12 of the best Devon beaches: the Pitchup guide to the Devon coast 



Ah, Devon… This south-western beauty is the only county in the UK to have two distinct coastlines. It has well over 100 beaches, meaning there are plenty of seaside spots for newcomers and repeat visitors to experience.

Whether you’re into watersports, fancy a foodie seaside lunch or just want to stretch out and listen to the sounds of the waves, you can be pretty confident that Devon’s diverse shores have something that pushes all the right buttons.

So buckle up, slap on some sunscreen and pack your bucket and spade as we take you on a whistle-stop tour of Devon’s 12 best beaches. 

The Pitchup guide to a dozen of Devon's best beaches


1) Croyde beach 

Best for surfing, sand dunes and estuary views

As we’re starting our round-up of Devon’s best beaches on the north coast, it’s time to talk about surfing. Croyde beach is renowned for its combination of spectacular scenery and powerful waves, making this a top spot for surf fans of all abilities. A variety of board sport schools operate around here if you’re yet to take to the waves – and if you’d rather stick to dry land, there are gorgeous sand dunes and views over the Taw Estuary to admire instead.

Browse campsites near Croyde 

2) Woolacombe beach

Kitesurfing, safe swimming and mile-long stretches of sand

Next up it’s Woolacombe beach, a large and spacious stretch of sand just a few miles to the east of Croyde on Devon’s north coast. The sheer amount of space on this beach (which extends uninterrupted for three miles) makes Woolacombe a magnet for kitesurfers on windy winter’s days, while in the warmer months a daily lifeguard service makes this spot a safe place for family swimming and paddling. 

The spectacular north Devon coast

3) Bigbury-on-Sea

Ride a sea tractor through the waves and explore Burgh Island

For this pick, we’re jumping over to the other side of the county to Devon’s south coast and the gorgeous South Hams, part of the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Outstanding by name and outstanding by nature, as this stretch of countryside has a fab mix of gentle Devon hills, peaceful villages and stunning seaside resorts. 

The town of Bigbury-on-Sea falls into the last of those three categories and makes our list for several reasons – the village has ample parking, great views, a wide sandy beach and easy access to the South West Coast Path. 

Many people heading here, though, will be coming for one thing and one thing only – the sea tractor, an eccentric amphibious vehicle built to ferry visitors back and forth between the mainland and Burgh Island, where there is an exclusive hotel and a popular pub. You can also walk across a 250-metre spit of sand at low tide – slower than riding the sea tractor, but definitely a bit less bumpy

Intrigued by the South Hams? Check out our travel guides to Salcombe and Dartmouth, or browse seaside campsites within easy reach of Burgh Island.

4) Bantham Beach

A family-friendly sandy beach with safe and shallow waters

Just across from Bigbury-on-Sea on the other side of the river Avon, Bantham beach is a very spacious sandy spot with great views over Burgh Island (if you bring your binoculars, you'll also get to watch the sea tractor at work too). 

The beauty of Bantham beach is how shallow and sheltered the waters here are, making paddling and swimming with young kids or inexperienced swimmers a very safe and reassuring experience. 

Away from the sand, the surrounding area is very rural and green, with lots of wild trails to explore and nature to spot. Bantham village is much smaller than Bigbury-on-Sea, giving this part of the world a sleepier, laidback feel. 

Fab food and drink are available if you don't fancy packing a picnic – just look out for the beach's vintage gastrobus, where gourmet burgers, freshly-made baps and luxurious locally-sourced ice cream are on the menu.  

Wide sandy beaches

5) Landcombe Cove 

Inaccessible, secluded and as wild as they come

Hunting for hidden coves and deserted stretches of sand? It’s no secret that Devon is dotted with hidden gem beaches, and they don't get much more hidden than Landcombe Cove, a secluded south coast spot near Stoke Fleming. 

Getting here is an experience in itself – the beach is only accessible from a footpath, and there's a steep descent that all but the hardiest of hikers will feel in their knees the next day. The reward, though, is more than worth it – the beach is a sweeping crescent of caves, pebbles and sand, plus crystal-clear waters that take on a Mediterranean tinge in fine weather. 

After something remote? Combine your hunt for hidden coves with a stay at one of our wild-style campsites in Devon

6) Woody Bay 

Steep cliffs, a rockpool and Victorian heritage in Exmoor National Park

Next up we’re heading back to the north to explore Woody Bay, a quiet rock and shingle beach about three miles from the twin towns of Lynton and Lynmouth. Like our previous pick, Woody Bay isn’t directly accessible from the road, but the path down to this peaceful Exmoor spot is definitely less strenuous than at Landcombe Cove. 

The scenery here is impressive, with far-reaching views out to sea and an imposing backdrop of steep cliffs. For a great view of it all, take to the large natural rockpool for wild swimming in a sheltered location overlooking the sea. 

You may also spot signs of the days when Woody Bay was earmarked as a seaside resort – the remains of a half-constructed pier washed away in a storm, and, inland, Woody Bay rail station, where you can still catch steam services today. 

Sundown over the Devon coast

7) Slapton Sands

A dog-friendly shingle beach next to a rare lagoon 

Despite its name, Slapton Sands is one of the longest shingle beaches in Devon, with almost two miles of shoreline stretching between the small villages of Torcross and Slapton. Located within an area of outstanding natural beauty, the beach is backed by Slapton Ley, a large freshwater lagoon that’s a hub for rare flora and fauna. 

The beach is well-known for its calm waters, spacious feel and excellent amenities (shops, ample parking, ice cream vans and toilets are all available). In addition, Slapton Sands welcomes dogs all year round, making it ideal for long coastal walks with your four-legged friend. 

Browse dog-friendly Devon campsites near the sea or check out our full range of campsites near Slapton Sands

8) East Portlemouth 

Several small beaches and a ferry to Salcombe quay

Just across from the smart town of Salcombe, the well-heeled village of East Portlemouth has a collection of several small beaches, all of which have safe, shallow waters, golden sands and spectacular views over the south Devon coastline. At low tide, small clusters of rock pools further add to the fun. 

East Portlemouth is very popular with travellers based in and around Salcombe seeking space and seclusion away from the busy town centre. Sailing over to the town quay via the ferry takes just a few minutes, making East Portlemouth an excellent choice if you’re looking to combine days on the sand with shopping, culture and seafood lunches in one of Devon’s plushest resorts. 

Looking for some Salcombe-style luxury? Explore glamping near the Devon coast

9) Budleigh Salterton

Spectacular stones, beach huts and red cliffs on the Jurassic Coast

Think that the west is best? Once you’ve checked out the crystal-clear waters and pebbly beaches around this east Devon town, you may just change your mind.

Budleigh Salterton is a small seaside town with two miles of pebbly beach and spectacular views over red Devon cliffs. These aren’t just any pebbles, though – the colourful stones at Budleigh Salterton are the mangled remains of prehistoric mountain ranges. 

Come and see the grey, purple, white and black pebbles in all their kaleidoscopic combinations, but don’t take any home with you – local bylaws mean that being caught with just a handful of Budleigh’s stones in your pocket could end up costing you several times the price of your holiday…

Click here to see Jurassic Coast sites in east Devon with availability for your dates

Jurassic Coast cliffs


10) Wembury beach

A cove with rockpools and cliffs just down the road from Plymouth

If you’re off on a camping or glamping city break to Plymouth, you’ll likely be on the look-out for the best beaches in the local area. Look no further, as Wembury beach, a sheltered cove just six miles’ drive from Plymouth city centre, is an excellent destination for old-fashioned bucket and spade days.

This south Devon spot has ample rockpools where the kids can seek out sea creatures, with common finds including sea anemones, limpets, crabs and starfish. Just off the beach, Wembury Marine Centre is an excellent place to learn about the surrounding area’s wildlife; you may even be able to book a guided rockpool ramble or other marine-themed event. 

In addition to the rockpools, sweeping views over towering cliffs and fab vistas out to sea, Wembury beach has ample parking, a café and a clifftop picnic area with uninterrupted views over Mewstone rock.  

11) Lundy Island

Hop on the ferry and experience an island getaway like no other

For our penultimate pick, we’re thinking outside the box and whisking you 10 nautical miles off the coast to Lundy, a remote island out in the Bristol Channel. Yes, you’ll have to get a ferry from Ilfracombe or Bideford to get here, but the reward is an uncrowded wildlife haven with cliffs, beaches and a huge array of animals. 

There are several wild swimming spots like Quarry beach dotted around the island, including a few where it may be possible to snorkel or scuba dive with seals. Back on dry land, make sure to pack your binoculars, as Devon’s largest isle is a haven for seabirds (including cute multicoloured puffins), not to mention the ponies that roam free across its length and breadth and the playful dolphins that are often seen swimming alongside the ferry.


Lundy Island wildlife

12) Paignton beach

Family-friendly seaside fun on the English Riviera

Did you really think we’d take you on a trip to Devon without stopping off on the English Riviera? This sheltered part of southern Devon has a particularly mild microclimate, making it a popular destination for those looking for warm days and sun-filled skies.

So, why Paignton in particular? Firstly, it's got a lovely sandy beach with easy access from the town centre (no scrabbling down weatherbeaten paths with all your gear around here, thank you very much). When you're done swimming, building sandcastles or lazing around in a deck chair, Paignton pier has a range of exciting entertainment options including arcade games, miniature golf, a cinema and a visiting funfair.

Paignton has excellent practical amenities too, with everything from toilets to food kiosks and cafés easily accessible a short walk away from the beach. For a change of scene, you're also under a mile from gorgeous Goodrington Sands, another sandy beach within a short stroll of a waterpark and boating lake. 

Browse our range of English Riviera campsites and holiday parks near Paignton.


Spotted an old favourite? Found new inspiration?


Whatever the kind of holiday you’re after, we hope that you now feel ready to pick a campsite or glampsite near Devon’s spectacular coastline

Looking for a beach where dogs are welcome all year round? We've got you covered with this list of our favourite dog-friendly beaches in Devon

To learn more about beaches you can visit in nearby counties, check out our guide to the South West of England.