The best sandy beaches in Devon

Penned on the 20th July 2021

The best sandy beaches in Devon

There’s something about digging your toes into sand that just says: "escapism". While many of us may think that hopping on a flight to the Med is the only way to enjoy beachy bliss, the UK is actually home to some of Europe’s best beaches. Actually, the world’s best beaches!

Homing in on Devon, the county’s coastline is bejewelled with sandy beaches that simply beg for long days by the shore whatever the season – sipping from hot flasks, building sandcastles, paddling in the sea and burying into the pages of long-neglected novels dusted off from the shelf.

Experts in all things wild and beautiful, we’ve picked out the best beaches in Devon for you to visit during your Devon glamping holiday. And, because every beach is better with a soft, cushiony floor, we’ve gone one step further and specifically chosen our favourite sandy beaches in Devon – perfect for that quintessential beach experience. Made all the more dreamy with a hamper full of goodies, comfy picnic blanket and supply of ocean-friendly sun-cream (good for noses and the planet), here’s our list of Devon’s best sandy beaches. Dive in!

 

North Devon

Make way to North Devon and be prepared to fall in love with its steep cliffs, enormous sandy beaches and huge horizons.

Woolacombe Beach

If you hadn’t already heard of Woolacombe near Ilfracombe, you’re in for a treat. The holy grail of sandy beaches in Devon, this award-winning strip boasts 3 long miles of soft, powdery sand. One of the finest beaches in the South West, its easy access, plentiful parking, close-by amenities and summer lifeguard services make it a firm hit with families. Thankfully though, because of its size it never feels overcrowded, meaning you can always find a quiet spot to relish the salty air and listen to the soundtrack of breaking waves.

Lifeguard Service: Summer

Dog Restrictions: Seasonal ban across certain sections

Where to stay: Copperas Shepherd's Hut | Breathtaking views and fresh sea air will make for an unforgettable stay at this gorgeous glamping site. 

Croyde Bay

Croyde’s beach is recognised as one of the best beaches in North Devon – and we can see why. In a protected spot between two headlands, the beach is largely sheltered from all but stubborn easterly winds and has plenty of space for sprawling out under the sun. Slightly more difficult to reach than its nearby neighbours of Woolacombe and Saunton Sands, the beach doesn’t have many facilities, but this adds to its more remote feel. And, if you’re a surfer, you’ll find the beach’s peeling left and right-handers hard to resist during your sea-view glamping retreat.

Lifeguard Service: Summer

Dog Restrictions: Seasonal ban

Where to stay: Bo-Peep Cabin | Set in a picturesque paradise of rural bliss with a glorious garden. Nothing but the sweet sound of nature surrounds this elegant cabin.

Saunton Sands

Whether you’re a beach jogger, plodder, paddler or bather, the golden sweep of Saunton Sands near Barnstaple will be sure to appeal. Backed by the UNESCO Braunton Burrows Nature Reserve, its long, straight body is nestled between sweeping dunes and rolling ocean – each providing sanctuary for a wealth of rare wildlife. Whether you’re grabbing binoculars or a boogie board, the beach really does have something for everyone and is even suitable for all-terrain wheelchairs too.

Lifeguard Service: None

Dog Restrictions: Year-round dog-friendly

Where to stay: Straw Cottage | A gorgeous quirky cottage, with a hot tub to return to after a day at the beach... pure bliss! 

Westward Ho! Beach

Interestingly, Westward Ho! near Bideford is the only town in the UK to officially include an exclamation mark in its name. Although, that’s not why we think you’ll like it. As well as its quirky title and picturesque seaside village, Westward Ho! also has a great Blue Flag beach that has to be one of the best beaches in Devon. In summer, the thrumming cafes at the south end of the beach add to the cheerful vibes, while in winter the crowds disperse to reveal mirror-like swathes of sand reflecting piercing blue skies.

Lifeguard Service: Summer

Dog Restrictions: Seasonal ban across certain sections

Where to stay: Hayley's Hut | Complete with a hot tub, fire-pit and its very own fishing lake, this unique destination combines glamping luxury and down-to-earth tranquility.

Putsborough Beach

Putsborough is another giant sandy beach in Devon and therefore naturally a favourite of ours. Combining comfort and convenience with a little bit of wilderness, the beach here is graced with a delightful shop and café, award-winning toilets (yes, that’s right) and huge expanses of sand. Just some of the activities you can look forward to include kayaking, snorkelling, long-boarding, walking and picnicking. The latter of which is not as strenuous, but definitely as fun.

Lifeguard Service: None

Dog Restrictions: Seasonal ban across certain sections

 

South Devon

Home of the English Riviera, South Devon is all about picturesque seaside villages and sandy coves – perfect for a seaside glamping escape.

Bigbury-on-Sea

Bigbury-on-Sea beach boasts multiple awards, soft caramel-coloured sand, ice cream and a sea tractor. What’s not to love? With views overlooking Burgh Island (of Agatha Christie fame) and the South Devon Coast, it is one of the best beaches in South Devon and brilliant for a proper bucket and spade-style day by the shore. For food, there are cafes just above the beach and for activities, you can book a lesson with the local surf school or walk out to Burgh Island at low tide.

Lifeguard Service: Summer

Dog Restrictions: Seasonal ban across certain sections

Where to stay: Little Modbury Lookout | Situated in your own private orchard overlooking the rolling Devonshire hills, you will find your mind unwinding as soon as you arrive at this heavenly retreat to nature.

Bantham Beach

Just a stone’s throw from Bigbury-on-Sea is the universally popular Bantham beach. Set at the mouth of the Avon River, it features gently sloping sand that disappears under a crystal-clear watery blanket and enjoys views across the river towards Burgh Island. Acknowledged by Lonely Planet as one of Europe’s top beaches, it’s the kind of place where you can easily spend the day – fed by the great local takeaway vendors at the top of the beach and warmed by the sun.

Lifeguard Service: Summer

Dog Restrictions: Seasonal ban across certain sections

Where to stay: Bowhay Shepherd's Hut | Getaway from the everyday at this magical retreat, nestled in a peaceful spot with gorgeous countryside views across the Dart Valley.

Broadsands Beach

Broadsands is a large, curving beach near Paignton on the English Riviera, recognisable for its striking reddish sand. Arguably the best beach in Torquay and surrounds, it has a long seafront promenade lined with colourful beach huts and benefits from a large car park with almost direct access to the beach. To make your beach trip more comfortable, there are toilets and a bistro overlooking the beach and, should you have energy left, there’s also a park next to the beach perfect for a kickaround.

Lifeguard Service: None

Dog Restrictions: Seasonal ban across certain sections

Hope Cove

Get two for the price of one at South Devon’s Hope Cove near Salcombe and Kingsbridge. Made up of Mouthwell Sands in the north and Harbour Beach to the south, Hope Cove’s two beaches provide plenty of space for exploring and playing, as well as just lazing on the sand and watching fluffy clouds float by high in the troposphere. If you visit in the morning, you may be able to see the local fishing boats leaving the harbour and setting out to sea for a day on the water, too.

Lifeguard Service: Summer

Dog Restrictions: Seasonal ban across certain sections

Image: Salcombe

Where to stay: Rosie's Hut  | Take a walk on the wild side in this pretty shepherd's hut that's set in the most glorious countryside location. Admire the views, walk in the woodland and even count the stars from your very own hot tub.

Blackpool Sands

Okay, so strictly speaking, Blackpool Sands, Dartmouth, isn’t actually a sandy beach but a mix of sand and shingle. That said, we think you’ll excuse the exception. Another of Devon’s Blue Flag beaches, Blackpool Sands is one of the best beaches near Dartmouth, known for its crystal clean waters and amazing setting – remarkably similar to scenes from the Mediterranean. Backed by high cliffs, evergreen trees and hummocky Devonshire countryside, it really is impossibly pretty and has great facilities to boot.

Lifeguard Service: Summer

Dog Restrictions: Seasonal ban across certain sections

Where to stay: Ashley's Shack | Nestled amongst the trees, Ashley's shack is an earthy retreat to natures paradise. 

East Portlemouth Beaches

Last but not least on our list of sandy beaches in South Devon is East Portlemouth’s sandy ensemble. Some of the best beaches near Salcombe, this series of small coves (Fishermans Cove, Smalls Cove and Mill Bay) calls to those looking to escape the crowds and settle into a more relaxed pace. Set within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the scenery is of course jaw-dropping, and the beaches also have the added advantage of close-by amenities, parking and disabled access.

Lifeguard Service: Summer

Dog Restrictions: Year-round dog-friendly

 

East Devon

Made up of Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and World Heritage Jurassic Coast, East Devon’s coastline is as perfect on breezy winter mornings as balmy summer eves.

Exmouth Beach

The gateway to the Jurassic Coast, Exmouth Beach is most famous for its amazing fossils and miles of flat golden sand. Promising all sorts of activity for all generations, it has something for everyone from fossil hunting to sunbathing to water sports like kitesurfing, kayaking and SUP-ing. For even more choice, the 2-mile-long promenade running adjacent to the beach delivers even more fun, with crazy golf, Punch and Judy shows and many great foodie offerings.

Lifeguard Service: Summer

Dog Restrictions: Seasonal ban across certain sections

Where to stay: Shepherd's Oak | Relax and unwind in a luxurious bolthole for two. While away the hours in your romantic hut under a shady tree, gazing at panoramic country views.

Dawlish Beach

If you are looking for the best sandy beach in Devon for spectacular sunrises, wend your way over to Dawlish Beach (Coryton Cove). At the foot of Dawlish town, the beach is overlooked by multi-coloured houses and offers uninterrupted views across the sea – perfect for watching the first early morning streaks of sunlight burst over the horizon. Parking isn’t always readily available right by the beach, but it’s in easy walking distance from the town and thus close to a number of shops, eateries and amenities.

Lifeguard Service: None

Dog Restrictions: Seasonal ban across certain sections

Where to stay: Crannaford Shepherd's Hut | The oh-so-sweet Crannaford Shepherd's hut is the idyllic hideaway to take things slower and live life at your own pace for a little while... 

Sidmouth Beach

One of the best sandy beaches in Devon, Sidmouth Beach is home to a wide stretch of sand and shingle that grows with the ebbing tide.  Flanked by huge, rust-hued cliffs topped with lush vegetation, the beach here does bring scenes of the Lost World to mind – which is rather apt considering its location along the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. Fortunately, with only fossilised dinosaurs to encounter, the beach here is all about relaxation and play whatever the season.

Lifeguard Service: None

Dog Restrictions: Seasonal ban across certain sections

Where to stay: Shepherd's Delight | Get away from everything at this tranquil retreat. A truly delightful setting in four acres of magical woodland. 

Devon truly is a mesmerising paradise to visit, with an abundance of beautiful beaches just waiting to be explored! Take a look at our glamping in Devon page to discover more quirky accommodation types, in this simply stunning part of the world. 

 

 

X | CLOSE

Contact Us

Our staff have first hand experience of all our glamping sites and are here to help you find your perfect glamping holiday.

Unique Hideaways
Sapphire House
Unit 14
Hayle Business Park
Hayle
Cornwall
TR27 5JR

Questions or comments - Get In Touch!