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20 Best Beaches in South Devon

There are 125 miles of coastline in South Devon - most of it is made up of golden sands and lovely coves, so you'll be spoilt for choice when you decide to go for a day out on the beach.

Blackpool Sands © Andrew via Flickr

Bantham Beach

Bantham is said to be one of the best surfing beaches in Devon (providing the conditions are right of course).

Bantham Beach - bend in the River Avon © Matt Buck via Flickr

It is a lovely shallow, sandy beach, with amazing views over to Bigbury on Sea, and Burgh Island, with its impressive 1930s Art Deco hotel.

Bantham Beach is just on the entrance to the River Avon Estuary, and it is possible to walk for miles across the sands when the tide is out, so be careful of the incoming tide - it can cut you off if you're not aware of it. It's probably best to look up the tide times before you set off for a long walk across the sands.

Bantham Beach looking towards Burgh Island © Matt Buck via Flickr

There are good facilities at Bantham Beach - there's a large car park (with a daily charge), a cafe/restaurant, shop and toilets. There is a lifeguard service (run by the Bantham Surf Life Saving Club) during the summer season, so it is an ideal place to take the family for a day on the sands.

As the tide goes out, shallow pools are left in the sand which will warm quickly in the sun - ideal for small children to paddle in and search for crabs!

Bantham Beach - mouth of the Avon © Matt Buck via Flickr

Dogs are not allowed on the main Bantham Beach during the summer months, but they can play on the estuary beach all year round.


Bigbury-on-Sea Beach

Bigbury on Sea © Mark Hadley via Flickr

Bigbury-on-sea Beach is an amazing flat sandy beach with acres of golden sands to play or sunbathe on.

Bigbury on Sea © Andrew via Flickr

If you enjoy water sports such as surfing, bodyboarding, windsurfing or kite-surfing, then you will have a great time here. There are hire facilities next to the beach, so you don't even have to lug your own equipment.

There are lifeguards and a first aid room in the summer months, ideal if you want to keep the family safe.

Bigbury on Sea © Matt Clark via Flickr

Bigbury-on-Sea Beach is ideal for families with small children - it slopes gently into the sea, and the water quality is excellent. The are rock pools at low tide, and plenty of sand for beach games.

The beach has wonderful views - especially across to nearby Burgh Island, which is the site of the impressive art-deco Burgh Island Hotel.

Bigbury on Sea © Matthew Hartley via Flickr

At low tide you can walk across the sands to Burgh Island, and at high tide you can take the sea tractor - a fun way to travel. Burgh Island has lots of footpaths with lovely views and a pub - the Pilchard Inn.

Dogs are not allowed on the main part of Bigbury-on-Sea Beach from the Causeway eastwards, from 1st May to 30th September. They are allowed on the west side of the beach from the Causeway westwards all year.

Bigbury on Sea © Matthew Hartley via Flickr

There are lots of facilities at Bigbury-on-Sea Beach - the shops, restaurants and cafes of nearby Bigbury-on-Sea, and a large car park with toilets, beach shop and the Discovery Surf School.


South Milton Sands

South Milton Sands are owned by the National Trust and form one of the most popular beaches in South Devon. This is because the beach has easy parking, lots of golden sand suitable for families, with lots of water-sports, and cafe facilities.

South Milton Sands © Ruth Gledhill via Flickr

The beach has a decent car park (free to National Trust members), though this can quickly fill up in the summer. There are glorious gently sloping golden sands and rockpools which are ideal for a family day out at this lovely sheltered beach.

You can take part in lots of different water sports at South Milton Sands such as kayaking, paddle boarding, windsurfing, snorkelling, scuba diving. There's a hire company on the beach where you can hire paddle boards and kayaks by the hour.

A popular activity for kayakers is to paddle through the hole in Thurlestone Rock, which is just off the Sands - they love the challenge!

South Milton Sands © Andy Powell via Flickr

The Beachhouse Cafe, selling simple seafood and takeaways can be found in the sand dunes just behind the beach, and there are toilets are at the car park.

You are allowed to take your dog onto the beach at South Milton Sands, but you must keep it under close control at all times.


Hope Cove

The village of Hope Cove can be reached down lovely narrow country lanes, and it has two lovely sandy beaches - Mouthwell Sands and Harbour Beach.

These two beaches are also called Inner Hope and Outer Hope - Mouthwell Sands is the Outer Beach and Harbour Beach is the Inner.

Mouthwell Sands or Outer Hope is nearest to the car park, and has both golden sand and rockpools.

It is the more popular of the two beaches for swimming and there is a lifeguard service from the RNLI on Mouthwell Sands in the summer months.

Harbour Beach is the larger of the two, and there is more space for walks on the sandy beach and with a small harbour to explore. The calm water behind the harbour wall is also popular with kayakers, and you can hire kayaks at Harbour Beach.

Both beaches are next door to Hope Cove village, so it is handy for food, drink and beach supplies.

Dogs are allowed on Harbour Beach all year round, but they are not allowed on Moutthwell Sands in the summer months.


Blackpool Sands

Blackpool Sands © Charmaine Zoe via Flickr

You won't find a huge tower or amusement arcades at Blackpool Sands in Devon - it is, in fact, the complete opposite!

It is an unspoilt beach in a sheltered bay next to the small village of Blackpool - ideal for a family day out.

Blackpool Sands © Steve P 2008 via Flickr

Blackpool Sands is a privately-run shingle beach which has many great facilities - showers, toilets, sand pits, daily beach cleaning and lifeguards in the summer months, and a beachside cafe and beach shop.

Blackpool Sands © c.art via Flickr

The beach does not have sand - it has small shingle stones, which are no good for building sand castles, but it does mean you won't get sand in your sandwiches!

Blackpool Sands © Matt Buck via Flickr

You'll have a great time in the sheltered bay at Blackpool Sands if you want to swim, paddle board or kayak. You can hire paddle boards and kayaks from the beach shop.

Blackpool Sands is a Blue Flag beach, which means dogs are not allowed on the beach,in the cafe or in the car park from April to September.


Soar Mill Cove

Soar Mill Cove © Andrew Bone via Flickr

This is a pretty little cove well off the beaten path. It really is secluded - there is no car access or car park - you can only get to it on foot (down a steep path) or by boat from around the headland at Salcombe.

However, it is well worth the effort to get here. There are craggy cliffs and a lovely golden beach when the tide is out. There is lots of wildlife to observe - seabirds, falcons and kestrels, and lots of wild flowers.

Soar Mill Cove © Andrew Bone via Flickr

If your family enjoys building sand castles and rock-pooling this is the perfect beach. The kids will love searching the rock pools at low tide for crabs and anemones.

Soar Mill Cove Coast Path © Andrew Bone via Flickr

There are no facilities at Soar Mill Cove - you might be able to find a parking space at the Soar Mill Cove Hotel (pay the attendant or reception at the hotel).

Soar Mill Cove - Bolberry Down © Rob Hodgkins via Flickr

If there are no spaces here, you should be able to park in the village of Soar, or at the National Trust car park along the coast at Bolberry Down.

You can walk along the Devon Coastal Path to get here - there's a great path down to the beach from the cliff tops with fantastic views.

Soar Mill Cove © Peter Castleton via Flickr

Soar Mill Cove Beach is perfect to walk and play on with your dog, as dogs are allowed on the beach all year round.


Lannacombe Beach

Lannacombe Beach © Peter Burka via Flickr

Lannacombe Beach is a lovely secluded beach on Lannacombe Bay, between Start Point and Prawle Point.

It is off the beaten track (other than the South West Coast Path of course) so there aren't any facilities here.

Lannacombe Beach - narrow approach road! © Henry Burrows via Flickr

There is a small car park reached via a very narrow country lane - this is possibly why Lannacombe is less crowded than some of the larger beaches in South Devon.

Lannacombe Beach © Henry Burrows via Flickr

The beach is made up of golden sand flanked by rocks (with rockpools at low tide) on either side. So Lannacombe Beach is the setting for a perfect family day at the beach - golden sands, rock pools, clear blue sea, no crowds...

Lannacombe Beach © Henry Burrows via Flickr

Even your dog can have a great day here, as dogs are allowed on Lannacombe Beach all year round.


Broadsands Beach

The area around Torbay is called the English Riviera, and Broadsands Beach is right at the centre of it.

Broadsands Beach © Martin Stone via Flickr

Broadsands Beach is between Paignton and Brixham and is a long sandy beach with lots of facilities and activities available.

The beach is ideal for taking the kids for a day out - lots of sand for sunbathing, sandcastle building and games (at low tide), and lovely clear water with a gentle incline on the beach ideal for swimming.

There is a car park right next to the beach promenade, so there is easy access for everyone.

Broadsands Beach © Markles55 via Flickr

There are toilets with disabled facilities, showers, a first aid room and a beach cafe/ restaurant. There are even beach huts to hire for those who are regular visitors to Broadsands.

You can hire stand-up paddle boards and kayaks by the hour from the Broadsands Water Sports Centre, where you can also hire deck chairs, wet suits and sun loungers. They even provide a lifeguard service for the beach in the summer.

It's probably worth keeping an eye on the tide times - much of the beach is covered by water at high tide, so plan your visit for low tide if you want to use the sand.

Broadsands Beach © Martin Stone via Flickr

If you're on the beach in the summer, you'll probably see the steam train going in and out of Paignton on the Dartmouth Steam Railway.

Dogs are not allowed on Broadsands Beach during the summer, but there is a designated field nearby where they can play.


Dawlish Warren Beach

Dawlish Warren is one of South Devon's most popular beaches, and it's a mile and a half long, so there's plenty of room for everyone.

Dawlish Warren Beach © Alison Day via Flickr

It is a lovely sandy beach with soft golden sand sloping gently into the sea making it a great place for kids to swim. There's an RNLI lifeguard service during the summer months. You can surf here too, though winter is said to be the best time of year for surfing.

In the dunes behind the beach at Dawlish Warren there is a nature reserve, where you can see over 600 different flowering plant species, and thousands of seabirds, including waders such as bar-tailed godwits and oyster catchers. There are hides to visit so you can get close to nature - you'll find details at the visitors' centre.

Dawlish Warren Beach © Ian Stedman via Flickr

If your kids want more exciting seaside entertainment, there is go-karting, crazy golf and childrens' fairground rides available at Dawlish Warren too.

There are all of the normal facilities at Dawlish Warren Beach - car park, toilets, shops, cafes and bars, and beach hut hire (from Teignbridge Council).

Dawlish Warren Beach © Alison Day via Flickr

Dawlish Warren is a blue flag beach, so dogs are not allowed onto the main beach from April 1st to September 30th, but they are allowed between groynes 3 and 9 all year round.


Salcombe North Sands

Salcombe in South Devon has two beaches - the North Sands which are a short walk from the town centre, and the South Sands which are a little further away.

Salcombe Castle from North Sands © Kyle Pounds via Flickr

Salcombe North Sands is a small beach in a sandy cove on the Kingsbridge Estuary, which has a soft golden sand beach and stunning views across the estuary.

The beach is mostly covered by the sea at high tide, so if you want to play on the sand make sure that you visit at low tide.

Salcombe North Sands © Wapster via Flickr

You can drive to Salcombe North Sands, but there is only a small car park which fills up quickly in summer. However it's not too far from Salcombe town centre, and you can walk from there in about 15 minutes.

There are toilets and a cafe at North Sands Beach, so you have everything you need for a great day out at the beach with your family.

Salcombe North Sands © Wapster via Flickr

North Sands Beach is the dog friendly option of the two Salcombe beaches - dogs are welcome on the whole of North Sands all year round. There is even a dog-friendly cafe called the Winking Prawn nearby.

Salcombe South Sands

Salcombe South Sands © Andrew Bone via Flickr

Salcombe South Sands is a blue flag beach which is little way out of Salcombe, and has beautiful clear shallow water, and lovely golden sand.

Salcombe South Sands © Barney Moss via Flickr

There are toilets, a car park, a beach cafe, sea kayak and paddleboard hire, and a hotel with restaurant at Salcombe South Sands, so there are all of the facilities you need for a day (or longer) at the beach.

Salcombe South Sands is the home of the South Sands Ferry which is a unique way of getting from the centre of Salcombe (Whitestrand Pontoon) to the South Sands beach.

Salcombe South Sands © Markles55 via Flickr

The ferry itself does not come up onto the beach at South Sands so it is a two stage journey:- a huge wheeled sea tractor transfers passengers from South Sands Beach to the ferry! Lots of fun for adults, kids, pushchairs and dogs (pushchairs and dogs travel free).

Salcombe South Sands © Andrew Bone via Flickr

As South Sands Beach is a blue flag beach, dogs are not allowed from the 1st April to 30th September each year.


Beer Beach

Beer Beach © Mike Finn via Flickr

There is always lots going on at Beer Beach. The beach has its own small fishing fleet, and there are lots of smaller boats to watch coming and going. You can even hire a self drive boat to join in the fun and explore the coastline.

There are lots of facilities, as it is next to the town of Beer, and there are toilets, restaurants, cafes and shops along the waterfront - seafood is a speciality here!

Beer Beach © Becks via Flickr

There is a small car park right next to the beach, and if that is full you can try the one in the centre of Beer, just a short distance from the beach.

The beach is not sandy - it is small stones, and so not suitable for sandcastle building.

Beer Beach © Ben Grantham via Flickr

However, you'll find lots of other things going on, and you can hire deckchairs if you want to sunbathe.

The beach is not ideal for swimming as there is a sudden drop off in the water, and there is not a lifeguard service.

Beer Beach © Alison Day via Flickr

Dogs are banned from the central part of the beach from 1st May to 30th September.


East Portlemouth Beach

East Portlemouth - Salcombe Estuary © Andrew Bone via Flickr

East Portlemouth Beach is just across the harbour from Salcombe. It is quieter than the other beaches around Salcombe, so its a great place to relax and enjoy the lovely golden sands and great views.

East Portlemouth is actually three beaches in one - at low tide, there is one long sandy beach with inlets, and at high tide there are three separate coves - Fisherman's Cove, Smalls Cove and Mill Bay.

East Portlemouth © Tom Bastin via Flickr

At high tide you can get between the three beaches by walking along the road.

As the tide goes out, lots of shallow rock pools are exposed - great fun for the kids to explore.

East Portlemouth - Mill Bay © Andrew via Flickr

There is a National Trust car park (accessed down a narrow lane) at Mill Bay, but in the peak season, this can be full by 10am! The car park has disabled access to the beach and toilets.

On a busy day in the summer it might be more convenient (and fun) to take the daily ferry from Salcombe (Whitestrand Pontoon) to Fisherman's Cove. It runs continuously from 8:30am to 6:30pm in the summer.

East Portlemouth Ferry © Andrew via Flickr

The Venus Cafe at Fisherman's Cove is ideal if you want some delicious food during the day - it's just near the ferry landing slip.

Dogs are allowed on the beach all year round but be must be kept on a lead between 10am and 5pm.


Slapton Sands

Slapton Sands from Torcross © c.art via Flickr

Slapton Sands, designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty, is a long shingle beach which has the sea on one side and the Slapton Ley Nature Reserve on the other.

Slapton Sands © Jim Linwood via Flickr

Ironically there is no sand at Slapton Sands, just shingle and smooth pebbles. So you won't be able to build sand castles, but there are lots of opportunities for beach walks and nature watching, sea fishing, swimming, surfing, windsurfing and canoeing instead.

Slapton Sands © Matt Buck via Flickr

There are lifeguards in the summer months so you'll know when and where it is safe to swim.

There is are two car parks at Slapton Sands - one in the centre of the beach next to the Slapton Sands Monument, and one at the end of the beach, in Torcross.

Slapton Sands © Matt Buck via Flickr

There is a beachside cafe, facilities and toilets at Torcross, and there are facilities in the nearby village of Slapton.

Slapton Sands © Matt Buck via Flickr

Dog owners will be pleased to hear that dogs are allowed on Slapton Sands all year round.


Dog-Friendly South Devon Beaches

There are lots of beaches in South Devon that allow dogs all year round such as Slapton Sands, Torcross Beach, Salcombe North Sands Beach, Lannacombe Beach, Soar Mill Cove Beach, and Hope Cove - Harbour Beach.

Some of the South Devon beaches are designated as Blue Flag Beaches, so they can't allow dogs during the summer season i.e. 1st April to 30th September. Don't worry - South Devon has so many beaches and coves that there's always another one a short way along the coast that will allow dogs!

I hope you've enjoyed this whistle-stop tour of the best South Devon Beaches. There are so many beaches in South Devon that I was unable to include them all - a close look at a map will show you how many idyllic coves and beaches there are in South Devon.

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