South Devon Beach Guide

This ultimate guide to South Devon beaches gives you a snapshot of each unique beach. Clear, safe waters, sand beaches and shingle beaches, miles of stunning coastal walks, dramatic cliffs and beautiful backdrops. the beaches of South Devon really do have it all!

Be inspired and go slightly off the beaten track or visit the family favourites. You’ll find something for everyone on a South Devon beach.

Family Friendly South Devon Beaches

South Devon Beach Guide
Family friendly beaches in South Devon

Pick up the bucket and spade and prepare to enjoy the sunshine while the children build sandcastles and run free. Don’t forget a net for exploring the rock pools. Plenty of South Devon beaches have awards for their cleanliness and water quality so it’s good, clean fun all the way.

Off the Beaten Track, South Devon Beach Guide

South Devon Beach guide
Go off the beaten track for a quieter South Devon beach

If lines of deck chairs and beach towels don’t do it for you, there are plenty of secluded coves and unspoilt beaches to explore. It may take a bit more effort to reach the beach but you will be rewarded with peace and tranquillity. There are still a few hidden gems where you might get lucky and have the beach to yourself for the day.

Water Sports and Activities, South Devon Beach Guide

South Devon Beach guide
Water sports on South Devon Beach

Get out on the water and explore the coastline. Kayaking, paddle boarding, surfing and sailing are more popular than ever, meaning you are never far from equipment hire and tuition.

Dog Friendly Beaches, South Devon Beach Guide

South Devon Beach Guide
Dog friendly beaches, South Devon

If your four-legged friend fancies a doggy paddle, some beaches are open to dogs all year round. Others may provide an area of beach for dogs while many will be closed to them during the main summer season. Each local authority has a list of dog friendly beaches so check before you visit. Dog friendly beaches in English Riviera Torbay, Teignbridge, South Hams, East Devon

Top 3 beaches in Brixham, English Riviera, Torbay

1. Breakwater Beach, Brixham

South Devon Beach Guide
Breakwater Beach, Brixham, South Devon

Situated just around from the historic Brixham harbour, Breakwater Beach has a blue flag, has been awarded a combined Seaside Resort Award and is recommended by the good beach guide. Accessibility, parking, toilets and a Café make it a local favourite. The beach is shingle with clear water and is fantastic for scuba diving or snorkelling. There are rare seagrass beds, seahorses and even the odd shipwreck for underwater explorers.

Beach/Seaside Award ✔️ Blue flag✔️  Café ✔️ Disabled access ✔️ Parking ✔️ Toilets ✔️

Top Tips for Breakwater Beach:

  • Take beach shoes or flip flops to go into the water – the stones are perfect for skimming though!
  • Breakwater Bistro is just off the beach and serves hot and cold meals, snacks, drinks and ice creams. It also hosts a beach shop.
  • Take a walk along the breakwater and you may be treated to a seal or two.
South Devon Beach Guide
A seal swimming off the Breakwater at Brixham, South Devon
  • Stay nearby: There are plenty of B&B’s nearby but if you want a place of your own, take a look at Brixham Cottages. Holiday homes for all tastes and budgets in Brixham, including some with fantastic Breakwater views.

2. Shoalstone Beach, Brixham

The beach is shingle and rock so rather than a dip in the sea there is a large outdoor salt water swimming pool. The pool is surrounded by a large area of patio with a Café. Perfect to sit and take in the sea views. A great beach to explore the rockpools at low tide.

South Devon Beach Guide
Outdoor pool and lido at Shoalstone Beach, South Devon

Café ✔️ Disabled access✔️ Dog friendly✔️ Parking ✔️   Toilets ✔️

Top tips for Shoalstone Beach

  • A short walk from the eastern end of the beach will take you to Berry Head Nature Reserve. It’s a stunning headland with a lighthouse and a Napoleonic Fort.
  • If you have little ones, take a net. The rockpools are teaming with crabs, shrimps and other seaside critters.
  • Stay nearby: The Shoalstone Guest House – It doesn’t get any closer than this family run B&B with incredible views over Torbay and Lyme Bay. Just a short stroll to Shoalstone and Breakwater beaches.

3. St Mary’s Bay, Brixham

St Mary’s Bay is a secluded bay, mostly sand but with some shingles and rock. It’s not the easiest for access as you either have to walk from the car park at Sharkham Point or along a path and steep steps from St Mary’s Road. It’s a great beach for swimming and snorkelling although there is no lifeguard service.

South Devon Beach Guide
Paddling at St Mary’s Bay, Brixham, South Devon

Beach/Seaside Award✔️ Dog friendly ✔️

Top tips for St Mary’s Bay

  • Wear walking shoes rather than flip flops or sandals for the walk down to the beach – it is steep!
  • The nearest facilities are in Brixham, so it’s a great idea to bring a picnic and plenty of drinks. Once you’ve arrived, you won’t want to leave.
  • Stay nearby: Riviera Bay Holiday Park is right on the coast and overlooks the beautiful St Mary’s Bay. It’s as close as you can get!

Top 4 beaches in Paignton, English Riviera, Torbay

1. Broadsands Beach, Paignton

A long, curved sandy beach with green Devon hills surrounding, Broadsands is certainly in a pretty setting. A row of brightly painted beach huts with the steam railway line running behind makes it a picture postcard location.  Popular with paddle boarders and kayaks, it can get busy in the high summer but there is plenty of parking, a Café and a takeaway.

A safe, secluded, sandy beach that’s perfect for families looking for ice creams and sandcastles.

South Devon Beach Guide
Broadsands Beach, Paignton, South Devon, Sandcastles

Beach/Seaside Award✔️ Blue flag✔️ Café ✔️ Disabled access✔️ Dog friendly✔️ Parking✔️ Toilets ✔️

Top tips for Broadsands Beach

  • Broadsands Beach and Water Sports offer equipment hire and tuition for paddle boarding, canoeing and kayaking. They also hire deckchairs, sun loungers, parasols and windbreaks from their beach HQ.
  • The mix of sea, farmland, coastal marsh and beach makes terrific twitching territory. In the summer months look out for gannets, cormorants and fulmars.
  • Stay nearby: A short walk from both Broadsands Beach and Goodrington Sands, Waterside Holiday Park enjoys perfect, picture postcard views across the South Devon coastline.

2. Goodrington Sands, Paignton

South Devon Beach Guide
Goodrington Sands Beach, Paignton, South Devon

A relaxed sandy beach with beach huts and the steam railway providing the backdrop. Goodrington is popular with families, offers kayaks and paddleboards to hire and safe, clean swimming water.

Parking, cafes, pubs and shops abound nearby. The beach is split into North Sands which is dog friendly all year round and the busier South Sands. Safe swimming, plenty of activities and facilities make this South Devon beach a family favourite.

Blue flag✔️ Café✔️ Disabled access ✔️ Dog friendly (N Sands only)✔️ Lifeguards (S Sands Only) ✔️ Parking✔️ Toilets ✔️

Top tips for Goodrington Sands

  • Splashdown Waterpark is just behind the beach and has 8 water slides and flumes for all the family, plus a supervised play area for toddlers.
  • Arrive early! The popularity and great facilities at the beach mean it does get busy.
  • The Seashore Centre is just off the beach and is ideal for learning about Torbay’s marine environment, wildlife and Geopark.
  • Stay nearby: There is a Premier Inn right on the seafront, less than a minute to the beach.
  • Great places to eat! The Goodrington Sands Preminer Inn hosts the local Brewers Fayre which can be found here. With a great selection of food and drink there is something for all the family.

3. Paignton Sands, Paignton

It’s the perfect bucket and spade, family holiday location. A long sandy beach with calm and shallow waters attracting thousands of visitors each year. Safe for swimming, great for paddling or you can take to the water by hiring a boat or pedalo.

Ice cream Paignton
Paignton Pier, Paignton Sand Beach is perfect for an ice cream

Deckchairs are available if you would rather just watch the world go by. Paignton pier is at the heart of the beach and features attractions, food outlets and even a bouncy castle. Donkey rides add to the traditional seaside resort feel. Crazy Golf is just off the beach as well as shops, bars, restaurants and a cinema.

Beach/Seaside Award ✔️ Blue flag ✔️ Café ✔️ Disabled access ✔️ Parking ✔️ Toilets ✔️

Top tips for Paignton Sands

  • While perfect for children and families, Paignton is a busy resort so would not be recommended for those wanting to get away from it all.
  • The pretty harbour is just a short walk from the beach and offers local cruises and fishing trips.
  • Stay nearby: Set in beautiful grounds on the esplanade, looking out to sea is the Palace Hotel. For a budget break there is a Travelodge just a short walk from the seafront which is also close to Preston Sands.

4. Preston Sands, Paignton

Safe, clean and with Cafes, toilets and shops next to the beach. Preston beach is very popular with families with its long stretch of sand and a grassy area with a children’s play park just behind the beach.

South Devon Beach Guide
Paddling on Preston Sands Beach, Paignton, South Devon

Beach/Seaside Award ✔️ Blue flag✔️ Café ✔️ Disabled access ✔️ Parking ✔️ Toilets ✔️

Top tips for Preston Sands

  • Plan your visit in advance and you can hire one of the iconic, brightly painted beach huts on the promenade for the day.
  • Fresh air can certainly spark an appetite. Just around the corner from the beach in Seaway Lane, the London Fryer is famous for amazing locally caught fish and chips. Always ask what their ‘Catch of the day’ is.
  • Stay nearby: Situated on a promontory between Paignton and Preston beaches is the Redcliffe Hotel. Boasting one of the best positions on the English Riviera, the hotel has 400 metres of sea frontage.

Top 3 beaches in Torquay, English Riviera, Torbay

1. Meadfoot Beach, Torquay

Just a mile from Torquay harbour, Meadfoot beach is nestled behind a high sea wall. A few steps down and there is a beach with a mix of sand and shingle. There is a Café right on the beach and toilets just off the beach. Arrive early and there is plenty of free parking opposite the beach and along Meadfoot Green.

South Devon Beach Guide
Meadfoot Sand Beach and Shingle Beach

The green is just behind the beach and is perfect for sunbathing or kicking a ball at high tide. It’s a very popular beach with locals and is also a favourite with paddle boarders as hire and tuition is available. A view of Thatcher Rock and the surrounding cliffs make it a pretty location and it never gets too busy.

Beach/Seaside Award ✔️ Blue flag ✔️ Café ✔️ Disabled access✔️ Dog friendly (N section only) ✔️ Parking ✔️ Toilets ✔️

Top tips for Meadfoot Beach

  • Check the tide times before you visit as there is very little beach left at high tide.
  • You can learn to dive from Meadfoot. Dive Torquay is located on the beach.
  • Stay nearby: Situated at the centre of an elegant Regency crescent is one of Torbay’s finest boutique hotels. The Osbourne Hotel overlooks the beach at Meadfoot and out to Thatcher Rock.

2. Torre Abbey Sands, Torquay

This is the main beach in Torquay and has golden sand when the tide is out. The beach does disappear when the tide is in but you can swim straight from the steps at the top or sunbathe just across the road on Torre Abbey Meadows. The beach is close to toilets, restaurants, bars and shops. There is a beautiful Victorian pier just along from the beach with seating all the way along. Perfect for a spot of relaxing or people watching. Boat trips can be booked at the entrance to the pier.

Blue flag ✔️ Café ✔️ Disabled access ✔️ Parking ✔️ Toilets ✔️

Top tips for Torre Abbey Sands

  • The coarse sand is perfect for building sandcastles and digging holes. You may be lucky and see some local sand art, courtesy of Torquay’s Geoffrey ‘The Sandyman’ Ward.
Sand art
Sand art at Torre Abbey Sands, Torquay, South Devon
  • Just across the road, the gardens at Torre Abbey are a treat and there is no admission charge. Duckponds, flower beds and plants in a lovely peaceful setting, overlooking the sea.
  • Stay nearby: TLH Leisure Resort is a complex of 4 hotels with holiday apartments, a two minute walk from Torquay seafront.

3. Maidencombe Beach, Torquay

The perfect, quiet retreat from some of Torbay’s busier beaches. Sheltered by red stone cliffs, relax and enjoy the award winning clean water for a dip. Access from the car park is via steep steps but it is so worth the effort!

Beach/Seaside Award ✔️ Dog Friendly ✔️ Cafe ✔️ Toilets ✔️

View over the rocks at Maidencombe

Top tips for Maidencombe Beach

  • Turn right onto the rocks, rather than left onto the beach for beautiful views. It’s known locally as Seal cove so you may get lucky.
  • Don’t leave anything in the car. It’s a steep climb back up to the car park!
  • Stay nearby: A beautiful country house hotel, right by the sea at Maidencombe, Oreston Manor also has an award winning restaurant.

Top 3 beaches in Teignmouth and Dawlish

1. Dawlish Town Beach, South Devon

Just a short walk from the town centre, Dawlish Beach is a small sandy beach. There are toilets, shops and Cafes close by. There is a car park just a short walk away in the town centre.

Blue flag ✔️ Cafe ✔️ Disabled access ✔️ Toilets ✔️

South Devon Beach Guide
Dawlish Town Beach, South Devon

Top tips for Dawlish Town Beach

  • Just across the road from the beach, the lawn often hosts free entertainment during the summer months.
  • If you follow the stream through the town, down to the beach, you will almost certainly see the famous Dawlish black swans.
  • Stay nearby: Langstone Cliff Hotel is just along the coast path towards Dawlish Warren. this family friendly hotel is set in 19 acres of woodland and enjoys spectacular sea views.

2. Dawlish Warren Beach, South Devon

Sand dunes, wildlife and a golden beach that goes on forever (well, at least a mile or so). Award winning cleanliness, a whole host of facilities and amusements make it a perfect beach for families. Surfers can enjoy the off shore swells and the beach is lifeguarded.

South Devon Beach Guide
Sand dunes, Dawlish Warren Beach, South Devon

Dawlish Warren is a bustling holiday resort but the long beach means you are always able to find a quiet spot. When you are done with the beach, you can pop into the visitor centre to find out about the thousands of birds and hundreds of rare flowering plants along the estuary and among the dunes.

Beach award/Seaside Award ✔️ Blue flag ✔️ Café ✔️ Disabled access✔️ Dog friendly (between groynes 3-9 only) Lifeguards✔️ Parking✔️ Toilets ✔️

Top tips for Dawlish Warren Beach

  • If there is a golfer in the family, Dawlish Warren Golf Club has 18 holes to enjoy with stunning views. This dune land course is situated on a sand spit that separates the estuary from the beach and is truly unique.
  • Beach hut hire is available on a weekly basis for the perfect family holiday base.
  • Stay nearby: Dawlish Warren is family holiday heaven and there is a huge variety of holiday parks just off this South Devon beach.

3. Teignmouth Beach, South Devon

Georgian seaside architecture, a long sandy beach, complete with Victorian pier and a long promenade. Teignmouth beach is the traditional family seaside holiday resort. The main beach is perfect for families with soft sand, safe swimming, facilities and activities. The small section of beach at the end is called River Beach (or Back Beach by the locals) and is a small area of sandy beach that keeps the sun late in the day. Perfect to BBQ and watch the sunset.

South Devon Beach Guide
Back Beach, Teignmouth, South Devon

Beach/Seaside Award ✔️ Blue flag ✔️ Café✔️ Disabled access ✔️ Dog friendly (back beach only) ✔️ Lifeguards ✔️ Parking ✔️ Toilets ✔️

Top Tips for Teignmouth Beach

  • Teign Canteen @ the Blue Hut is on the back beach and has a reputation for great, affordable food. Mussells and cockels on the beach – perfect!
  • Back beach is also home to Sea Sports water sport hire. Explore Teignmouth from the water on one of their kayaks or paddle boards.
  • Stay nearby: A 10 minute drive from Teignmouth Beach and a 10 minute walk to Shaldon Beach is Coast View Holiday Park. With 5 star facilities to enjoy, it’s a great start to a relaxing break.

Top 10 South Hams Beaches, South Devon

1. Bigbury Beach

Located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Bigbury offers safe South Devon beach fun for families. Shallow waters, fine sand and dozens of rock pools to explore make it a fantastic family day out. There’s a lot more to Bigbury though. Discovery Surf School have a wide selection of water sports equipment to hire as well as tuition in surfing and paddle boarding.

Wind surfing and kite surfing are popular here with hire and tuition available directly from the beach.

Beach award ✔️  Blue flag ✔️ Café ✔️ Disabled access ✔️ Dog friendly ✔️  Lifeguards ✔️ Parking ✔️  Toilets ✔️

South Devon Beach Guide
Burgh Island, Bigbury Beach, South Devon

Top tips for Bigbury Beach

  • Bigbury looks out to Burgh Island which you can walk across to at low tide or take the tractor across at high tide. Once on the island there are some great food options at the Pilchard Inn and the iconic Burgh Island Hotel.
South Devon Beach Guide
The Pilchard Inn, Burgh Island, South Devon
  • Stay nearby: If you want to stay longer than a day (we know you will) you can experience the Art Deco luxury of the Burgh Island Hotel. Alternatively, camping and other accommodation is available at Mount Folly Farm 

2. Bantham Beach

Named as one of the best beaches in Europe by Lonely Planet, Bantham beach is nestled in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and enjoys views over to Bigbury and Burgh Island. Enjoyed by families, walkers and surfers Bantham has a long sandy beach. It is one of the most popular beaches in South Devon for surfers with its reliable waves.

Sand dunes
Bantham Sand Beach, South Devon

There’s parking for 1000 cars just a short walk across the dunes.

Beach/Seaside Award ✔️ Blue flag ✔️ Café ✔️ Disabled access ✔️ Lifeguards ✔️ Parking ✔️ Toilets ✔️

Top tips for Bantham Beach

  • If you fancy sampling the surf, Bantham Surfing Academy offers lessons and courses for all abilities, from beginners to coaching for experienced surfers. They also hire paddle boards and kayaks.
  • The Gastrobus serves locally sourced food, gourmet burgers, freshly made baps, cakes, ice creams and drinks or you can sample the food at the Sloop Inn, just up from the beach.
  • Stay nearby: Coast and Country Cottages have a range of self catering accommodation to chose from in and around Bantham and the South Hams.

3. Thurlestone Beach

Thurlestone is split into two beaches, a small beach by the golf club and the larger beach further along the coast towards South Milton. The beach boasts award winning, clean waters and is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

South Devon Beach Guide
Thurlestone Dog Friendly Beach, South Devon

If you want facilities, Thurlestone beach isn’t for you but you won’t find any better South Devon beache where you can just relax in tranquil surroundings.

Beach/Seaside Award ✔️ Blue flag ✔️ Dog friendly ✔️ Parking ✔️ Toilets ✔️

Top tips for Thurlestone Beach

  • If you have time, Thurlestone village is well worth exploring. Dating back to the Doomsday Book, there are thatched cottages and the church is a Grade 2 listed building with a Norman font and ancient chapel.
  • Thurlestone beach is perfect if you want to take your four-legged friend. The beach is open to dogs all year round.
  • Stay nearby: The 4 star Thurlestone Hotel offers a warm welcome and timeless charm in the nearby village.

4. South Milton Sands

Looked after by the National Trust, this beach really has it all. Crystal clear waters, an iconic rock arch (famously immortalised by Turner), sand beach and rockpools bursting with crabs and critters.

Seals and dolphins can often be spotted in the waters here and the beach is popular with surfers. The clean, clear water makes it a great spot for snorkelling while paddle boards, windsurfers and kayaks can be hired courtesy of Surfin’ Sams Watersports.

Beach/Seaside Award ✔️ Blue flag ✔️ Café ✔️ Disabled access✔️ Dog friendly ✔️ Lifeguards ✔️ Parking ✔️ Toilets ✔️

South Devon Beach Guide
South Milton Sands, South Devon

Top tips for South Milton Sands

  • Just behind the sand beach you can explore an area of wetlands designated as an area of Special Scientific Interest.
  • The small National Trust car park is accessed via a country lane so the advice is to arrive early. The car park gets full very quickly in high season.
  • Stay nearby: If you like the sound of a 16th century farmhouse, brimming with character, Shute Farm B&B in South Milton village could be the perfect choice.

5. North Sands Beach, Salcombe

Just a short walk from the town, the beach is popular with families as the shallow waters are ideal for paddling and rock pooling. The sand does disappear when the tide comes in but the Winking Prawn opposite the beach serves some of the best fresh food in the area.

Café ✔️ Disabled access ✔️ Dog friendly ✔️ Parking ✔️ Toilets ✔️

Top tips for North Sands

  • You can bring your dog all year round! North sands has the reputation for being one of the most dog friendly beaches in South Devon.
  • It’s wise to check the tide times before you visit if you want to make sure you can enjoy the sandy beach.
  • Stay nearby: For a touch of luxury just over a mile from North Sands is Salcombe Harbour Hotel and Spa or camping is available at Higher Rew.
South Devon Beach Guide
Explore North Sands and South Sands on the Salcombe Coast Path, South Devon

6. South Sands Beach, Salcombe

South Sands is in a sheltered cove so makes a perfect sun trap out of the wind. Excellent facilities, water sport equipment hire and Bo’s Beach Café make it a popular beach to visit. Sea Kayak Salcombe offer paddle boards and kayaks for hire and knowing they have their own safety boat in operation, provides peace of mind. If you prefer to be on the water rather than on the beach Whitestrand Boat Hire offer cruises and fishing trips, or the opportunity to hire your own boat.

Café ✔️ Disabled access ✔️ Parking ✔️  Toilets ✔️

Top tips for South Sands Beach

  • In the summer months you can visit the beach via the South Sands Ferry from Whitestrand Quay, in the centre of Salcombe. It’s a novel experience to be greeted by the Sea Tractor as the ferry arrives.
  • Make the most of being next to the South West coast path and enjoy the views by taking the 3 mile circular walk to Bolt Head.
  • Stay nearby: Opening July 2121, Harbour Beach Club is right on South Sands and is set to make a splash in Salcombe. Ideas for camping in Salcombe are on hand from Cool Camping.

7. Blackpool Sands

Don’t be fooled by the name as this is actually a shingle beach but still well worth a visit. Sitting in a sheltered bay just outside Dartmouth, Blackpool Sands is one of South Devon’s most picturesque beaches, surrounded by cliffs and woodland.

Blackpool Sands
Blackpool Sands shingle beach, South Devon

The water is crystal clear and being a shingle beach means that kayaks and windsurfers can be launched from the shoreline. Venus Beach Café and Venus Beach Shop both offer locally sourced food and drink and provide everything you need for the perfect beach day.  

Beach/Seaside Award ✔️ Blue flag ✔️ Café ✔️ Disabled access ✔️ Lifeguards ✔️ Parking ✔️ Toilets ✔️

Top tips for Blackpool Sands

  • Arrive early and enjoy breakfast at the Venus Beach Café. It’s listed in the Guardian newspaper’s top 50 Best Breakfast Places in the UK.
  • If you are in no hurry to leave, bring supper with you. BBQ’s are allowed on the beach after 5pm.
  • Stay nearby: Less than 2 miles from Blackpool Sands, Watermilll Cottages offer a sustainable, coastal retreat.

8. Slapton Sands

Slapton Sands is actually a shingle beach which is a haven for wildlife in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Lifeguarded during the summer months, it’s popular with families and is great for swimming and water sports. With 3 miles of beach, Slapton is never overcrowded.

It is lifeguarded in summer and there is a flag system to observe for safe swimming areas. The shingle shelves steeply into the sea so little ones need to be supervised.

Behind the beach is a nature reserve with a large freshwater lake.

South Devon Beach Guide
Colourful rocks at Slapton Sands Beach, South Devon

Slapton has an interesting history. There is a monument to the hundreds of American soldiers who lost their lives while practicing for the D-Day landings in 1944.

Beach/Seaside Award ✔️ Blue flag ✔️ Café ✔️ Disabled access ✔️ Dog friendly ✔️ Lifeguards ✔️ Parking ✔️ Toilets ✔️

Top tips for Slapton Sands

  • It’s a popular fishing spot. the sea gets deep very quickly at Slapton and is ideal for shore anglers.
  • If you’re peckish, Start Bay Inn is worth a visit. It’s a 14th century thatched inn situated right next to the beach. Eat in or take advantage of their outdoor benches overlooking the sea. The inn also offers a takeaway service.
  • Stay nearby: The Camping and Caravanning Club site at Slapton Sands is just a short stroll from the beach. It is in a beautiful tree lined rural setting with glorious sea views. 

9. Hope Cove Beach

Hope Cove boasts two sand beaches in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Mouthwell Sands Beach to the North is the closest to the car park. The longer harbour beach is to the south. Clean, clear water, rockpools and sand make a great location for a family beach day. You’ll leave, sandy, salty and sun kissed! Toilets and facilities are just off the beach in Hope Cove.

South Devon Beach Guide
Hope Cove Sand Beach, South Devon

Beach/Seaside Award ✔️ Café ✔️ Disabled access ✔️ Dog friendly (South Beach only) ✔️ Parking ✔️ Toilets✔️

Top tips for Hope Cove Beach

  • The Lobster Pod Bistro overlooks the beach and you can sit on one of their outside tables and take in the view. In the evening their cosy, comfortable, covered pods mean you can enjoy the sunsets without the breeze.
  • Historically famous for pirates and smuggling, take a walk out on the rocks as there are plenty of caves to explore.
  • Stay nearby: Hope Cove House (featured in Sunday Times Top 100 British hotels 2019) is family friendly and overlooks the bay, just a short stroll from the beach.

10. Challaborough Bay, South Hams

A sandy bay with award winning clean waters, this beach is very popular with surfers. There is a small car park but when full, you can park at Bigbury on Sea and it’s just a 15 minute walk. There is a Café, beach shop and toilets.

Paddle boarding and surfing are popular at Challaborough

Beach/Seaside Award ✔️ Blue Flag ✔️ Café ✔️ Disabled access ✔️ Parking ✔️ Toilets ✔️

Top tips for Challaborough Bay

  • The South West Coast Path running between Challaborough and Bigbury offers spectacular views of the coastline, beaches and on to Burgh Island.
  • Fish and chips always taste better on the beach and Fryer Tucks is open from 12pm to 10pm daily in the summer months.
  • Stay nearby: Better than that, you can stay there! Challaborough Bay Holiday Park is right on the golden shores of Challaborough beach.

Top 3 Plymouth Beaches

South Devon Beach Guide
Plymouth Ocean City Beaches, South Devon

1. Bovisand Beach

On the coast path and in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Bovisand beach is a sheltered, yellow sand beach surrounded by cliffs. At low tide there is a huge area of beach with rockpools to explore and the water is warmed by the sand as the tide comes back in.

Beach/Seaside Award ✔️ Café ✔️ Disabled access ✔️ Dog friendly (Crownhill Bay side only) ✔️ Parking ✔️ Toilets ✔️

Top tips for Bovisand Beach

South Devon Beach Guide
Explore 3 beaches at Bovisands, South Devon
  • Situated directly on the South West Coast Path, the city of Plymouth is a stunning 5 mile walk away.
  • There are two further beaches to explore from here just 200 metres away but watch the tide times. They are cut off at high tide.
  • Stay nearby: Award winning Bovisand Lodge Holiday Park has accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets.

2. Jennycliff Beach

Just around the coast path from Bovisand Beach is Jennycliff pebble beach. It is reached via a steep path so not suitable for wheelchairs but there is plenty of free parking close by. Great for rockpools and snorkelling, this beach has fantastic views of Plymouth city. Dogs are welcome all year.

South Devon Beach Guide
Rock pools at Jennycliff beach, Plymouth, South Devon

Dog friendly ✔️ Parking ✔️ Toilets ✔️

Top tips for Jennycliff Beach

  • Above the beach there is a lovely grassy area to enjoy a picnic, overlooking Plymouth Sound.
  • If you want to escape the summer crowds, this little beach could be perfect for you.
  • Stay nearby: The stunning 19th Century St Anne’s House at Jennycliff is a perfect coastal retreat for a special getaway with family and friends.

3. Wembury Beach

Rockpools, plenty of sand, all overlooked by the 15 century St Werburgh’s Church. This is the quintessential picture postcard Devon scene. Wembury beach provides the perfect mix of coast and countryside with award winning shallow waters and a backdrop of green rolling hills.

 The Old Mill Café provides drinks and snacks and boasts a mighty fine Devon Cream Tea. It also has a beach shop.

Cafe ✔️ Parking ✔️ Toilets ✔️

Top tips for Wembury Beach

Church at Wembury
Wembury Sand Beach, Plymouth, South Devon
  • You can pack a picnic and make use of the grassy picnic area at the top of the beach.
  • If you’re seriously hungry, the Odd Wheel Inn is a short stroll from the beach. Their Sunday lunch comes highly recommended and there is an outdoor play area for the children.
  • Stay nearby: Churchwood Valley Holiday Park offers secluded log cabins set in a natural wooded valley, running straight down to Wembury beach.

Venture just a little bit further . . . . Top 3 Jurassic Coast Beaches, East Devon

1. Exmouth Beach

Sitting at the gateway of the UNESCO Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, Exmouth beach has 2 miles of golden sand beach to explore.  A bustling, traditional seaside resort there are plenty of shops and cafes and a whole host of water sports to try out. Edge Water Sports is situated on the promenade and as well as equipment hire, have a water sports school. Kitesurfing, paddle boarding or windsurfing; the choice is yours.

 You can also wander along the promenade to book one of the many cruises on offer where dolphins and seals can often be spotted. Stuart Line Cruises are at the town end of the promenade and have a variety of options to explore this unique coastline.

South Devon Beach Guide
Take a cruise on the Jurassic Coast, Devon

The beach keeps the sun in the evening and is still busy late into the day with family BBQ’s, water sports and swimmers.

Beach/Seaside Award ✔️ Blue Flag ✔️ Café ✔️ Disabled access ✔️ Lifeguards ✔️ Parking ✔️ Toilets ✔️

Top tips for Exmouth Beach

  • If you wander off the beach and into town, at Antonio’s Italian Ice Cream Parlour you will find they are passionate about their hand-crafted ice cream. Dozens of ice cream flavours to choose from, plus waffles, milkshakes and real Italian coffee.
  • The coast path from Exmouth to Budleigh Salterton is a stunning 6 mile walk. Not for the faint hearted but if you want the best views of the Jurassic Coastline, it’s pretty perfect. Try an early morning walk when all you can hear is the sea and the birds and before it gets too hot.
  • Stay nearby: there is no shortage of accommodation on offer here. From the 4 star Devoncourt Resort, there is a Premier Inn and camping at Exmouth Country Lodge.

2. Sandy Bay

A half mile stretch of golden sand beach with clear waters, Sandy Bay is ideal for families. Privately owned and quieter than Exmouth Beach there is still plenty on offer. Parking, toilets and Café plus there is deckchair and pedalo hire. The beach is lifeguarded in the summer and there is disabled access. The perfect beach for making sandcastles, digging holes and enjoying a traditional family beach day.

Beach/Seaside Award ✔️ Blue Flag ✔️ Café ✔️ Disabled access ✔️ Lifeguards ✔️ Parking ✔️ Toilets ✔️

Top tips for visiting Sandy Bay

  • South Beach Café is situated in Devon Cliffs Holiday Park which overlooks Sandy Bay. It is open all summer and provides great views of the beach below.
  • At low tide you can walk along the beach from Sandy Bay to Exmouth.
  • Stay nearby: Not a problem. Devon Cliffs Holiday Park enjoys direct access to the beach at Sandy Bay and has magnificent views of the Jurassic coastline.

3. Budleigh Salterton Beach

A 2.5 mile stretch of pebble beach with clear, clean waters, perfect for swimming and water sports. Plenty of beach facilities including beach side cafes, beach hut hire, a children’s play park and access to the South West Coast Path. Unspoilt and in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Budleigh Salterton is a family favourite.

There is a naturist section at the far west end of the beach, which is clearly signed.

Café ✔️ Disabled access ✔️ Dog Friendly (excluding centre section) ✔️ Parking ✔️ Toilets ✔️

Top tips for Budleigh Salterton Beach

  • Sample the local seafood in the Long Boat Café, situated right in the middle of the beach. Caught from their own boats, crab, lobster, mussels, oysters, scallops and any fish that swims within 5 miles of your table are served.
  • If traditional fish and chips is more your thing, Budleigh Fish & Chips is just a short stroll from the beach. Perfect to pick up and take back to the beach where fish & chips simply taste better!
  • Stay nearby: For a touch of 5 star luxury Heath Close is just outside the town. If you’re on a budget Ladram Bay Holiday Park has accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets.

Slightly off the beaten track

Brixham’s Hidden Beach Gems

South West Coast Path
Coves and beaches to explore from the South Devon Coast Path, Brixham, South Devon

Elberry Cove, Churston Cove and Fishcombe Cove, Brixham are accessed via the South West Coast Path so not great for access but secluded and quiet. All are safe for swimming (although not lifeguarded) and are places locally known for spotting both seals and dolphins. The real winner in these coves is the scenery with crystal clear waters and a woodland backdrop.

Hollicombe Beach, Paignton, English Riviera

A beautiful sheltered, sandy beach nestled just between Paignton and Torquay. This beach has no facilities and no designated parking but you are rewarded with a quiet red sand beach, making it a favourite for local families.

Kayak South Devon
Kayaking off Hollicombe Sand Beach, South Devon

There are huge areas of rockpools to explore when the tide is out and the backdrop of the sandstone cliffs keep it private and sheltered. Parking can be found about half a mile down the coast path at Preston which is also where the nearest toilets can be found.

Oddicombe Beach, Babbacombe, English Riviera

This provides the opportunity for a very different method of transport down to the beach, courtesy of a funicular railway down the sandstone cliffs. 

South Devon Beach Guide
Oddicombe Beach, Babbacombe, Torquay, South Devon

Walking down to the beach is fine but not many brave the walk back up. The beach is shingle and swimming here is generally safe. Deckchair, sunbed, pedalo and kayak hire are available plus there are toilets a Café and a shop.

Shaldon Beach, near Teignmouth

Shaldon Sand Beach, near Teignmouth, South Devon

A gently sloping mix of shingle and sand at the mouth of the River Teign. It’s popular for watersports, fishing and swimming but is not lifeguarded. At high tide you can see huge container ships come into dock at Teignmouth Port via the narrow estuary. There are toilets, cafes and shops just behind the beach.

Gara Rock Beach, Salcombe

Gara Rock Sand Beach, South Hams, South Devon

Known as Salcombes best kept secret, this secluded sandy beach takes a 15 minute walk to reach, keeping it quiet all year round. There are no facilities here but plenty of rock pools to keep the children happy.

Mothecombe Beach, South Hams

Part of the Flete Estate, Mothecombe Beach is one of the quieter South Devon Beaches. Access is via a track from the car park and is not suitable for wheelchairs. Facilities and a tea room are situated by the car park.

Sand beach
Mothecombe Sand Beach, South Devon

The walk down to the beach is worth the effort if you want to avoid the crowds and you are rewarded with a beautiful backdrop of Devon hills and farm land. It’s also a great point to take a walk on the South West Coast Path.

Beach Safety, South Devon Beach Guide

To make sure that you enjoy your visit to a South Devon beach safely, we have some top tips:

  • Always swim on a lifeguarded beach where possible. You can find your closest lifeguarded beach on the RNLI website.
  • On lifeguarded beaches, swim between the red and yellow flags which is the area patrolled by the lifeguards.
  • Never swim alone
  • If you see somebody in difficulty, don’t attempt to rescue them. Tell a lifeguard (on lifeguarded beach) or call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.
  • Always read any safety signs at the entrance to the beach and observe the safety flags. Do not enter the water when the red flag is flying.
  • A full safety guide is available from the RNLI website.

FAQ’s South Devon Beach Guide

Does Devon have sandy beaches?

Yes, Devon does have sandy beaches. Most of the shingle and pebble beaches in South Devon also have areas of sand beach. The sandstone cliffs of the Torbay beaches give a fine red sand which becomes fine golden sands in the South Hams, Dawlish and Exmouth.

Are beaches better in Devon than Cornwall?

Whether the beaches are better in Devon than Cornwall is probably down to personal preference as there are pros and cons for both. Cornwall’s beaches can become very busy in the peak summer months but there are plenty of small coves to explore if accessibility isn’t a problem for you. The beaches in South Devon are a combination of sand beach and shingle beach but there really is something for everyone.

Which part of Devon is best?

It is impossible to say which part of Devon is best but South Devon beaches are among the best in the UK. You can choose from the beaches of the English Riviera in Torbay, Dawlish and Teignmouth beaches, South Hams beaches, Plymouth and Exmouth beaches. It’s worth having a look at the South West Coast Path wherever you plan to visit and it will show you all the beaches in the area.

What is the nicest beach in Devon?

The UK Beach guide surveyed their users to discover the nicest beach in Devon. From their list of top ten Devon beaches, four were in South Devon. Bantham, Blackpool Sands, Bigbury on Sea and Exmouth were among the favourites.

Which is better, North or South Devon?

Whether North Devon or South Devon is better for your beach holiday can depend on what you are looking for. The beaches of North Devon can be better for surfing as the coast experiences the full force of the Atlantic Ocean. The beaches of South Devon are safer for swimming and tend to be smaller and more sheltered. Perfect for children and families who want a peaceful holiday in the sun.

What is the best beach in South Devon?

In several surveys, including the UK Beach Guide and Visit South Devon, Bantham Beach is listed as the best beach in South Devon. Bigbury on Sea, Broadsands and Mothecombe beach also came out well.

Is Devon by the sea?

Devon is by the sea. It has a coastline stretching 819 kilometres with hundreds of beaches to explore, many on the South Devon coastline.

Are there any sandy beaches in South Devon?

There are around 50 sandy beaches in South Devon. some are large beach resorts like Goodrington on the English Riviera and Dawlish Warren while others are secluded off the beaten track coves. If you are looking for a sandy beach in South Devon, don’t rely on the name. Some shingle beaches like Blackpool Sands are actually shingle beaches.

What are the beaches like in Devon?

The beaches in Devon are all different and have their own charm. Long sandy beaches, shingle coves, surfing beaches and family resorts, South Devon beaches have it all.

Are there any sandy beaches in East Devon?

There are several sandy beaches in East Devon. Exmouth beach boasts two miles of golden sand and neighbouring beach, Sandy Bay is true to its name.

What is the best sandy beach in Devon?

The best sandy beach in Devon will depend on the individual preference. In the Beach Guide UK survey, Woolacombe came tops for North Devon. Bantham Beach in the South Hams was voted the best sand beach in South Devon.

This story appeared on July 23, 2021

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