The Best Things to do in Woolacombe, North Devon

Woolacombe Beach in North Devon

If you’re looking for things to do in Woolacombe, you’ve come to the right place! There are many types of attractions and activities in Woolacombe, from enjoying the beautiful beaches to hiking to exploring museums. 

Woolacombe is one of the best beach destinations in not only North Devon but the whole country. Woolacombe Beach is an expansive two-mile stretch of sand that is very popular in the summer months. This means that the town is ideal for a beach day, but it’s also popular with surfers and nature lovers. 

A variety of attractions in North Devon means that Woolacombe is also well placed for day trips, with water parks, nature spots and charismatic towns in the area. 

If it’s raining when you’re in Woolacombe, we have some suggestions as well. From museums to spa days, there are a few things to enjoy in this town away from its award-winning beach! You can see my list of things to do in Devon in the rain too. 

Things to do in Woolacombe town

Enjoy Woolacombe’s beautiful beaches

Woolacombe is home to some of the best North Devon beaches. This golden coast is full of charming bays and expansive sands – you can take a look at my beaches in Woolacombe post to read about all of them, or here’s a summary below! 

Woolacombe Beach

View of large woolacombe beach

Woolacombe beach has been voted (get ready), the best beach in the UK, 5th best beach in Europe, and the 13th best in the world. So it’s no surprise that visiting it is one of the best things to do in Woolacombe!

There are various areas to this beach – the nearest, by the beach entrance, is very popular with tourists and has a safe swimming spot – if you want a beach swim, it’s best to go for this area, as there are RNLI lifeguards. This is the best place for family fun, as it’s safe and close to Woolacombe’s shops and restaurants. 

A little further down is an area that’s perfect for surfing, and further still is a rocky area that is usually quiet. 

There are also beach huts here that are available to rent, and it is quite accessible due to the nearby car park. 

Barricane Beach

Sun set and rocks at Woolacombe

Barricane is a beautiful, small beach with golden sands, rock pools and epic sunsets. It’s right by Woolacombe central, so it’s an easy one to visit while you’re exploring the town and is one of the most popular Woolacombe attractions.

Grunta Beach

Grunta Beach is a small beach near Woolacombe, with rock pools and a bit of sand to enjoy. When it’s deserted, it feels like a private beach!

Combesgate Beach

Combesgate Beach is one of the best places to visit near Woolacombe, as it is north of Woolacombe Sands. It’s pretty challenging to get to – you will need to walk down steep steps to reach it – but it’s a great place for rock pools and exploring! 

Croyde Beach

Croyde is a lovely clean beach the other side of Baggy Point. This is a popular spot with surfers and people doing other watersports activities, and it can get very busy. However, if you’re visiting out of the summer season, you might find the cove isolated and charming. 

Saunton Sands

Large beach at Saunton Sands

Saunton Sands is a huge stretch of sand that isn’t always that popular with tourists – just because it is a little out the way! However, it’s a great spot for surfing, building sandcastles, sunbathing, playing beach games – whatever you go to the beach for! You can also walk through the Braunton Burrows, which is the most extensive dune network in the country. 

Catch an epic sunset

Sunset view of Woolacombe Beach

Woolacombe may be the location of North Devon’s best sunsets – because of its west-facing location, you’ll be able to see the sun plummet beyond the horizon in a spectacle of reds, oranges and pinks. 

Go surfing

Woolacombe is one of the best places in North Devon for catching waves – so, if you’re into the sport, you’ve got to give it a go here! But, even if you’ve never surfed before, there are surf schools that can give you an introduction to the activity. 

Hunter Surf School

Hunter Surf School are a popular establishment in Woolacombe Bay, located right on the main beach. They offer a range of lessons, including a taster two-hour lesson (costing 38), a taster plus lesson (costing 50 and including equipment hire) and private lessons. You can get a discount if you book multiple sessions at once! 

Find the best surf spots

There are so many fantastic surfing spots in Woolacombe Bay, including Woolacombe Beach itself, Saunton Sands, and Croyde Bay. If you don’t mind driving a little, Westward Ho! is also popular with surfers. 

Do other watersports activities

There is a wide variety of water sports that you can try on the North Devon beaches around Woolacombe. Hunter Surf School also provide coasteering sessions, where you can climb around the rugged coast itself! 

You could also try windsurfing, jet skiing, kayaking or stand up paddleboarding… and the list goes on! 

Go Hiking

One of the best things to do in Woolacombe is to go hiking around the surrounding area. Woolacombe is a relatively easy part of the South West Coast Path, so there are some lovely hikes here – perfect for a family day hiking or a solo adventure. 

Morte Point

Jagged cliffs of rocks by Morte Point

Morte Point is a dramatic headland separating Woolacombe from the coastline by Morte Point. With jagged rocks and amazing coast views, this walk takes in some of the best scenery around North Devon. 

To make it a circular walk, you can turn right down one of the paths to Mortehoe and then walk down the road from Mortehoe to Woolacombe. The hike will take you about an hour and a half – and you can also stop at the pub in Mortehoe on the way back! 

Baggy Point at Croyde Bay

Woolacombe sands at dusk with Baggy Point in Background

Baggy Point is another epic walk that you can do from Woolacombe. With breathtaking views over both Woolacombe Sands and Croyde Bay, Baggy Point is a 4km hike around a headland. Finally, you’ll end up in Croyde Bay, where you can enjoy the beach and soak up the quirky culture.

Bull Point Lighthouse

Bull Point Lighthouse near Mortehoe

Bull Point Lighthouse is a little further on from Morte Point, but it is also worth hiking to if you want to take in more stunning views of the North Devon coast. All you need to do is carry on following the path past Morte Point (just under 3km). 

You can either hike to Ilfracombe (10km from Morte Point), which is a fun hike with beautiful views over the scenic coast or turn around and hike back from Bull Point Lighthouse, turning inland to walk to Mortehoe. 

Read my Ilfracombe to Woolacombe walk guide here.

Hike or cycle the Tarka Trail

Beautiful Devon meadows over the River Taw

The Tarka Trail is one of the most popular nature trails in North Devon, and is one of the best things to do in Woolacombe. This 180-mile stretch is excellent for an activity day – from Woolacombe, you can cycle to Lynton in Exmoor and down the town’s golden coast and up the beautiful Taw Estuary to Barnstaple – and then back down the taw estuary to Instow Beach! 

Head to the Alchemist for a spa treatment

If you’re wondering what to do in Woolacombe on a rainy day, look no further than the Alchemist spa.

The Alchemist Spa is located in Woolacombe Bay Hotel and has a heated pool and hot tub, thermal rooms, a copper tub, and many treatment rooms. 

Click here to read more about The Alchemist

Enjoy the delicious food scene of Woolacombe

Woolacombe has a magnificent food scene, with delectable menu items that you often don’t find in other British coastal towns. I love Bar Electric’s huge menu, and Brundle’s Bar does delicious sandwiches. The Jube is another very popular pub! 

Learn about shipwrecks at the Mortehoe Museum

Mortehoe is a small settlement located about a 20 minute walk from Woolacombe. Mortehoe Museum is a speciality museum all about shipwrecks in the area. As I’m sure you can imagine, this craggy coast has been the site of many tragic shipwrecks – fortunately, these are a lot rarer nowadays. Learn about their history and how they happened at this museum. There are also other historical exhibits about Mortehoe and Woolacombe. 

Things to do around Woolacombe

Go on a trip to Ilfracombe

Boats in Ilfracombe

Just a 12 minute drive from Ilfracombe (and well connected by bus routes), Ilfracombe is a great day trip from the town. You can also hike that part of the South West Coast Path and take the bus back! 

There are many things to do in Ilfracombe, as it is a historic town with easy access to nature. Here are some ideas. 

Ilfracombe Sea Safari

Ilfracombe Sea Safari is an excellent boat company that does several trips a day in the summer season. Travel to Exmoor and Lynmouth Beach by boat, looking out for seals along the way. Or go the other way and chase waterfalls! You can see all of Ilfracombe Sea Safari’s trips on their website. 

Tunnels Beach

There are lots of beaches in Ilfracombe, although Tunnels Beach is probably the most historically significant. The tunnels at Ilfracombe were created to connect beaches that had to be climbed to before, and subsequently, they opened the town up to tourism. The tunnels at Ilfracombe are privately owned, so you will need to pay – but it’s worth it to see the extensive network of tunnels, go to private beaches, and learn about the history! 

Ilfracombe Aquarium

Ilfracombe Aquarium is one of the best things to do in North Devon when the weather isn’t too kind, and it’s a great place to learn about the huge variety of marine life you will find around Woolacombe, including coastal, estuary, river and island sea animals. 

Day trip to Lundy Island

Lundy Island off the coast of North Devon

Lundy Island is one of the most beautiful places to visit in North Devon, and a trip here is a must while you’re in Woolacombe. Boats leave from nearby Ilfracombe, but you can take a bus here if you don’t have a car. 

Lundy Island is an epic destination for marine life and history. Look out for the friendly seal colony, take a boat trip around the island or enjoy a walk with a ranger. 

You can see my full post about day tripping to Lundy here. 

Watermouth Castle Theme Park

Watermouth Castle

Between Ilfracombe and Woolacombe is Watermouth Castle, a family theme park with lots of rides and fun attractions. The Victorian castle was the previous home of the Bassett Family, but it is nowadays an indoor/ outdoor entertainment venue that is perfect for children. You will need to drive here – it is located halfway between Ilfracombe and Combe Martin. 

Visit Exmoor National Park

Beautiful spot in Exmoor

If you want some adventure, visit Exmoor National Park! Not only does this dramatic national park have plenty of hikes and nature trails – see my walking guides for the Minehead to Porlock Weir and Porlock Weir to Lynmouth for more information – but it is also a fabulous place to absorb country life. 

There are a variety of attractions in Lynmouth and Lynton, including the cliff railway that connects the two villages, Lynmouth Beach, Watersmeet which is a lovely valley area where you can try some water sports, and the flood memorial hall which documents the tragic flood that happened in this town in 1952.  

Day trip to Clovelly

Boats in Clovelly, in North Devon

Clovelly is an ancient fishing village that is one of the most popular in North Devon. It’s a bit of a controversial place – you need to pay to enter as it is still privately owned – but it is incredibly charming, with 17th century cottages and beautiful cobbled streets. Here’s some more information about Clovelly.

While you’re in the north west Devon area you could also visit Hartland Abbey, which is one of the most popular historical sites in North Devon. 

Where to stay in Woolacombe

If you’re camping, North Morte Farm campsite is a fantastic option. It can be a bit windy, but the sea views are incredible! There’s also a cafe and shop on-site, as well as plenty of facilities. 

Woolacombe Bay Holiday Park is a family resort with an outdoor pool. It’s the perfect destination if you want to stay somewhere that all the family will love and where you don’t need to leave your accommodation too much!

Lundy House Hotel is a lovely B&B with balconies overlooking the beach and Lundy Island. The rooms at Lundy House are cosy and comfortable and the staff are very friendly. Click here for more information.

Watersmeet Hotel is one of the most luxurious Woolacombe hotels. All bathrooms and bedrooms are well-appointed, with features like roll-top baths and ocean views. Click here for more information.

What to do in Woolacombe…

I hope that this list of the best things to do in Woolacombe has helped you plan your trip there! Woolacombe is without a doubt one of the best places to visit in North Devon, and I guarantee that you’ll love this happy seaside town.

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