Activities for You
North Devon is blessed with a huge range of beaches, attractions and places to explore. We've added just a few here to help you decide what to do. Local knowledge is a powerful tool so don't be afraid to ask us - we can show you those secret spots and places and locals spots.
North Devon has some of the best beaches in the country, for families and those looking for somewhere a bit more excluded. Listed below are the more popular beaches in the area. These all link to Visit North Devon & Exmoor, a great site with lots of information and guides.
Westward Ho! is a beach geared up to cater for every tourist's needs. With seaside shops, toilets and a range of food outlets, Westward Ho! is a popular family beach.
Made up of a long sandy beach backed by a pebble ridge with Northam Burrows Country Park accessible at one end this beach offers the best of both sand rock pools and nature. RNLI Lifeguard service is available from May to September and the beach is popular with windsurfers surfers and swimmers. Dogs are permitted from October to April on the whole beach and all year round at the Northam Burrows end. There is ample car parking and disabled parking close to the beach.
The wonderful surf that runs on to Westward Ho! draws surfers from miles around and with designated surfing areas the beach caters for every activity. The surf is also home to wild sea bass attracting anglers from all over the country. Equipment for bathing surfing and angling is readily
available from local outlets.
Combesgate is a lovely secluded beach located approximately 600 metres north of Woolacombe beach with some attractive rock pools ideal for children to explore.
Access is via a long flight of steps and like Barricane there is limited beach at high tide.
Beach Type: Sandy
Dogs: access restricted
After completing the testing and steep walk of approximately 2 kms you are free to enjoy what is a wonderfully quiet and peaceful little beach. The rocky beach protected from the offshore wind by the cove creating a prefect area for sunbathing. It is a place of beauty and you will find lost in the sound and calming effect of the fresh water running in streams down the slate cliffs at the back of the beach. Due to its natural seclusion the beach is very popular with naturists you can see the beach from the coastal path above but only from a great distance. It is completely private apart from the daily pass by of The Queen of Cornwall. This is a pleasure boat that sails from Ilfracombe coming in close to the beach as it passes.
A wheelchair accessible sandy beach set where the Torridge River meets the Taw estuary. This is an attractive area and has always been popular with artists.
There is plenty to do for children and lots of space to play. Activities allowed on the beach include wind surfing and kite surfing while dogs are allowed on the beach from October until April. Easily accessible facilities including a range of food outlets toilets beach shops a slipway and car park make Instow a great destination for a family day out. The beach front offers an extensive view an expanse of water bright in summer with the sails of catamarans and wind-surfers or if the tide is out a long stretch of golden sand.
Braunton Burrows, is one of the largest sand dune systems in the British Isles. At the heart of the North Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) it is a UNESCO designated Biosphere reserve.
The Burrows is approximately 1000 hectares in size (one hectare roughly equates to the size of a football pitch!), divided between dunes (high ground) and slacks (low ground). Flanking the 3.5 mile long sandy beach of Saunton, the Burrows is privately owned by the Christie Estate although the public are welcome to use it.
What makes Braunton Burrows unique is its rich diversity of plant and animal life, with 470 species of flowering plant (including 11 species of orchid alone). It is also home to a wide range of fauna – an abundance of insects that includes 33 species of butterfly, many nesting birds and 5 of the 6 reptile species found in the UK.
The Burrows can be accessed from three car parks - Saunton Beach, Sandy Lane (which is in the heart of the Burrows) and Crow Point.
A wonderful place to explore and enjoy, the Burrows is particularly vibrant from the end of May to August, when much of the open dunes are covered with a spectacular carpet of flowers. Its name comes from the rabbits which, for many years, kept the scrub levels down, allowing plants and flowers to thrive.
Due to declining rabbit numbers cattle are now used to graze the undergrowth, consolidating clearance work which is necessary to reduce the levels of invasive scrub. The herd is made up of Devon Reds, a hardy traditional breed - indigenous to North Devon - which graze between three dedicated zones year round .
Dog walkers are asked to respect a few simple guidelines in respect to exercising their animals around livestock, such as keeping dogs on leads in areas where cattle are grazing. Signage on stiles and gates gives information on grazing status, as does the dedicated Braunton Burrows Public Information page on Facebook.
Rich in natural history, the Burrows also has an interesting association with World War Two. It was chosen as the site to establish the Assault Training Centre by the American army as it prepared for the D-Day invasion. Between 1943 - 1944, over 10,000 American GIs trained in the sand dunes and remnants of this era remain in the form of mock concrete landing craft and a bazooka wall.
This heritage is celebrated with an annual D-Day event which takes place on Saunton Beach during the first weekend of June, involving living history groups and period vehicles from around the UK. Meanwhile, parts of the Burrows continue to be used by the Ministry of Defence, which still uses the challenging terrain to train personnel and test equipment.
Croyde Bay is a sandy beach backed by sand dunes and situated in a small bay on the North Devon Coast.
Croyde Bay is very popular with swimmers more experienced surfers and sunbathers and rated as one of the best surfing beaches in the world. There is an RNLI Lifeguard service available from May to September throughout Easter weekend all October weekends and October Half Term.
There are good rock pools at either end of the beach several public footpaths around the village and in particular walks to Baggy Point which offer spectacular views. With dogs allowed October to April activities such as swimming surfing fishing and surfboard/canoe hire all available and a range of food outlets, toilets, shops, a slipway and beach car park with disabled parking Croyde is the perfect holiday destination.
Bucks Mills is a rocky secluded cove at the bottom end of the picturesque village. It is quite popular for fishing but limited access means it is quiet most of the time
A large area of sand set in Combe Martin a small resort town located at the western edge of the Exmoor National Park is the home of this particular beach.
A large area of sand set in Combe Martin a small resort town located at the western edge of the Exmoor National Park is the home of this particular beach. Facilities include available food shops car parks within the town and a nearby campsite. Dogs are allowed on the beach from October to April
and the beautiful coastal walks add to the charm of the surrounding area.
The beach is also good for families due to the vast stretch of sand and rock pools that will keep children entertained for hours. It is a superb family beach a favourite of many locals understandably as it is located within the Heritage Coast and in an area of outstanding Natural Beauty. It boasts some of the finest scenery and includes the reputedly highest sea cliffs in England.
This wonderfully secluded beach regarded by some as 'the jewel in the crown of Lee' is located 2 miles West of Ilfracombe a designated area of outstanding natural beauty. Watch out though, there are TWO Lee Bays on the coastline!
This wonderfully secluded beach regarded by some as 'the jewel in the crown of Lee' is located 2 miles West of Ilfracombe a designated area of outstanding natural beauty. You will find yourself bordered on three sides by rolling Devonshire countryside and on the fourth by the Bristol Channel.
The picturesque village of Lee enjoys a maritime climate heavily wooded in places offering some stunning local walks. During the flowering season many of the village hedgerows are ablaze with the scarlet flowers causing Lee to be locally referred to as 'Fuchsia Valley'. However bathers should be aware there are no lifeguards and the area is known for its strong currents
Woolacombe is one of the finest beaches in the West Country, and it is easy to see why it has won numerous awards. It’s a big favourite with families and surfers attracting thousands of people each summer to the beach and Woolacombe village. The rolling surf brings unbroken Atlantic breakers from across thousands of miles of ocean to pound on this three-mile long stretch of golden sand. The sheer length of the beach means it is possible to find quieter places in the surf even at the height of summer. Easy access and three large car parks with space for 2000 cars means that Woolacombe beach combines magnificent natural beauty, excellent facilities and a wide range of activities for all ages.
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. Dogs are welcome on the beach year round, with some restrictions in the summer months. Woolacombe itself is a lively village with great pubs, restaurants and places to stay, and is a perfect base for a family holiday, surfing trip or stop-over when walking the South West Coast Path. Mortehoe village adjoins Woolacombe and also has plenty of accommodation, places to eat and access on to the coast path. Much of the surrounding countryside is managed by the National Trust, so remains unspoilt. Visitors of all ages will find plenty to do away from the beach. There's a friendly, laid-back atmosphere here which visitors are sure to enjoy. Visit us and you'll see why people come back summer after summer
Three miles of golden sands stretching north towards Woolacombe and Morte Point and south
towards Baggy Point make up Putsborough.
It is one of the finest delightful beaches in the South west - the sea is inviting the surf of the highest quality and the surroundings are simply stunning. It is perfect for walkers and children due to the plentiful supply of rock pools to discover.
Putsborough is on the south side of Woolacombe and being farther away from the hotels shops and cafes means that the beach is usually quieter than neighbouring beaches. The golden long sweeping sands are renowned for their cleanliness and beauty. This beach provides superb bathing and the rolling waves of the Atlantic makes this a surfers' paradise. It is popular with swimmers, surfers,windsurfers and sea canoeists. There is a beach car park with disabled spaces however direct beach access involves some steps. Surfboard hire is available on the beach and Dogs are permitted from October to April. It is truly a beautiful beach with all the facilities for a great day out.
A key component of North Devon's golden coast, Saunton Sands is a long straight sandy beach backed by the impressive Braunton Burrows a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. This is a popular beach with surfers and families due to the long stretch of water perfect for swimmers and surfers and it is much more suited to beginners and intermediate surfers than the northern Croyde Bay. Robbie Williams is a fan of Saunton Sands using it for his Angels video.
There are a range of food outlets toilets and beach shops easy disabled access. Saunton is currently the only beach in North Devon to have a Landeez all-terrain wheelchair. This wheelchair allows those who are less abled or disabled to have full enjoyment of the beach as it is able to traverse all areas and to be used in the shallows of the sea. Dogs are allowed on the beach all year. Walks to Crow Point are refreshing and provide some amazing views across the coastline.
Barricane is a picturesque cove tucked in between the rocks, famous for cowries and other exotic sea shells.
Local folklore says that these shells have travelled off the shore of a Caribbean island thousands of miles across the Atlantic to be dropped in near-perfect condition in this precious little inlet on the North Devon coast.
Approximately 400 metres north of the main beach, Barricane is great for rock pooling and popular among surfers. Despite the lack of lifeguards there are some good coastal walks towards Mortehoe and the water quality is MCS recommended.
It is a short distance from the shops and car parks of Woolacombe and is dog friendly. Dogs are permitted from October to April and on a lead only May to September. Barricane is a great place for swimmers and surfers alike but high tides restrict its usage. Don’t forget to try out the Sri Lankan curry – a real favourite.