The 20 Best Beaches in Devon
There’s just something about the hit of sea air – the way the salt carries on the breeze and the wind pulls its fingers through your hair. It’s totally rejuvenating. Of course, there’s coastline, and then there’s coastline, though. And fortunately, Devon is home to the kind of coastline and picture-perfect beaches that make you want to ditch the daily grind forever and take up life by the sea.
If you can’t wait to close the laptop, grab your towel and disappear to a sea-view retreat in Devon for a while, we can’t blame you. In fact, we’d fully encourage you. Boasting mile upon mile of jaw-dropping coastline, both the north and south Devon coasts cater for everyone looking to make the most of days by the shore. To help you on your way, we’ve compiled our local knowledge and put together a list of the 20 best beaches in Devon.
Best North Devon Beaches
From rugged, surf-pounded beaches to miles-long strips of sand to hidden coves nestled between giant cliffs, North Devon’s beaches won’t fail to capture your imagination. Whatever you are looking for, there will be somewhere for you.
Think Woolacombe Beach, think 3 miles of golden sand and glassy Atlantic breakers. A hit with all generations, this mighty beach has absolutely loads of space and lots of amenities too, including three large car parks so you can skip the queues.
Backed by the UNESCO Braunton Burrows Nature Reserve, Saunton Sands is another huge sandy beach in Devon. Grab your binoculars and look out for the reserve’s rare birds or wander along the shoreline and splash in the waves, not far from your Saunton accommodation.
Westward Ho! Beach
A large sandy beach lined with multi-coloured beach huts, Westward Ho! beach has everything you could need and more for a quintessential seaside break. Facilities include eateries, toilets, shops and lifeguard cover.
Croyde Bay is known as the surfing capital of North Devon. A popular destination for those chasing that elusive endless summer dream, surfers of all abilities can hit the waves here thanks to local surf schools and board hire shops.
Sandwiched between Croyde and Woolacombe, the dog-friendly Putsborough beach is another of the best beaches in North Devon. Set away in a hard-to-reach location, it’s considered one of the cleanest and most beautiful beaches in the county.
If you like getting off the beaten track, Mouthmill Beach is for you. Located on a remote stretch of coast near Hartland Point, it rewards visitors staying at nearby Hartland with amazing views and striking natural rock sculptures, like the Blackchurch rock arch.
An unspoilt gem near Ilfracombe, Broad Sands beach is a must-visit in North Devon. While it doesn’t have facilities or lifeguard service, its sheltered aspect and stunning aesthetics make it a real hit with those looking to enjoy secluded shores.
Showing that good things do come in small packages, the beautiful Barricane beach near Woolacombe is lovely for sitting back and simply watching the world go by. And, above the cove is a great beach café serving Sri Lankan food.
Best South Devon Beaches
With countless titles to back the claim, Devon is undoubtedly home to some of the best beaches in the world. With over 120 miles of stunning coastline, South Devon boasts many of these award-winning beaches. Here are some of our favourites.
Another of Devon’s Blue Flag beaches, Blackpool Sands near Dartmouth is the kind of place you’re unlikely to forget. Backed by evergreen-topped cliffs and caressed by turquoise seas, it’s absolutely beautiful here.
Bigbury on Sea Beach
Whether you’d like to try kitesurfing, wander out to Burgh Island at low tide or take a ride on the sea tractor, Bigbury on Sea beach will not disappoint. With lots of activities and facilities, it’s one for all generations.
Not only one of the few sandy beaches in South Devon, but Exmouth beach is also one of the only places you can fossil-hunt in the county. The gateway to the UNESCO Jurassic Coast World Heritage site, this 2-mile-long beach is a must-visit.
Within a designated AONB, the scenery around Slapton Sands is undeniably arresting. As well as photographers, wildlife-lovers will particularly like it here, as it is backed by a freshwater lake, Slapton Sands – part of an important nature reserve.
Hope Cove near Kingsbridge is actually made up of two beaches – Mouthwell Sands and Harbour beach. In summer, beachgoers can easily find sheltered nooks to relax in while bathers enjoy the calm waters.
Bantham beach is one of the top surfing beaches in South Devon and is also popular with photographers looking to capture its stunning aesthetics. Come here in summer for picnics on the shore and in winter for invigorating walks.
On the dreamy English Riviera, Meadfoot near Torquay is another of our best beaches in Devon. Nestled at the foot of imposing cliffs, the Meadfoot’s cheerful beach huts, painted in various shades of blue, and crystal-clear waters make for a winning combination.
Beer Beach near Seaton is great for watching local fishermen at work. Sheltered by huge limestone cliffs, you can easily grab a spot on the shingle shore and watch the day’s activity unfold before you, ice cream in hand. There’s also great accommodation in Beer village.
Comprised of a number of smaller beaches with Safe Bathing status (including Fishermans Cove, Smalls Cove and Mill Bay), East Portlemouth’s sandy offerings are hard to refuse. Head over at low tide and nab a quiet spot.
South Milton Sands
Whether you’re treading footsteps in the sand on a winter’s morning or watching a hazy sunset on a summer’s eve, South Milton Sands near Salcombe has year-round appeal. Make sure you look out for its iconic rock archway, the Thurlestone Rock.
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