What’s the best beach in South Devon?

Something we are asked a lot! We try not to say “it depends”…but it really does!

At Pitt Farm Holiday Cottages, we are blessed to have a variety of beaches within a 15 minute drive. Here are some that make our shortlist. To make our list every beach has to have parking and toilets nearby.  Most of them have somewhere to grab a bite to eat. Prices for parking vary from beach to beach.

Best beach in South Devon when it’s blowing from the West…

It’s always worth checking the wind direction and the tides before you decide where you’re headed. Generally speaking, the beaches east of Start Point are more sheltered from our prevailing westerly or south westerly wind, but the Salcombe beaches are also fairly well sheltered.

Ice Cream at Slapton Sands

Best beach in South Devon for a bit of everything

Blackpool Sands is glorious – a privately owned fine shingle Blue Flag (2022) beach, and has everything you need close at hand. In the summer months it’s lifeguarded, has watersports equipment hire, sandpits, toilets, showers, a beach shop and the Venus Café. The beach is cleaned every day in summer to keep it looking stunning More on Blackpool Sands.

Blackpool Sands

Best beach in South Devon for Sandcastles

North Sands at Salcombe is a sandcastle-builder’s paradise. The whole beach disappears at high tide (check the tide times before you go!), so there’s plenty of damp sand around, a stream to dig in and dam up.  This is highly popular with parents looking to show off their civil engineering skills.

North Sands Salcombe

Best beach in South Devon for a walk

The walk along the South West Coast Path between Torcross and Beesands is one of our favourites and is child friendly. We prefer starting at Torcross as parking is easier and it’s a slightly shorter drive from Pitt Farm. Details of the walk are here.

Best beach in South Devon for an adventure

South Sands in Salcombe (another one to check the tides for as much of the beach disappears underwater at high tide) is sandy and very popular.  A great little adventure can be had by parking at North Sands, walking to South Sands and taking a sea tractor and ferry into the centre of Salcombe. So good we’ve even written a blog about it here.

Best beach in South Devon for rockpools

Mouthwell Sands at Hope Cove (Outer Hope) is a sheltered cove with plenty of rock pools to poke about in at low tide. It’s a sandy beach with a stream to dam up and plenty of options for ice creams or something more substantial in the village. You can tie this into a trip to Inner Hope (only a few metres away for a larger beach with acres of flat wet sand when the tide is out).

Hope Cove

The beach at Hope Cove

Best beach in South Devon for Surfing

Bantham is where the surfers are. It’s an amazing sandy beach and is regularly voted one of the best beaches in Europe. Loads of parking, food from the Gastrobus, surf school and board and wetsuit hire available – see the Bantham Estate Website and the Bantham Surfing Academy Website

Bantham Beach

Best beach in South Devon for paddle boarding / kayaking

South Milton Sands (when its calm) where you can venture out to Thurlestone Rock. Parking is free for National Trust members. Kayak and paddleboard and wetsuit hire available.

South Milton Sands

Best beach in South Devon for swimming

Torcross is ideal for serious sea swimmers as the shingle shelf creates depth without having to trek miles into the water. On calm days its also great for kayaks and paddle boards – which are available to rent if you don’t have your own.

The view od Beesands and Start Bay

Best beach in South Devon for lunch

A few contenders – The beachhouse at South Milton Sands is our favourite (the crabby fries will change your life), but consider also the great Gastrobus and Sloop Inn at Bantham; the Hope and Anchor at Hope Cove and both Britannia at the Beach and The Cricket Inn at Beesands. See more on our Eating Local page

Fish and Chips at the Britannia at Beesands

Best beach in South Devon for a fish & chip supper

Torcross is one of our favourite spots to go at late afternoon / early evening to enjoy the evening sun – it’s a stunning place to end the day. For your fish & chips, head to either the Start Bay Inn or The Boathouse and sit on the rocks by the sea wall, soaking up the view and the last of the sunshine.


Best beach in South Devon in low season

Mill Bay is one of those stunning little beaches that you see across the estuary when you’re in Salcombe (the others are Sunny Cove, Small’s Cove and East Portlemouth Beach). We love it because of the stunning views across to Salcombe, its sheltered shallow waters (perfect for paddling with toddlers in tow), the stream to dig in and dam up and cave-like rock formations to explore. There is a car park (free parking for National Trust members) with toilets. However we only really recommend this out of high season (and even then it’s best to get there by mid-morning) as the car park isn’t huge and the road to get to it is narrow.

Mill Bay

If you fancy a trip in high season but want to avoid the drive, there’s a ferry across to East Portlemouth from Salcombe (leaves from Salcombe Landing by the Ferry Inn) and you can walk along to Mill Bay from there.

Mill Bay

Best beach in South Devon for local history

If you’re interested in a bit of local history, take a trip to Slapton & Torcross to see the salvaged WW2 Sherman tank and to learn about Operation Tiger, or to Hallsands with its Viewing Platform to learn about the “Lost Village” – read our blog here for more information.

The Operation Tiger Memorial

Best beach in South Devon for all ages

Bigbury has something for everyone to enjoy. It’s a wide, fine sandy beach with views across to Burgh Island with its beautiful Art Deco hotel. The littlest ones will enjoy building sandcastles, rockpooling and a ride on the sea tractor (or just watching it). Older children can swim in the sea, body board or take a surf lesson. Those interested in history can cross to Burgh Island (on foot if the tide’s out, or by sea tractor if the tide’s in) and make their way up to the summit, via the 14th century Pilchard Inn and the iconic Burgh Island Hotel.  Previous guests have included Agatha Christie (who wrote two books at the hotel) and Noel Coward, as well as Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson, Winston Churchill and The Beatles.  See our blog about a visit to Bigbury here

Bigbury on Sea

So…. what’s our favourite?

We’ll tell you when we see you!

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