Arguably one of North Devon’s most popular beaches, Croyde Beach is smaller than some of its sister stretches along the northern coast, but it’s always bustling with tourists and locals alike. North Devon’s most famous surf spot, it has wildlife-filled rock pools dotted all over either end of the golden strand, Baggy Point rising high in the near distance for those mid-afternoon walks, and an endless stretch of sand dunes to bound along while the sun is setting. Public footpaths make the entire village accessible from the beach, and for a real photographer’s treat we’d advise strolling to Down End for that picture-perfect landscape shot.
An epic 3-mile swathe of glistening sand that runs into the equally as famous Putsborough Beach, Woolacombe is a longtime favorite with families and young people, and is 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 colorful huts for a day and have a BBQ and mini-beach party while relaxing on their complementary deck chairs.
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. An ideal spot for camping, jet-skiing, kayaking and some more dune adventures. Watch out for the adders! Take your bike and cycle to Crow Point from nearby Braunton Village.
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, Barricaine 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 on a Thursday and share a curry under a blanket with your significant other while the sun sets along the horizon?
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.
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; don’t worry, though, 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.
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.
A fierce competitor against North Devon’s coastline pearls, Bantham Beach has been named 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. The ideal spot for a bucket and spade holiday, as well as being South Devon’s premier spot for surfing, the shallow waters welcome beginners while the mouth of River Avon spits out rips that will challenge even the greatest wave-riders.
Soar Mill is a secluded cove nestled beneath the towering crags of Bolt Head. Small rock ‘islands’ jut out from the wide tranche of golden sand, casting shadows in the glistening wet sand as the sunshine ebbs away behind the mountain-scape. The beach is accessed from a wildlife-lined coastal path, and if that’s not enough for you, the beach 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 even a tent if you’re feeling adventurous.
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 Devonshire bay. Sheltered from the wind by the red stone giants behind the bay makes it 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 – who needs a trip to Spain when you have Devon?