The Best Beaches in Devon

The wonderful county of Devon boasts some of the most breath-taking beaches in the UK. Decorating the shores of Devon’s north and south coasts, they range from sprawling sandy strips beside lively seaside towns, to hidden romantic coves backed by greenery, to exposed stretches met by world-class surf. 

Needless to say, whatever you’re looking for during your trip to the county, you are sure to find the perfect place for you. To get you started, here's our guide to the best beaches in Devon, each with its own unique character, attractions and history. 

Woolacombe Sands

One of North Devon’s salt-kissed gems, Woolacombe Sands sits next to a vibrant seaside resort between Morte and Baggy Points. A large golden sweep of coastal bliss, it joins with neighbouring Putsborough Beach and runs for just over 2 miles in length.

Closely resembling the beaches of Normandy, the coastline here was once a hotbed of activity for soldiers in the early 20th century, even hosting training for the D-Day landings. 
These days, the beach offers up a range of sedate and fast-paced activities alike, including sunbathing, swimming, paddleboarding, and bodysurfing.

Meanwhile, the nearby resort itself bustles with charming cafés, shops, and traditional pubs for refuelling. Particularly popular with barrel chasers, Woolacombe’s beach is a real surfer’s paradise and is frequently ranked amongst the best beaches in Devon for surf.   

Blackpool Sands 

The endlessly beautiful Blackpool Sands nestles within a sheltered inlet on the River Dart in South Devon. Not far from the famous riverside town of Dartmouth, this pebble beach is beloved for its awe-inspiring aesthetics and bathing opportunities, often awarded Blue Flag status each year. Backed by evergreens and met with a twinkling sea, it certainly has more than a little likeness to a scene from the Med. 

For those who are looking to combine their beach day with a range of activities, Blackpool Sands definitely delivers. Privately owned by the same family for generations, it is well-maintained throughout the year and supervised by lifeguards in summer.

Take to the water on calm days for swimming, SUP-ing and snorkelling, or follow the coast path from the beach to extend adventures on foot. To top up on energy, you can also visit the seasonal Blackpool Sands Takeaway above the beach. 

Saunton Sands 

One of the best beaches in Devon, Saunton Sands in North Devon is home to a huge expanse of golden sand backed by the UNESCO-protected Braunton Burrows biosphere.

Known for its vast and complex sand dune system, consistent surf, and 3-mile stretch of golden sand, this much-loved beach has plenty to attract and captivate beach-lovers of all ages. It’s also dog friendly year-round, making it equally as popular with four-legged beachgoers too. 

If you are looking for somewhere spacious to spend leisurely days by the sea, Saunton’s sheer size means that there is always somewhere quiet to sit and relax. That said, it’s also well-known for its high tidal range, so visitors should always be aware of tide times before heading down.

Pack up a picnic and get ready for a day of timeless seaside fun, including surfing, swimming and spread-eagling under the sunshine. For breath-taking views, hike up to nearby Crow Point. 

Bantham Beach 

Tucked at the mouth of the River Avon in the picturesque South Hams, Bantham is adored for its beachy beauty, family-friendly vibe and views of Burgh Island. A haven for watersports enthusiasts and families alike, it sets the scene with a wide, sandy expanse and a gently sloping shore lapped by crystalline sea. Patrolled by lifeguards in summer, it beckons for laidback hours relaxing by the water.

Meanwhile in winter, its river break and prevailing winds make it great for surfers, kite surfers and wind surfers.  
Adding plenty of choice for things to see and do, the village of Bantham resides close by and is decorated with traditional thatched cottages.

Dating all the way back to Saxon times, Bantham’s name actually derives from the Anglo-Saxon word “ban” or “bent”, meaning marram grass, and “ham”, which translates as dwelling-place. These days, you can find the popular 14th century Sloop Inn pub, as well as a sweet village store and café, in Bantham. 

Sidmouth Beach 

For a dose of seaside escapism without having to venture off the beaten track, it’s easy to see why Sidmouth Beach is one of the best beaches in Devon.

Set beside the historic seaside town of Sidmouth, this sand and shingle beach is overlooked by Regency townhouses and shouldered by striking ‘Red Coast’ cliffs. The Gateway to the World Heritage Jurassic Coastline, Sidmouth Beach’s fascinating geology and Triassic cliffs make it an especially alluring destination for history buffs and fossil hunters. 

To familiarise yourself with Sidmouth, spend some time walking through the town, enjoying its unique architecture and beautiful gardens. Once visited by Queen Victoria, the town embodies a huge amount of history and has long been a popular coastal destination. For oceanside activities, head towards the beach for swimming, fossil hunting, and clifftop walks.

Nearby, the year-round dog-friendly Jacob’s Ladder Beach occupies a quieter part of Sidmouth and proposes a peaceful retreat. 

Croyde Bay 

Renowned as the surfing capital of Devon, Croyde Bay needs little introduction to those immersed in surfing culture. At the foot of a scenic village overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, it is not only one of the best beaches in Devon but one of the best surfing spots in the UK too. Of course, for those looking to polish their techniques and catch curling barrels, this beach is one of the best in Devon.

That said, it’s also an ideal destination for non-surfers too. 
Besides surfing, Croyde is great for swimming, beach games and various watersports. Meanwhile on land, the nearby Baggy Point presents beautiful coastal walks and commands stunning vistas.

In Croyde village, a collection of welcoming cafés and thatched pubs await, along with, of course, a surf shop or two. In summer, the village’s ever-popular Goldcoast OceanFest takes place each year and hosts surf, music and wellness events. 

Horn of Plenty 

After a day on the beach, there's no better way to unwind than with a relaxing stay at the Horn of Plenty. A beautiful country house hotel, our idyllic manor offers luxurious accommodation, award-winning dining, and five acres of landscaped grounds overlooking the Tamar Valley for you to enjoy. 

Published on Tuesday 18th June 2024 / By Lizzie Heather