From hidden coves to golden sands, here’s Rachael Brown’s top picks for Devon’s best beaches:
Broad Sands is North Devon’s worst kept secret. Secluded by wild cliffs that are thick with luscious greenery, the beach opens up to a stunning view of turquoise water. On a sunny day it has a, dare I say, tropical feel, but it is a shingley beach so don’t expect golden sands!
Although Woody Bay is remote, on a crinkle of Exmoor’s rugged coastline, and has a steep climb down to the sea, it makes up for it with lovely views and a sense of retreat. Clamber the boulders or lounge on rocks to soak up the sun, there’s also a giant pool for safe swimming and a small waterfall too. It’s a stoney beach, often strewn with seaweed so bear that in mind.
Cellars Beach is a little cove off the River Yealm. Park at Noss Mayo then embark on the 35 minute trundle through pretty riverside woodland down to the beach. If the tide is high, the beach is reduced to a large rock, surrounded by see-to-the-bottom water – great for a cool plunge, then drying off like a lizard in the sun. It’s important to check the times as water can creep into part of the car park at high tide.
Croyde is one of North Devon’s most popular beaches, with its fine golden sands and even finer surf. Surrounded by sand dunes and green rolling hills, this laidback beach is perfect for families and surfers alike. Croyde Village is just a short distance away, so when you’re done on the beach you can head for a pint at one of its popular local pubs.
East Portlemouth is a smooth sandy beach with clear waters and a relaxed feel, making it perfect for sunbathing and a quiet dip. From its golden shore you can admire panoramic views of the white houses of Salcombe, the boats bobbing in the estuary and the curve of sweeping green cliffs that keep the sands relatively sheltered. The easiest way to get there is by ferry from Salcombe to avoid narrow roads and full car parks. Once on the beach find a quiet cove that catches the sunset, there’s lots of inlets to explore.
You can catch some gorgeous, soft sunsets from Westward Ho! thanks to the wide open skies along its extensive stretch of sand. Surf-wise, the beach is beginner friendly with a hire shop in the town, but if the bracing waves of the Atlantic aren’t for you there is also a sea pool for a gentle dip. Follow the coast round to Appledore, a charming fishing village on the River Torridge.
Ladram Bay is a beautifully curving pebble beach to the east of Budleigh Salterton, characterised by its dramatic, red sea stacks. It’s fun to kayak or swim out to these sandstone islands, weave around them, discover caves to climb through and ledges to clamber on, or simply to see these wonderful towers from a different perspective.
The epitome of unspoilt rugged beauty, Lannacombe feels wild but has soft sand. It’s a quieter beach, tucked away and bordered by rock formations that reveal seaweed pools to explore when the tide goes out.
A peaceful part of South Devon’s coastline that welcomes dogs all year round.
Hartland Quay is known for its remarkable scenery, often featuring crashing waves, but always with towering cliffs and giant italic rock formations that jut into the sea. As you walk down from the top of the headland, there are far-reaching views of the North Devon coastline and on a good day you can surf and bathe against its dramatic backdrop.
Blackpool Sands is a Blue Flag award- winning beach, backed by lush rolling hills, evergreens and scented pines. Despite its deceptive name, it’s actually a shingle beach, named after the local town of Blackpool (near Dartmouth). Located in a sheltered bay, the beach is privately managed and kept in immaculate condition. It even boasts its own café called ‘Venus Beach’, where you can enjoy peaceful breakfasts and light lunches with some stunning sea views.
Photo Credits: Westward Ho! photos by Jack Levick.
Hartland Quay by ASC Photography / Shutterstock
Croyde at Sunset by Ian Woolcock / Shutterstock