15 Irresistible North Devon Beaches

North Devon Beaches

The North Devon beaches are some of the UK’s largest, unspoilt, and iconic.

Many are located in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty against the backdrop of the untamed beauty of Exmoor National Park.

North Devon Beaches

North Devon celebrates beautiful, clean, award-winning beaches, dramatic cliffs and rocks, and clear and inviting waters.

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Here are our top picks;

1. Barricane Beach

Address: Beach Road, Woolacombe, Devon EX34 7BT
Dog Friendly: Yes, kept on lead from May to September

Barricane Beach, North Devon Beaches
Barricane Beach

Barricane Beach has been described as “so beautiful you don’t even feel like you’re in England”.

This tiny beach is set in a picturesque cove between the rocks, famous for cowries and other exotic seashells, perfect for rock pooling.

The clean water is popular with swimmers and surfers, and there are some fabulous coastal walks towards Mortehoe.

This is a great family beach, best for children when the tide is out, but it stretches way out to wide sandy areas with rock pools at low tide.

From the headland, a steep concrete path (with handrail) leads down to Barricane Beach Café. This path is suitable for wheelchairs, although the gradient is steep.

2. Buck Mills Beach

Address: Bideford EX39 5DY
Dog Friendly: Yes, all-year-round

Buck Mills Beach
Buck Mills Beach

Buck Mills Beach is a rocky, secluded cove on the North Devon Cliffs at the foot of the picturesque village, where time has stood still.

It’s completely uncommercialised, with no pub or shop, just the tranquillity and purity of the stunning coastal scenery and lush woodlands.

Bucks Mills is popular with artists and photographers and with families who want to get away from it all.

The village dates to the Spanish Armada when the survivors of a shipwreck took refuge there. It is said that a local girl married one of the sailors, and a close, isolated community was formed.

The rocks harbour a wealth of marine life, including lobsters and crabs. Coastal waterfalls tumble onto the rocks and further enhance the beauty of this serene beach. There is a sloping path to the beach that is not suitable for wheelchairs.

3. Combe Martin Beach

Address: Victoria Street, Combe Martin, Devon EX34 0JS
Dog Friendly: Seasonal Dog Ban

Combe Martin Beach
Combe Martin Beach

Combe Martin Beach is a superb family beach situated on the Heritage Coast in an undeniably Outstanding Natural Beauty area.

With stunning scenery and the highest sea cliffs in North Devon, Combe Martin Beach is 2.5 miles from the unspoilt resort town on the edge of Exmoor National Park, ensuring beautiful coastal and countryside walks.

A vast stretch of sand, deep caves, and rock pools to explore make Combe Martin an excellent family beach. The weir creates ideal conditions for swimming free from strong currents.

And there’s a wildlife and dinosaur park in the village itself. There is level access to the beach and a sloping path from the main car park to the beach.

4. Combesgate Beach

Address: Mortehoe, Woolacombe, Devon EX34 7EB
Dog Friendly: Seasonal Dog Ban

Combesgate Beach
Combesgate Beach

Combesgate Beach is situated in a small sandy cove close to the South West Coast Path on the beautiful North Devon Heritage Coast.

The golden sand and quiet, peaceful shingle beach are perfect for building sandcastles, rock-pooling, and swimming.

This lovely, secluded North Devon beach is located approximately 600 metres north of Woolacombe, with rock pools ideal for children to explore.

This sandy cove is a great choice for a quiet day on the beach away from the crowds. There’s good swimming, surfing and of course plenty of opportunity to make sandcastles. Access to the beach is restricted via steep steps.

5. Croyde Beach

Address: Croyde, Braunton, Devon EX33 1NU
Dog Friendly: Seasonal Dog Ban

Croyde Beach
Croyde Beach

Croyde Beach is one of North Devon’s prettiest and most popular beaches.

Located in a wide sandy bay, backed by the green North Devon hills between Woolacombe and Saunton Sands, Croyde is a clean, fine, golden sandy beach, great for swimming and rated as one of the best surfing beaches in the world.

It’s perfect for a day out with the family, with rock pools to explore and beautiful walks on the public footpaths around the village.

Surfboards, canoes, and fishing equipment are available to hire, and there are cafes and bars close by.

Easy access at the north of the beach is via a short sloping path suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs.

6. Instow Beach

Address: Marine Parade, Instow, Bideford, Devon EX39 4JN
Dog Friendly: Seasonal Dog Ban

Instow Beach
Instow Beach

Instow Beach is a pretty, sandy beach situated at the mouth of the Taw estuary, with calm waters protected by the sandbanks, making this an excellent beach for families and lots to entertain the children.

There are cafes and shops in the village directly behind the beach, and you can kayak to Instow beach down the rivers Taw and Torridge. This charming location is a popular place for artists.

Activities allowed on the long, sandy beach include windsurfing. Instow is a wheelchair-accessible beach.

7. Lee Bay Beach

Address: Lee Bay, Lee, Ilfracombe, Devon EX34 8LW
Dog Friendly: Seasonal Dog Ban

Lee Bay Beach
Lee Bay Beach

Lee Bay Beach is a delightfully secluded beach commonly known as ‘the jewel in the crown of Lee’.

The cove is situated 2 miles West of Ilfracombe on the Bristol Channel in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

It’s ideal for launching kayaks, paddling and rock-pooling.

During the summer, the locals refer to Lee as “Fuchsia Alley” as the hedgerows burst into a blaze of scarlet flowers.

There’s a tearoom and a pub and not much else, which adds to Lee Bay’s charm.

Beach access is via a short slipway on the coastal road. On the shore, up to 350m of beach is accessible at low tide on sand or uneven paths. The path is not suitable for wheelchairs.

8. Lynmouth Beach

Address: The Esplanade, Lynmouth, Devon EX35 6EQ
Dog Friendly: Yes, all-year-round

Lynmouth Beach
Lynmouth Beach

Lynmouth Beach is situated on the South West Coast Path on the northern edge of Exmoor National Park. Lynmouth’s stunning location, at the end of the steep River Lyn valley, surrounded by leafy woodlands, attracts holidaymakers and walkers all year round.

There’s a small harbour with rocky, pebbly beaches on either side. The neighbouring town of Lynton can be accessed either by the cliff railway or by very steep paths.

Visitors should be aware that most of Exmoor is above 1000 feet above sea level, and there are some very steep gradients and hairpin bends on local roads.

Dogs are allowed throughout the year, and there is disabled access and parking.

9. Putsborough Sands

Address: Putsborough, Georgeham, Braunton, Devon EX33 1LB
Dog Friendly: Seasonal Dog Ban

Putsborough Sands
Putsborough Sands

Putsborough Sands, Braunton, comprises three miles of sandy beach protected from the south and south westerly winds by a headland known as Baggy Point.

This sheltered beach is perfect for families with children and is popular with surfers, windsurfers, and sea canoeists. With ample parking and easy access via a long, sloping path.

Putsborough is one of the most delightful beaches in the southwest. It has golden sands renowned for their cleanliness and beauty, the inviting sea for swimmers and the stunning Exmoor National Park backdrop.

Putsborough is quieter than neighbouring beaches and truly a beautiful beach with all you need for a great day out.

From the car park, there is a road down to the beach shop/café and a concrete slope to the beach.

10. Rockham Beach

Address: North Morte Road, Mortehoe, Woolacombe, Devon EX34 7EG
Dog Friendly: Yes, all-year-round

Rockham Beach
Rockham Beach

Rockham Beach (Mortehoe) is a lovely, secluded beach near Ilfracombe, protected by rocky cliffs.

Located a few miles north of Woolacombe on the North Devon Coast, it’s a 2km scenic walk from the village with stunning views leading down to the beach.

Low tide reveals a sandy beach with rock pools teeming with sea creatures.

There is no vehicular access, so you park in the picturesque, historic village of Morthoe.

The climb down the steep steps is worth the effort. You can walk to the headland at Morte Point from the beach.

In the past, the rocks and dangerous currents caused several shipwrecks. Hence the name “Death Point”. The graves of shipwrecked sailors can be seen in St Mary’s Church nearby.

The heritage centre in Mortehoe has exhibitions about shipwrecks and marine wildlife at the village car park during the summer.

Access to the beach is on foot, so Rockham Beach is unsuitable for pushchairs or wheelchair users.

11. Saunton Sands

Address: Braunton EX33 1LG
Dog Friendly: Yes, all-year-round

Saunton Sands
Saunton Sands

Saunton Sands Beach is a main attraction on North Devon’s golden coast, backing onto Braunton Burrows, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

With a long, straight, sandy beach and clean waters ideal for swimmers, beginners and intermediate surfers, Saunton Sands is also an idyllic beach for family holidays and days out.

Saunton is the only beach in North Devon with a Landeez all-terrain wheelchair, which allows full access and enjoyment of the beach and the sea shallows.

There are stunning sea views on the walks across to Crow Point.

12. Westward Ho!

Address: Near Bideford, Westward Ho, Bideford, Devon EX39 1HN
Dog Friendly: Seasonal Dog Ban

Westward Ho!
Westward Ho!

Westward Ho! Beach has been awarded Blue Flag status for the past 15 years.

The vast sandy beach is about 2.5 km long, extending into the village of Westward Ho!

Facing westward into Bideford Bay, the beach is a magnet for surfers and safe for swimmers.

Westward Ho! beach backs onto the Northam Burrows Country Park, a beautiful wild space popular with visitors.

The sheer size of the beach ensures it is never crowded, and the shops, cafes and facilities nearby make it a popular family holiday destination.

Disabled access is via the slipway – there’s a gently sloping ramp leading directly onto the sand.

13. Wild Pear Beach

Address: Combe Martin, Ilfracombe, Devon EX34 0DN
Dog Friendly: Yes, all-year-round

Wild Pear Beach lies in a tiny cove east of Combe Martin. The beach is sandy but with lots of rocks at low tide.

The beach is quiet and peaceful, protected from the wind, making it perfect for sunbathing.

The sound of fresh water running down the slate cliffs enhances the calm, relaxing atmosphere.

Access is difficult, involving a steep walk of approximately 2km, but it is ideal for those searching for seclusion by the sea.

14. Woolacombe Beach

Address: Near Braunton, Woolacombe, Devon EX34 7DL
Dog Friendly: Yes, all-year-round

Woolacombe Beach
Woolacombe Beach

Woolacombe Beach has won numerous awards and is considered one of the finest beaches in the West Country, attracting thousands of visitors every year.

A three-mile expanse of golden sand and safe swimming make Woolacombe Beach a favourite location for family holidays.

Atlantic breakers pound the shore, making this a famous beach for surfers from all over the country. You can always find a quiet place, even at the height of the summer.

There is ample parking and easy access to the beach, shops, restaurants, and pubs in the colourful village.

Much of the surrounding countryside is managed by the National Trust, and the village is close to the South West Coast Path.

Woolacombe Dunes, behind the beach, is ideal for peaceful walks and wildlife observation. There are many accessible routes in the area, though, for those looking for more of a challenge, you can head up the steep Woolacombe Down to enjoy great views of the surrounding area and stunning sunsets.

15. Wildersmouth Beach

Address: Ilfracombe EX34 9BZ
Dog Friendly: Seasonal Dog Ban

Wildersmouth Beach, Ilfracombe, is a delightful sand and shingle beach in a sheltered, rocky cove near the town.

In the past, the bay was a haunt for smugglers. Towering cliffs drop down to the peaceful bay. A sea wall backs the cove, and the South West Coast Path crosses the beach.

North Devon is the perfect location for long walks on the sand or hikes in the wilds of Exmoor, with stunning views from the cliff-top paths.

Whether you are looking for a memorable family holiday or want to surf the Atlantic rollers as they crash onto the shore, a spectacular North Devon beach is perfect for you.

Final Thoughts on North Devon Beaches

North Devon’s coastline, with its tapestry of golden sands, rugged cliffs, and azure waters, remains an enduring testament to nature’s grandeur.

Each beach tells its own story, whether the serene coves perfect for introspective moments or the expansive shores beckoning surfers to challenge the waves.

If you’ve ever dreamt of a coastal escape that intertwines nature, adventure, and tranquillity, North Devon Beaches are where those dreams anchor. Until the next sandy stroll or sunset gaze, these shores will linger in your heart, calling you back repeatedly.

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