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Devon Beach Facts and Figures

Devon is the UK’s third biggest county and has a spectacular coastline on both its North and South borders.

Over half of Devon’s coastline (65%) is marked as a ‘heritage coast’. A heritage coast is a recognised stretch of coast deemed to be of national importance due to its natural beauty, wildlife, ecology and historic importance.

Not only is Devon’s coastline stunning and nationally significant but, both the North and South coasts are entirely covered by the world-famous “southwest coastal path“, a hiking route spanning 630 miles. For many people, walking is a top priority hobby. Devon’s coast has some of the best walking routes in the country whether you’re walking with friends and family or taking your dog for a walk.

Consider this guide your one-stop shop for information about Devon’s fabulous beaches. We’ve compiled this guide with love, attention to detail and loads of local, insider information to help you explore Devon beaches like a local.

The North Coast

The North Devon coastline stretches from Welcombe Mouth Beach on the west, across an approximately 60-mile stretch through to Lynmouth Beach on the east.

Known for its rugged, wind-battered Atlantic Coastline (perfect for surfers) this spectacular coast is full of family-friendly destinations, wild surf spots, incredible hiking routes and dog-friendly beaches to boot.

Dog-Friendly Beaches

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The North Devon Coast is perfect for your four-legged family member. Whether you’re looking for an accessible spot to pull up and paddle or an intense hike with stunning views for your adventurous pooch, you’ll find it all.

Each item listed on this page is a link to an in-depth guide to that specific destination. So, feel free to click around and read about the places you’re most interested in.

Accessible, dog-friendly beaches (North Coast)

  • Saunton Sands – Dog-friendly year-round, good parking right at the beach and excellent facilities.
  • Woolacombe Beach – There are restrictions but, plenty of room year-round for an accessible paddle.

Adventurous, dog-friendly beaches (North Coast)

  • Welcombe Mouth Beach – Wild, parking nearby (but narrow road), stunning views
  • Blackpool Mill Beach – Walk from either Heartland Abbey or Heartland Quay (both great walks) to get to this spectacular little secret spot
  • Mouthmill Beach – A good walk from the Brownsham National Trust car park, make sure to check out the famous ‘black church rock’
  • Clovelly Beach – Stunning ‘car-free’ village with harbour and small beach. Steep walk down through the village to access the beach though
  • Peppercombe Beach – Not for the fainthearted. A lovely valley walk down to the beach and spectacular vistas once on the shingle beach
  • Lynmouth Beach – If you’re ok with heights we highly recommend walking from Valley of the Rocks down to Lynmouth Beach, some of the best views in North Devon

Family-Friendly Beaches

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North Devon is perfect for a family holiday.

The coastline caters for all types of families. So, whether you’re looking for a beach day where car parking and on-beach facilities are abundant or looking for the perfect spot for bodyboarding teenagers, you’re guaranteed to find what you’re after.

We’ve broken down this list into a few, helpful categories. Click on the beach you’re interested in to go to that beach’s dedicated page, jam-packed with helpful information.

Great for tiny people

  • Westward Ho! – A beautiful, sandy beach with level access, lifeguards and tonnes of facilities
  • Saunton sands – A stone’s throw from Westward Ho! Over 3 miles of golden sands to choose from
  • Croyde – Close to the two beaches above and perfect for tiny people with parking close to the beach and plenty of facilities
  • Woolacombe – Another picturesque, flat, sandy beach within the North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

Great for watersports

  • Westward Ho! – Unsurprisingly, the golden stretch of coast to the west of North Devon offers fantastic, family-friendly swimming and surfing with an array of nearby facilities
  • Saunton Sands – Much like Westward Ho! Saunton has a similar setup with great facilities
  • Croyde – One for the more experienced, the waves are a little bigger and more challenging. Croyde is one of the country’s best surfing destinations
  • Putsborough – Quieter than Woolacombe but otherwise, fairly similar (it’s the other end of the same stretch of beach)
  • Woolacombe – Perfect all-rounder for your kids to get into the water. Good surfing and bodyboarding as well as great swimming

Great for rock pooling

  • Barricane Beach – Off the beaten track but excellent for rock-pooling at low tide
  • Lee Bay – Hidden beauty spot with incredible rock pools
  • Hele Beach – Gem of a cove with exciting rock pools to explore
  • Newberry Beach – Part of the Combe Martin stretch of coast, keep an eye out for ‘pirate gems’ which are abundant here
  • Lee Abbey Beach – some of the best rock pools we’ve ever explored and a gorgeous cafe a short walk away
  • Blacklands Beach – Lynmouth is such a picturesque place with plenty to do besides rock pooling

Secret Spots

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Perhaps the best part of Devon’s North Coast is all the secret beaches and coves. Accessible from the coast path or by boat, North Devon’s secret spots really have to be seen to be believed.

Here are our 3 favourite spots:

If you park at Hartland Quay (£3 for the day last time we checked) and take the Southwest coastal path heading west, you’re in for a treat. After a good 30 min walk, you’ll spot Speke’s Mill Mouth. There are steps down to the beach.

You must bring your camera for this one. You’ll find a secluded beach with fantastic views out to sea and an incredible waterfall spilling out from the cliffs.

Head to Combe Martin Beach and hire a kayak. Then, point it west and paddle! A short paddle away you’ll spot Broadsands. The only other way to access it is via the 200+ steps from the cliff top on the coast path. This really does feel like a secluded spot. Perfect for a secret beach picnic!

Nestled in the woods, West of the Valley of the Rocks and the more popular Lee Bay, you’ll find a path leading down to this incredible hidden gem. The sea is perfect for swimming and you may well find yourself swimming alongside a seal as they love this area as much as adventure-seeking tourists!

The South Coast

If Devon’s North Coast is wild, untamed and great for adventure, the South Coast is full of classic holidaymaking seaside resorts.

The South Devon Coastline stretches from Plymouth in the west all the way through to Seaton and Axmouth in the East. The coast spans 125 miles, making it twice as long as the North Devon stretch.

If you love long beach days, great facilities, ample dog-walking and incredible views, the South Coast of Devon is the place to be. Encompassing the ‘English Riviera’, the world famous ‘Jurrassic Coast’ (World Heritage Site) and one of the country’s most important port cities, The South Coast of Devon has so much to offer.

Dog-Friendly Beaches

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The South Devon Coast has so many options for dog lovers. It caters for those wanting a short paddle on a flat beach just as much as it caters for those wanting to really stretch their legs.

Our list is broken down into categories to help you find the perfect beach for your doggo.

Accessible, dog-friendly beaches (South Coast)

  • Leas Foot Sand – Stunning, golden sand beach with a National Trust car park near and year-round access for dogs. Such a hidden gem to
  • Thurleston – A stone’s throw from Leas Foot (literally), again, dog-friendly year round (with loads of poo bins to keep the golden sands pristine). Parking just by the beach
  • North Sands (Salcombe) – Year-round access for dogs, this is a beautiful little spot for a paddle and a game of fetch
  • Mill Bay – This is a National Trust Beach with a small car park. Dog-friendly all year round. A real beauty spot
  • Sunny Cove – Park at Mill Bay and walk less than half a mile to get here. Dog-friendly all year long
  • Hallsands – An overlooked gem of a beach. Shingle, great parking and a lovely one for paddling
  • Beesands – Close to Hallsands is this 1-mile stretch of shingle beach. Dog-friendly year-round
  • Slapton Sands – A long stretch of shingle beach with a tragic past (make sure to see the monument for more info on that). Dog-friendly all year
  • Goodrington Sands – Only dog-friendly on North Beach but worth it for its natural beauty and accessibility
  • Babbacombe Beach – A little year-round paddling haven for doggies and humans alike
  • Teignmouth Back Beach – Almost like a shanty village on the beach, dog-friendly and a unique place for a beach visit
  • Exmouth Beach – Spectacular views over the Exe Estuary and lots of facilities. Large parts of the beach are dog-friendly year-round
  • Seaton Beach – Another Beach that isn’t 100% dog-friendly but has such a big chunk that is dog friendly it had to make the list

Adventurous, dog-friendly beaches (South Coast)

  • Cellar Beach – It’s a steep walk from the free National Trust car park but well worth it for the views – Dogs welcome year-round
  • Row Cove – You’ll need to park outside the caravan park and walk down to it but, it’s a really cool beach with rockpools and lots of adjacent coves
  • Wonwell Sands – It’s worth parking up at Mothecombe at low tide and walking across the estuary to really reap the benefits of this beach
  • Seacombe Sands – Park up at the hotel and walk down to this secluded beauty spot then, explore the clear outlines of a Bronze-age field system
  • Lannacombe Beach – A small car park nestled at the bottom of a wooded valley is your starting point for a moderate walk to this gorgeous, secluded little cove. Great for paddling with the dog
  • Castle Cove – If you park at Dartmouth Castle and walk down the steps (quite steep), after about 10 minutes, you’ll be able to access a series of small, quiet coves with beautiful views across the Dart. Make sure you come at low tide
  • Scabbacombe Sands – A hidden gem nestled at the end of a 15-minute walk from the nearest car parking space (Scabbacombe Lane). This beach is a shingle beach, sheltered from the wind and dog-friendly. It’s a naturist beach which puts it on the adventurous list
  • Man Sands – Park up at the National Trust car park on Woodhuish Lane and stroll down to the beach. It’s a gorgeous secluded spot that makes an excellent starting point for a hike. Expect tonnes of incredible wildlife en-route
  • St Mary’s Bay – Park at nearby Sharkham Point and head for the Southwest Coast path to find this incredibly secluded beach. It’s a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and there’s a good chance you’ll find fossils here (you need permission to extract fossils from the cliff though)
  • Anstey’s Cove – A short walk from a designated car park, Anstey’s Cove is a small strip with a cafe. Stunning views and a peaceful place to bring the dog while you have a cuppa (there’s a cafe here for that purpose)
  • Ness Cove – Park at the top of the cliffs and walk down through the unique tunnels to get to this secluded beach a stone’s throw from Teignmouth
  • Weston – One of our favourites! Park at the Donkey Sanctuary and then walk down (20 mins), there are some steps to access the beach but well worth the effort

Family-Friendly Beaches

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Devon’s south coast is brimming with family adventure destinations. There are resorts galore for that super safe beach day, wild-rugged coves for exploring and rock pooling, some surf and bodyboarding action and spots to pick up that all-important ice cream.

We’ve categorised this list in three ways:

  • Great for Tiny People – These beaches are perfect for a beach day with babies and toddlers. Expect good facilities, safety, accessibility and convenience here
  • Great for Watersports – You’ll be bringing your older, water-confident kids here. Expect surfing spots, bodyboarding-safe water and places where you can try your hand at stand-up paddle boarding or sea kayaking
  • Great for Rockpooling – Self-explanatory category alert! These beaches are suitable for young families looking to get up close and personal with our amazing marine wildlife.

Great for Tiny People

  • Bigbury-on-Sea – What a place! The St Michael’s Mount of Devon. Stunning views and perfect for a family beach day. Parking practically on the beach and great facilities nearby
  • Bantham Beach – This privately owned beach overlooks Burgh Island and really earns the reputation it has for being outstandingly beautiful. Lifeguarded and some fantastic food options nearby
  • South Milton Sands – A little further down from Thurleston is an incredible beach with a National Trust car park
  • Blackpool Sands – Despite its name, this is actually a shingle beach. Don’t let that put you off though, one of the prettiest beaches in the area
  • Broadsands Beach – Not too far from Paignton, this long beach is packed with facilities, great views and is excellent for a beach day
  • Goodrington Sands – An excellent, family-friendly beach with good parking, access and facilities in the heart of Torbay
  • Preston Sands – Lovely sandy beach with huts, kiosks and good access
  • Dawlish Beach – Such a brilliant seaside resort with good sand and plenty to do
  • Dawlish Warren Beach – Parking nearby, this is a classic, clean, blue-flag sandy beach. Ideal for a beach day
  • Exmouth Beach – Lots of parking options, Exmouth is a great town to explore if you need time away from the beach. On the beach, there are lots of facilities and the sea is great for a paddle
  • Sandy Bay – Access from the sandy Bay resort, another blue-flag beach with picture-perfect sand and lifeguards
  • Budleigh Salterton Beach – on the beach (or as near to it as possible) parking with level access, this shingle/pebble beach is good for sunbathing
  • Sidmouth Beach – Another pebbly beach but great for a family day out. Tonnes of facilities (just watch out for the seagulls)
  • Seaton Beach – Our last beach on this list is another pebble beach with parking close to the beach and excellent facilities (including showers) on the beach. This beach has wheelchair access on the beach itself thanks to platforms placed on the beach

Great for Watersports

  • Bantham Beach – One of the South Coast’s most famous surfing beaches, there’s even a surf school here! Great for bodyboarding too
  • Leas Foot Beach – You can hire kayaks on this hidden gem of a beach. The sea is often crystal clear too
  • Blackpool Sands – A stunning blue-flag beach with excellent facilities and watersports equipment hire
  • Goodrington Sands – Shallow water safe for swimming and paddling. Pedalo hire too
  • Budleigh Salterton – Great for calmer watersports such as Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP)
  • Sidmouth – The waves are definitely surfable here and there’s some equipment hire available on the beach

Great for Rockpooling

  • Wembury Beach – Popular spot with some fantastic rockpools
  • Hope Cove – Secluded and quaint, great for a beach day or a rock pooling session
  • Bantham Beach – Shallow rock pools make for an excellent pick if you have younger explorers with you
  • Broadsands Beach – Lots of shallow tidal pools make this one another great one for younger adventurers
  • Goodrington Sands – Towards the end of this beach there are a series of lovely rock pools well worth an explore
  • Ness Cove Beach – Not only is it an adventure to get to (you have to walk through a long tunnel to access the beach) but, it’s also pretty quiet and safe
  • Jacobs Ladder Beach (Sidmouth) – At low tide, these are some of the best rockpools around for exploring

Secret Spots

The South Coast has some incredible secret spots. Some of the best can be only accessed by boat. They boast amazing views, secluded and quiet serenity and some of the best sea swimming on the planet.

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Our top 3 spots on the south are:

Tropically clear waters, an outstanding view and a bit of historical intrigue make Elbury Cove well worth a visit.

To get here you need to park at Broadsands, head down Eldbury lane and turn towards the coastpath. From there it’s a short path down to the beach.

There’s a car park for this one then, a very steep descent down to the beach itself. Maidencombe is really peaceful and beautiful with lovely clear water and fascinating rocks. Perfect for whiling away an afternoon.

Ladram Bay is just around the corner from the popular seaside town of Sidmouth. It’s not so secluded as it is connected to a private holiday resort however, the bay itself is spectacular to look at. There’s an otherworldly quality to the deep red cliffs and stacks out to sea.

North vs. South

As you can see in this guide, both of Devon’s coasts have something to offer everybody.

If you’re truly struggling to determine which coast to pick for a visit (maybe you should pick both), we’ve put together these considerations to help you decide.

The North

The North of Devon has less in the way of major hubs with plenty to do. If you’re a fan of secluded spots, quiet and spacious landscapes unspoilt by development then, the North Coast is likely to appeal more.

There are much fewer choices on the North Coast given that it is half the length of the South.

The South

Devon’s South Coast is the spot for a family holiday. There are plenty of resort-style destinations and a myriad of beach options to hand.

It’s busier, more popular and less rough and ready than the North and some of the busy places can get extremely overcrowded in the summer months. To be fair though, they’re crowded for good reason. The South Coast offers some of the best beaches for a beach day in the whole country.