Burgh Island Hotel extrerior

The Best Beaches Near Salcombe 

Salcombe is a charming seaside town that captures the hearts of visitors. Every single year, locals and tourists flock to the beautiful Salcombe and charming beaches to catch some sun, jump into the waves and enjoy some of the charms of the UK coast. The town itself is a delightful labyrinth of narrow streets lined with colourful cottages, independent shops, and bustling cafes. While Salcombe’s harbour teems with activity, from bobbing boats and gleaming yachts to the lively chatter of fresh seafood markets.

But it truly is the beaches that steal the show. With miles of golden sand caressed by turquoise waters, Salcombe’s coastline offers something for everyone, from sheltered coves perfect for families to vast stretches of sand ideal for long walks and exciting water sports.

North Sands

Among Salcombe’s many gems, North Sands shines as a favourite for families and furry friends alike. This sheltered cove offers a delightful escape, perfect for a relaxing day by the seaside.

North Sands is a relatively small beach, particularly at high tide when the water reclaims much of the golden sand. However, this compact size creates a cosy and intimate atmosphere. The sheltered nature of the bay contributes to calm waters, ideal for young children paddling or splashing in the shallows. Parents can unwind on the soft sand, assured that their little ones can play safely within sight. Another perk for families is the abundance of rockpools exposed at low tide. These miniature sanctuaries provide endless entertainment for curious kids, teeming with crabs, starfish, and other fascinating sea creatures, making for a truly memorable day out for all the family. What’s more, North Sands extends a warm welcome to four-legged companions as well. Unlike some beaches with restrictions, North Sands is one of the best beaches in Salcombe that allows dogs year-round.

South Sands

Just a short distance from North Sands lies another of Salcombe’s beautiful beaches, South Sands. South Sands is a vast and dynamic beach offering a different kind of seaside experience. South Sands stretches out as a wide expanse of golden sand, beckoning visitors with the promise of fun in the sun.

Unlike the compact North Sands, South Sands boasts ample space for sunbathers to spread out and soak up the sun and the beach gently slopes towards the turquoise water, creating a safe and inviting environment for swimming. Whether you’re looking for a refreshing dip or a chance to practice your backstroke, South Sands caters to all! This beach is also a haven for water sports enthusiasts, with consistent breezes and rolling waves, South Sands provides the perfect conditions for activities like windsurfing, kitesurfing, and paddleboarding. 

For those who prefer a more leisurely pace, South Sands offers opportunities for kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding, allowing you to explore the coastline at your own rhythm.

With its expansive beach, inviting waters, and consistent winds, South Sands caters to a wider range of beachgoers seeking sun, sport, and an invigorating seaside experience.

Sunny Cove

​​Salcombe’s collection of beaches extends beyond the popular North and South Sands. Tucked away on the opposite side of the estuary, bathed in sunshine and serenity, lies Sunny Cove. This hidden gem offers a unique experience for those seeking a secluded space to unwind and appreciate the beauty of Salcombe.

Unlike the larger, bustling beaches, Sunny Cove prioritises peace and relaxation. It’s a relatively small beach, particularly at high tide, creating an intimate atmosphere. The golden sand invites you to sink your toes in and simply enjoy. However, Sunny Cove’s true star is the breathtaking view. Unlike North and South Sands, which face out to sea, Sunny Cove boasts a panoramic vista directly across the estuary. Gazing out from the shore, you’ll be treated to a picture-perfect scene of Salcombe’s charming harbour, with colourful boats bobbing on the water and the quaint town nestled along the shoreline.

Mill Bay

Another of the splendid beaches in Salcombe is Mill Bay. Mill Bay offers a secluded and sheltered spot for those seeking a tranquil escape. This unique beach is privately owned, adding to its exclusive feel. However, public access is still available, allowing visitors to experience its magic. Mill Bay unfolds as a crescent of golden sand, nestled within the woodlands of South Devon’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). This protected status ensures the preservation of the area’s pristine environment, offering visitors a chance to connect with the raw beauty of the Devon coastline.

While Mill Bay might not be the first choice for sunbathers seeking vast stretches of sand, it certainly offers a unique charm. It’s the perfect spot for a picnic lunch under the shade of the trees, a relaxing day building sandcastles with the family, or simply basking in the tranquillity of a protected natural environment.

East Portlemouth

Nestled on the opposite side of the estuary, accessible by a convenient ferry, lies East Portlemouth. This collection of beaches offers a tranquil escape for those seeking a quieter alternative to the vibrant energy of Salcombe’s main beaches. East Portlemouth isn’t a single beach, but rather a series of smaller coves – Fisherman’s Cove, Smalls Cove, and Mill Bay – each with its own unique charm. While the golden sand stretches for a considerable distance, the coves create a sense of intimacy and seclusion. The beaches here are generally less crowded than those in Salcombe itself, making them ideal for those who prefer a more peaceful atmosphere.

The ferry ride adds to the charm of visiting East Portlemouth. It provides a scenic journey across the calm waters of the estuary, offering stunning views of Salcombe and the surrounding coastline. Once you arrive, you can relax on the soft sand, soak up the sunshine, and enjoy the gentle sound of lapping waves. The calm waters at East Portlemouth are perfect for young children or those who prefer a relaxing paddle.

History about Salcombe

Salcombe’s charm extends beyond the golden sands and inviting water of its beaches. The town boasts a rich history with archaeological evidence suggesting settlements around Salcombe’s estuary date back as far as 3,000 years! However, the town itself likely emerged around the 13th century. Early Salcombe was a small fishing village, and its sheltered harbour made it a natural haven for those working the seas. The town also developed a bit of a reputation for smuggling, a not-uncommon activity along the British coast in those times.
A significant turning point for Salcombe came in the 1800s when the town emerged as a renowned shipbuilding centre, particularly famous for its fast and sleek schooners known as the “Salcombe Fruiters.” These vessels played a crucial role in the fruit trade, racing to be the first to bring exotic fruits back to English ports. The success of the Salcombe Fruiters brought a period of prosperity to the town, and their legacy is still celebrated today at the Salcombe Maritime Museum.

While the fruit trade eventually declined, Salcombe’s transformation into a popular tourist destination began between the two World Wars. Tourists drawn to the stunning scenery, peaceful atmosphere, and of course, the beautiful beaches, flocked to Salcombe. This trend continued throughout the 20th century, solidifying Salcombe’s reputation as a jewel of the South Devon Riviera.

Today, Salcombe offers a captivating blend of history and modern charm. Visitors can explore the narrow streets lined with traditional cottages, delve into the town’s maritime past at the museum, or simply relax on the splendid Salcombe beaches that first drew tourists over a century ago.

Staying near Salcombe

If you’re planning a visit to the best beaches in Salcombe, surely you’d delight in knowing that not too far away you’ll find your very own private beach. Along the coast of Bigbury-on-Sea, you’ll find the perfect landing point to enjoy the world-famous Art Deco hotel, Burgh Island. Burgh Island is a unique and luxurious retreat located just a stone’s throw from the mainland, accessible by sea tractor.

The unique transport across the waves only adds to the charm and exclusivity of staying at Burgh Island. Imagine stepping off the mainland and onto your own private island paradise, complete with rugged cliffs, boards soaring overhead and beautiful golden sands around every corner. For those who are unfamiliar, Burgh Island Hotel itself is a magnificent Art Deco masterpiece, meticulously upholding charming 1930s glamour. Stepping inside is like stepping back in time, surrounded by the elegance and sophistication of that wonderful party era. The hotel boasts stunning sea views, luxurious rooms, and impeccable service, making it a haven for those seeking a little touch of indulgence when staying in Devon. But Burgh Island’s allure extends beyond its luxurious appointments and stunning location. The hotel has a rich history, having played host to a dazzling array of celebrities over the years. Agatha Christie, Noel Coward, and even The Beatles have all graced Burgh Island with their presence, adding to the hotel’s legendary status. In fact, Agatha Christie used the island as a writing retreat and penned “And Then There Were None” on the very shores.

However, perhaps the most captivating aspect of Burgh Island is the unparalleled privacy it offers. While just a short distance from the vibrant town of Salcombe, staying on Burgh Island allows you to escape the crowds and truly unwind in a secluded setting. Imagine waking up to the sound of crashing waves and spending your days exploring the rocky coastline, all within the confines of your very own island retreat. Once the day is done, return to the hotel and unwind with a tall drink in the gorgeous Palm Court Lounge, or perhaps take yourself off for an evening of exquisite dining in one of the three restaurants available within the hotel.

Truly one of the most unique gems on the Devon coastline, Burgh Island beholds so much more than just a splendid Salcombe beach visit. It is a historical monument, a time capsule to days gone by and your invitation to a remarkable experience.