The Jurassic Coast town that comes alive in the summer

“Exmouth’s a whole new place when the sun’s out”, most locals will tell you as soon as we catch the first blue skies and mild temperatures of the season. 

While East Devon’s largest town certainly doesn’t hibernate over the winter months – regular events cater to its 35,000 residents – it’s undeniable that there’s a certain buzz in the air in the summer. 

Cafes spill onto the pavements, Continental-style, and the sea is dotted with swimmers and watersports enthusiasts alike. 

So what’s so special about Exmouth? 

It’s a watersports hub

A beach scene under a cloudy sky, with several small boats scattered along the shore and more boats visible in the water, with hills in the distance.

Thanks to its position along the Exe Estuary and at the open sea, Exmouth is ideal for all types of watersports. 

Hardy souls take to the water even in the cold and windy winter months for windsurfing (the town’s one of the best places for the sport in the country), but in the summertime, you’re more likely to see paddleboarders and kayakers heading out on the water. 

The Duck Pond is an affectionately named area of estuary that, as the name suggests, is calm and sheltered, and is ideal for paddleboarding. 

Rent out gear at Exmouth Watersports (close to the Duck Pond) or EDGE, which sits along the beach. 

Prefer to ditch the gear? Exmouth is suitable for sea swimming from the Lifeboat Station to Orcombe Point, and lifeguards patrol the beach in the summer season (take a look at the latest RNLI reminders before jumping in). There are even lockers at the RNLI station to stash your valuables (suggested £1 donation). 

It sits at the oldest part of the UNESCO World Heritage Jurassic Coast

A coastal view with grassy cliffs in the foreground, a sandy beach below, and the blue ocean stretching out to the horizon under a bright blue sky with scattered clouds.

Which is the only natural UNESCO World Heritage Site in England!

The Jurassic Coast spans 95 miles from Orcombe Point in Exmouth to Studland Bay in Dorset. 

Along the way, it traverses nearly 200 million years of the earth’s history – and it all starts with our Triassic Rocks in East Devon (which used to be part of an inland desert). 

The red rocks of Exmouth are remarkable – and when you’re at the far end of the beach, sun illuminating them, you could feel as if you’re in the Algarve! 

If you’re feeling more active, take the short stroll on the South West Coast Path up to the Geoneedle, where you can gaze across East Devon. 

You’ll find some excellent cafes and restaurants

A close-up of an artistic dish featuring avocado toast topped with greens, a slice of plant-based meat, and a small edible flower, presented on a colorful plate.

Exmouth’s food scene has improved dramatically in recent years. Spoken is loved by locals, with The Chronicle, Namaste Himalaya and newly-opened Land & Sea also serving mouthwatering dishes.

The best breakfast spot has to be Bumble and Bee in Manor Gardens – Exmouth’s also home to Bumble and Sea (at the eastern end of the beach) and Bumble and Tee (in Phear Park).  

If you’re craving caffeine, head to Parallel 50 (where you can also pick up a healthy salad bowl), grab some coffee and cake at Cabin or head up to the friendly Woodland and Sea, just out of the town centre. 

By the beach, there’s the takeaway kiosk Hangtime, who run Hangtime Sessions – DJ sets with drinks – throughout the summer months. And pub-wise, you can’t go wrong with the microbrewery Grapevine, who also sells burgers (and the best pale rose in town). 

The Exe Estuary is a hidden gem 

A tranquil sunset over a calm body of water, with the sun setting behind distant hills, casting golden reflections on the water.

Exmouth’s two-mile-long beach is gorgeous, that’s for sure – but for me, it’s the Exe Estuary that takes the crown in the summer months. 

Winding its way from Exeter to Exmouth and Dawlish Warren, the Exe Estuary passes through local villages Lympstone and Exton and the historic town of Topsham. 

Along the way, expect mesmerising riverside views and plenty of opportunities for birdwatching. Plus, spot the elegant Powderham Castle on the other side of the river, which is still home to the Courtenay family to this day. 

A cycle trail runs along the entire Exe Estuary – you can rent bikes in town – which is also hikeable or joggable. Of course, there are plenty of pubs en-route if you’d like to make a day of it! 

Another way to see the Exe Estuary is by Stuart Line Cruise. This Exmouth establishment offers sightseeing cruises along the river (plus cruises around the coastline) at very reasonable prices. But do reserve your tickets in advance – they often sell out. 

There’s more history than meets the eye

A woman in a light sweater and dark pants stands in front of a brick building named Nelson House, which has a blue door and white columns.

Sure, Exmouth is a beach resort town – but there’s plenty of history to uncover here. 

It’s this history that inspired me to start Exmouth Tours, walking tours around the town and beach which focus on the town’s history and culture. 

Discover why tourists first came to Exmouth in the 18th century, tales of smugglers and pirates, how the town helped to defend against Exeter during the Blitz and various famous residents over the years! 

You can also uncover the town’s history in the Exmouth Museum, a small but packed-out exhibition. 

It has a friendly local community

A sailboat with a red hull is anchored on a sandy beach under a clear blue sky. In the background, there are houses lined up along the shoreline.

I’ve not lived by the sea my whole life, but these days, I couldn’t imagine not. 

We move at a slower pace here, whether that’s by wild swimming in the morning or kicking back after work with a few drinks by the beach. 

And there’s plenty to get involved in – whether you’re in Exmouth for a weekend or a lifetime. 

If you’re feeling active, partake in an on-the-beach boot camp with B2B fitness, join one of the many swimming or watersports groups or watch the lapping waves on the weekly seafront ParkRun

Remote worker? Head to Propeller, a bright and airy co-working space in the town centre that’s just a two-minute walk to the beach (day passes available, or pay monthly). 

Or, give back by contributing to the weekly beach clean run by Plastic Free Exmouth.

Book clubs, music groups and board game meets also operate. 

How to visit Exmouth

Take a look at my full things to do in Exmouth travel guide for a detailed look at all of the best attractions and activities.

I’ve also got posts on Exmouth hotels, how to get to Exmouth and the best Exmouth restaurants

Check out Visit Exmouth’s website for more information.

And do follow me on Facebook for all of my updates from around the South West!

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