleboarding is rapidly becoming a popular pastime of locals and visitors alike. ‘SUP’ allows you explore the scenic coastline and see wildlife from a perspective you’re unlikely to have seen before.
Looking for something a little more unusual? Why not give stand-up paddleboarding yoga a try at Salcombe South Sands?
Undoubtedly spoilt with some of the most magnificent coastal stretches in the UK, with a long unbroken section of the Coast Path to enjoy, you can choose almost any beach in South Devon as the starting point for a spectacular seaside walk.
There are walks along the Coast Path to suit any level of fitness and experience. The routes along Beesands and Slapton Sands provide a suitable stretch for those with mobility issues or those who just fancy a stroll.
There are also plenty of moderate and less strenuous routes – one of which can be taken from Bantham Beach through to Thurlestone Beach, or try Thurlstone to Hope Cove, where you can finish off with a bite to eat and something to drink at The Cove Café and Bar.
For everything you need to know about walking in our beautiful region, download the South Devon Walking Guide here.
You won’t believe the number and variety of beaches in South Devon, which is one reason it’s the ideal base for a break by the sea. Another is our mild microclimate, which gives us higher average temperatures and fewer days of rain than the UK average.
Perhaps you’d like to book a break in a river or beach-side holiday home so that you’ll never have to stray far from the water. Or perhaps you’d rather drive to a different stretch of sand every day, making the most of the wonderful natural contrasts on your doorstep. In South Devon, the choice is yours.
Browse our extensive range of over 400 stunning South Devon properties and start planning your break now.