Thinking about hitting some beaches in North Devon? Keep reading to find out which pretty beaches to visit during your next trip to North Devon.
Devon is an English county that really has it all. From quaint fishing towns and villages to some of the UK’s most beautiful beaches and areas of outstanding natural beauty, if you’re thinking about a UK staycation, this is certainly a great area to consider.
There is no shortage of beaches in North Devon that provide entertainment and relaxing space to be outside in nature for all. Whether you’re looking for a quiet beach to relax on, a beach for surfing or just a place for a family picnic, you’ll be able to find the perfect spot for you.
On a recent venture to North Devon, we decided to round up the prettiest North Devon beaches to make your trip planning much easier. Keep reading to find out which beaches in North Devon you’ll want to put on your itinerary.
Read more: 17 Best Places to Visit in North Devon
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The Best Time to Visit the Beaches in North Devon
Devon is a wonderful place to visit, generally provided the weather holds which can be challenging- this is England after all. If you are particularly interested in the beaches in North Devon you’ll want to try to time your visit with a spot of fair weather.
In general, the best time to visit Devon is in the spring and summer months between May and September. At this time of year, you’ll see less wet weather, warmer temperatures and much longer days to explore the county. That being said it can rain in the summer too so it helps to be as flexible as possible.
The summer months of July and August see the most crowds so if you’d like to spend time on the beaches without the crowds make sure to time your visit for June or early July as well as September. Generally, unless there is a heatwave or you love cold water dips, bathing in the sea isn’t as pleasant as it is in the Mediterranean.
If you manage to get a sunny weather window in winter, visiting Devon’s beaches can also work, just be prepared for cold weather, very chilly winds and much shorter days. Beach walks are still pretty during this time but you might need to be flexible.
The Best Beaches in North Devon
You’ll find some truly incredible beaches in North Devon and if you strike gold with the weather, you might feel like you aren’t in England at all. Keep reading to find out about the best beaches in North Devon to plan your trip.
Use the Google Map below to help you plan your itinerary.
Croyde Bay Beach
One of the most famous and best beaches in North Devon, Croyde Bay really is a lovely place to spend the day.
Whether you’re after a day out with family on the beach, a place to learn to surf and have the opportunity for water sports or just a beach for a long walk, Croyde Beach is a great option. It’s not the longest or largest beach in the area but it does have a lot of sandy space, lovely tidal pools and an all-round great atmosphere.
Croyde beach is also the perfect beach in north Devon to catch some waves or learn to surf. Waves here are generally quite mellow and there are many surf schools in Croyde Devon that will help you to get on your feet. If the water is flat, you can also rent an SUP for a paddle in the ocean. Wetsuits can be rented too for those colder months.
If you’re looking for something else to do in Croyde or if the weather turns cloudy and cold, go on a walk along the Coast Path to Baggy Point. It’s one of the most beautiful coastal views in North Devon.
One of North Devon’s largest beaches Woolacombe beach is a large and wide expanse of golden sand that’s ideal for spending a day. Hit the beach at low tide, bring a coffee, snack or a whole picnic and a book and spend the day relaxing on this delightful beach.
At 2 miles long there’s plenty of space for everyone so even if you visit in the high summer season you’ll be able to find a quiet spot just for you.
Woolacombe beach is also one of North Devon’s most famous surf beaches. It’s a great spot for beginners and pros alike and you’ll find many surf schools in Woolacombe that’ll help you to get up on your feet, literally, in no time. If it’s flat, it’s a great place for a kayak or SUP, perfect for those looking for a more active day on the beach.
Located adjacent to the beach, Woolacombe town is a lovely place for a post-beach drink in one of the pubs or a coffee at Meraki Coffee Co. There are also lots of places to pick up beach picnic supplies too.
If you prefer to relax on the lower end of Woolacombe Beach, make sure to head to Putsborough Sands beach for another lovely alternative further down the coast.
Probably one of my favourite beaches in North Devon, Barricane Beach is located just north of Woolacombe Beach.
Protected on both sides by jagged rocky outcrops, Barricane Beach is a small beach with clear, blue water, interesting rock formations and a good amount of golden sand to relax on.
Due to its relatively small size and its proximity to Woolacombe, it can fill up quickly in the summer so I highly advise getting there early. Barricane Beach is also a great option when it’s a bit windy as the rocky sides offer quite a bit of shelter from the wind.
When the sun is shining and it’s warm, this really is a beautiful beach with the water looking almost turquoise in colour and more like a beach in Puglia, Italy than in England.
Saunton Sands Beach
Much like Woolacombe Beach, Saunton Sands is a huge golden, sandy beach that’s perfect for almost anyone and anything. With a large expanse of sand, you can lay down a towel and spend the day on the beach reading or relaxing, you can go for a surf or in the cooler months, go for a lovely, long beach walk.
At the entrance of the beach, you’ll find a surf school, a shop and a cafe for your basic needs. In the peak summer months, it can get very crowded especially when the weather is good but it’s easy to walk further down the beach to lose the crowds.
Behind the beach, you have the Saunton Sand dunes which offer an escape from the wind and are home to a variety of different flora and fauna.
If you’re heading to Saunton Sands for your trip, make sure to check out the Saunton Sands Hotel, probably the best wellness-focused property in North Devon.
Hartland Quay Beaches in North Devon
One of the most stunning points on the Hartland Peninsula in North Devon, Hartland Quay features several beautiful rocky outcrops and coves that make it the perfect place to relax for the day.
There aren’t really many sandy beaches around here, but instead, you’ll find many beautiful coves you can descend down to, frolic in the gentle waves and catch some rays. At low tide especially, there are many places to rest, relax and enjoy the views.
The SW Coast Path runs straight through here so if you’re feeling active you can also combine some beach time with some walking for some of the best views of the Hartland Peninsula. You’ll also find a pub here, The Wrecker’s Retreat and a small shop and museum, perfect for a post-walk and beach lunch.
Located between Combe Martin and Watermouth, Broad Sands North Devon might just be the area’s best-kept secret. In fact, looking at a picture of it on a sunny day, you probably wouldn’t believe it was in England.
With a mix of dark sand and pebbles, this small beach is located in a small cove surrounded by rocky cliffs. It is simply beautiful.
Crowds are kept at bay because it isn’t the easiest beach to access. You’ll need to park, make your way down the road and follow the South West Coastal Path until you reach the stairs going down to the beach. It’s a great beach for more adventurous travellers wanting to find a hidden gem.
Welcombe Mouth Beach
Another beautiful, hidden gem of a beach located further down the coast towards Cornwall, Welcombe Mouth Beach is surrounded by green, jagged cliffs and marshland with many different types of flora and fauna.
There’s much to explore here from unique rock formations to a pretty waterfall on the north side of the beach.
Combe Martin Beaches in North Devon
If you’re heading to Broadsands Beach North Devon, then you’ll probably need to pass through Combe Martin. Why not combine these beaches together and make a day of it?
Spend the morning grabbing a traditional breakfast in Combe Martin before exploring its gorgeous beaches. The main beach has the perfect mix of sand to relax on and rocky outcrops and tidal pools perfect for kids to play in.
It’s also possible to rent kayaks or SUP boards right next to the beach to really take advantage of the gorgeous location.
Make sure to also take the stone path to the right of the main beach, a lovely short path that leads you past tidal pools and cliff caves.
Wild Pear Beach
Just to the east of Combe Martin, you’ll find this stunner of a beach. Accessible only by footpath from the S W Coast Path, this beach does take some extra effort to get to but it’s well worth it.
It’s a stunning rocky cove, that’s natural and wild with many wild swimming opportunities too. A really great spot to head to if you find the crowds in Combe Martin just aren’t for you.
Ilfracombe beach is actually made up of quite a few beaches in the quaint English seaside town of Ilfracombe. A large portion of Ilfracombe beach is also referred to as Tunnels Beaches and as the name suggests you’ll need to access them through an old mining tunnel.
The tunnel was dug at the beginning of the 1800s in order for people to access this part of Ilfracombe Beach without having to descend down the rather steep cliffs. Today the beaches are quite rocky with a bit of dark sand and shingle area to relax.
They have plenty of tidal pools and rock pools to keep children busy too. You’ll also need to pay a small entrance fee to access these beaches.
Another option on Ilfracombe beach is also known as Wildersmouth Beach which lies right in the center of Ilfracombe sandwiched between The Landmark Theatre and Capstone Hill. It’s a lovely beach with many rocky outcrops which are visible during low tide.
You also have quite a few boats moored in this little bay. It’s a great place for admiring the sea views and for a walk.
There are also many other beaches near Ilfracombe that are worth visiting. Cheyne Beach right next to the harbour is a nice option and so is Rapparee Cove- a beautiful, cliff-lined cove just across from the harbour.
Some other beaches near Ilfracombe also include Hele Bay Beach and Lee Bay Beaches which are much quieter alternatives for those wanting to escape the crowds in the summer months, but you’ll need a car to access these. More on these below.
Hele Bay Beach
Just a 5 minute drive up the coast from the center of Ilfracombe, Hele Bay Beach is one of the best beaches near Ilfracombe.
Surrounded by beautiful, dark rock cliffs, Hele Bay is a somewhat brown sand and pebble beach with rocky outcrops. It’s surrounded by rolling green hills and the small hamlet of Hele Bay just behind it. It’s honestly one of the most beautiful beaches around, one that I would highly recommend visiting and spending some time on in the summer.
For a great photo opportunity of Hele Bay, make sure to come to the Car Park and Picnic Area located here on Google Maps, just a little further up the coast. From the end of the car park, the views of the bay are stunning.
Lee Bay Beaches
Another one of the best beaches near Ilfracombe, the Lee Bay beaches are simply stunning and perfect for those looking for more of an off-the-beaten-path, quiet beach experience.
The Lee Bay beaches are quite rocky but surrounded by paths of sand and pebbles. For a nice spot of sand, look out for Sandy Cove. Flanked by rolling green hills and quaint, stone cottages this is one of the most fanciful beaches and places to visit in Devon.
You’ll need to drive down some seriously narrow, country roads to get to the hamlet of Lee Bay but it’s totally worth it and looking back now, I rather wished we spent more time here. The hamlet is stunning and provides a backdrop of quaint English cottages to the quiet rocky beach.
Due to its rather isolated location, if you’re planning to spend the day here it’s a good idea to bring in all your food, snacks and drink as there isn’t much in Lee Bay apart from a tea shop and a very charming pub.
Located right in the middle of the Torridge and Taw river estuary, Instow beach is one of the most golden, sandy beaches in the area. A great place to relax at low tide, here you can easily find a sandy spot to sit on for a few hours or even take a walk.
Instow beach also has some lovely sand dunes to spend some time on or shield yourself from any wind. Once you’re done at the beach make sure to check out The Glorious Oyster for lunch, one of the best cafes in the area.
Woody Bay Beaches in North Devon
For those looking for a completely untouched, uncrowded, off-the-beaten-path beach head straight to Woody Bay. Located a little further down the coast from Lynton and Valley of Rocks, Woody Bay is an isolated little bay covered by woodland, rolling hills and jagged, rocky cliffs.
Park as close as you can to the beach and descend down to the beautiful beach which you’ll most probably have for yourself. Admire the beautiful steep cliffs and green coastline that goes back as far as the eye can see.
This bay is also great for walking, the South West Coast Path comes through here and the walk along the path to Crock Point nearby is a lovely one on a sunny afternoon.
Located on the other side of Lynmouth harbour, Blacklands beach is a lovely, dark pebble outcrop that’s great for views of Lynmouth and Lynton and provides a nice space to relax for a while.
While it’s not the most beautiful beach on this list, Blacklands is incredibly close to Lynton and Lynmouth meaning that you can combine some other North Devon attractions with beach time.
Spend a few hours in the two villages, ride the famous Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway and spend some time on Blacklands Beach. All in all a great day out at the beach in North Devon.
For the best part of Blacklands Beach, keep walking around the curved beach, past the car park until you see the cliffs.
Westward Ho! Beach
One of the only places in England with an exclamation mark in its name, Westward Ho! Beach is the closest large beach to Bideford, so if you find that you’re based in Bideford, Appledore or even Barnstaple for your North Devon trip, this is one of the closest beaches to visit.
Westward Ho! beach is a very large and long beach, particularly at low tide. At high tide, the beach can get completely swallowed up by the sea so make sure to time your visit well.
Westward Ho! is your typical beachside town, more focused on families and entertainment. There is plenty to do here from mini golf, go-carting and entertainment arcades. It gets extremely crowded in the summer as many local families like to come here for their holidays so if you are looking for a quiet idyllic beach escape, this one might not be for you. Westward Ho! beach is loud, colourful and full of family fun.
I may have saved the best for last and if you’re looking for some serious off-the-beaten-path adventure and willing to combine some hiking with a day at the beach look no further than Wringcliff Bay.
This place is actually so isolated I’m not sure if this is the correct name for this beach but if you climb the main rock at Valley of Rocks near Lynton, you’ll be able to see this tiny beach located at the bottom of the steep cliffs and the path going down to it.
It’s guaranteed there’ll be nobody else down there but you and you need to be prepared for a very steep descent and climb out so bring good footwear. You’ll also need to carry all your beach supplies in as there is nothing in the area, that includes lots of water. The beach is also really small so best visited at low tide.
Best Beaches in North Devon for…
Best beaches in North Devon for couples – For quieter, isolated beaches great for couple time the best beaches are Woody Bay Beaches, Lee Bay Beaches, Broadsands Beach, Barricane Beach, Saunton Sands Beach and Croyde Bay Beach.
The best beaches in North Devon for off-the-beaten-path escapes – For those up for a bit of an adventure the best beaches in North Devon to seek out are Woody Bay Beaches, Lee Bay Beaches, Hartland Quay Beaches, Welcombe Mouth Beach, Wringcliff Bay and Broadsands beach.
The best dog friendly Beaches North Devon – Most beaches in North Devon are dog friendly provided they stay on leashes. However, we thought the best dog friendly beaches in North Devon to be Woolacombe Beach and Saunton Sands where we saw so many dogs running around and playing off-leash.
Best beaches in North Devon for families – The best for families especially for those with small children are Westward Ho! Beach, Woolacombe Beach, Croyde Bay Beach and Ilfracombe Beach
Top Tip for Visiting the Beaches in North Devon
↠ To access many of these beaches in North Devon you’ll need a car to get around. While there are buses in the area, schedules are few and far in between and many points aren’t even accessed by public transportation. Definitely drive your own car or if you’re visiting internationally you’ll need to rent one. For the best availability rent a car in London and then drive to Devon.
↠ Check the tide times! Tides vary massively on the North Devon coast. At low tide, don’t be surprised if you have to walk a whole mile from the top of the beach to get to the sea. At high tide, on the other hand, there may not be much beach left at all to sit on.
During our visit, it was mostly low tide during the daytime so the beaches were very wide but this won’t be the case at high tide. Make sure to check the tides before visiting to see what you’ll be dealing with. Try to visit the area when the larger part of the day has low tide.
↠ Pack for all types of weather. This is England after all and the weather here changes fast. Make sure to bring a sweater, waterproofs and well as some decent footwear. Because most of the beaches in North Devon are quite rocky and have pebbles you’ll need good sandals for the beach too.
↠ Parking can be quite difficult because space is limited and demand is high, especially in the summer season. Make sure to come early to get a good parking spot or you’ll just have to wait around for someone to leave.
Are you ready to explore the best beaches in North Devon? Let me know your questions and comments below, I’d love to hear from you.
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