Explore Devon's Must-Visit Beaches
With Rich Report tips on where to get an ice cream, where to find the best sunsets and where to take seafaring dogs, here are eight of the best beaches in Devon to seek out when the sun is shining in the southwest.
There are plenty of beaches in Devon that have clear water, fine shingle Blue Flag stretches, and hard-to-find bays that remain quiet even on the hottest afternoons in the UK.
Which seaside town in Devon offers the best seaside experience?
When it comes to the best seaside towns in England, Devon is spoiled for choice. Nevertheless, our travel experts recommend Salcombe, a charming town made up of stone and pastel-coloured homes that line the slopes of South Devon's Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Enjoy a picnic of crab tarts and salcombe dairy ice cream as you meander the South West Coast Path between South Sands and Bolt Head. Last but not least, you can enjoy Fishermans Cove, Smalls Cove, and Mill Bay beaches (all accessible by boat) in Salcombe.
Surfers searching for the gnarliest waves in the area should consider Bantham, a lovely Blue Flag beach (awarded to beaches that have crystal-clear waters, good public access, and the highest environmental standards). Bantham Surf Lifesaving Club has been attracting a cool crowd since 1960, when it was founded. During low tide, you can walk across a strip of sand to Burgh Island, a tidel islet with Art Deco hotels.
One of the best beaches in the UK is the crescent sweep of pebbles on south Devon's confusingly named Blackpool Sands (it's not near Blackpool). It's one of the best beaches in the area and one of the cleanest in the country. Refresh at Venus café, which dishes out sustainable, locally sourced seafood, and dive off the pontoon when the sun shines, and the sea here is remarkably clear.
Soar Mill Cove
You can't reach this beach easily - you need to walk from the South West Coast Path, which puts a lot of people off. Persevere and you'll find it to be a calmer cove than many others nearby. You might see seals or local birds such as Dartford warblers at low tide, so clamber across the rocks and watch out for wildlife that flocks here.
South Milton Sands
Its fine, buttery sand, lapped by iridescent waves, and dotted with shallow rock pools make it a perfect place to paddle. The National Trust oversees this family-friendly, sheltered bay. You can get an amazing sunset from Thurlestone Rock, an arch stone formation rising from the water, as well as ice creams from the Beachhouse behind the sands.
Its southern tip is home to Torcross Beach, popular with swimmers and fishermen, which is a three-mile stretch of shingle beach on the South West Coast Path. Between Slapton Sands and the south-west's largest natural lake, birders and wildlife lovers are drawn to a narrow road.
Mattiscombe is another corner of the Devonshire coast that is relatively difficult to get to – it takes about 10 minutes to get there from the car park. It has dramatic rock formations and a turquoise sea in the sunshine. The sand is enlivened with intriguing shadows cast by the rocks as the sun sets.
Despite the fact that the beach is shallow enough for people of all ages to swim stress-free, it draws more locals than tourists. You can get your fill of buckets and spades at Schoolhouse, which is a brilliant restaurant next to the car park.
There are three beaches in Devon in this area of outstanding natural beauty: Fishermans Cove, Smalls Cove and Mill Bay. All three of these beaches are opposite Salcombe, but they are normally much quieter than their more famous neighbors. It's a dog-friendly beach year round, surrounded by rugged countryside, and the water is a draw for kayakers and paddleboarders. You can only reach this cove by boat (hop on at Salcombe).