Must Visit Beaches in Devon, UK

Ladram Bay at dusk, with Sidmouth in the distance
Ladram Bay at dusk, with Sidmouth in the distance | © Paul Martin / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Caoilfhionn Rose
31 August 2020

We take you on a trip to the English Riviera to show you that this summer, holidays don’t have to be abroad. From Woolacombe to Barrican, a staycation on your doorstep awaits. Here are the top 10 beaches to visit in Devon.

Croyde Bay Beach

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View of Croyde bay and beach, North Devon. Image shot 07/2009. Exact date unknown.
View of Croyde bay and beach, North Devon | © Peter K.Lloyd / Alamy Stock Photo
Arguably one of North Devon’s most popular beaches, Croyde Beach is smaller than some of its neighbouring stretches along the northern coast, but it’s always bustling with tourists and locals alike. It is North Devon’s most famous surf spot and it has wildlife-filled rock pools dotted all over either end of the golden strand. Baggy Point rises high in the near distance for those mid-afternoon walks, and there are an endless stretch of sand dunes to bound along while the sun is setting. Public footpaths make the entire village accessible from the beach. For a real photographer’s treat, try strolling to Down End for that picture-perfect landscape shot. Listen to the waves in bed whilst staying at the Bay Lodge cottage, just a few minutes walk from the surf.

Woolacombe Beach

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Woolacombe beach North Devon, England, UK.
Woolacombe beach North Devon, England, UK. | © Tony Watson / Alamy Stock Photo
An epic three mile swathe of glistening sand that runs into Putsborough Beach, Woolacombe is a longtime favourite with families and young people. It’s just as packed now as it was in the 1990s. Voted No. 1 Beach in the UK 2015 by TripAdvisor (4th in Europe, 13th in the World), lined with colorfully painted beach huts, surf hire huts, a bouncy castle and a huge boat-swing, Woolacombe has something to keep everyone happy. Rent out one of the colourful huts for a day for a barbecue while relaxing on the complementary deck chairs, then finish the day off right by sinking into a bubbly hot tub with a glass of wine at The Lookout.

Crow Point

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Old Fishing Boat Wreck, Crow Point, Braunton, North Devon, UK
Old Fishing Boat Wreck, Crow Point, Braunton, North Devon, UK | © Martin Fowler / Alamy Stock Photo
A hidden gem on the North Devon coastline and protected from throngs of tourists, you can feel like you’re the only person on this winding stretch of sand. Buried within Braunton Burrows, the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Crow Point is popular with fishermen, birdwatchers and campers. During the summer months, boats moor up while the tide is low before sailing to Appledore using the ancient Taw-Torridge Estuary ferry crossing. It’s an ideal spot for camping, jet-skiing, kayaking and some dune adventures. Take your bike and cycle to Crow Point from the nearby Braunton Village. After a visit to the pub opposite, cosy up next to the wood burner during your stay at Tresco Cottage.

Barricane Beach

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Barricane Beach,Woolacombe,Devon
Barricane Beach,Woolacombe,Devon | © Tony Timmington / Alamy Stock Photo

A gorgeous cove a stone’s throw away from Woolacombe beach, Barricane is minuscule in comparison but its pebble shores are just as popular. With calmer waters and enveloping cliffs, Barricane is a haven for sea-swimmers and cliff-jumpers. Adrenaline junkies and zen-seekers gather here together all day long. It’s undeniably one of the most beautiful sunset spots in North Devon, and, if you’re feeling super-romantic, why not go along one evening and share a renowned home-made Sri Lankan curry from Barricane Beach Cafe under a blanket with your significant other while the sun sets along the horizon? Then, go back and stay at the luxury Parade House to enjoy your own enclosed terrace with a hot tub and unrestricted views of Woolacombe Beach.

Broadsands Beach

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Broadsands Beach near Paignton, Torbay, Devon, England.
Broadsands Beach near Paignton, Torbay, Devon, England. | © graham bell / Alamy Stock Photo
Secrecy is the main draw to this double-fronted cove. Clear turquoise waters and elusive sea caves are engulfed by the towering foliage, hiding you from the less observant eye. Broadsands is an unspoiled cove that rarely feels the weight of human feet. The steep steps down to the beach seem to warn off the less-intrepid, but it’s definitely worth taking the risk to swim in this exclusive bay. Swim to the south of Broadsands, past Turks Cave, and marvel at Golden Cove, too. There’s even an island lookout to climb on. Just a short stroll from the Blue Flag beach is a seaside retreat available to stay at.

Moor Sands

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England, Devon, salcombe, cliffs, coast, sea, waves, rocks, cliffs, moor, starehole bay, Great Britain, Europe,
England, Devon, salcombe, cliffs, coast, sea, waves, rocks, cliffs, moor, starehole bay, Great Britain, Europe, | © Prisma by Dukas Presseagentur GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo
Nestled within Prawle Point, a wild and rugged headland, this coastline pearl is the best of a trio of white coves along the southern shoreline. Slightly off the beaten track, Moor Sands – also known as Venerick’s Cove – is a naturist’s sanctuary thanks to its seclusion. The beach is composed of tiny round white beads of quartz rock, but don’t worry, they won’t hurt your feet when you drop onto the beach from the cliff-side with the help of a rope. Moor Sands feels like another world. For lovers of nature and the sea, spend the night on board the Oyster boat, moored at the bottom of an ancient quarry path.

Bigbury on Sea

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View of Burgh Island from Bigbury on Sea beach in south Devon
View of Burgh Island from Bigbury on Sea beach in south Devon | © Kevin Harding / Alamy Stock Photo
A spot of extreme natural beauty, Bigbury on Sea is an idyllic spot for a relaxing getaway. As the shallow water laps the sandy shores, windsurfers and kite flyers move alongside jet-skiers and paddle-boarders, with the beautiful Burgh Island as the backdrop. Burgh Island is Bigbury’s most famous landmark and at low tide the island is accessible by foot over a causeway that links it to the beach. When the tide is in hitch a ride with the popular ‘sea tractor’ for a cream tea in the island’s award-winning 1920s-style hotel. The beach itself is home to a café that specializes in organic and locally sourced foods. Stay in a luxury beachfront apartment for a stunning view of Burgh Island from the balcony.

Bantham Beach

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Approaching Bantham Beach on the coast path Devon England UK Europe
Approaching Bantham Beach on the coast path Devon England UK Europe | © ian woolcock / Alamy Stock Photo
A fierce competitor against North Devon’s coastline pearls, Bantham Beach has been awarded number six in The Lonely Planet’s 2015 guide to the 10 best beaches in Europe – the only English beach on the list. Part of a designated area of outstanding natural beauty, Bantham Beach has also won awards from the Marine Conservation Society. Being South Devon’s premier spot for surfing, the shallow waters welcome beginners, whilst the mouth of the River Avon spits out rips that will challenge even the greatest wave-riders. Relax and unwind after a day at the beach by staying at the spa lodge, with its beautiful private enclosed garden and outside hot tub.

Soar Mill Cove

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Soar Mill Cove, Devon
Soar Mill Cove, Devon | © Stephen Tattersall / Alamy Stock Photo
Soar Mill is a secluded cove nestled beneath the towering crags of Bolt Head. Rocky islands rise out of the sea, casting shadows in the glistening wet sand as the sunshine ebbs away behind the landscape. The beach is accessed from a wildlife-lined coastal path, and is dotted with rock-pools where you can crab watch as the last glimpses of sunlight shimmer on the pools surface. There aren’t any public amenities at Soar Mill Cove so pack a picnic, a blanket, and maybe even a tent if you’re feeling adventurous. If you would rather stay indoors, there’s the cosy, well-decorated Sea Monkey cabin which is only a short distance from the cove.

Ladram Bay

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Sea Stacks at Ladram Bay. Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. Devon. England. UK.
Sea Stacks at Ladram Bay. Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. Devon. England. UK. | © James Osmond / Alamy Stock Photo
Ladram Bay features exotic nature with its turquoise waters, pebble shores and sandstone pancake rocks that rest just below the low tide mark – a phenomenon that’s exclusive to this bay. Sheltered from the wind by the red stone giants behind the bay, it makes this a great spot for kayaking, paddle boarding or even just lazing the summer days away on a lilo. There’s a caravan park to the rear of the bay with its own pool, quirky caravans and entertainment. Or if you’d rather stay in an Airbnb, complete your peaceful visit by staying in the nearby Stable Cottage at Anchoring Farm. Who needs a trip to Spain when you have Devon?
These recommendations were updated on August 31, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.