With its world-class beach, superb surf and village atmosphere Woolacombe holidays are laid-back, and fun-infused in equal measure; a place to escape to for watersport-packed weekends with friends or blissful breaks with all the family.
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Sprawling, sand-dune backed beach and ocean as far as the eye can see make it easy to understand why Woolacombe is such a well-loved holiday destination. Situated on the north Devon coast, it’s home to a wonderful 3-mile long golden beach which has been awarded Blue Flag status for its safe swimming.
Vibrant and lively the village bursts with shops, pubs and restaurants so whether it’s a post-beach Devon Cream Tea you’re craving or a Westcountry Sirloin Steak dinner, you’ll be able to indulge to your heart’s content.
Woolacombe lies within the North Devon Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty so with its dramatic coastal cliffs and wonderful landscape comes a host of outdoorsy activities.
First up of course is surfing and be it your first time on a board or one hundredth, there are plenty of opportunities to take to the waves with beach-based surf companies like…who provide lessons and equipment hire. During the summer months conditions are geared towards beginners with smaller ‘learner waves’ being ideal for families looking to dip their toe into the sport while autumn and winter deliver the bigger swells that intermediate or advanced surfers flock to the North Devon coastline for.
But the beach isn’t just for surfers, and with 3 miles of sand to enjoy you can sunbathe, play beach bats, build sandcastles or just run wild with the kids. Approximately 400 metres north of the main beach you’ll also find Barricane Beach; a picturesque cove tucked in between the rocks, famous for cowries and other exotic seashells. Barricane is terrific for rock pooling so make sure you have your nets and buckets, and if you’re a surfer this is a good spot for reliable waves that can work at any time of the year.
If playing in the waves or lying on the beach is a bit too tame for you, why not try coasteering to inject a bit more adrenalin into your holiday? A 3 hour guided session from Coastline Sports will have you scrambling up and down the rock face of the beautiful North Devon coast whilst leaping into the sea from various heights.
For those landlubbers out there, the magnificent South West Coast Path offers one of Devon’s most scenic coastal walks around Morte Point and with the tiny picturesque village of Mortehoe (being just 20 minutes’ walk away, you’ll be able to make a day of it – just don’t forget to charge your phone as the views over to Lundy Island are spectacular.
Cyclist can also relish a picturesque portion of the Tarka Trail with a 10km ride to the pretty village of Georgeham but be warned, most of the route there (though gradual) is uphill, though you’ll be rewarded with a long descent home and wonderful views over the bay.
If you’re keen to try a new sport that doesn’t involve water or waves then head to the equestri-an centre at Woolacombe Riding Stables to enjoy another kind of fabulous outdoor ad-venture. Offering adults and children of all levels of experience the chance to enjoy horse riding, their guided groups have outrides that head out across the sand dunes, or within the 200 acres of surrounding countryside so it’s a really wholesome way to experience this beautiful part of the world.
We’ve already mentioned Barricane Beach for being a great spot for surfing and family beach days but this little cove also has one of the best grub shacks in all of Devon (yes Devon!). A local’s haunt, Barricane Beach Café is a housed in a converted shipping container and is open every day from about 10 am unless it is raining. Alongside the usual menu of drinks, cakes, snacks, ice creams and baguettes, the café is renowned for its curry nights that happen from 4.45 until 7pm(ish) so you can tuck into dishes like Pork and pineapple Sri Lankan curry whilst watching the waves roll in to shore.
We also recommend:
Beach House Restaurant
Head chef Scott treats diners to gorgeous plates of food using fresh local produce. Enjoy your meal from the terrace while overlooking the bay.
The Beachcomber Café
A fab café and terrace with terrific views, right on the end of the busy Esplanade overlooking the beach. Brunch, lunch, Plenty of Vegan/ vegetarian options, as well as gluten-free, well behaved dogs welcome
Woolacombe Bay Pizza Co.
Creating the crunchiest of pizzas since 2007, if you’re a fan of that famous cheesy disc this is the place to grab one. Toppings like Monterey Hog and Seafood Sensation will more than satisfy, along with the classics of Margherita, Meat Feast and Hawaiian
Meraki Coffee Co.
Located on South Street this is a hidden gem. Expect hot and cold drinks as you’ve never had before like hazelnut latte ,topped with cream and hazelnut flakes and chocolate orange. Their cakes and sweet treats are pretty spectacular too.
A family owned pub hidden in the heart of Woolacombe with a relaxed family-friendly atmosphere and a menu of traditional and modern pub fare.
Town Farmhouse (Mortehoe)
Delectable cream teas with your choice of freshly baked golden scones, sticky jam and clotted cream. Vegan and vegetarian menu available.
Two-time winner of TripAdvisor’s ‘UK’s Best Beach’ accolade the beach at Woolacombe welcomes dogs all year round although there are some restrictions. During peak season (May to October) you must stick to clearly marked dog friendly zones.
Set in a perfect position right on the beach, Woolacombe’s beach huts are a fantastic way to make the most of your day in the bay and of course incredibly practical as well.
The huts are available from the last week of May to the first week of September and each comes with two deckchairs, two patio chairs, a table and a windbreak. To book yours visit www.parkbreaks.com
Did you know that Woolacombe Bay is actually privately owned by a family since 1948? As such the beach is beautifully maintained and looked after, providing car parks, a lifeguard service, toilets, first aid, food and beach goods outlets.
Lifeguards operate daily between April and September, and on weekends and Bank Holidays during other times of the year.
There are two car parks at the beach – The Esplanade Car Park (Long or Short Stay) and Sandy Burrows Car Park (Long Stay) which is closet parking to the beach.
Charges vary depending on the time of year, but are typically from £5 per day to £12 per day. The Esplanade Car Park offers an ‘Early Bird’ Scheme, meaning visitors leaving before 1pm, or arriving after 6pm benefit similarly.
For anyone with limited mobility who would like easier access to the beach there is an all-terrain ‘Tramper’ Mobility scooter available for hire from the Tourist Information Centre.
Scooter users will also be able to explore the dunes behind the beach, as well as the circular route up The Donkey Path, and down the Combesgate Valley.
Also available to hire from the Tourist Information Centre is a Beach Wheelchair. For more information visit the Tourist Information Centre at
Unfortunately there are no public storage lockers, however Hunter Surf School which is located right on Woolacombe beach has access to showers, changing facilities, lockers and storage, so if you’re hiring equipment or booking a lesson from them, you’ll be able to make use of their facilities.
Alternatively, a dry bag is a good thing to invest in as you can safely store your valuables on you while you’re in the water.
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