Seaside selections: five of the best beaches in Devon

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Carmen McCormack

Guest Expert

5 min read

Pick your way down from the South West Coast Path to discover hidden coves, wide sandy bays beneath craggy headlands, tiny inlets framed by slender beaches and shingle stretches dotted with colourful fishing boats. Some are deliciously remote and you’ll want to pack a picnic, others are easy to access and have plenty of useful things like public toilets, lifeguards in high season, shops and cafes. Wherever you choose to lay your towel, one thing is certain, the beaches in this part of the world are Devon on earth.

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Barricane Beach

Tucked between Woolacombe and Mortehoe, Barricane beach is a sheltered, west-facing cove full of nooks and crannies and rock pools. On a clear day, views stretch across the Bristol Channel to Lundy Island and on clear evenings the sunsets are spectacular. A popular cowrie and seashell combing spot, some say the shells have travelled all the way from the Caribbean across the wild Atlantic before arriving in near-perfect condition at this tiny inlet. The cafe on the beach serves typical fare during the day and rather tasty Sri Lankan curries in the evening – no booking, just BYO and cash only. Dogs are welcome off-lead October to April and on-lead May to September.

Stay nearby at The Chapel >

Soar Mill Cove

There are three ways to get to remote Soar Mill Cove: a scramble on foot down from the Coast Path, a less frenetic descent from the Soar Mill Cove Hotel, or by boat or canoe from Salcombe. Whichever you choose, it’s well worth the effort. You’re rewarded with a golden sandy inlet framed by the towering Bolt Head headland – it’s like something out of a movie. Come to swim and sunbathe, build sandcastles and rock pool dip. Dogs are permitted year round and there isn’t an ice cream van for miles. Beyond the beach, the gentle green hills of the South Hams run for miles. 

Stay nearby at The Stables >

Hope Cove

Hope Cove is made up of two sandy beaches, Mouthwell Sands – closest to the village car park but accessed via a steep slipway, and Harbour Beach – a working beach and popular mooring spot. Soak up stunning views of the rolling Bolt Tail cliffs, walk dogs year round on Harbour Beach and arrive early to watch fisherfolk land their catches. Dotted with caves that were once busy with smugglers, today the cove appeals to water-lovers, dog-walkers and families. As well as a public toilet located above Harbour Beach, a village shop and seasonal lifeguard service (Mouthwell Sands only), there is a smorgasbord of places to eat. 

Stay nearby at The Threshing Barn >

Blackpool Sands

Blackpool Sands is an award-winning, Blue Flag beach (no dogs May to September) with crystal-clear waters and a golden crescent of shingle to lay your towel. For sandcastle building, you’ll find two dedicated sand pits. The young and the young at heart should come ready for action and adventure: rent sea kayaks and SUPs with taster sessions and wetsuit hire plus a sauna to warm up in when you get back. RNLI lifeguards keep a watchful eye during high season, and there’s a cafe, shop, gardens, showers and toilets. From a beach framed by majestic evergreens and scented pines, you can be on the Coast Path in minutes. 

Stay nearby at Bowden Croft >

Beer Beach

In the heart of the quaint fishing village of Beer, brightly coloured fishing boats dot the shingle of this working beach. This small but hardworking fleet go out daily with their crab pots, nets and winches to land a fresh catch – mackerel is a speciality and you can join a fishing trip. Framed by mighty (and geologically important) limestone cliffs, this is a sunny spot and popular with families while dogs are permitted on the eastern section of the beach year-round. You’re on the edge of the Coast Path with spectacular walking – the route to Seaton has dramatic views across the Jurassic Coast.

Stay nearby at Acorn Cottage >

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Carmen McCormack

Guest Expert

Carmen is a freelance writer specialising in travel. She once lived in a bus in north Wales, skipped off to study in Barcelona, and now calls Bristol home. When she’s not tapping away on her laptop, she can be found reading (a lot), lake swimming (a little), and pottering on the allotment with husband and two kiddos. She’s currently dreaming about cold cerveza and torta in Mexico.

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