How to visit Ness Cove Beach near Teignmouth (full guide!)

Are you looking for information about visiting Ness Cove Beach? It’s one of the most picturesque beaches in South Devon, but it’s a bit complicated to get to – however, that makes it even more worth the trip!

This beach is only accessible by Smuggler’s Tunnel – that’s right, there’s no road that leads there, and you certainly can’t get to it by car. Even the South West Coast Path doesn’t run to it – trust me, I tried to get there that way, and it didn’t work!

This makes it a wonderfully isolated beach, where you can get some peace and quiet even during the peak tourist season in South West England. 

With towering red cliffs, it’s also one of the most scenic beaches in the West Country!

In this article, I’ll detail all you need to know about visiting this beach, with directions, what to do when you’re there, food recommendations, and some other Teignmouth beaches that I think you’ll love! 

Where is Ness Cove Beach? 

Ness Cove Beach is located in the small town of Shaldon, which sits on the Teign Estuary, just over the River Teign from Teignmouth.

Ness Cove Beach is the closest ocean-facing beach to Shaldon. The other, Shaldon beach, is more of a river beach. 

How to get to Ness Cove Beach

The entrance to Ness Cove beach through the smuggler's tunnel. This is right at the entrance, with brickwork on either side and signs to the right.

First, you need to get to Shaldon. 

How to get to Shaldon

The closest station is Teignmouth, which has links to Exeter and Exmouth

From Teignmouth station, walk to Teignmouth River Beach and take the Shaldon ferry. 

This runs fairly continuously from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm every day. It only takes a few minutes to cross the river, and then it returns!

You can also walk from Teignmouth to Shaldon, but this takes around 40 minutes.

Both towns are among the best places to visit in Devon!

How to get from Shaldon town to Ness Cove Beach

Once you’re in Shaldon, walk down Marine Parade towards the coast. You should see The Ness pub on your right. 

Follow the road round, past the car park, towards Shaldon Wildlife Centre. 

Then, take a left and walk down the steps. You should see some public toilets on your left. On your right, there’s the Smugglers Tunnel, which leads to Ness Cove Beach!

The Smugglers Tunnel

Shot upwards of the steps going up the smuggler's tunnel, which is built underneath cliffs in Shaldon, close to Ness Cove Beach

Once you reach Shaldon, head down the Smuggler’s Tunnel!

Despite the name, apparently, this tunnel was never used for smuggling. 

It was built in the 1860s to give the 8th Lord Clifford of Chudleigh – who owned most of Shaldon village at that time. 

The tunnel gave him access to the beach – but the present Lord Clifford has stressed that the tunnel was never used for smuggling!

However, the beach is known to have been used for smuggling in the past – so there may be more to that story than Lord Clifford is letting on!

To access the beach, walk down the smuggler’s tunnel. It has a gentle incline, which then descends to steps. It’s a dark entrance, but you’ll soon come out into the bright beach! 

View down the smuggler's tunnel, with railings on either side. This is the only route to Ness Cove Beach in Teighnmouth.

Things to do at Ness Beach

Here are some of the main things to do at Ness Beach: 

Relax and enjoy!

Cliffs by Ness Beach, towering red rock in the background with a strip of sand and blue water in the foreground.

One of the best things to do at Ness Beach is to just sit back, relax and enjoy – it is one of the most beautiful beaches in Devon, after all!

The sandy beach stretches along the south coast of Shaldon village. 

Sit for a while, stretch out on the beach, see the beautiful red cliffs and enjoy – the secluded beach can be a sun trap on a sunny day! 

Stand up paddleboarding

The water of Ness Beach. There's a strip of red sand in the foreground and the blue sea is in the background.

Ness Cove makes a fantastic place to go paddleboarding, with relatively calm waters, despite its sea location. 

You can, of course, take paddleboards yourself, although you’ll need to park in the car park and carry yours with you. 

You can hire paddleboards from MoCoast, which is located in the Ness Beach car park.


There are some great rock pools in Ness Beach – it’s probably the best out of all the Teignmouth beaches to see beautiful crabs and plants!

Look out for marine fauna, such as crabs, and oysters and marine plants. 

These are especially worth visting just after high tide, when the water’s retreated! 

South West Coast Path

The South West Coast Path spanning over the headland close to Ness Beach.

Although Ness Beach isn’t directly on the South West Coast Path, you can walk around it. 

There’s a great viewpoint from the headland by Ness Beach, and you can walk behind it from Shaldon toward Maidencombe

Shaldon Wildlife Trust

The entrance of Shaldon Wildlife Trust.

The Shaldon Wildlife Trust is a zoo located right by the smuggler’s tunnel. 

They are home to a range of animals, including monkeys and birds. 

I’m not the biggest fan of animals in captivity, so I haven’t been, but they do stress that the work that they do helps with conservation and that it’s important to keep these animals in captivity in case a natural disaster wipes out an entire animal population. 

Check out some more things to do in Teignmouth and Shaldon here.

Where to eat near Ness Cove Beach

Cafe ODE

Beans in a bowl with bread on the side, served in cafe ODE in Shaldon which is near Dawlish.

Cafe ODE sits in Ness car park, with immense views over the River Teign. 

It’s a sustainably-minded cafe that changes its menu every week depending on local products. 

They also have charging stations for electric cars!

I visited and had a few mixed thoughts about it – mainly because I thought there could be better veggie options. 

I’m going to write a full review so you can read more about it! 

The Ness

The Ness boasts incredible views over the River Teign and serves up classic pub grub like fish and chips, salad, and soup. It’s a varied menu with some veggie and vegan options. 

Where to stay near Ness Cove Beach

View of the sea from the end of the smuggler's tunnel.

The best places to stay near Ness Cove Beach are all located in the village of Shaldon.

You can actually stay in The Ness, the pub that’s located right by the car park. Choose a standard, luxury or superior room, kitted out incredibly with gorgeous modern en-suite bathrooms. Of course, you’re in the ideal location to enjoy the pub’s great food! Click here to read more about it.

Sunnybrook is a carbon-neutral property set very close to Shaldon. With a hot tub, wooden pannelings and plenty of space for a group or entire family, this modern, bright space is gorgeous. Click here for more information.

Tide House Seaside Holiday Cottage is a traditional cottage that’s located right in the heart of Shaldon and can sleep up to five people. You can either book the main cottage or an apartment. Click here to read more about it.

Are you ready to visit Ness Cove Beach?

Ness Beach is without a doubt a Devon highlight. The bright red cliffs are absolutely gorgeous and the blue sea is perfect for watersports. Don’t miss this gem while you’re exploring Teignmouth or Shaldon!

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