From Lynmouth to Westward Ho!, there are tonnes of wonderful North Devon beaches.
As the Bristol Channel turns into the Atlantic Ocean, the coastline here’s brooding and dramatic.
North Devon has some of the best surfing beaches in the whole country, thanks to its position on the edge of the Atlantic – but there are plenty of hidden, sheltered coves too.
I’ve walked the entire North Devon section of the South West Coast Path – which means I’ve been to every beach in North Devon!
And here are my top ten.
Best beaches in North Devon
Whether you’re looking for dramatic cliffs plummeting down to a pebble beach, a sandy cove for a romantic picnic, or the best surfing beaches in North Devon, take a look at this list!
It’s a paradise for surfers, where waves cater to all skill levels, and surf schools pepper the coastline.
On a sunny day, you’ll either be riding your first wave under the guidance of experienced instructors or, if you’re seasoned, challenging yourself with more advanced swells.
Families love it here, too. The beach slopes gently, and areas are safe for families. And yes, lifeguards are on duty in the summer!
Sandcastles? Check. Beach volleyball? Absolutely. Or maybe, a leisurely stroll to soak in the stunning views, especially as the sun dips into the Atlantic – pure magic. I love Morte Point, a jagged rocky outcrop that juts into the sea underneath Mortehoe Village.
Wider in the town, the village offers a smorgasbord of dining options; my favourite is The Beach House, which serves great burgers and cocktails a’plenty.
And when it comes to staying over, the choices are as varied as the beach activities: opt for a relaxed stay at Watersmeet Hotel, or hike up to Mortehoe and sleep next to the clifftop views of North Morte Farm Caravan & Camping Park.
Ranked among the best surfing spots in the UK, Croyde Bay a magnet for surf enthusiasts – and you should know by now that surfing is one of the best activities to do in North Devon!
The waves here, challenging yet accessible, are perfect for both seasoned surfers and those looking to catch their first wave. Surf schools line the beach, ready to guide newcomers to the sport.
But Croyde Bay isn’t just for surfers.
On a sunny day, families and beachgoers bask in the area’s natural beauty.
Croyde is just a short walk from Baggy Point, which is owned by the National Trust and separates the beach from Putsborough and Woolacombe; at low tide, it’s a great spot for rock pooling.
If you’ve worked up an appetite, I love Hippy Happy Hoppers, a Sri Lankan food stall at Freshwell Camping Site.
Saunton Sands, stretching majestically over three miles along the North Devon coast, beckons with its golden sands.
This beach is a dream for longboard surfers; the waves here are gentle, yet consistent, perfect for both novices and the experienced. Imagine gliding across the water, the Atlantic breeze in your hair – exhilarating, right?
It’s a hit with families and dog owners, thanks to its vast expanse offering ample room for everyone – it’s even dog-friendly in the summer!
Parts of it can be busy with kids building sandcastles and dogs frolicking freely – but with three miles, you’re guaranteed a place to fling your towel.
Braunton Burrows, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, backs onto Saunton Sands. It’s a maze of sand dunes – the largest network in the country – teeming with wildlife and rare plants.
There’s a small cafe at the Saunton Sands Car Park at the Northern end of the beach – you’ll also find a surf school here.
For more high-end eating (and sleeping!), check out Saunton Sands Hotel.
Putsborough Sands, situated at the quieter end of Woolacombe Beach, is a hidden gem of a beach in North Devon!
This secluded beach, embraced by high cliffs, is a tranquil retreat away from the bustle of Woolacombe!
Come here on a quiet day, and the only sounds you’ll here are the soothing whispers of waves and the soft rustle of the breeze.
As you step onto Putsborough Sands, the fine, golden sand underfoot feels like a different world. The beach’s sheltered position makes it a perfect spot for families. Here, the sea gently laps the shore, inviting paddlers and swimmers to bask in its calm waters.
There is some surfing, too, but it’s nowhere near as established as Woolacombe and many of the other beaches in North Devon.
At the Putsborough Sands Beach Café, with an enviable view of the ocean, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and the promise of homemade treats await. The café is a cosy nook, perfect for refuelling after a swim or a walk along the beach.
For the adventurous, Putsborough is the starting point for scenic coastal walks. Trails leading to Croyde and Woolacombe offer breathtaking views of the rugged coastline!
Westward Ho! Beach
Westward Ho!, a unique beach in North Devon simply echoes adventure.
Spanning over two miles, this long sandy beach is abuzz with activities and natural beauty.
Here, the Atlantic Ocean meets the rugged coastline, with surfing waves and beach huts.
The beach is renowned for its pebble ridge, a natural phenomenon that creates a striking contrast against the soft, sandy shore that’s a habit for diverse wildlife.
Surfing at Westward Ho! is absolutely thrilling. The waves here are inviting – it’s a hotspot for surfers of all levels.
Surf schools and rental shops line the promenade, offering lessons and gear for those eager to ride the North Devon waves.
For a leisurely day, the beachside promenade is dotted with cafes and eateries, serving everything from traditional fish and chips to gourmet meals. Or, head to the crazy golf course at Pebble Ridge Treasure Island – there’s also a go-karting course here!
Northam Burrows are ideal for a hike (I recommend walking to Appledore and dining at The Seagate or The Beaver Inn) or, if you want a dip (the water can be choppy here), check out the natural Rock Sea Pool.
Barricane Beach, a gorgeous little cove near Woolacombe, is a small yet enchanting slice of the North Devon coastline.
Unlike the expansive sandy beaches nearby, Barricane is a shingle beach. It’s renowned for its variety of exotic shells that wash up on its shores – some of which are thought to originate from the Caribbean!
Perfect for snorkelling and swimming, from Barricane Beach is renowned for its dolphin-watching opportunities!
It’s also a favourite for sunset watchers. The cove’s west-facing position offers spectacular views as the sun dips below the horizon, painting the sky in vibrant hues.
Then there’s the Barricane Beach Café – which is famous for its Sri Lankan curry nights! (That’s right, there are two places where you can get Sri Lankan food in proximity to Woolacombe!)
The beach’s proximity to Woolacombe – it’s only a short walk from the town and the main Woolacombe Beach – means that accommodation options are plentiful, too.
A little different to others on this list, Lynmouth Beach sits beneath the village’s harbour.
At the confluence of the West Lyn and East Lyn rivers, Lynmouth Beach is stunning in its own way.
Lynmouth Beach is also a gateway to exploring the rugged Exmoor coastline.
The South West Coast Path runs through the area – although beware, this part of the trail is ruthless.
This beach is definitely different to others on the list – there aren’t any miles of golden sand and watersports aren’t really a thing, but the fishing village of Lynmouth is absolutely charming, and Lynmouth Beach only adds to that.
Combe Martin Beach
Combe Martin Beach, situated in a picturesque valley within the Exmoor coastline, is a great beach to spend a day.
This sheltered cove, flanked by high cliffs, reveals a stretch of sandy beach at low tide.
The charm of Combe Martin lies in its dramatic landscape, where lush green hills meet the crystal-clear waters of the Bristol Channel.
As the tide recedes, rock pools emerge, teeming with marine life. It’s a place where children can discover sea anemones, crabs, and various small fish.
Kayaking and paddleboarding are popular here, with the calm waters creating a perfect environment for beginners and those looking for a leisurely paddle.
The bay’s clear waters also make it a favoured spot for snorkelers, who can explore the underwater world close to the shoreline.
The village of Combe Martin, just a short stroll from the beach, only adds to the beach’s allure. Head to the Foscle Inn, grab a pint of cold Rattlers and toast to a successful day on North Devon’s Coast!
Tunnels Beaches in Ilfracombe are unlike any other beach in the area!
Accessed through hand-carved tunnels dating back to the 1820s, this network of pathways leads to a secluded and picturesque seafront.
They were created to access the sands, and the tunnels were supposed to provide discreet access to the beaches.
Upon emerging from the tunnels, visitors are greeted by a stunning view of the rugged coastline and clear, sheltered waters.
The beach here is renowned for its tidal pools which have been carved out of the rock over centuries. They’re safe for swimming, too!
There are a few information boards dotted throughout, where you can learn about the history.
You can even get married at Tunnels Beaches – that’s a venue with a difference!
Lee Bay Beach, a secluded cove near Ilfracombe in North Devon, is a tranquil, quieter retreat.
This picturesque beach, sunk in a wooded valley, has craggy rocks on either side as the sheer cliffs of North Devon rise.
The journey to Lee Bay Beach is as enchanting as the destination itself. Hike from Ilfracombe or Woolacombe (the South West Coast Path isn’t too hard here!) as winding paths through lush woodland and over streams lead to the beach.
At low tide, the beach transforms into a haven for rock pooling and beachcombing.
The exposed rock pools are a delight for all ages – they harbour an array of marine life.
Lee’s only a small village, but a friendly local pub The Grampus is buzzing throughout the summer season. Have a cold pint and order some local food from their menu – it’s the ideal spot to soak in the summer!
Are you ready to visit the best beaches in North Devon?
Surfing, swimming, hiking, eating… there’s something for all tastes at these epic beaches in North Devon!