OUR BEACH GUIDE
The stunning sandy beaches with sparkling clear clean waters around Salcombe and the South Hams are undeniably one of the big attractions for our discerning holiday guests. Whether it’s enjoying a family beach day with a game or two of beach football on Mill Bay, a relaxed picnic with a good book on Smalls watching the sailing dinghies race up the estuary or an adrenalin fuelled afternoon surfing at Bigbury-on-Sea, there is endless beach fun to be had for all your holiday party.
We have included a few highlights for you below.
Situated on the Salcombe side of the estuary and a short 15-20 minute walk from town, keeping the estuary on your left as you walk from town.
North Sands is a family friendly, sheltered sandy beach, with dogs permitted all year round. It is especially popular at low tide, as it opens up to offer a vast area of sandy beach, with plenty of rockpools to explore.
Here you will also find the legend that is The Winking Prawn – offering a fabulous array of family friendly food & drink to suit the whole family, with a great atmosphere and wonderful views out across North Sands to the open sea beyond. Be sure to check out their infamous Winking Prawn BBQ available during the summer evenings – the perfect end to a beach day and in fact any day!
There is also a large car park (Ringo App or pay & display) just opposite the beach if you’d prefer to drive there and public toilet facilities a couple of minutes from the car park.
A short walk (be aware it does involve a steep hill!) on is South Sands beach. Best accessed by the iconic South Sands ferry that runs regularly from the centre of Salcombe from April to October. A journey on the South Sands ferry is a must – as it offers a great view of the estuary from the water and you get to enjoy a sea tractor ride up the beach!
This beach is flat, sheltered and offers a lovely expanse of sand to explore and enjoy, along with a great place to try your hand at some water sports. Dogs are not permitted on this beach from 1st May to 30th September.
At South Sands, there is Bo’s beach café - (be sure to check out their pizzas on summer evenings!), the South Sands Hotel (great for a cocktail or afternoon tea on their balcony), the Harbour Beach Club (opening late Summer 2021) and a water sports centre, offering windsurfing, kayaking, sailing and paddle boarding.
There is limited parking available at this beach, so best to catch the South Sands Ferry or walk (30 mins approximately from town). There are public toilet facilities across the road from this beach.
EAST PORTLEMOUTH BEACHES
The stunning sandy beaches “on the other side” of the Salcombe estuary are best accessed via the passenger ferry. This runs from the Ferry Inn steps during the summer and from Whitestrand during the winter.
These are privately owned beaches, so no BBQ’s or fires are permitted at any times. Dogs are permitted all year round. There is a Venus café at the top of the ferry steps, offering a wide array of food and drinks perfect for your beach day, along with a set of public toilets.
Turn left as you head off the ferry to access Fisherman’s Cove. This offers a long stretch of sandy beach, offering the perfect viewing spot to watch the activity around the harbour.
Smalls and Mill Bay
Turn right as you head off the ferry to access Smalls and Mill Bay if the tide is low.
You will first come to Smalls where the sailing dinghies are stored at the back of the beach and if you carry along you will reach Mill Bay, a large expanse of inviting sand and rock pools to explore – perfect for fun filled family beach days.
Alternatively at high tide, walk up the ferry steps and right onto the road – follow this road for 15 minutes along the coast line and you will reach Mill Bay.
Smalls is a great spot to watch action on the water, especially when the Salcombe Yacht club dinghies are out racing.
Mill Bay offers a much more expansive area of sandy beach and is perfect for families to set up for their beach day. It's a flat beach, so perfect for those all important games of beach football and cricket. It's also a great spot to fly a kite when the windy conditions prevail.
At Mill Bay, there is a National Trust car park (note that it is a very narrow road to access and a long way round from Salcombe, so best catch yje passenger ferry) and public toilet facilities.
Sunny Cove offers more wonderful soft, yellow sandy beach with breath-taking views of the estuary and out to sea. It is a little harder to reach than the other beaches, so is often quieter than Mill Bay. Dogs are permitted on this beach all year around.
To access Sunny Cove take the coastal path from Mill Bay and it is a short walk along the woodland path and accessed via a set of steps. Alternatively you can access this beach via your own boat or hire a boat, but be warned it can be difficult to land a boat successfully here due to the waves.
The Hipple and Limebury
Both offer a plentiful selection of rockpools to explore. A real treat on low spring tides, when a spit (large mound of sand) protrudes from the water, producing plenty of waves that are perfect for wave jumping!
These can be accessed via your own boat and dogs are permitted all year round.
A short drive from Salcombe is the charming fisherman’s village of Hope Cove.
Hope Cove offers two lovely beaches, Mouthwell Sands and Harbour Beach. These beaches are located a short 5 minutes walk away from each other and both are great for families, with the perfect mix of sand and rock pools to explore.
Both beaches provide a wonderful location for a fun filled beach day.
Hope Cove offers a couple of great local pubs – the Cove and Hope & Anchor (reopening early 2021 season), a traditional village shop, along with a unique pod eating experience, with wonderful views out to sea from The Lobster Pot or if you wish to escape from the beach for a while try Hope Cove Hotel for a wonderful leisurely lunch.
There is a private pay & display parking available at Inner Hope.
Dogs are permitted all year on Harbour beach, but must be kept on their leads. Whereas dogs are not permitted on Mouthwell beach from 1st May to 30th September.
South Milton offers a wonderful long sandy beach, with the iconic Thurlestone Rock situated just offshore.
This beach is popular with windsurfers and kite surfers when suitable windy conditions permit and when calmer waters prevail, you will find plenty of kayakers and paddleboarders enjoying the crystal clear tranquil waters.
Here you will find a National Trust Car park (pay & display or alternatively free to its members) and the renowned Beach House, offering wonderful fresh local food and beverages. Be sure to book if you wish to eat inside, you can turn up and grab a picnic bench outside the Beach House without a reservation.
It is dog friendly all year round and has a set of public toilets just past the Beach House café.
Bantham provides a glorious flat sandy beach set against the backdrop of sand dunes. It provides the perfect spot for a glorious beach day, with stunning Burgh Island in clear sight and has a suite of facilities on hand.
It’s sparkling clear waters are perfect for paddling in, with waves often perfect for some surf action or you can explore the stunning coastline by foot along the South West Coast path.
There is the wonderful The Gastrobus offering a range of delicious street style food, tantalising sweet treats and a wide selection of hot and cold drinks. Alternatibely take a short walk to Bantham village, where you will find the village store and also The Sloop Inn offering an extensive pub menu.
There is ample parking (private paid parking) a short distance from the beach and it is then a level walk to the sand. Toilet facilities are located on the village side of the car park.
Dogs are permitted at Bantham all year, with restrictions between 1st May and 30th December when dogs are not permitted on the main beach.
Bigbury-on-Sea offers vast wonderful stretches of flat sandy beaches, set against the backdrop of Burgh Island, Agatha Christie's setting for Hercule Point and a location for many films. The two main areas of beach are joined by a causeway, leading to the iconic Burgh Island.
From the beach at Bigbury-On-Sea at low tide, you can walk across the causeway to the art deco Burgh Island Hotel and enjoy a pub lunch at the Pilchard Inn. If it’s high tide, you’ll need to hitch a lift with the sea tractor!
This beach is extremely popular, as it is very family friendly with a wide range of facilities. There is a large pay and display car park (Ringo app or pay & display), disabled access to the beach, public toilet and shower facilities, seasonal lifeguards, a lovely beach café, well stock beach shop and the all year round Discovery surf school offering both lessons and equipment to rent.
The vast areas of beach on offer here, along with the shallow water and plentiful rock pools to explore, make it a great place to enjoy a beach day.
It provides a wonderful natural playground for outdoor enthusiasts. For lovers of watersports, it is a great location for surfing, kayaking and stand up paddleboarding. For walkers, it provides direct access to the South West Coast Path. For those looking for a more relaxed vibe, there is also beach yoga on offer here during the summer months.