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Beach Lovers’ Paradise: The Ultimate Top 15 North Devon Beaches

Discover the Splendid Variety of North Devon Beaches

North Devon beaches are a haven. They boast a spectacular array of sandy shores and hidden coves. Whether you’re an avid surfer, a family seeking fun, or a dog owner wanting a stroll, these beaches offer something special.

Key Takeaways

  1. North Devon’s beaches cater to a wide range of interests, from surfing to tranquil walks.
  2. Woolacombe, Saunton Sands, and Croyde Beach are just a few highlights.
  3. Dog-friendliness is a key feature of many beaches, but you must check any local updates.

Introduction to North Devon Beaches

North Devon, a region celebrated for its breathtaking coastline and diverse natural landscapes, is a treasure trove for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Its unique blend of rugged cliffs, golden beaches, and serene estuaries encapsulates an unspoiled charm that beckons visitors from all over the world.

North Devon’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

The North Devon Coast has been designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), a testament to its exceptional landscapes and rich biodiversity. Stretching from the Exmoor National Park to the Cornish border, this AONB encompasses a stunning array of habitats, from vast sandy beaches to rolling hills and ancient woodlands. This designation not only highlights the area’s natural significance but also ensures its conservation for future generations. Explore more about this beautiful region and its conservation efforts at North Devon AONB.

North Devon as the 12th World Surfing Reserve

Adding to its accolades, North Devon has been announced as the 12th World Surfing Reserve. This prestigious recognition is awarded to coastal areas around the globe that are outstanding for surfing and hold significant environmental, cultural, and historical value. North Devon’s surf spots, particularly around Woolacombe and Croyde, are renowned for their consistent surf and spectacular settings, offering a paradise for surfers. The designation emphasizes the need to protect and preserve these coastal areas for their ecological and cultural importance. Learn more about this exciting development at Woolacombe Tourism.

Top 15 Beaches in North Devon

North Devon’s coastline is dotted with a myriad of stunning beaches, each offering its own unique charm. From the surfer’s haven of Woolacombe Beach to the tranquil shores of Welcombe Mouth, here are the top 15 beaches that make North Devon a coastal paradise:

1. Woolacombe Beach: A Surfer’s Paradise

Location: Woolacombe
Beach Type: Sandy

Woolacombe Beach, a jewel in North Devon’s crown, is a surfer’s dream with its long, golden sands and consistent waves. It’s not just surfers who are drawn here; families love the space and facilities, making it an all-around favorite.

Fun Fact: Woolacombe Beach is 3 miles long, making it the second largest bay in Britain after The Wash.

Dogs are allowed year-round, with restrictions. The beach is divided into three zones: Zone A – no dogs from April 1 to November 1; Zone B – dogs must be on a lead from May 1 to September 30; Zone C – no restrictions​.

Read more about whether Woolacombe Beach is dog-friendly.

North Devon Beaches
Sunset over Woolacombe

2. Saunton Sands: Majestic Dunes and Golden Sands

Location: Near Braunton

Saunton Sands impresses with its vast dune system and sprawling beach. Ideal for a family day out, it offers ample space for relaxation and exploration, with a stunning backdrop that captivates all who visit.

Fun Fact: Saunton Sands is part of the Taw-Torridge estuary Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and at the centre of the UNESCO-designated North Devon’s Biosphere Reserve

Dogs are allowed all over the beach throughout the year​.

North Devon Beaches
The seemingly endless sands of Saunton Sands

3. Croyde Beach: Premier Surfing Destination

Location: Croyde
Beach Type: Sandy

Croyde Beach’s fame as a surfing hotspot is well-deserved. Its challenging waves attract surfers worldwide, while the surrounding village adds charm and convenience to a day at the beach.

Fun Fact: Since 1999, Croyde has hosted an annual surfing and music festival (GoldCoast Oceanfest) on the weekend closest to the summer solstice

Between October and April, dogs are only allowed on leads and in the dunes.

North Devon Beaches

4. Putsborough Sands: Serene and Scenic

Location: Between Georgeham and Woolacombe
Beach Type: Sandy.

Putsborough Sands, a quieter neighbor to Woolacombe, offers a more peaceful beach experience. Its picturesque setting is perfect for those seeking tranquility away from the busier spots.

Fun Fact: Putsborough Sands is a Devon County Geological Site, displaying diverse geological features including cross-bedding and ripple drift bedding

Dogs: Restricted to certain areas from April to October; check local signage.

North Devon Beaches
North Devon has world class surfing beaches

5. Westward Ho! Beach: Diverse and Dynamic

Location: Westward Ho!
Beach Type: Sandy and Pebbles

Westward Ho! Beach stands out for its mix of sandy and pebbly landscapes, offering a diverse beach experience. Backed by the striking Northam Burrows Country Park, it provides a scenic background for all types of beach activities.

Dogs: Allowed only on the northern end of the beach, to the right of the Pebble Ridge, from October to April.

Fun Fact: The beach is named after the novel “Westward Ho!” by Charles Kingsley, making it the only place in Britain with an exclamation mark in its name.

Viewpoint over Westward Ho!

6. Instow Beach: Calm Waters and Sandy Shores

Location: Instow, near Bideford
Beach Type: Sandy

Instow Beach is on the Taw and Torridge Estuary. It is known for its gentle waters and expansive sandy shores, making it a family-friendly destination. The beach’s calm and relaxed atmosphere is perfect for leisurely strolls and peaceful beach days. This is our local beach, where we walk most often.

Dogs: Not permitted between the Quay to the South and the Boathouse to the North in July and August from 10am to 5pm

Fun Fact: Instow Beach is famous for its stunning sunsets and views across to Appledore village.

North Devon Beaches
The Sunset over Appledore from Instow, is always breathtaking

7. Barricane Beach: Exotic Shells and Rock Pools

Location: Woolacombe Beach Type: Shells and Rocks

Barricane Beach is a small, picturesque beach known for its abundance of exotic shells and interesting rock pools. This charming but popular beach is a treasure trove for beachcombers and those interested in marine life.

Dogs: Allowed between October and April; on a lead between May and September.

Fun Fact: The shells found here are often carried from the Caribbean by the Gulf Stream.

The North Devon Coastline between Woolacombe and Mortehoe

8. Hele Bay Beach: Natural Beauty and Rock Pools

Location: Ilfracombe
Beach Type: Rocky

Hele Bay Beach, nestled in a stunning natural setting, is ideal for sun-seekers and beach enthusiasts. The beach is known for its fascinating rock pools and scenic views, offering a tranquil alternative to busier beaches.

Dogs: Allowed all year round.

North Devon Beaches
Hele Bay at Sunset

9. Lee Bay and Sandy Cove: Secluded and Picturesque

Location: Near Ilfracombe
Beach Type: Sandy

Lee Bay and Sandy Cove are two small hidden gems, known for their secluded and picturesque setting. These less frequented beaches offer a peaceful escape, perfect for those seeking solitude and natural beauty.

Fun Fact: Sandy Cove is only accessible by foot, adding to its secluded charm.

Dogs: Allowed all year round.

North Devon Beaches
Lee Bay at High Tide (photo courtesy of Unique Homestays)

10. Tunnels Beach: A Historic Beach from the Victorian Era.

Location: Ilfracombe
Beach Type: Rocky

Tunnels Beach is renowned for its unique geological formations and historical man-made tunnels – the only way to access the beach. The rocky beach provides a distinctive beach experience with a touch of history.

Fun Fact: The tunnels were hand-carved in the 1820s to provide access to the beaches.

Dogs: Allowed through the tunnels on a lead but not onto the beaches.

Tunnels Beach, Ilfracombe, is accessed through discrete Victorian tunnels.

11. Combe Martin Beach: A Coastal Gem

Location: Combe Martin Beach Type: Pebble and Sand

Combe Martin Beach, set in a picturesque coastal village, offers a blend of natural beauty and village charm. It’s perfect for a relaxed seaside day, with scenic views and a friendly atmosphere.

Fun Fact: The beach is part of the longest stretch of coastal woodland in England and Wales. Also, the neighbouring ‘Hangman Cliffs’ are the tallest coastal cliffs in England.

Dogs: Allowed between October and April.

12. Heddon’s Mouth: Secluded Haven and Natural Splendor

Location: Near Parracombe
Beach Type: Pebble and Rock

Heddon’s Mouth, nestled in a deep valley on the North Devon coast, is a secluded haven of natural splendor. The beach, primarily pebble and rock, is set at the mouth of the Heddon River, creating a picturesque and serene landscape that appeals to nature lovers and hikers.

Fun Fact: Heddon’s Mouth is part of the Exmoor National Park and is renowned for its rich wildlife, including rare butterflies and birds.

Dogs: Open all year round.

North Devon Beaches
Rockpooling is a common North Devon activity

13. Peppercombe Beach: Quiet and Unspoiled

Location: Between Fairy Cross and Buck’s Mill
Beach Type: Pebble and Rock

Peppercombe Beach, celebrated for its tranquility, offers a peaceful and unspoiled setting. Its quiet nature makes it a top choice for those looking for a serene beach day.

Fun Fact: The beach is part of a stunning red sandstone coastline, unique to the area.

Dogs: Allowed all year round.

Peppercombe Beach (photo courtesy of Halls Annery)

14. Welcombe Mouth Beach: Rugged and Natural Beauty

Location: Welcombe
Beach Type: Rocky

Welcombe Mouth Beach is known for the rugged beauty of the North Devon coast. Its unspoiled and natural landscape attracts those who love the raw beauty of the natural world.

Fun Fact: The beach features unique geological formations, including a waterfall.

Dogs: Allowed all year round.

Welcombe Mouth Beach (Photo courtesy of the National Trust)

15. Lynmouth Bay: Where Exmoor Meets the Sea

Location: Lynmouth Beach Type: Sand and Shingle

Lynmouth Bay, near the picturesque villages of Lynton and Lynmouth, offers scenic views and a serene atmosphere. Its mix of sand and shingle shores, coupled with the proximity to Watersmeet’s natural beauty, makes it an idyllic spot. Perfect for those who appreciate a quieter, more scenic beach experience,

Fun Fact: Lynmouth is known as “Little Switzerland” due to its stunning landscape and hilly surroundings.

Dogs: Allowed all year round.

Lynmouth is nicknamed ‘Little Switzerland’

Frequently Asked Questions About North Devon Beaches

What are the Best Surfing Beaches in North Devon?

Woolacombe and Croyde Beach stand out for their excellent surf conditions, attracting surfers globally with their consistent waves and vibrant surf culture.

Are Dogs Allowed on North Devon Beaches?

Many beaches, like Saunton Sands and Instow, welcome dogs, though some have seasonal restrictions. It’s always best to check ahead for specific dog policies.

Which North Devon Beaches are Wheelchair Accessible?

Beaches like Saunton Sands and Woolacombe offer wheelchair-friendly amenities, making the beach experience inclusive and enjoyable for everyone.

Are There Any Hidden Gem Beaches in North Devon?

Discover secluded spots like Lee Bay and Sandy Cove for a peaceful escape from the more popular beaches. These hidden gems offer tranquility and stunning natural beauty.


North Devon Dog-Walking

North Devon’s coastline is a treasure trove of diverse and stunning beaches. From the surfing meccas of Woolacombe and Croyde to the peaceful retreats of Lee Bay and Peppercombe, there’s a beach for every preference. These beaches not only offer scenic beauty but also cater to various needs, including dog-friendly policies and accessibility features.

For those who enjoy beach walks with their furry friends, North Devon offers numerous options. Learn more about Coastal K9’s dog walking services and let us entertain and exercise your pooch while exploring the beautiful coastline by visiting North Devon Dog Walking.