If your idea of staycation perfection includes beautiful beaches and incredible scenery, South Devon holidays should be top of your list. With the landscape beginning at tor-strewn Dartmoor and finishing at Start Bay, the south of the county sweeps spans some of England’s most pristine coastline.

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Did you know? A local’s guide to South Devon holidays…

From fish and chips on Paignton Pier to sunbathing on a remote South Hams beach, a South Devon holidays have it all. So, whether you’re looking for a quiet weekend away or an action-packed break for the kids, there really is no better place.

Walking in South Devon

As all lovers of the great outdoors know, some of the best places can only be discovered on foot.

With roughly 125 miles of coastline and rolling countryside – most of which lies in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), South Devon is a dream destination for those who love the outdoors. The South West Coast Path weaves its way through most of the area’s best bits of coastline and offers some pretty spectacular vantage points over land and sea.

Their multitude of walking routes throughout the area can be found on their website including a handy grading system for steepness and levels of difficulty, so if you’re planning a holiday here, it’s a good idea to pick a few favourite routes beforehand.

Top picks for walks in South Devon

Dartmouth, Kingswear and Greenway (South Hams)
Embark on a beautiful riverside ramble beginning at Kingswear. Park up and hop aboard the foot ferry which takes you across the river Dart and over to one of the area’s most attractive and historic harbour towns, Dartmouth.

Stroll north along woody trails to Greenway, the holiday home of crime writer Agatha Christie, now owned by the National Trust, and if you fancy it you can pop in to explore the stunning gardens and pathways before fuelling up with a traditional cream tea. Next, take the ferry across to the tiny riverside village of Dittisham village and loop back the 9-mile circular walk over the hills to Dartmouth.

Slapton (South Hams)
The picturesque and tiny seaside village of Torcross is the setting for this gentle walk. Slapton Ley, a large freshwater lake lies to one side of the road and here you’ll discover a thriving nature reserve that teems with birdlife while the long white pebble beach of Slapton Sands lies opposite.

An easy 3-mile walk you’ll have stunning sea views to enjoy along with wildflowers and other coastal fauna and flora. This walk can be started and finished from the Tank car park and is almost completely flat.

Elberry to Fishcombe Cove (Torbay)
Just under 4 miles (6km), this circular route creates a lovely way to see some of Torbay’s best coastal scenery. Park on the street near St Mary Church in Churston and cross the golf course via the public footpath.

This takes you through Chrurston Woods and down to Elberry Cove – a pretty white pebble beach with ruins of Lord Churston’e bathhouse. Head through the gate at the bathhouse and walk under cover of tree canopies through lush woods over to Churston Cove – a picturesque setting with clear water where you can take a refreshing dip.

Continue on to Fishcombe Cove and enjoy a light bite from its award-winning beach café before looing back along the Heritage Trail to Churston Ferrers.

Beaches in South Devon

From cliff-backed coves to sprawling sands and miles of shingle, South Devon beaches are pretty awesome. And living up to their Blue Flag status are the likes of Bantham, Bigbury-on-Sea, South Milton Sands and Thurlestone; all must-visit stops when you’re in the area.

Bantham Beach is also one of the south coast’s best surf beaches so if you’re looking to take to the water for the first time you can hire a board and grab a couple of lessons before hitting the waves.

A little further towards Dartmouth, the turquoise sea at Beesands and Torcross look positively Mediterranean on a sunny day, and just around the corner from here lies the magnificent Blackpool Sands with its fantastic Café and Takeaway.

Top picks for beaches in South Devon

Challaborough Beach (South Hams)
Adjacent to Bigbury-on-Sea, Challaborough Beach is a sheltered cove with golden sands and clear waters, perfect for swimming, surfing, and bodyboarding. It offers stunning views of Burgh Island and the surrounding coastline.

Breakwater Beach (Brixham)
A beautiful pebble beach at the end of the marina. Great for families, it lies alongside protective Brixham’s historic breakwater, which shelters the bay from the open sea, creating calm waters ideal for swimming and paddling. There’s a terrific restaurant and takeaway right on the beach too.

Slapton Sands (Torcross)
This 3-mile shingle beach can be found in Torcross with phenomenal views of Start Bay and the coastline. It’s a perfect spot for a swimming or kayaking and you can pop into Start Bay Inn which sits right on the seafront, for a delicious seafood lunch or cream tea. It’s also backed by a freshwater lagoon, Slapton Ley Nature Reserve so is ideal for wildlife enthusiasts, birdwatching, and coastal walks.

Hope Cove Beach (Salcombe)
Made up of two sandy beaches sheltered by cliffs, Hope Cove Beach is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and is a fantastic place spot for family beach days. Hope Cove’s beaches are great for families to visit. The mix of sand and rocky areas means that Mouthwell Sands in particular is great for sandcastles and sunbathing as well as exploring the rockpools. There are lifeguards on duty during the summer months too.

Blackpool Sands (near Dartmouth)
Settling at the foot of a steep valley, Blackpool Sands is a beautiful pebble beach renowned for its clear waters and lovely scenery. The beach is home to a fabulous café which is open all year round, and there’s a water sports hire and guided tours company, Sea Kayak Devon who run the outdoor sauna right on the beach. A number of organised events take place here during the high season including the popular Tunes on The Sand, Dartmouth Triathlon and Rockpool Ramble.

Broadsands Beach (Paignton)
A popular and picturesque sandy beach flanked by gentle cliffs and lush greenery. Popular with families, it offers calm conditions for swimming, paddleboarding and kayaking. There’s a terrific series of rock pools lying close to the Elberry headland side of the beach which is perfect for young explorers, and a green space behind the beach huts which is a sheltered spot for picnics.

Torre Abbey Sands (Torquay)
Overlooked by the historic Torre Abbey this sandy beach with its calm water is popular with families and water sports lovers. The beach has far-reaching views across the bay, with Torquay’s marina and harbour nearby. The town’s promenade is just above the beach so visitors can easily reach the restaurants, ice cream kiosks, cafes and beach shops that line the seafront.

South Devon Attractions

With much of its coastline being designated as an Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty, South Devon’s historic houses, country parks, leys, lighthouses and castles, are among some of the UK’s best.

The gardens at Coleton Fishacre and Greenaway (Agatha Christie’s residence) and the grounds at Cockington village and Park are a wonderful way to spend a day out in the sunshine.

Also well worth visiting are Berry Pomeroy castle, Start Bay lighthouse and the River Dart which flows from its source high up on Dartmoor and down to its mouth at Dartmouth.

Pop into a village pubs or waterside restaurant in Tuckenhay, Stoke Gabriel, Dittisham, or Kingswear on your way back from the beach,  and enjoy a lazy lunch and incredible views.

  • Where is the best place to SUP in South Devon?

    South Devon’s sheltered coves and calm bays are a SUPer’s dream. And one of the best places to take to the water is the Kingsbridge Estuary which has sheltered tidal waters and is perfect for newbies.

    Alternatively, setting off from Warfleet Creek near Dartmouth is a fantastic way to experience the majestic River Dart paddling either up-river towards Tuckenhay or down river towards Dartmouth Castle.

    Beaches like Maidencombe, Oddicombe and Meadfoot in Torquay are just a handful of the area’s paddleboarding spots frequented by both the local and visiting SUP fraternity.

  • Best place to go crabbing with the kids?

    As quintessentially ‘British seaside holiday’ as an ice cream on the promenade (and just as joyful), crabbing is a must for anyone visiting one of South Devon’s coastal towns.

    Bursting with terrific places for catching these little crustacean curios, places like the Mill Pond at Stoke Gabriel, the quayside in Kingsbridge, Brixham harbour and marina, Dittisham’s pontoon, Teignmouth and the South Pool pontoon in South Hams are some of the best in the area.

  • Where is the best cream tea in South Devon?

    Practically synonymous with the county itself, Devon cream teas are something of a national treasure.

    From a simple round of freshly baked scones and accompanying pot of Early Grey to a lavish ensemble of confectionary with champagne on the side. Angels Tea Rooms in Babbacombe, Orestone Manor in Maidencombe, Anne of Cleaves in Totnes and Old Mill Café in Wembury are our top picks.

  • Best place for a pub lunch?

    What could be better than a delicious pub lunch after spending a day out on the river or down at the beach? Throw in a stunning coastal location and we think you’ve found the recipe for unadulterated bliss.

    A few of our favourites include The Maltsters Arms in Tuckenhay, The Bear and Blacksmith in Chillington, Milbrook Inn in South Pool, The Cricket Inn in Beesands and The Village Inn in Thurlestone.

  • Where can I buy local crafts and produce?

    South Devon is peppered with pretty towns and coastal villages, many of which have weekly markets where you can stop by and pick up a few beautifully handmade local crafts or artisan products.

    Worth a visit are Totnes Good Food Sunday Market, Buckfastleigh Farmers Market and Dartmouth Old Market.

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