Devon's Most Beautiful Beaches
Fringed with sugar-white sandy beaches on both coasts, you’re spoilt for choice for a place to lay your towel in Devon. We round up Devon’s best beaches.
South Milton/Thurlestone Sands
Combining a stunning sandy beach, dramatic sea arch and a gorgeous little beach shack serving some of the best fish on the south coast, South Milton Sands, near Salcombe is nothing short of heaven. Set right on the South West Coastal Path, it’s the perfect pitstop for a long coastal walk. Dining is on rustic communal wooden tables, or outside on the terrace overlooking the sea. Park in the National Trust carpark.
Backed by wooded cliffs, this mile-long, privately owned sweep of shingle has one of the most dramatic settings in Devon, with Instagrammable views from the lay-by on the road at the top of the hill. There’s a wonderful beach cafe serving organic, local produce. By day, swimmers can practise their dives from a floating dock, and the beach café stays open beyond sunset. Avoid in the school holidays.
Wetsuits outnumber bikinis on south Devon’s only surf beach. Look out for stand-up paddle surfers, a quirky new take on the sport.
Getting to this red-sand and shingle beach – via an old smugglers’ tunnel – is an adventure. Leave time to visit Shaldon Zoo at the entrance, which is home to one of the UK’s largest collections of critically endangered primates.
A local secret, this small, sandy horseshoe cove is at the end of a long dirt track and only has space for about six cars. Get there before 10am and you’ll be assured a spot, even in the height of summer.
It’s hard to choose from the array of beach beauties that surround the yachtie town of Salcombe, but Mill Bay, a quick ferry ride across the water, pips the others to the post for being seaweed-free and basking in sun all day. Take an Ordnance Survey map to find quieter coves further up the coastal path.
More than 600 US servicemen were killed on this three-mile stretch of shingle when German E-boats attacked their D-day rehearsals. A Sherman tank on the sand commemorates them.
Tunnels Beaches, Ilfracombe
Accessed via hand-cut tunnels, this Victorian rock pool is a tranquil swimming spot on the otherwise choppy north coast.
Devon’s most famous surf destination and a lively beach-volleyball spot, by pretty Croyde village, attracts youngsters in their thousands each summer.
A Unesco Biosphere Reserve, this beach has 1,500 acres of dunes to play, hide or snooze in.
An epic, three-mile swathe of sand, which has oodles of space for surfers, swimmers and sunbathers – as well as a Blue Flag.
Broadsands, near Combe Martin
You’ll need a head for heights and strong legs to get to this deep, double cove, accessed down 220 uneven steps moulded out of a steeply-wooded cliff face between Watermouth and Combe Martin on Devon’s wild Exmoor coast. Once you’re down, if conditions allow, you can explore the arches, caves, island lookout and tunnels to the west of the bay, and have one of the large coves for yourself.
Moor Sands, East Prawl, South Devon
Turquoise seas, offshore rock islands and sand made from fine pearl quartz beads makes this the best in a trio of sandy coves along this stretch of rugged south Devon headland. The approach, throughquiet meadows is idyllic, and the rope ladder that helps with the last descent adds an extra thrill when your feet finally touch the sand.