The North Devon beaches are some of the largest, unspoilt, and iconic in the UK.
Many are located in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, against the backdrop of the untamed beauty of Exmoor National Park.
North Devon celebrates beautiful, clean, award-winning beaches, dramatic cliffs, and rocks, clear, and inviting waters.
Related: Holiday Parks In Devon
Here are our top picks;
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 at low tide it stretches way out to wide sandy areas with rock pools.
From the headland there is a steep concrete path (with handrail) leading down to Barricane Beach Café. This path is suitable for wheelchairs although the gradient is steep.
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, 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 the 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 not suitable for wheelchairs.
Combe Martin Beach
Combe Martin Beach is a superb, family beach situated on the Heritage Coast in an area of undeniably Outstanding Natural Beauty.
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 a great 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.
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.
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 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 wonderful 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 wheelchair and push chairs.
Instow Beach is a pretty, sandy beach situated at the mouth of the Taw estuary, with calm waters protected by the sandbanks making this a great 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 wind surfing. Instow is a wheelchair accessible 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 path. The path is not suitable for wheelchairs.
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 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.
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 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 south west, with golden sands, renowned for their cleanliness and beauty, 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 from there a concrete slope to the 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 during the summer.at the village car park.
Access to the beach is on foot so Rockham Beach is not suitable for pushchairs or wheelchair users.
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 and 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.
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 on to the Northam Burrows Country Park, a beautiful wild space, popular with visitors.
The sheer size of the beach ensures that 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 on to the sand.
Wild Pear Beach
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 ideal for those in search of seclusion by the sea.
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 popular 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, easy access to the beach and shops and 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 to observe the wildlife. 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.
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 itself.
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 you want to surf the Atlantic rollers as they crash onto the shore, there’s a spectacular North Devon beach that is perfect for you.