Burgh Island Hotel extrerior

Salcombe UK

Salcombe is a small coastal town located in the South Hams district of Devon. Salcombe is situated on the banks of the Salcombe Estuary and surrounded by picturesque countryside and coastline. The town itself is known for its stunning natural beauty, crystal clear waters, golden beaches, and lush green hills. 


Salcombe is also famous for its sailing and boating scene and it is a popular destination for water sports enthusiasts looking to explore sunny Devon’s gorgeous beaches. The town has a range of boutique shops, cafes, restaurants, and pubs that make it a charming place to visit for a relaxing getaway or a seaside holiday.


Where is Salcombe

Salcombe is situated on the coast of the South Hams district of Devon in the South West of England, on the banks of the Salcombe Estuary which flows into the English Channel.

The history of Salcombe

Salcombe’s history dates back to Roman times when it was used as a trading port for tin and wool. The town’s name is believed to come from the Old English words “Salem” and “coomb”, meaning “sheltered valley” or “creek”.

In the Middle Ages, Salcombe became an important centre for the local fishing and shipping industries, with fishermen from all over the South West using the town as a base for their operations. The town also had a significant role in the wool trade, with ships leaving Salcombe to trade wool with the ports of Europe.

During the 16th and 17th centuries, Salcombe was a hotspot for smuggling, with its many secluded coves and inlets making it an ideal location for smugglers to bring in contraband goods such as tobacco, brandy, and silk.

In the 19th century, Salcombe became a popular destination for wealthy tourists and holidaymakers, drawn to the town’s beautiful coastal scenery and mild climate. The town’s natural harbour also made it a popular location for shipbuilding and repair

During World War II, Salcombe played an important role in the defence of the South West coast of England, with the town’s harbour used as a base for patrol boats and anti-submarine warfare vessels.

Now, Salcombe is a popular seaside town that boasts beautiful sunny weather in the warmer months, seaside charm, and a range of activities and heritage, including beautiful National Trust sites and the Salcombe Maritime museum.

Things to do in Salcombe

Salcombe is home to a huge selection of activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy with many things to do in Salcombe such as:


Sailing and Boating: Salcombe is a renowned sailing and boating destination, with the Salcombe Estuary offering sheltered waters and stunning views to guests keen to get on the water. Visitors can hire a boat or take a leisurely cruise to explore the estuary, as well as some great water based activities such as kayaking. 


Beaches: Salcombe is surrounded by some of the most beautiful beaches in the South West of England, including South Sands, North Sands, and Bantham Beach. These are popular destinations for sunbathing, swimming, and surfing, as well as days out with the kids and a little seaside escape. 


Coastal Walks: There are many scenic coastal walks in the area, including the South West Coast Path, which offers breathtaking views of the coastline and estuary.


Salcombe Gin Distillery: The Salcombe Gin Distillery offers tours and tastings of their award-winning gin, which is made using locally sourced botanicals.


Salcombe Maritime Museum: The Salcombe Maritime Museum is a popular attraction that tells the story of Salcombe’s rich maritime history, including shipwrecks, fishing, and smuggling, perfect for a historically rich day out with the kids. 


Overbeck’s: Overbeck’s is a National Trust property located in Salcombe, which features a museum, gardens, and a Victorian-era house with stunning views over the estuary. A delightful location for a relaxed walk admiring the beautiful house. 


Eating and Drinking: Salcombe has a range of cafes, restaurants, and pubs, offering a variety of cuisines and locally produced drinks, including seafood and local ales.


Shopping: Salcombe has a variety of boutique shops selling clothing, jewellery, art, and crafts, making it a great place for a spot of retail therapy, especially if you like to find little trinkets and treasures not found anywhere else.


Watersports: Salcombe is a great location for watersports, including kayaking, paddleboarding, and windsurfing, with lots of activity centres found locally!

Famous people from Salcombe

While Salcombe is rather small, it has certainly given birth or inspired some huge names, including:

Michael Morpurgo: The British author Michael Morpurgo, best known for his children’s books such as “War Horse” and “Private Peaceful”, has a home in Salcombe and is a regular visitor to the town.

Sir Clive Woodward: Sir Clive Woodward, the former England rugby coach who led the team to victory in the 2003 Rugby World Cup and now owns a holiday home in Salcombe to enjoy the delightful sights.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, spent several summers in Salcombe in the early 1900s and wrote about the town in his book “The Hound of the Baskervilles”.

John Cleese: John Cleese, the British comedian and actor best known for his work on Monty Python’s Flying Circus, has a home in Salcombe.

Sir Edward Elgar: The English composer Sir Edward Elgar spent several summers in Salcombe in the early 20th century, where he wrote some of his most famous works, including the “Enigma Variations”.

What is Salcombe famous for?

Like a lot of coastal Devonshire towns, Salcombe is famous for several things:

Sailing: Salcombe is renowned as a sailing destination. The town is home to several sailing regattas and races throughout the year, perfect for boat loving locals and tourists coming to enjoy the festivities. 

Beaches: Salcombe is surrounded by some of the most beautiful beaches in the South West of England, perfect for road trips, van campers and tourists looking to soak up some sunshine. 

Scenery: Salcombe is located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with stunning views of the coastline and estuary, as well as some gorgeous national heritage sites and breathtaking locations. 

Seafood: Salcombe is home to several seafood restaurants, and the town is known for its locally caught crab and lobster. As well as delicious oysters. Salcombe is home to some of the best oyster beds in the UK and hold their own oyster festival each year in September.

We’re not far away…

Just a short 30 minute drive away from Salcombe is the infamous Burgh Island hotel. A hotel near Salcombe like no other, Burgh Island is a spectacular haven only accessible by the famous sea tractor. Just 12.8 miles away from Salcombe (practically around the corner), Burgh Island is the perfect location to enjoy a truly remarkable stay with great travel links to nearby sunny Salcombe.  

Stay with us at our hotel near Salcombe

Burgh Island Hotel is bold and breathtaking, following a lively Art Deco theme throughout. Join us and be transported back to the roaring 20s, indulging in exciting events, sipping delicious cocktails in our bar, and enjoying the unique and characterful charm of the wider hotel. Burgh Island boasts 25 gorgeous rooms each uniquely decorated for a truly remarkable stay each time you visit. We are the perfect retreat for all occasions and we also make a stunning wedding venue near Salcombe.

Burgh Island can be found hidden away in the sunny South of Devon. The nearest towns are Bigbury-on-Sea and Challaborough, just under 13 miles from beautiful Salcombe. If you are reaching us by car, simply arrive at our Bigbury-on-Sea beach and our famous island sea tractor will provide transport over the waves for the perfect first impression. If you are arriving by train, the nearest stations are Totnes, Ivybridge and Plymouth. Wherever you are joining us from, you’ll find Burgh Island hotel to be a stunning and fabulous location to explore wider Devon and take in the beauty of the Devonshire coast.