on the beach
South Devon's beaches offer everything from sweeping sands to secret coves and with dramatic backdrops of granite cliffs, or the rich red soil and pine woods which South Devon is so famous for. The great thing is that in our opinion, many if not all, are just as captivating on a dull day as a sunny one!
Below we've listed some of our favourites, many of which are made better because they boast a waterside cafe, restaurant or pub. But as we've said each has its own distinct character. A word of warning though. The tidal reach around our coast is on average around 4 metres or more so please do take care because as they say 'time and tide waits for no man' and the coastguard and air sea rescue will confirm that's absolutely true!
Another thing to beware of is stormy weather. Because it faces almost due east, the bay offers excellent protection for shipping from the prevailing winds which are South Westerlies. Indeed when you see sea ships drop anchor it's a sure sign that something's about to blow! But on occasion, nature being what it is, the wind comes from the East and then you need to be especially careful if you are down by a beach or driving on a coastal road. The waves can be epic and they can also carry their weight in shingle over the sea walls. If you want your car to be pebble dashed then simply ignore us. Otherwise do please follow all warning signs. All that said, storm watching from a safe place is one of our greatest thrills in the winter months.
Yes we know we're biased but our own beach just two minutes walk away is definitely one of the best. It's a mixture of sand, shingle and rock and very popular with swimmers, paddleboarders and even scuba divers which says something about the crystal clear water. Its outlook over to Thatcher Rock and Hope's Nose is one of the best and in the early morning and evening the light is simply magical. The beach is one used by locals rather than visitors and so rarely gets crowded even in summer. It also has a great little cafe (licensed!) which is a popular haunt for locals all year round.
Torquay, Devon, TQ1 2EL
Just five minutes by car or around an hour if accessed via the South West Coastal Path, this intimate little bay is another local gem with a cafe and large promenade where you laze away the day on deckchairs for hire.
Torquay, Devon, TQ1 3TG
Around the next headland from Ansteys Cove lies Oddicombe Beach. Popular for well over a century and an early adopter of bathing machines for the gentry! It also has a great cafe/bar called Three Degrees West. The added fun about Oddicombe is the way you reach it, by the Babbacombe Cliff Railway which is a tourist attraction in its own right boasting "To the seaside & back since 1926".
Another beach that unless you know it you'd quite probably never know existed. Smaller than many of the others listed, it can only be reached via a fairly steep path. While there are no facilities on the beach, back up the path and near to the car park you'll find the 17th century Thatched Tavern pub which has a big garden and good pub food on offer.
Head over to Paignton and you'll find a broad expanse of red sandy beach which is one of South Devon's most popular beaches so a big hit with families. Famous for its brightly painted beach huts and also for the fact that the steam railway runs directly behind them. This makes for a unique photo opportunity but don't be disappointed to find out that thousands of people over the years have taken the same photo. It's the thought that counts!
Head over to Brixham and, after Paignton, look out for the signs for Broadsands. It's another stunner of a beach, red sand of course, which slopes very gently into the water and has a backdrop of parkland.
If you don't mind heading a little further afield, on the other side of Dartmouth you'll come across two more beaches which are spectacular in different ways. Blackpool Sands (that's the beach in the picture at the top of the page) and Slapton Sands both of which are well worth a visit. Indeed, with over 22 miles of coastline South Devon has more than its fair share of lovely beaches so do make the most of them. And no matter the weather they are beautiful come rain or shine, and out of high season you'll often find you'll have them to yourself! In a word magical.