You won't believe these beaches are in South Devon

Whilst many people look to countries such as Spain, Greece or Portugal for their sea-soaked getaway, the UK, and South Devon in particular, has plenty of gorgeous beaches without the hassle of flying or remembering to pack your passport! 

With the cost-of-living crisis and following the ‘end’ of the pandemic, plenty of travellers are reconsidering their holiday habits and thinking of booking a domestic trip within the UK for their next summer getaway. If you’re one of these people looking for an idyllic Devon-based break with all the makings of a holiday abroad, take a look at the beaches you won’t believe are in South Devon.   

Soar Mill Cove, Salcombe 

Backed by rolling green fields and the staggered cliffs of Bolt Head, it’s hard to believe that Devon has a beach as beautiful as Soar Mill Cove. The unspoilt landscape, immaculate golden sand and pristine water make this beach a favourite for wild swimmers.  

Soar Mill Cove is a haven for wildlife; handsome highland cattle, rare butterflies and the odd seal can be spotted from the beach. The area surrounding the cove was home to ancient Iron Age Hillforts at Bolt Tail and prehistoric hut circles along the coast, making this location even more enticing.  

Due to its remote location, accessed via the South West Coast Path from Bolberry or West Soar, this tiny beach tends to be very quiet, making it the perfect spot to spend the day relaxing with a book or swimming in the sea.  

Sunny Cove Beach, East Portlemouth 

Sunny Cove Beach is situated on the Kingsbridge Estuary on the opposite side to the town of Salcombe. Access to this beach can be made via the passenger ferry from Salcombe to East Portlemouth or via SUP or kayak over the estuary.  

This beach is perfect or lazy days on the beach with a BBQ and a beer, or for families looking for a quiet beach to build sandcastles and paddling in the sea.  

The view from Sunny Cove is extraordinary. It’s directly opposite the old Salcombe Castle and Fort Charles with views of the North Sands and South Sands beaches as well as the mouth of the estuary which flows out to sea. 

Sugary Cove, Dartmouth 

A stone’s throw away from the historic Dartmouth Castle and flanked by stunning woodland, Sugary cove is a small and secluded sandy inlet. This beach sits on the South West Coast Path at the mouth of the River Dart and about a mile or so from the maritime town of Dartmouth.  

This beach is utterly beautiful in the summer during low tide. The tall cliffs provide shelter from the breeze and the water is a dream to swim in. At high tide the beach becomes completely submerged as the waves crash against the rocks so be sure to keep an eye on tide times. 

Elberry Cove, Churston Ferrers nr Paignton 

Accessible by foot from Broadsands Beach, Elberry Cove is a stunning shingle beach lapped up by crystal clear waters and surrounded by woodland. If you’re looking for a place to soak up the sun in Paignton, away from the hustle and bustle of the popular seaside resort, Elberry Cove is the place to go.  

Interestingly, this beach was much loved by Agatha Christie who claimed it was her favourite sunbathing spot – if it’s good enough for the renowned crime writer, it’s good enough for us! 

Man Sands Beach, Brixham 

Backed by grassy hills and flanked by rocky slopes, Man Sands is a wonderful rural cove with stunning views of the surrounding landscape. The beach is situated between Brixham and Kingswear, roughly halfway between Berry Head Nature Reserve and Coleton Fishacre, a National Trust owned property. 

When the tide is out sand and rock pools are exposed making this a lovely beach to visit with older children. However, there are no facilities and it can only be access on foot from Sharkham Point Nature Reserve along the coast path or by walking around half a mile from Woodhuish Lane.  

Behind the beach is a marshland, a haven for birds and other wildlife; even grass snakes can be seen swimming in the water. Nature lovers will be glad to know that there is a bird hide here offering visitor a chance to witness these creatures in their natural habitat.  

Forest Cove, Strete nr Dartmouth 

Forest Cove is Blackpool Sands’ lesser-known sister beach, surrounded by rolling hills and lapped up by the sparkling waters of Start Bay. Because of being less popular than its adjacent beaches, it’s a perfectly tranquil spot to spend the day reading and basking in the sunshine.  

This small inlet sits between Blackpool Sands and Strete Gate Beach with access via the South West Coast Path over beautiful green farmland and close to the coastal village of Strete.  

Churston Cove, Brixham 

Secluded and accessed via a long, steep footpath, Churston Cove is a slice of sanctuary along Tor Bay. Sheltered by woodland and staggered rocks, this shingle inlet is reminiscent of the beautiful coves in the Algarve with pellucid water, perfect for swimming and snorkelling.   

If you’re trying to reach this beach from Brixham you can head to the Battery Gardens which has stunning views of the entire English Riviera coastline, and then follow the South West Coast Path for a short distance. It can also be reached from Broadsands and Elberry Cove.  

Marine life is in abundance here which is what makes this area perfect for snorkelling, you may even spot a seal or two bobbing up and down in the water.  

Beer Beach, Beer 

Set in the picturesque fishing village of Beer, Beer Beach is a wonderful family-friendly beach surrounded by dramatic limestone cliffs, making it stand out from the adjoining red-cliff beaches of Sidmouth and Seaton.  

This beach is part of the UNSECO World Heritage Jurassic Coast and has a history of being a smugglers haven many years ago. The central part of the beach is lined with fishing boats which are launched to collect the plentiful bounty of the sea. 

On a Summers day this beach is popular with locals and tourists as the water is pristine and the cliffs provide shelter from the wind. For panoramic views of the beach and Lyme Bay take the South West Coast Path to Hooken Cliffs towards Branscombe, the vista here is akin to those of Spain or Greece. 

Scabbacombe Sands, Brixham 

Also situated between Brixham and Kingswear is Scabbacombe Sands, a short but uneven walk along the South West Coast Path from Man Sands. Despite being somewhat off the beaten track, this unspoilt beach will reward you with a warm microclimate in the summer and sea as clear as glass.  

This spot is the perfect place for wildlife spotters to spend the day as Fulmars have formed a colony on the cliffs by the beach and the rock faces are sprinkled with elegant wildflowers including the Early Purple Orchid and Oxeye Daisy. 

Cellar Beach, Noss Mayo 

Another beach that you won’t believe is in South Devon is Cellar Beach, a remote shingle beach sitting on the Yealm Estuary near the more well-known beaches of Wembury and Mothecombe.  

Accessed by a mile-long walk via the South West Coast Path from Noss Mayo, this hidden retreat boasts unspoilt views of the Plymouth coastline and over the county boarder towards Cornwall. The beach is named as such due to the ‘cellars’ here that used to store fishermen’s equipment and daily catch centuries ago.  

Cellar Beach is frequented by paddle boarders and kayakers who have travelled down the Yealm estuary from Newton Ferrers or from across the mouth of the estuary from Wembury.  


If you decide to take a trip to any of the beaches listed above make sure to share your experience and photos with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can stay up to date with the latest Visit South Devon blog post, competitions and more by signing up to our e-newsletter here.  




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