North Devon is lucky enough to have some of the best beaches in the country. Whether you are looking for long stretches of golden sand, secret coves or secluded beaches, we have them all. Click on the name of each beach to see where they are on the map.
Our local beach just two miles down the main road into the village is a lovely sheltered cove. The top of the beach is pebbled and sand (increasing more as the years go on) but at low tide there are large rock pools to explore and a stretch of level sand that appears outside the ridge of stones known as the breakwater. The sea here is free of currents and is therefore popular for bathing and kayaking. Kayaks are available to hire from various shops down near the beach on a daily rate. There is a large car and easy access to the beach.
Newberry Beach is off to the left of Combe Martin beach. It is pebbly and rocky but is dog friendly all year round.
Broad Sands is a hidden gem, well off the beaten track between Watermouth and Combe Martin. There are no public signs to Broad Sands beach and you have to negotiate 200 steps down the side of the cliff face to access it. Despite this, it has repeatedly being quoted in the top 10 wild swimming beaches in the UK. The beach is double sided and for kids offers plenty of caves and an island to explore! It is perfect for taking a swim, but check the tides before going so you can explore the caves and tunnels. It's construction is pebble and sand at low tide. If you can't manage the steps and fancy something different, hire some paddle boards or kayaks from Watermouth or Combe Martin and arrive by sea like a pirate!
Tricky to find so, from the A399 take the right turn before the The Sawmill Inn pub up towards Napps caravan park. The steps are on the left hand side before Napps but tricky to find, so look carefully. Parking is tricky – if you’re not bothered about scratches on your car, drive the overgrown track straight on where the road bears round to the caravan park (it does get wider and there are a few spaces to park further on) or park in the pub and walk up.
Woolacombe if one of the finest beaches in the country and was voted number One in the UK on TripAdvisor in February 2016 for the second year running. Woolacombe also holds the ‘England for Excellence Gold Award’ for the best family resort and was also voted the Best British Beach in the Mail on Sunday. Woolacombe Beach lies between Morte Point and Baggy Point and is a three-mile-long stretch of golden sand; renowned for its cleanliness, water quality and facilities.
Life guards ensure safe family swimming during the summer and surfers come from all over the country to enjoy the great waves and clean water.
Another award winning sandy beach just around the corner from Saunton Sands, but because it is smaller than some of the other beaches it can get a bit crowded. However, it is easily accessible, there is plenty of car parking and it is excellent for swimming, surfing, windsurfing etc. The beach is manned with lifeguards and at one end of the beach there is equipment hire, a shop, refreshments and toilets. From here the beach is wheelchair accessible.
Saunton Sands has three miles of flat sand backed by massive sand dunes of the North Devon Biosphere Reserve of Braunton Burrows.
It offers an excellent surfing beach and is ideal for all water sports. Manned with lifeguards during the summer, it is also wheelchair accessible, equipped with a shop, cafe, toilet and parking. Try to arrive early as car parking space is limited and can fill up on busy days.
Barricane beach is a small rocky cove just north of Woolacombe Sands with a beach made up of broken sea shells not native to Britain. There are plenty of rock pools amongst the flat rocks and an excellent café which does a fantastic Goan Curry most nights during the summer season which you eat on the beach and watch the sun go down. Parking is along the Esplanade or in the car park at Woolacombe a short walk away.
Combesgate Beach is north of Barricance Beach next to Woolacombe. It has vast stretches of glorious golden sand at low tide and is a haven for surfers and families alike. Bear in mind the beach disappears at high tide, so keep an eye on the tide times.
These are all small secluded bays which have deep safe rock pools and sand. The only access to these beaches is by foot by following the South West Coast Path from Woolacombe up towards Morthoe. A good starting point is the ancient parish church at Morthoe where you will also find the Chichester Arms for an excellent lunch.
Set at the southern end of Woolacombe Beach, Putsborough is another award winning sandy beach manned by lifeguards. Again it is ideal for surfing, swimming and water sports and there is a café and toilets. Access to Putsborough is down a small country lane and can get very busy during the summer. Arrive early to get the best parking spaces closest to the beach.
Northam Burrows has 1.5 miles of sandy beach protected by a ridge of huge pebbles. It is ideal for swimming, surfing and sailboarding. There is visitors centre explaining the ecology of the sea and surrounding area. It is open from Easter – September 10am – 5pm, although the car park is open all the time. There is also a car park behind the pebble ridge and toilets at the visitors centre.
The coast around Hartland Point is one of Britain’s most treacherous. At least 36 ships were wrecked between 1800 and 1920. A small museum tells the history of the wrecks and also has displayed details of the little port itself and its smuggling days, natural history and the incredibly contorted rock layers thereabouts. The beach at Hartland Point is rocky with numerous rock pools but there is a climb down to the beach.
A very narrow scenic route that follows the coast path brings you from Woody Bay into Lee Bay. This is an attractive bay with rocks to climb and a sandy/shingle beach. Bathers should be aware of strong currents though at Lee Bay.
This wonderfully secluded beach regarded by some as ‘the jewel in the crown of Lee’ is located 2 miles west of Ilfracombe in an area of designated outstanding natural beauty. Surrounded on three sides by rolling hills, Lee bay looks out over the Bristol Channel and is a rocky beach with plenty of rock pools to explore with sand at low tide. However, bathers should be aware there are no lifeguards and the area is known for its strong currents.
Hele Bay is a sand and shingle cove situated in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, adjacent to the Hillsborough Nature Reserve. There are rock pools on both sides of the beach at low tide. Parking and all facilities are within easy walking distance. Access is via a slipway.
As you can see there are many beaches for you to enjoy in North Devon. There are many other smaller beaches across the area. See Dog Restrictions on Local Beaches for more information.