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Welcome to our guide to South Milton Sands, with all the information you will need to plan for a perfect day out to one of the best beaches in South Devon. With calm water and a long sandy stretch of beach that looks out over the iconic Thurlestone Rock, its excellent location and facilities make it ideal for a family day out.

South Milton Sands pano

Choose a quick link if you’re looking for specific information about South Milton Sands, or read on for the full article.

Quick links

1. Guide to South Milton Sands

2. Where is South Milton Sands?

3. Parking and directions to South Milton Sands

4. Places for food and drink at South Milton Sands

5. Watersports at South Milton Sands

6. Walks in and around South Milton Sands

7. Wildlife in South Milton Sands

8. Events on at South Milton Sands

9. Is South Milton Sands dog friendly?

10. Similar beaches

11. Places to stay in South Milton Sands


1. Guide to South Milton Sands – at a glance

Facilities: 

  • Toilets
  • Watersports equipment hire
  • Beach café
  • RNLI seasonal lifeguards
  • National Trust car park

You’ll find South Milton Sands at the southern end of Thurlestone Sands, looking out over the unmistakable arch formation of Thurlestone Rock. This end of the bay is the place to head for excellent facilities, including the popular Beach House Café, with its rustic styling and breathtaking views of the bay. You can order snacks and drinks to take away or enjoy a full meal in their restaurant, which has an excellent reputation for high-quality, locally sourced food.

South Milton Sands Thurlstone Rock

In the National Trust car park, you’ll also find Surfin’ Sam Watersports, where you can pick up equipment for hire, such as kayaks, windsurfers and stand up paddleboards, as well as wetsuits and buoyancy aids. (Lots of visitors enjoy the challenge of navigating their way under Thurlestone Rock – due care and attention is advised!)

Lifeguards monitor swimmers and other sea-goers at certain times in the summer months.
Kids love exploring the rock pools at South Milton Sands and to the north, birdwatchers can visit South Milton Ley, a coastal river valley just behind the beach. Access to some parts of this site is restricted to members of the Devon Birds Association.

The National Trust, which owns part of the beach, runs several events every year, such as ‘The Rock Watersports Festival’ which will take place on 8th and 9th of June 2019.

Driving to South Milton Sands is relatively straightforward, but the beach is also placed perfectly to walk there from nearby beauty spots along the South West Coast Path. Alternatively, make South Milton Sands your starting point for a number of unforgettable walks. A coastal stroll south from South Milton Sands will take you to Hope Cove’s two beautiful beaches, a walk of just over one mile, where you’ll find an extensive range of cafés, pubs and restaurants. Heading north on foot, you will reach the northern Thurlestone beach in 10 minutes or so.
Another mile on from there and you’ll reach Bantham beach, one of the most popular seaside and surfing spots in South Devon.
As a beach that combines excellent facilities with an out of the way, unspoilt feel, it’s hard to do better than South Milton Sands, which explains why it’s a firm favourite with South Devon locals.

South Milton Sands

Be sure to round off a perfect day at the beach by watching the spectacular display of reds and orange as the sun sets on the horizon. There are few places which can rival the outlook from South Milton on a clear and calm evening.


2. Where is South Milton Sands?

South Milton Sands view

South Milton Sands in on South Devon’s stunning west coast, between the beaches of Hope Cove and Thurlestone. The long stretch of golden sand that makes up South Milton Sands is instantly recognisable by the view of the iconic rock arch of Thurlestone Rock, which sits just offshore. This protected bay is within the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural beauty and is a National Trust area.


3. Parking and directions to South Milton Sands

Directions to South Milton Sands

By car:

Sat nav users, use the postcode TQ7 3JY for South Milton Sands.

From Salcombe:
  • South Milton Sands is about 5.5 miles from Salcombe.
  • Leave Salcombe on Salcombe Road. Pass through the village of Malborough.
  • Once you’ve passed Malborough, take the second left (about one mile on).
  • Turn right at the T-junction.
  • Follow the road, passing through the village of South Huish.
  • As you approach the beach, the road will turn sharply to the right. The National Trust car park will appear on your right.
From Dartmouth:
  • Dartmouth is 18 miles from South Milton Sands.
  • Leave Dartmouth on the A3122.
  • After seven miles, you’ll come to a T-junction at Halwell. Turn left onto the A381, following the sign for Kingsbridge.
  • After four miles, turn right at the roundabout, following signs to Salcombe and Kingsbridge.
  • Turn right at the next roundabout and pass through the village of Churchstow.
  • Turn left at the roundabout.
  • Take the second right.
  • As the road bends right, take a left, signposted for South Milton.
  • You’ll come to the village of South Milton. Turn left at the T-junction and then turn right, signposted for South Milton Sands and Thurlestone Rock.
  • Follow the road, passing the Beach House Café on your left, followed by the National Trust car park.

By bus:

  • The Tally Ho 162 service from Kingsbridge to Hope runs through the villages of South Milton and Thurlestone.

On foot:

  • South Milton Sands is on the South West Coast Path. South Milton Sands is easily walkable from Hope Cove to the south, and Bantham to the north, as well as being just a short stroll from the other Thurlestone beaches.

Parking at South Milton Sands

Post code: TQ7 3JY

Opening times: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Cost: February – October £5.00 all day, £3.00 after 16:00pm

November – January inc £3.00 all day

Parking is free for National Trust members.


4. Places for food and drink at South Milton Sands?

Beach House Café

South Milton Sands Beachouse

The Beach House Café is a fantastic little bolt hole, with panoramic views out onto the bay and over to Thurlstone rock. Sit either in the cosy restaurant or enjoy take aways on the outside benches.
With a simple but delicious menu of fresh seafood, breakfast and other delicious dishes, cracked crab and moules mariniere are specialities alongside the best burgers and local steaks, with daily dinner specials chalked up on boards. Or treat yourself to a locally-sourced take away ice cream.
Call 01548 561 144 to book at table as they can get extremely busy during summertime.

Gastrobus

South Milton Sands Gastrobus

Situated a short walk away from the main beach in the north car park in Thurlestone. Serving fast and delicious beach food every day during the summer from 10:00am – 17:00pm. They offer the full Gastrobus menu from scrummy breakfast baps, to gourmet burgers and delicious salads.

The Thurlstone Inn

In the nearby village of Thurlestone this brilliant gastro pub, with everything you could hope for in one of Devon’s classic, traditional pubs. Filled to the brim with character, amazing food and a great selection of real ales, it’s the perfect spot for lunch or dinner after a long summers day at the beach, or a winter walk.

The Cove Café Bar

A short walk along the South West Coast Path you’ll find this excellent eatery. Just 50 yards from the beach and with amazing views out to sea, The Cove Café Bar is a firm favourite of locals and visitors alike. With an emphasis on daily specials, local produce and craft beer, you are in for a culinary treat.


5. Watersports at South Milton Sands

Stand up paddleboarding (SUP)

South Milton Sands Paddleboarding

One of the most popular sports and growing in popularity is stand up paddleboarding (SUP). The calm sheltered bay provides the ideal location for beginners and the more experienced ‘suppers’ alike. Glide silently through the water while peering down to the crystal-clear depths below. For the more adventurous, paddle through the infamous arch in the Thurlestone Rock.

If you’re a seasoned paddleboarder, why not head southwest to Hope Cove, stopping for a bite to eat or a drink from The Cove Café Bar before heading back.

If you’ve left your gear at home, be sure to pop into Surfin’ Sam on the beach to pick up anything you need to get out on the water.
To find out more about our extensive guide to ‘Stand up paddleboarding in South Devon’.

Kayking

Kayak lovers are particularly fond of South Milton Sands. Launching from the beach out into the peaceful blue waters. Enjoy the tranquillity of paddling in the wide open or explore the hidden coves and beaches along the stunning South West coast.

Windsurfing and kitesurfing

South Milton Sands Windsurf

Popular in both summer and winter, South Milton Sands is a perfect spot for windsurfing and kitesurfing alike, particularly when the onshore wind is prevailing. This ideal spot is great for both beginners and professional, and you will be sure to get a wave when there’s southerly swell.

 


6. Walks around South Milton Sands

South Milton Sands is in a fantastic position on the South West Coast Path with walking routes in both directions. Here are two of our favourite routes:

Hope Cove to South Milton (around 2 miles each way)

A moderately easy walk along sheer cliffs with unspoilt views out over Smugglers Cove and out to Bolt Head.

Thurlstone to Bantham (around 4 miles circular)

The circular route that takes you through the picturesque village of Thurlstone, across to Bantham and back again via the scenic views across to South Milton Sands and Thurlstone Rock.


7. Wildlife in South Milton Sands

Rock pooling

South Milton Sands Rock pools

South Milton Sands is one of the best spots in the South Hams for rock pooling! Be sure to check the tide times and head down to the beach, where you can wander about and discover an amazing underwater world as the sea water heads out. These rock pools are teeming with wildlife such as crabs, starfish, sea anemones and limpets. Spend a few blissful hours pottering along the beach and enjoying one of the UK’s most treasured pastimes.

Snorkelling

Enjoy the freedom and simplicity of grabbing a snorkel and fins and floating through the water while experiencing the exceptional marine life that the south coast has to offer. Watch as fish dash past and keep an eye out as tiny sea creatures scuttle along the bed of the bay.

South Milton Lay

South Milton nature reserve

As a protected Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, South Milton Sands is a haven for wildlife, both on land and below the water. The neighbouring wetlands have been designated an area of Special Scientific Interest and are home to rare butterflies as well as being a great place to spot visiting migratory birds.


8. Events at South Milton Sands

The Rock Watersports Weekend  – Saturday 8th and 9th June 2019, 13:00pm – 19:00pm
Experience a whole weekend of fun on the water hosted by the National Trust. Whether you want to ‘Have-a-Go’ at stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, wild swimming, windsurfing, or test your balance on a giant SUP board, it’s the perfect day by the beach!
As well as the ‘Have-a-Go’ sessions, there will be rock pooling, snorkelling, beach games, stands to browse and more, in a local event that everyone can enjoy.

South Milton Big Night Out on the Beach – Saturday 14th September 2019, 18:30pm till late
A firm family favourite, the South Milton Big Night Out on the Beach is a fantastic way to celebrate the end of summer, with loads of family activities and rounded off by a spectacular sundown parade.

South Milton Sands sunset


9. Is South Milton Sands dog-friendly?

South Milton Sands with dogs

Yes! South Milton Sands is an all year-round dog-friendly beach. Be sure to bring along your four-legged family member for a romp in the sand and a splash about in the water.

Take a look at our guide to the dog-friendly beaches in South Devon.


10. Similar beaches

Other unspoilt South Devon beaches with facilities for watersports include Salcombe’s South Sands and Blackpool Sands near Dartmouth.

For comprehensive information about South Devon’s best beaches, see our South Devon Beach Bible.


11. Places to stay near South Milton Sands

Coast & County Cottages have a fantastic selection of self-catering properties close to South Milton Sands. Find your perfect beachside holiday home from our range of 30 stunning properties around Thurlestone and South Milton Sands.

Thornbrook (Sleeps 10)

South Milton Sands Thornbrook

Nestled in the lush countryside and within walking distance of South Milton Sands, Thornbrook offers the perfect peaceful countryside retreat. Enjoy a relaxing soak in the hot tub while gazing across the horizon, where Thurlestone Rock and Burgh Island provide a stunning coastal vista. With five bedrooms and the option of bringing pets, Thornbrook is a highly sought-after property.

Click here for more information about Thornbrook


7 Thurlestone Rock (Sleeps 6)

South Milton Sands Thurlestone Apartment

Perched right on the edge of the golden stretch of sand and gazing across the sparkling blue waters, 7 Thurlstone Rock apartment is the perfect spot for those in search of a luxurious coastal break. 7 Thurlestone Rock is a spacious, ground floor apartment with sweeping ocean views from the living room, master bedroom and large patio area.

Click here for more information about 7 Thurlstone Rock


Milton Cottage (sleeps 6)

South Milton Sands - Milton Cottage

Milton Cottage is an enchanting Grade ll listed pet-friendly property that boasts charm and character. Located just a five-10 minute drive from South Milton Sands, this delightful holiday home benefits from both coast and countryside. Boasting a wonderful garden, open fireplace, spacious conservatory and cosy living spaces, this lovely cottage has all the elements for a fantastic family holiday with your pooch.

Find out more about Milton Cottage