Are you looking for beaches near Exeter? While the Devon city doesn’t have its own beach, the coast isn’t far away!
If you’re staying in Exeter and want to take a trip to the sea, this article has all of the information you need.
Whether you’re looking for beaches with a beautiful countryside backdrop, somewhere with space for beach games or places with a great summer vibe, this article is here to help!
10 Best Beaches Near Exeter
Exmouth has one of the most beautiful beaches in Devon, and there are lots of things to do here.
Extending for two kilometres from the end of the Exe Estuary to the start of the Jurassic Coast, this is the ideal beachfront area to explore.
It’s the perfect beach to relax on, and its size means that you should find space even in the busy summer months. It’s a lifeguarded beach throughout the summer.
However, it’s ideal for adventurers too. You can climb up the clifftop to Orecombe Point, where the Jurassic Coast starts, or stroll around the Exe Estuary on the other end, walking towards Lympstone.
The Exe Estuary is a beautiful area; from Lympstone, you can look over the water and see Powderham Castle, and there’s lots of birdlife in the area.
If you want to take to the water, embark on a Stuart Line Cruise. They travel up and down the estuary and along the Jurassic Coast, giving you a commentary as you go.
Alternatively, you could try some water sports like stand up paddleboarding.
There’s also plenty of parking space along the beach.
To reach Exmouth from Exeter, you can either drive (about 25 minutes) or take the train, which is about 30 minutes.
Dawlish Warren Beach
Dawlish Warren is a popular beach that’s not far at all from Exeter.
This South Devon beach is a popular holiday spot, with lots of ice cream stores and beach shops.
It’s also one of the 14 blue flag beaches in Devon, which means that it has clean bathing water.
You can easily reach Dawlish Warren by driving (25 minutes) or train (just 16 minutes).
On the way, you can pop into the beautiful and historic Powderham Castle.
Budleigh Salterton Beach
Budleigh Salterton Beach is a pebble beach not too far from Exeter.
This isn’t a popular one for sunbathing, but it’s great for hikers and it has more of a local feeling than other Exeter beaches.
You can walk here from Exmouth Beach (1-2 hours depending on where on the beach you start) or continue along to Ladram Bay.
Take in amazing views of the clifftop and the beautiful ocean as you go!
Budleigh Salterton also has lots of independent shops, cafes and pubs. Try a crab sandwich here!
It’s a 30 minute drive from Exeter to Budleigh Salterton. If you don’t have a car, you’ll need to take two buses which can take up to an hour and a half.
Branscombe is a delightful shingle beach spanning along the South Devon coast for around a mile. It’s located in between Sidmouth and Beer.
Part of the Jurassic Coast and the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Branscombe Beach is an ideal place for hiking and enjoying the beautiful blue waters.
It’s also a fun beach for families, with rock pools and crashing waves.
Branscombe is also reportedly the longest village in the UK, with beautiful cottages spanning down to the shore.
It’s a 45 minute drive from Exeter to Branscombe Beach, or you can take two buses to make the distance.
Ladram Bay is one of the most beautiful beach spots in South Devon.
It’s a small cove and private beach attached to Ladram Bay Holiday Park; so you can only actually descend onto the beach if you are staying here.
If you aren’t staying at Ladram Bay, you can hike over the beautiful red cliffs of the area and enjoy the stunning coastline.
It’s a 40 minute drive from Exeter to Ladram Bay. There isn’t really a bus connection – you’ll need to go through Exmouth to reach it via public transport.
Situated on the Jurassic Coast, Sidmouth is a beautiful South Devon beach by the town of Sidmouth.
It’s a large sand and shingle beach, with lots of rock pooling for kids at low tide.
The western end is called Jacob’s Ladder and is a pebbly area. Dogs are permitted year-round at the eastern side of the beach.
Attached to the beach is the town of Sidmouth, which has lots of beautiful Regency buildings and plenty of independent cafes and restaurants.
It’s just over half an hour from Exeter to Sidmouth. Or, you can take the 9/ 9A bus which takes just over an hour.
Teignmouth Beach is a little further along the coast from Dawlish.
This South Devon Beach extends along the coastline, from the mouth of the River Teign to Dawlish.
Enjoy the Victorian Pier and traditional seaside attractions by the beach, like crazy golf, a skate park and ice cream stand.
Teignmouth is really easy to get to from Exeter. A train takes just 15 minutes or you can drive which takes around 25 minutes.
Torquay Beach is a popular place that’s ideal for a beach day.
Located on the English Riviera, it’s the perfect beach for water activities and funfair rides.
It’s one of the busier beaches in the area, and although it’s not as scenic as others, it’s great for families.
There are other, quieter beaches in the area, like Oddicombe Beach, Meadfoot Beach and Anstey’s Cove; all which are among the best places to visit in Torquay.
It’s a 40 minute drive from Exeter to Torquay, or a 45 minute train ride.
Sandy Bay Beach
Sandy Bay Beach is a sheltered cove, one of the most delightful unspoilt beaches in the area.
Sitting by the Haven Devon Cliffs holiday park, the stunning sands of Sandy Bay are ideal for wild swimming and water sports.
In fact, it’s supposed to have the best bathing waters near Exmouth!
It’s used mainly by residents of the caravan park, but the public is welcome to use it too. There’s also a beach cafe serving refreshing drinks in the caravan park.
It’s a half-hour drive from Exeter to Sandy Bay, or you can take the 57 bus to Littleham Cross and walk from there.
Paignton Beach is near Torquay on the English Riviera.
It’s a lifeguarded beach, making it popular with families and holidaymakers.
Like Torquay, this South Devon Beach has lots of amusements and attractions for all the family.
But it can also be very busy, especially in the summer months!
There are lots of beaches nearby in Brixham too, like Elberry Cove, Churston Cove and St Mary’s Bay.
It’s just over 30 minutes from Exeter to Paignton when driving, or 50 minutes via train.
Does Exeter have a beach?
Although Exeter isn’t far from any of the beaches on this list, it’s not actually by a beach.
It does, however, have a beautiful quayside area!
What is the closest beach to Exeter?
Dawlish Warren is probably the nearest beach to Exeter, although Exmouth is nearly equally as close.
If you’re driving, they take around 25 minutes each to travel to.
Alternatively, you can take a train to either Exmouth (about 30 minutes) or Dawlish Warren (about 16 minutes).
Where is the nicest beach in Devon?
It’s hard to say – everyone will tell you a different one!
However, Woolacombe Beach in North Devon is award-winning.
I personally love the smaller beaches near Woolacombe, like Barricane Beach and Rockham Beach.
There are also some great beaches near Ilfracombe, like Lee Bay Beach and Combe Martin.
As far as South Devon beaches go, I love Exmouth as a great all-rounder – it’s beautiful and there’s so much to do.
Are there any sandy beaches in South Devon?
Lots of these beaches near Exeter have golden sand and are perfect for sunbathing, walking or taking pictures.
The best sandy beaches on this list are:
- Exmouth Beach
- Sandy Bay Beach
- Dawlish Warren Beach
- Torquay Beach
- Paignton Beach
What are the closest Cornish beaches?
There are a few Cornish beaches that aren’t too far from Exeter. If you fancy a day trip into Cornwall, then why not check them out?
- Bude is the nearest beach town in Cornwall about 1 hour 10 minutes away. Two of my favourite beaches in Bude are Widemouth Bay and Sandymouth Bay. Or, there’s Crooklets and Summerleaze in Bude.
- Kingsand and Cawsand are two lovely Cornish beaches on the Rame Peninsula. You can also walk along the South West Coast Path around Rame Head.
- Fowey has a lovely little beach called Readymoney Beach, which isn’t too far from Exeter.
- Other popular Cornish beaches include Holywell Bay, Kynance Cove on the Lizard, Carbis Bay at St Ives and Porthcurno Beach near Land’s End.
Whether you’re looking for sandy coves, places with fascinating rock pools or the closest Cornish beaches to Exeter, these South Devon beaches are ideal to enjoy while you’re in the city!