The essential Devon beach guide holiday cottages

The essential Devon beach guide

Kate W 11 January 2018

Devon is unique in that it is the only county in England that has two separate coastlines, found in North Devon and South Devon respectively - so be sure to explore them both when you visit Devon.

Along each of the Devon coastlines, you will find gorgeous golden beaches, secluded coves and glistening water. The county is also home to nine spectacular Blue Flag beaches, which is a commendation of the cleanliness and water quality of the beaches, while both the North and South Devon coastlines are designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Woolacombe Beach in Devon

There are also many dog-friendly beaches in Devon, which are either open throughout the year or at specific times in the calendar, so be sure to check the restrictions on these.

Already searching for that perfect cottage by the beach? Take a look at our guide to beautiful coastal cottages in Devon or explore our full collection of fantastic Devon coastal cottages.

From award-winning Woolacombe to the secret beach that is Ayrmer Cove, we’ve put together a fantastic guide detailing a whole range of excellent beaches that can found on the edges of Devon.

Read on to find out all about Devon’s extensive and beautiful coastline and the sandy beaches dotted all along it… 

Skip to a section to discover impressive Devon beaches:

πŸ’Ž Secret beaches waiting to be uncovered

🐢 Dog-friendly beaches for walkies by the sea

🌞 Lifeguarded beaches for safe and fun days out

πŸ„‍♀️ Devons epic surfing beaches

🌊 Our top picks for North Devon

🌴 Our top picks for South Devon

Secret beaches in Devon

With the dramatic craggy coastline of North Devon and the endless coves and inlets along South Devon, it’s no surprise that there’s a whole range of secret spots and hidden beaches just waiting to be explored.

A secret beach in Devon

Begin by dropping by pretty Ayrmer Cove, Soar Mill Cove or Lannacombe Beach, all South Devon beaches which you can reach during a walk along the South West Coast Path during a stay in South Devon. If you’re planning a trip to the beautiful north of the region, head straight to Barracane, Tunnels or the exquisite Crow Point.

Take a picnic or packed lunch down to one of these quiet spots and bring the dog along too – many of these smaller beaches are dog-friendly but check ahead – and relax in a secluded location where you can avoid the crowds and enjoy a peaceful morning out.

Our top three:

  • Sunny Cove, find nearby cottages in South Hams
  • Compass Cove, find nearby cottages in Dartmouth
  • Crow Point, find nearby cottages in Braunton

Uncover more secret sandy spots along North Devon’s exquisite coastlines in our blog about North Devon’s hidden beaches

Dog-friendly beaches in Devon

There’s no better feeling than finding a long stretch of beach with your dog, letting them off the lead and seeing them enjoy themselves, leaving happy pawprints as they race across the sand.

A dog-friendly beach in Devon

Here at Stay in Devon, we love the beaches that our wonderful county boasts. We also love the fact that our four-legged friends get to enjoy them too during a dog-friendly holiday in Devon!

To make things even easier for you to find the perfect beach during a Devon holiday, we have compiled a list of our top 20 dog-friendly beaches in Devon. We’d love to hear if we’ve missed your favourite one off the list so please get in touch with your suggestions via our Facebook or Twitter pages.

Our top three:

  • Saunton Sands, find nearby cottages in Braunton
  • Putsborough Beach, find nearby cottages in Croyde 
  • Exmouth

Lifeguarded beaches in Devon

For family days on the sand and for anyone planning to jump in the sea for a bit of swimming, surfing or banana boating, having lifeguards around is essential for a safe and fun day at the beach.

Lifeguard beach Devon

They provide invaluable support when anyone gets into trouble and are a fantastic support so you can enjoy a worry-free beach trip. There are plenty of lifeguarded beaches all around Devon’s two coastlines, especially during the summer when visitor numbers increase and the warm weather gets everyone racing for the coast. Popular beaches like Bantham Beach, Hope Cove Beach and Slapton Sands are a few of the south coast’s lifeguarded beaches while in North Devon, Sandymere Beach, Westward Ho! and Woolacombe all have lifeguards keeping an eye on beachgoers. 

Our top three:

  • Slapton Sands, find nearby cottages in South Hams
  • Dawlish Warren, find nearby cottages in Teignmouth
  • Sandymere, find nearby cottages (and another lifeguarded beach!) in Westward Ho!

Surfing beaches in Devon

As they face out to the Atlantic Ocean, many of the beaches in North Devon have gained a reputation for their quality of surf. Beaches such as Croyde and Woolacombe often host surfing competitions, and the former is home to GoldCoast Oceanfest, a three-day festival dedicated to celebrating surfing, music and other beach sports.

A surfing beach in Devon

Putsborough is another beach in North Devon popular with local surfers due to its sheltered shoreline, while South Devon beaches including Bigbury-on-Sea, Thurlestone and Bantham Beach also offer perfect conditions to hit the waves.   

There are plenty of other adrenaline-fuelled water sport opportunities in Devon, including kiting, paddleboarding, jet skiing, coasteering, sea kayaking and more.

Devon beaches are one of the many reasons to love Devon and are also ideal for families, as a large number of them have regular lifeguards during the main holiday season, while there are rock pooling and crabbing opportunities at the likes of Dawlish Warren, Wembury, Woolacombe and Shoalstone.

Our top three:

If you fancy getting out on the water during your South West holiday, take a look at the best places to learn to surf in DevonIf you’re already a pro, hit the famous north coast and catch a wave at one of the top surfing beaches in North Devon.

The best beaches in Devon

North Devon’s best beaches

When it comes to stunning sandy stretches, North Devon has got to be up there with some of the best beaches in the UK. Golden stretches including Croyde and Woolacombe are ideal for surfing, while the latter also stretches a gorgeous 3 miles to the quieter Putsborough beach - an ideal walk in all seasons.

A North Devon beach

Further along the coast from Croyde is Saunton beach, featuring 3 miles of golden sand and undulating sand dunes that are perfect for picnics. Westward Ho!, viewable from Saunton on a clear day, is a popular beach with water sports enthusiasts as well as kitesurfers. The village there offers unique shops, quaint cafes and welcoming pubs.

There are numerous town beaches in North Devon which offer much easier accessibility than some of the harder to reach places. One of these is Instow beach, where you’ll find a wide expanse of sand with dunes at the northern end; it’s also an ideal spot to watch the sunset - another of the most alluring aspects of the beaches in North Devon.

Our top three:

Not only that, but hidden among the renowned stretches of sand are many secret beaches, including one which sells authentic Sri Lankan curry of a summer's evening! Find out more about secret beaches in North Devon via our guide or check out our intro to the best beaches in North Devon

South Devon’s best beaches

South Devon is also home to some of the UK’s best beaches, ranging from quiet coves and inlets to bustling town beaches. No fewer than 22 beaches can be found on the English Riviera, and this area has the highest concentration of Blue Flag beaches in England. One of the most popular beaches in South Devon is Bigbury. The large stretch is perfect for families as there is plenty of room for playing on the sand and going for a refreshing paddle in the water. At low tide, the lovely Burgh Island is also reachable on foot.

A beach in South Devon 

Salcombe is a popular location for sailing and other seaside activities and, as the town features four beaches, visitors are spoilt for choice when they enjoy a holiday here. Salcombe South Beach is a fine sandy stretch located just to the south of the Salcombe North Beach, another sandy town cove.

Blackpool Sands meanwhile will make you feel like you have been transported to the Mediterranean due to the glassy azure waters, as well as being framed on three sides by lush greenery.

Our top three:

Discover more about the glistening sandy beaches lining this breathtaking coastline by reading through our blog listing 6 of the best beaches in South Devon

Discover the very best of Devon

Torcross Beach in Devon

We've been busy doing plenty of research, and have come up with a handy guide to jellyfish and how to make sure you remain safe from them around Devon's coasts. On top of that, we've also created an infographic showcasing some alarming beach pollution statistics - perhaps during your holiday, you could tag along on a beach clean.

For more activities, places to eat and things to do, check out our interactive map of Devon or visit our handbook to find out more about this fantastic county.

If you want more Devon holiday inspiration, we have breathtaking photos for you to browse through – we ran a competition and, out of over 2,000 entries, these are the top ten.

When you’ve finished reading all about these amazing Devon beaches, go and visit them for yourself! 

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

Like it? Share it...

Read more like this

The UK’s best 24-hour city trips

It turns out you don’t need to head to the big cities for fun adventures - come and discover the UK's best cities that can be seen in a day!

The prettiest villages in Devon

Find out about why these Devon villages are just so pretty and uncover some of the visitor attractions and natural beauty spots that you can enjoy day trips during your stay.

Things to do and see in Appledore

Discover Appledore in North Devon and find out what makes it a magical holiday destination.
The Travel Chapter Limited, trading as holidaycottages.co.uk | The Travel Chapter Limited is registered in England and Wales. | Registered office Travel Chapter House Gammaton Road Bideford EX39 4DF Company No. 02431506 | VAT reg: 143053210