Known as Britain’s Ocean City, there are plenty of wonderful Plymouth beaches to enjoy.
While there’s no actual Plymouth Beach – the city is between two river mouths and has a harbour – if you venture east over the River Plym, or west into Cornwall, you’ll find a wide variety, with something for everyone!
Whether you dream of finding remote beaches, are looking for somewhere family-friendly or searching for a hidden cove, there are so many glorious beaches around the Plymouth Sound area.
13 of the best Plymouth beaches
A small pebble beach with gorgeous views over Plymouth Sound, Jennycliff is one of the closest beaches to the Ocean City, and visiting here is one of the best things to do while you’re in Plymouth.
There might be no sand for sunbathing here, but it does have rock pools, free car parking and space for beach games. It’s also dog-friendly all year round and is just a stone’s throw from Plymouth centre!
Just below Batten Point, you’ll find this sand and shingle beach.
It’s a five minute walk to the nearest car park, and there are toilets available nearby.
Cawsand and Kingsand Beaches are on the Rame Peninsula, just over the border in South East Cornwall, nestled in the lovely Cawsand bay.
Situated in front of the picturesque village of Cawsand, this is an east-facing shingle beach.
While it can be busy during the summer months, this area is called “forgotten Cornwall” and it’s often a lot quieter than beach resorts further west!
There are a few pubs and restaurants in the village where you can grab a pint of Cornish Rattlers or an ice cream.
Neighbouring Cawsand Beach, Kingsand consists of sand and shingle and is landmarked by Kingsand Tower, which dates back to King George V’s coronation and was almost destroyed in 2014 thanks to winter storms!
Overlooking Plymouth Sound, this sheltered beach offers rock pools and plenty of swimming spots. It’s also a bit of a haven for watersports enthusiasts, and you’ll see lots of rowers and sailing ships docking up here. In fact, we stayed here (and rowed ashore) when we did a trip with Venture Sailing Tours!
From Cawsand and Kingsand, you can hike up to Rame Head, which is one of the most beautiful cliff walks in Cornwall, with stunning views all the way over to Portwrinkle and back towards Plymouth Sound.
In the summer months, a passenger ferry connects Plymouth (at Royal Wiliam Yard) to Kingsand Beach.
Nestled in the heart of the South Devon area of outstanding natural beauty, Bovisand Beach is a glorious stretch of golden sand with dramatic cliffs rising from each side.
If you want somewhere to kick back and sunbathe on a summery afternoon, this is your place!
Be mindful of the incoming tide when you spend the day here – there’s a lot more space at high tide than at low tide.
However, it’s a beautiful space to enjoy any time of year, and it’s only five miles/ eight kilometres from Plymouth on the South West Coast Path!
Back over in Cornwall, Portwrinkle is the next settlement after Cawsand and Kingsand.
While the village used to be very busy during the pilchard industry, it’s now a rather small place with a few holiday cottages.
Its beaches are relatively quiet compared to others along the south coast, even in the height of summer.
Portwrinkle actually has two beaches; Hoodny Cove and Finnygook Beach.
Both are sandy, although Finnygook stretches along the coast more, with rock pools at low tide and snorkelling opportunities at high tide, and Hoodny Cove is much more sheltered and subsequently quieter.
There’s a small patch of sand right by Portwrinkle harbour too!
A beach with rock pools and a popular place for watersports, Wembury Bay offers water sports like surfing, kayaking, SUP and even scuba diving opportunities.
The sandy beach is run by the National Trust, which has worked to preserve its landscape and rock pools.
It’s also a great starting point for walks around Wembury Woods and the Yealm Estuary. You can even take a water taxi from Wembury over to Noss Mayo!
Mothecombe Beach is much-loved when it comes to Plymouth’s best beaches, although it’s not over-commercialised.
It has fine golden sand and calm water for paddling, due to the fact that it is sheltered. Cliffs surround it, and you can take in fantastic views from the South West Coast Path on either side of the sands.
There are public toilets and a restaurant on site. Dogs are allowed on the beach during the winter and there is no lifeguard on duty.
Bigbury on Sea
One of the most popular beaches near Plymouth, Bigbury on Sea is a popular family beach, famous for its stunning sand and views out to Burgh Island, which is home to a unique art deco hotel.
Bigbury on Sea is a popular spot for windsurfing, kite surfing or just plain old board surfing. It’s a lifeguarded beach, so you can be sure that you’re swimming safely while you’re here.
Plus, there are plenty of restaurants in town, including the Waterfront Bar and Restaurant which has stunning views out to the beach.
Tregantle Beach (Whitsand Bay)
Trengantle Cliff Beach, also called Whitsand Bay, is one of the best stretches of beaches in South East Cornwall.
From the clifftop, you’ll see amazing views over this spectacular stretch of snaking coastline, spanning a whopping 7.5 kilometres between Rame Head and Portwrinkle.
It’s a popular beach for surfing, although it’s not recommended to enter the water unless lifeguards are present.
There are also excellent rock pools here, which are revealed when the tide is out. Keep an eye on the tide tables to work out when the most sand will be exposed!
Although it’s one of the most gorgeous beaches in the area, it’s a quiet stretch of South East Cornwall’s coastline.
Dogs are allowed all year round.
Situated in the heart of South Devon’s AONB, Bantham is one of the best examples of golden sandy beaches in the area and a popular Plymouth day trip.
Perfect for a seaside holiday with the family, Bantham Beach is a Blue Flag Beach, which accredits its clean waters.
Sandy shallow waters here are great for paddling, but the beach also has mellow waves for beginner surfing – with a few more challenging swells in certain spots!
And you can swim or surf in confidence here, as the beach has a lifeguard service in the summer months.
Once you’ve enjoyed your day at the beach, head to The Sloop Inn, a 14th century pub just a short walk away that serves great home-cooked food and local ales.
Just past Portwrinkle is Seaton Beach, a small, quiet, pebbly beach.
Not to be confused with Seaton Beach in East Devon, this beach is a lovely spot to meander along the coast and check out some rock pools.
At low tide, you can walk to Downderry and Portwrinkle, and even at high tide, you can walk along the Promenade to Downderry. It’s a great place for an easy coastal stroll!
There is limited parking at the beach itself, but there are three car parks with plenty of parking spaces a very short walk away.
East Looe Beach
Situated right by the Cornish fishing village of Looe, this beach is perhaps one of the most popular on this list of beaches near Plymouth.
Low tide reveals the long sloping sandy beach, which is a favourite spot amongst locals for swimming (although avoid swimming by the river mouth).
If this beach is too busy, then head to the Second Beach in the east, which is usually quieter.
Due to its proximity to Looe, there is a host of restaurants and hotels, but this does make these beaches rather crowded, especially when compared to the more remote beaches on this list like Tregantle and Portwrinkle.
Are there nice beaches in Plymouth?
Yes, there are plenty of nice sandy beaches around Plymouth and in South Devon.
Some of these are secluded beaches in beautiful coves, and others are vast surfing beaches that are perfect for family holidays.
Can you swim in Plymouth?
Technically yes, although I’d recommend visiting some of these gorgeous beaches for swimming – just be sure to follow lifeguard instructions while you’re there.
What is the closest beach to Plymouth City centre?
The closest beach to Plymouth is probably Jennycliff Beach, which is just over the River Plym from the city centre – you can drive there, or it’s just a short ferry ride away!
If you’re spending a weekend in Plymouth and fancy a spot of sunbathing or a hike along a spectacular stretch of British coastline, there’s so much to love in this list of Plymouth beaches.
From the popular spot of Bantham to the lesser-known Cawsand and Kingsand Beaches, these sandy coves and shingle bays are ideal for relaxing, sport or getting together with friends and family!