BEST FOR FAMILIES
North Devon beaches are beautiful. Blessed with magnificent stretches of golden sand, secret beaches and secluded coves, this designated area of outstanding natural beauty is a fabulous place to enjoy some sandy adventures. From caves, grottos and body boarding, to kite-flying and tide-filled rockpools, this is our pick of the best family-friendly beaches.
All of the following have toilets, cafe or restaurant, and easy parking…
Miles of sand
A great mix of everything – the dunes backing the beach are a haven for happy kids, there’s fabulous rock pooling and kids love splashing in the stream which splits the beach in half.
The Southern end of the beach is less busy – park at Down End Pay & Display. It takes only a couple of minutes to reach the beach from the path.
There are RNLI lifeguards here until October half-term, as well as a National Trust tea room, toilets, showers and playground.
With 3.5 miles of soft sand, Saunton Sands is one of the best beaches in North Devon for families. The surf is mellow, making it the perfect spot to get kids in surfing, boogie boarding or skim boarding. It’s also possible to hire beach huts for the day (although demand is high).
This beach is not RNLI patrolled so whilst it is regarded as a relatively safe beach, do keep an eye on children. There is a voluntary patrol by Saunton Sands Surf Life Saving during the Summer months. There’s a pay & display car park, toilets, showers and a choice of dining options.
North Devon is famed for its hidden coves, sandy stretches and breath-taking bays. But those are the shores that people know about…for every one of our famous expanses, there is a lesser known gem waiting to be discovered. You may need to pack your own your picnic (or ask us to prepare one for you), and you may need to hike a little to get to these, but they’re worth it.
A coastal stroll away
“Small but perfectly formed sunset sand cove in Woolacombe. Good swimming and jumping and a little rock island to climb. Bring a rug, your own beer, and eat home-made Sri Lankan curry from the shack”
From Woolacombe beach simply head north along the Esplanade and the cove is on the left after 300 metres.
“Silver shingle cove with soapstone rocks, small caves and a secret route across the beach to a second cove. Rocks for jumping.”
Lee village is 3 miles west of Ilfracombe, so a short drive from Woolacombe. At low tide follow the causeway across rocks 300 metres via carved steps to a second cove on the left. Alternatively, you can take the path from the top of the hill heading west out of the village.
Wildlife including crabs, shrimps, anemones, limpets, snails and starfish can all commonly be seen in rockpools around the North Devon coastline. This is a great pass time for little’uns and adults alike, and you don’t need any equipment at all. However, if you would like a closer look, then just a bucket is enough. It’s best to use your hands rather than a net to scoop up any wildlife as nets can get tangled or damage important little homes. If you use a bucket, operate a ‘one in, one out’ policy – sea creatures get stressed too! And remember: always replace animals, rocks and seaweed as you found them.
This small beach near the wide golden sands of Woolacombe. It has lots of family-friendly rockpools where you will find treasures like crabs, starfish, sea anemones and barnacles.
POSTCODE: EX34 7BE
Barricane Beach faces due west and is fully exposed to the Atlantic weather, but low tide exposes deep weed-fringed pools and narrow water filled gullies.
Here, 5-bearded rocklings are very common, as are sea anemones (multiple varieties). Go after a storm and you may spot treasures like spiny starfish.
POSTCODE: EX34 7BT
Ride the waves
There are few things as exhilarating as catching a wave. We’ve got some of the best places to surf in North Devon. The best time of year to surf is in the autumn; this is when the swells are higher, but the water is still warm with summer’s heat. That said, there’s nothing better than heading to a surf break that constantly delivers above average, very good or world-class conditions throughout the year, whatever the weather. North Devon is that place.
A surfer’s dream
Most surfers would consider a point break the perfect wave as the actual time riding the surfboard will be the longest. At our very own Woolacombe Beach, point break is to the right. Here you will find amazing conditions, but be careful of rocks.
If you don’t like to paddle far to get out to the breaking waves, beach break here is known as “middle beach” – basically it’s anywhere left of the stream.
Putsborough Sands is a favourite with locals. It’s perfect for sunset sessions – keep an eye out for long cruisey waves – they’re especially good for longboarders.
This beach has clear water, great surf and a gentler away-from-it all feel.