Famous for its beautiful stretches of beach, stunning scenery and magical moorland, North Devon is one of the UK's top holiday hotspots. The region is packed with beaches, pretty fishing villages and fun family attractions as well as being a haven for foodies looking for the next best thing.
While we don't like choosing favourites, the charming little seaside village of Croyde has to be near the top of our list. Bringing a cool surfing crowd from all over the globe to ride spectacular waves that crash in from the Atlantic Ocean, its local beach – and those surrounding it – are also perfect for families looking for a traditional seaside holiday.
Stay with us while we explain the fascination with this little village and show you a property or two where you can rest your head when the day comes to a close.
About the village:
The unspoilt charm of Croyde is perhaps a surprise considering its fame as a top surfing resort. The village has a certain olde-worlde feel, where thatched colour-washed cottages and traditional village stores rub sandy shoulders with hip surf shops, restaurants and a great ice cream parlour. You can hire surfboards and wetsuits here or pick up inflatable boats and multi-coloured lilos - everything you need for a day at the beach. Pop into the quaint post office to send off your postcards and buy a pastel Becky Bettesworth print: a nostalgic reminder of a great holiday.
Sheltered by dunes which lead down to the main beach, the village allows easy access to Croyde Bay. Head down in the morning for a splash about, venture back around lunchtime for something to eat and then wander between the village shops at your leisure, perhaps finishing with a relaxing Devon cream tea - there's no need to hurry in Croyde!
Three beaches compete for your attention in and around Croyde. The sheltered Croyde Bay that leads down from the village is great for families with children as well as swimmers and experienced surfers, so much so that it has been rated one of the best surfing beaches in the world. It has an RNLI lifeguard service from May to September as well as at various busy times throughout the year. There are restrictions placed on dogs between the same period and dogs aren't permitted anywhere on Parkdean owned land. If walking on the dunes be sure to stay to the paths as the area is a protected SSSI and an adder breeding ground. You may be able to enjoy a rare sighting of native snakes in the wild along the paths, so keep your dog on a short leash because bites can be fatal (although not for humans).
It's said that beach volleyball is one of the most popular activities in Croyde Bay during the summer, so you might want to improve your game before heading on down!
South of Croyde is the huge stretch of beach that is Saunton Sands: great for both kids and the family pooch. Hire a colourful beach hut and deckchair during your holiday and you'll feel you have stepped back into another era. To the north of Croyde, Putsborough Beach provides 3 miles of clean golden sands leading up to Woolacombe and the National Trust's Morte Point. Popular with walkers and sunbathers due to its more tranquil vibe, it's just the place for a spot of rock pooling when the tide goes out.
The food and drink:
Hot summer days will take you to Croyde’s quirky Ice Cream Parlour where some of the best ice cream in the area is served. Their mission is to 'transfer our passion in the ways of the scoop, into the mouths of the needy' - and who are we to argue?
When the Great British weather lets you down, the village's tea rooms are a great alternative to frozen treats. Try the scrumptious cream teas and cakes at the lovely Sandleigh Tea Room and Garden, situated at the foot of Baggy Point, as well as the more traditional May Cottage Tea Rooms in the heart of the village. Some of the eateries in Croyde are seasonal so make sure that you check ahead.
Aside from delicious ice cream and heavenly cream teas, Croyde is known for its legendary pubs where supping a pint of the local ale is not only encouraged but expected. You won’t have to go far for food either, as both The Manor House Inn and The Thatch offer excellent locally-sourced food and real ales as well as a friendly Croyde welcome. The Thatch also offers great B&B accommodation, perfect for those late nights sampling the local tipple with new friends.
You can’t beat the amazing clifftop views from all along the South West Coast Path. Of them all, the impressive headland of Baggy Point where Atlantic waves crash against dramatic cliffs has to be top of your list. You can walk there from Croyde Bay, stopping at Baggy's Cafe if you need to refuel before setting off again.
Our suggested route is to take the circular walk around both sides of the point and then back over the headland. You can carry on up to Woolacombe but it takes a good 4 hours, so only do this one if you are up for the challenge.
If all that sounds like too much hard work, jump in the car and drive the 8 miles up to Morte Point. Once notorious for smugglers, it is now one of the area's most remarkable beauty spots. Walk along jagged cliffs that tower over sandy bays and see if you can spot seals playing in the surf as you walk from Morte Point towards Bull Point. It’s a great walk for nature lovers and romantic types will love the tranquillity of the secluded coves of Rockham Bay and Bennett's Mouth on the way.
Whether you’re heading to Croyde with a group of friends for a sparkling celebration or you’re a family looking for the perfect summer holiday, we have a selection of self-catering accommodation to suit everyone. From beachfront apartments overlooking the Atlantic Ocean to converted cowsheds with breathtaking country views, our Croyde holiday cottages offer an authentic taste of real North Devon life.
If you like to start the day with a cooked breakfast but without any of the washing up, stay in a local bed and breakfast. The 16th century Thatched Inn in the heart of the village is true to its name; a typical thatched country cottage, it offers contemporary en-suite and standard accommodation. Beach babies will love Sandbourne B&B, a lodge-style building which at just 300 paces from the beach, is an ideal place for a surfing or sunbathing break.
Ruda Holiday Park is also a firm favourite with families who love to have lots of activities on offer - its indoor tropical pool and kids and teen clubs will keep younger family members busy and live nightly entertainment is a great way for parents to unwind after busy days.
The local vibe:
Much of Croyde has grown up around the young surfing community and so this does dominate the village. It gives a relaxed, friendly vibe regardless of whether surfing is your thing or not. The village is a great holiday destination all year round but try to come on the May Bank Holiday weekend when Skybar is on, a laid-back apres sea party which will get your holiday going with fresh cocktails, live music and chilled sky session sets.
Another great event at the beginning of summer is the GoldCoast Oceanfest, which offers a dozen or so competitive sports over the three-day event, including surfing contests, beach volleyball and open water swimming. Both kids and adults will love the beach soccer tournament, while fair rides, inflatables and storytelling will keep all ages busy. Pick up some street food or watch cooking demonstrations, then try some body marbling before watching the great music line up – 2018 saw Jess Glynne headlining, as well as the compelling Razorlight and drum and bass legends, Chase and Status.
This is truly Croyde at its best! if you fancy staying close to the action, take a look at our Croyde cottages. From large homes big enough for the all the family to cosy cottages perfect for a romantic retreat, our collection has something for everyone. Take a look and book your next Croyde stay today!