We are blessed with beautiful beaches here in North Devon, well worth a visit at any time of year. Jump in for a swim, surf or paddle, chill on the beach or hike the many miles of gorgeous sandy beaches, secret coves and craggy coastline. Here are just a few of our favourite spots...
This wonderful long golden sandy beach is backed by the impressive Braunton Burrows a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Saunton Beach is particularly well-suited to beginner and intermediate surfers and good for swimmers, there are surf schools based in the car park along with a surf hire shop, café, restaurant and shop selling beach gear.
Dogs are allowed on certain areas of the beach all year round and there is also a designated dog free area. Car parking is charged by the hour making it the perfect destination for a whole day at the beach or simply a dog walk.
A crescent shaped golden sandy beach backed by sand dunes, Croyde Bay is popular with more experienced surfers and keen swimmers as well as sunbathers, and is rated as one of the best surfing beaches in the world. There is an RNLI Lifeguard service available from May to September throughout Easter weekend all October weekends and October Half Term. With food outlets close to the beach and places to hire boards, wetsuits and beach gear it’s a great family destination. Car parks are at either end of the beach and dogs are only allowed from October to April.
Woolacombe Beach has received many awards recently: Voted Number 1 in the UK by TripAdvisor (February 2015), Number 4 in Europe, and Number 13 in the World! Woolacombe also holds the ‘England for Excellence Gold Award’ for best family resort and was voted the Best British Beach in the Mail On Sunday. Stretching between Morte Point and Baggy Point, this three-mile long stretch of golden sand is renowned for its cleanliness, water quality and facilities. Life guards ensure safe family swimming during the summer and surfers come from all over the country to enjoy the great waves and clean water. Park in Woolacombe or along Marine Drive which gives you access across the dunes to the quieter areas of the beach away from the village, you'll also find the wonderful Porthole Café on Marine Drive. Dogs are allowed on certain areas of the beach all year round.
Putsborough Sands forms the southern section of Woolacombe Sands. Popular with surfers, especially long-boarders, it’s the only beach in the area to have some protection from south and south-westerly winds, thanks to a headland known as Baggy Point. There's plenty of parking and easy access via a long, sloping path; a well-stocked beach shop and a café serving delicious home-cooked food all year round (check for opening times in low season) and the loos are very modern and clean too! Dogs are welcome on certain areas of the beach at all times.
Barricane Beach, nr Woolacombe
A delightful little beach known for its cowrie and other exotic shells which are washed here from the Caribbean. Set in a bay half a mile from the main Woolacombe beach it's great for rock pooling and popular with surfers. Barricane is inaccessible at high tide when there is no exposed beach, welcomes dogs from October to April and is well known for its beach café (April until end September) which serves delicious curries - you can dine on the beach, bring your own wine as it’s unlicensed and watch the sun set over the sea. Dogs welcome on the beach as long as they are on a lead.
Mortehoe Beach – Rockham
A small tucked away bay of sand and rocks; it’s only accessible on foot - park in Mortehoe then there's a 2km walk with steps down to the beach. Peaceful and secluded, it’s perfect for rock pooling at low tide with secret pools teaming with creatures waiting to be found - not ideal at high as access is restricted. Dogs are welcome all year round.
Lee Bay and Sandy Cove
The sheltered bay with its small sandy beach and imposing rock formations at either side is particularly picturesque at low tide and ideal for rock-pooling. Head down to the water’s edge and you’ll find a smugglers’ path to the secret beach, Sandy Cove. There are steps leading up the cliff on the opposite side of Sandy Cove so if you want to visit at high water or do a circular walk round and back to the village you can. Dogs are welcome all year round.
Ilfracombe Tunnels Beaches
The tunnels through the rock provide a unique access to the North Devon coast, carved by hand in the 1820s they lead to sheltered beaches and a tidal bathing pool. Voted third best rock-pooling destination in the UK there are stunning views across the Bristol Channel and a restaurant at the entrance. Dogs are allowed through the tunnels on a lead but are not allowed on the beach.
Wildersmouth Beach, Ilfracombe
This ancient cove was a popular bay for smugglers. High sided cliffs drop down to a small rocky bay with shingle and sand. This bay is sheltered and peaceful and dogs are allowed all year round.
Hele Bay, Ilfracombe
Part sand, part shingle, Hele Bay is a great beach if you’re looking for a quiet seaside day out with facilities on hand. Rock pools, secret smugglers' caves and at very low tide you can clamber around the rocks to 'Fishing Rock' or 'Blythes Cove'. Popular with canoeists and kayakers with views out across the Bristol Channel so bring your binoculars to watch the large ships passing.
Watermouth Cove, Ilfracombe
A pretty, sheltered harbour noted for its spectacular views and shielded by the natural breakwater of Sexton's Burrows. Watermouth Cove is a popular mooring for boats and offers easy access to the water for kayaks and small craft. It's a great place for paddle boarding too - if you'd like to give it a go then book a session with Active Escape
Miles of golden sand
Enjoy curries on the beach from April to September
With views to Instow, Westward Ho! & Appledore
Miles of golden sand