The Best Beaches in Salcombe, Devon

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Enjoy our inside guide to the best beaches in Salcombe, South Devon.

Best beaches near Salcombe cover image showing four beaches near the English town

The Best Beaches in and Around Salcombe, Devon

Salcombe, Devon, is a gorgeous little place, with narrow streets filled with homemade fudge, scones, cream and jam and small boats aplenty. It’s a gem set near sandy beaches, flowery cliffs and craggy coves but where Salcombe stands out is through its exceptional food and drink and boutique places to stay.

Before we get to talking about the best beaches to visit in Salcombe, I just want to highlight an amazing offer for one of our favourite places to stay there.

If you book or buy through any of the links on this page, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. As ever, as always, we keep the right to write what we like. Cheers!

Stay at the beautiful Four The Reach Salcombe

Where to stay this summer

Four, The Reach Salcombe is set a stone’s throw from the sand of South Sands Beach. It’s a two bedroom self-catered apartment with an excellent eye of design, right next to the Beach Club Harbour hotel, which makes life easy if you want access to a restaurant, swimming pool, gym or spa.

Readers of Inside the Travel Lab can access a 10% discount if you book with Harriet here and mention the code INSIDETRAVELLAB.*

You can take a look at the property via the video here or read more at the end of the article.

Right, now to the beaches.

Please note that most of these beaches don’t have a lifeguard service and that the weather in Britain can be very variable. Pack plenty of layers and have a plan B if you can’t manage to be outside all day.

See also this article on how to make a family day at the beach more sustainable.

Let’s get started.

North Sands Beach: The Closest One

North Sands Beach is a haven for families, tucked along the tranquil Salcombe Estuary.

Little adventurers will adore exploring its shallow water and scrambling among the rock pools, hunting for crabs and tiny sea creatures. It’s easily reached from Salcombe town centre through Cliff Road – a lovely, if steep, waterfront stroll leads you right there.

It’s also home to the fabulously named Winking Prawn, a beachside restaurant that locals love.

But be warned: keep a close eye on those tide times! High tide completely covers the beach, so plan your visit when low tide reigns.

Tip: Make sure to check Fort Charles on your way to the beach for a brief history lesson.

South Sands Beach: The Easiest One

Another gorgeous sandy spot in a rocky cove is South Sands Beach.

Arrive in style on the iconic South Sands Ferry, departing right from Salcombe from mid April onwards or drive to the beach and hope to park up.

After a day on the estuary, the South Sands Hotel and its beachside café are ideal for refuelling and soaking up the views, with a simply superb restaurant.

Newcomer Harbour Beach Club & Hotel also has a panoramic restaurant and a spa, which can be handy for shelter if the weather turns.

Map of the Best Beaches in Salcombe and Around

Beaches opposite Salcombe

Salcombe itself is a lovely town to spend time in, but it’s a crime to not explore the rest of South Devon’s coastline. From stunning sandy beaches to hidden coves, a short drive from this picturesque coastal town reveals a whole new world of seaside escapes.

Be warned, though – some spots may have limited parking and some of those country roads get steep and tight.

East Portlemouth Beach

This popular sandy stretch, also known as Fisherman’s Cove, is one of the best beaches in the area where you can spend a classic seaside afternoon – think sandcastles, picnics, and maybe even a carefree paddle with your four-legged friend.

The ferry runs from Whitestrand pontoon in Salcombe every half an hour on the hour, although always check for details before heading out.

Small’s Cove

Small’s Cove, tucked away in East Portlemouth, has shallow, protected waters, making it the perfect place for little ones to splash, paddle, and safely explore the shoreline. Best of all, access is easy from the ferry landing at Mill Bay or via the nearby National Trust car park. Pack a bucket and spade for hours of carefree seaside fun.

Mill Bay Beach

Located next to Small’s Cove, Mill Bay Beach offers a mix of relaxation and activity. This sheltered bay boasts golden sands and turquoise waters, excellent for swimming or trying out some watersports – there’s even a water-sports centre nearby to help you get started.

With ample parking at the National Trust car park and easy access to East Portlemouth, it’s a great spot to spend the whole day.

Sunny Cove Beach

Straight across the Salcombe side of the estuary, Sunny Cove Beach is a secluded haven with a taste of wild coastal beauty.

Reach it via the scenic South West Coast Path or, for a quicker option, hop on the ferry from East Portlemouth. Bring along a picnic and prepare to lose track of time. There are no toilet facilities or parking here, but you’ll find them at Mill Bay, which is only a 10-minute walk away from Sunny Cove.

South Milton Sands – with the tasty Beach House nearby

Beaches Further from Salcombe

South Milton Sands

Known for its sheltered waters and gentle sands, South Milton Sands is a great place for those seeking a classic beach experience. Feel free to bring your furry friends, as this is a pet-friendly beach. The access to the beach is done through a single-track lane, and there are plenty of parking spots.

Soar Mill Cove

If you are looking for tranquillity, you’ll find it at Soar Mill Cove. This sheltered spot below the towers of Bolt Head promises calm waters and sandy coves ideal for swimming or exploring with the kids.

While there’s no direct access for cars, it’s well worth the effort. Hike the coastal path for stunning views or treat yourself to a short ferry ride from Salcombe. Once you arrive, it’s easy to see why it is such a popular destination – this cove feels like a true escape.

Gara Rock Beach

At Gara Rock Beach, embrace the scenic coastal walks along the clifftops with their stunning ocean views. While the beach itself can be challenging to reach due to the steep path, the reward is well worth it. Pack a camera – this stretch of coast promises unforgettable views.

Moor Sands

With its rugged beauty and sense of seclusion, Moor Sands stands apart from the other beautiful beaches near Salcombe. One of the more tranquil corners of South Hams, this remote stretch of coastline demands a bit of effort to reach – it involves a walk along the South West Coast Path from Prawle Point, and even a short rope ladder climb. Yet, for those who love an untamed coastal feel, they say that the walk is more than worth it.

Hope Cove

Picture this: a classic seaside village with not one but two sandy beaches that are perfect for families. That’s Hope Cove! With its gentle waves for swimming and plenty of space for classic beach games, it’s no wonder this is such a popular spot. Plus, there’s a car park nearby and easy access to the village itself, making it a great choice for a hassle-free day at the seaside.

Slapton Sands

This large sandy beach carries a heavy but fascinating history – it played a significant role in WWII training exercises. Today, it’s a popular spot for swimming and walking, with several car parks offering easy access. Yet even with its convenience, Slapton Sands retains an air of historic significance that invites reflection alongside beachside fun.

Bantham Beach

For a broad sandy beach perfect for sandcastles, head to Bantham. You’ll find ample parking right by the beach, making it easy to spend the whole day embracing the salt-and-sunshine lifestyle. Plus, the views of Bigbury Bay and Burgh Island from here are simply beautiful in the light of the afternoon.

In the summer, you can take the sea tractor across to Burgh Island (or roll up your trousers and wade.) It’s fun to stay for fish and chips before taking the sea tractor back home.

Welcome to Four the Reach at Salcombe

Where to stay in Salcombe

Salcombe has plenty of lovely places to stay, from hotels to self-catered apartments, but places do book up for the peak season.

Today, I’d like to highlight one place in particular.

Four the Reach, South Sands

I have to give a huge shout out for the gorgeous, luxury self-catered apartment called Four The Reach at South Sands, where we stayed on our last visit for review purposes.

You can also see a video on instagram of Four The Reach here.

It has the perfect location for the beach, which you can see from the balcony and parking is included. So it’s an easy dash in and out with young children, which is a godsend.

The design and decor is sublime, just making tea and toast feels like a treat. It has two bedrooms with an ensuite bathroom and an open plan kitchen, lounge and living room.

Great design at Four The Reach, Salcombe. Laptop case model’s own…

Itinerary planning comes included, thanks to Harriet at Taylor Made Salcombe, and you’ll find treats like a bottle of bubbly and local delicacies on arrival.

You can arrange for spa and pool access at the nearby hotel when you stay at Four, The Reach Salcombe

The final note of brilliance comes in the form of the Harbour Beach Hotel right next door. It has a spa with a spacious swimming pool and gym, plus a restaurant with a panoramic window and nautical theme. So, should bad weather hit, you can enjoy the beauty of the outdoors while being snug and cosy inside.

We loved our stay and, as a reader of this blog, you can access a 10% discount by quoting the code INSIDETRAVELLAB to Harriet when booking here. *

It’s great to collect natural treasures on the beaches of Salcombe

Other Recommendations for Salcombe

I could write a whole article about what to do in and around Salcombe (and maybe I should one day!)

But here are the quick notes to share with you now. Or perhaps for when I return, so I don’t have to scrabble around to find the details again.

Enjoy a fabulous crab salad at the Crab Shed in Salcombe

Food & Drink Recommendations for Salcombe

Best take-away coffee – The Pantry, Salcombe Town 

Best coffee & breakfast – The Wardroom, Salcombe Town

Best for seafood – The Crab Shed, Salcombe – set literally on the quay that the fish arrives on in beautiful blues and whites with a great number of crab dishes.

Best for casual lunch on the beach – The Winking Prawn, North Sands , fun beach shack on North Sand beach serving really good baguettes etc, also do breakfast and seafood.

Best for picnic lunch – The BakeHouse bakery, Fore Street, Salcombe – the best place to grab a pasty, cheese straw, cake etc – all their stuff is delicious and also do great freshly made rolls.  

Best place for a G&T or gin based cocktail – Salcombe Gin Distillery & Bar

Amazing food at the Beach House at South Milton Sands

Slightly further afield:

Gara Rock – There is a 5* hotel set right on the coast in an epic location with a lovely restaurant. It’s about a 3km coastal walk from East Portlemouthand you can get the East Portlemouth ferry to start of walk. We never made it here but it’s on my list for next time.

The Beach House, South Milton, is a 15 minute drive from Salcombe. It’s the best spot for sunsets and don’t be deceived by the laid back decor, the food here is great. We had the best meal of the whole trip here, including mussels and a smoked mackerel sandwich. Amazing spot.

You can do lots more in Salcombe than just play on the beach

Things to do in Salcombe Beyond the Beaches

Salcombe offers plenty of enjoyable activities beyond the beach. Here are some ideas:

Pick up an eco friendly crabbing kit for hours of fun with the kids

Salcombe with Kids

Feel unbelievably wholesome with these ideas on what to do in Salcombe with kids:

  1. Crabbing: Kids love crabbing at Victoria Quay. All you need is a crab line, some bait, and a bucket. It’s a fun and inexpensive activity that’s very Salcombe.
  2. Boat Trips: Take a boat trip around the estuary. Many operators offer family-friendly tours where you can explore the coastline, spot wildlife, and learn about the area’s history.
  3. Water Sports: Try kayaking, paddleboarding, or sailing. There are plenty of places in Salcombe where you can rent equipment and take lessons as a family.
  4. Walking Trails: Explore the scenic walking trails around Salcombe. The South West Coast Path offers stunning views of the coastline and is suitable for families with kids of all ages.
  5. Visit Overbeck’s: Overbeck’s is a National Trust property with beautiful gardens, a museum, and stunning views of the estuary. Kids will enjoy exploring the grounds and taking part in family-friendly activities.
  6. Crabbing competitions: Some local businesses host crabbing competitions during the summer months. It can be a fun way for kids to engage with others and enjoy the thrill of a friendly competition.
  7. Visit Salcombe Maritime Museum: Learn about Salcombe’s maritime history at the Salcombe Maritime Museum. Kids can enjoy interactive exhibits and discover fascinating stories of sailors and explorers.
  8. Mini Golf: Play a round of mini-golf at one of the local courses. It’s a fun activity for the whole family and a great way to spend a leisurely afternoon.
  9. Ice Cream: Treat the kids to delicious ice cream from one of Salcombe’s many ice cream parlours. It’s the perfect way to cool off on a hot day. Not that kids need an excuse to want one…
Shop for a romantic souvenir…

Romantic things to do in Salcombe for Couples

Salcombe has all the ingredients for romance. Here are some ideas:

  1. Sunset Cruise: Experience the stunning beauty of Salcombe’s coastline aboard a sunset cruise. Snuggle up with your partner as you watch the sun dip below the horizon, casting a golden glow over the water.
  2. Fine Dining: Treat yourselves to a romantic dinner at one of Salcombe’s acclaimed restaurants. Many establishments offer locally sourced seafood and stunning waterfront views, creating the perfect ambiance for a special evening.
  3. Couples Spa Day: Indulge in a couples’ spa day at one of Salcombe’s luxury spas. Relax and unwind together with massages, facials, and other pampering treatments, leaving you both feeling rejuvenated and refreshed.
  4. Coastal Walks: Take a leisurely stroll along the South West Coast Path hand in hand with your partner. Discover hidden coves, rugged cliffs, and breathtaking vistas as you explore Salcombe’s stunning coastline together.
  5. Private Boat Hire: Rent a private boat for the day and explore the Salcombe estuary at your own pace. Pack a picnic, bring along a bottle of champagne, and create unforgettable memories as you sail together on the tranquil waters.
  6. Visit Salcombe Distillery: Embark on a tour of Salcombe Distillery and learn about the art of gin-making. Enjoy a tasting session of their award-winning spirits and toast to your love with a bespoke cocktail crafted just for the two of you.
  7. Stargazing: On a clear night, head to a secluded spot away from the town’s lights and gaze up at the star-filled sky together. Bring a blanket to snuggle under as you marvel at the beauty of the universe above.
  8. Art Galleries: Explore Salcombe’s art scene by visiting local galleries and studios. Admire works by talented artists, discuss your favourite pieces, and perhaps even purchase a piece of art as a memento of your time together. (We have prints of Hope Cove and I smile every time I see it.)

Get ready to explore Salcombe at your own pace…

Solo Travel Ideas in Salcombe

Traveling solo to Salcombe can be a wonderful experience, offering opportunities for relaxation, exploration, and self-discovery. Here are some ideas for solo travelers:

  1. Coastal Walks: Lace up your hiking boots and embark on solo hikes along the South West Coast Path. Enjoy the stunning scenery, rugged cliffs, and panoramic views of the coastline as you explore at your own pace.
  2. Photography Expedition: Capture the beauty of Salcombe’s landscapes and seascapes through photography. Spend your days wandering the town’s picturesque streets, snapping photos of charming cottages, crab sheds and seascapes.
  3. New Tastes: Indulge your taste buds by sampling the local cuisine at Salcombe’s cafes, bistros, and seafood restaurants. Enjoy leisurely meals where you can savor fresh seafood, artisanal cheeses, and other delicious specialties of the region.
  4. Kayaking or Stand-Up Paddleboarding: Explore Salcombe’s estuary on a solo kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding adventure. Glide along the tranquil waters, taking in the sights and sounds of nature as you paddle past hidden coves and secluded beaches.
  5. Visit Salcombe Brewery: Take a tour of Salcombe Brewery and learn about the craft beer brewing process. Enjoy a tasting session of their handcrafted ales and lagers, and perhaps pick up some souvenirs to enjoy later.
  6. Yoga and Meditation: Find your inner peace with solo yoga and meditation sessions. Seek out tranquil spots in nature where you can practice yoga poses, meditate, and reconnect with yourself amidst Salcombe’s serene surroundings.
  7. Explore Local History: Immerse yourself in Salcombe’s rich maritime history by visiting museums, historic sites, and landmarks. Learn about the town’s seafaring heritage and the role it played in shaping the local community.
  8. Wildlife Watching: Spend time observing Salcombe’s diverse wildlife. Bring your binoculars and look out for birds, seals, and other marine life along the coastline and estuary.
  9. Attend Local Events: Check out any local events, markets, or festivals happening during your visit. It’s a great way to meet new people – if you want to, that is.

And there’s more but that’s enough to get started with.

* The 10% offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other offers.