The South Hams coastline is lined with an array of vast sandy beaches and pebbled coves. All are perfect for a relaxing day, or as a starting point for exploring the South West Coast Path. You will find many of the larger beaches with amenities, along with a quaint village inn or beach café, but off the beaten track there are many secluded natural coves, offering you just sun, sea and sand (or pebbles) …
Information on our local villages with beaches in the South Hams is from West to East along the coastline
Bigbury on Sea (8 miles) is well known for its sea tractor (operates at high tide only); this provides access at high tide to Burgh Island, home to the Art Deco hotel, which has been used in the filming of Agatha Christie’s “Poirot”. The long beach is perfect for families with its fine sand and shallow water for paddling and rock pooling. Amenities also include water sports tuition and equipment hire, along the Venus Beach café; offering snacks all produced with local produce. Blue flag award 2010/2011. Please note that dogs on the beach is restricted to certain areas during the summer season. www.lovingthebeach.co.uk
Bantham (1 mile by car) boasts a vast beach of very fine sand, backed by ‘marram’ covered sand dunes and has lots of rock pools for exploring. The beach is known as the “locals” beach, which nestles at the month of the River Avon. The beach is ideal for all the family with a large car park, easy access, local pub and small shop, along with lifeguard cover (April – October). Bantham is popular all year round for surfing and kite flying, along with kayaking on the River Avon. Surfing lessons and equipment hire are available www.banthamsurfingacademy.co.uk. Please note that dogs on the beach is restricted to certain areas during the summer season. Please visit www.banthamdevon.co.uk for the latest surfing information.
From Bantham you can catch the passenger ferry across the River Avon, enabling you to walk to Bigbury along the coastal path. The ferry operates April – September, 10am – 11am and 3pm – 4pm (no service on a Sunday).
Thurlestone and South Milton Sands (2 miles by car) is a beach with fine shingle and sand. There are good amenities, and it is a great location for wind surfing and for exploring the rock pools at low tide. The beach is owned by the National Trust and is very well maintained like many of the beaches in the areas. Wind Surfing hire and tuition are available. The area of water inside the Thurlestone Rock makes a safe spot to learn, with gentle onshore winds for most of the summer. A small beach café (open throughout the year) is available at South Milton end of the beach.
There are a few smaller beaches along the Thurlestone coastline:
Broadsands is a pleasant bathing beach, with good rock pooling at low tide.
Yarmer is a small sandy beach, directly below the golf course. Please note there are no amenities on the beach.
Leasfoot is a sheltered sandy beach, backed by sand dunes. A quiet traditional beach, ideal for a lazy day, beach games and rock pooling. Please note there are no amenities on the beach.
Hope Cove (7 miles) is a delightful village, nestled within a green valley, with two sheltered beaches. Inner and Outer Hope are both sheltered sandy beaches with good access. The village has amenities along with a pub, shop and cafe.
Soar Mill Cove (7 miles) is a small sandy cove, sheltered by the cliffs and rocks. Once you are parked access is via a lane and fields, so may not be suitable for all.
South Sands (8 miles)is a stretch of golden sand situated in the sheltered Salcombe estuary. Water sports tuition and hire are available here, along with amenities. From South Sands you can also take the ferry to Salcombe. http://www.southsandsferry.co.uk
North Sands (8 miles) is very similar to South Sands, with easy access and amenities, with views of the Salcombe estuary.
East Portlemouth (12 miles) lies opposite Salcombe, from where a passenger ferry can be caught to gain access to the sandy beaches of Sunny Cove and Mill Bay. Mill Bay being the larger and most popular, with amenities. The Venus Café is popular stop before heading up to, and along the South West Coast Path. There is limited parking and the lane to Mill Bay is narrow with few passing places.
Gara Rock (13 miles) is a large unspoilt sandy beach, once parked access is over the fields and coastal path and down the cliff path – access may not be suitable for all.
East Prawle (12 miles) is another small village, and an ideal base for a coastal walk. The coastline is rugged with many secluded coves, the ideal place for rock pooling, and Prawle Point is a haven for bird watching, along with the NCI look-out which is manned by volunteers. The village itself has a pub and small shop/café, parking is available, but the beaches are more difficult to access (1 mile steep walk), but well worth the effort especially if you prefer solitude. Jagged cliffs hide Elender Cove and Maceley beach, but fine sand and rock pools await you after the steep path. Horseley Cove is a 1 mile steep walk from the nearest parking, the beach is a mix of sand and shingle, and excellent for rock pooling. There are no facilities on the beaches.
Lannacombe (12 miles) is reached by a narrow lane and has limited parking, but the beach is of fine pale sand with interesting rock pools.
Start Point (13 miles) is home to the automated lighthouse set on top the rugged cliffs. Tours can be arranged. Mattiscombe Beach is a mile from here, but is steep walk. The sandy beach offers you magnificent views of the coastline.
Hallsands (13 miles) is an old fishing village, destroyed in the storms of 1917 after the shingle had been dredged for the building of Plymouth Dockyards. Today there is a viewing platform to view the remains of the old village. The pebbled beach offers stunning views of Start Bat. There are no amenities.
Beesands (12 miles) is another old fishing village battered by the coastal storms, today though it has a large sea defence wall to offer protection to the remaining residents. Small fishing boats still depart daily from here, with their catch being offered for sale on the village green. There is 2 miles of shingle beach with views to Start Point. The village has a small pub with amenities.
Torcross (11 miles) is at the start of Slapton Sands, two miles of pebbled shingle beach offer stunning views. The beach was used in WWII as a practice area for the D-Day Landings. It is a good hunting ground for collectors of shells. Today you will notice a new stretch of road, which divides the beach and the fresh water lagoon of Slapton Ley. This is a National Nature Reserve; you will find an abundance of bird and wildlife here. Visit www.slnnr.org.uk for information on guided tours and courses. The main village of Torcross has amenities, a large pub and tearooms, along with ample parking. Slapton is the inland village; you will find a public house here, which gives a fascinating insight into the WWII evacuations. The far end of the beach is known as Strete Gate, parking and amenities is also available here.
Blackpool Sands (16 miles) is located further along the coast, the beautiful crescent beach is of fine shingle, ideal for all the family with easy access, parking and purpose built amenities. Tuition and hire are available for an array of water sports, and the Venus café offers an extensive menu of local produce. www.blackpoolsands.co.uk