South Devon is known for many things; our spectacular coastline, the dramatic peaks and tors of Dartmoor, and, of course, the Devonshire cream tea! It’s also known as one of the best places for wildlife watching with many rare and unusual species calling South Devon home.  

One animal you might see when visiting the region are seals; common and grey seals in particular. Everyone remembers their first seal sighting; the child-like excitement of witnessing them bob up and down in the sea or basking in the sunshine on a pontoon makes the memories truly unforgettable. 

These inquisitive mammals are such a wonderful sight to behold but with that being said, it’s vital that you give them space, admire them from afar and do not disturb them. After all, these beautiful creatures are not domesticated animals, so they have wild instincts and are incredibly strong! 

Read on to discover our favourite places to see seals in South Devon. 

Brixham Harbour, Brixham 

Being such a haven for fish, it’s no surprise that seals enjoy swimming around Brixham Harbour. In fact, it’s one of the places that you’re almost guaranteed to see them! Look out for them resting in the harbour or plodding along the marina hoping to find a discarded fish from the trawlers.  

Berry Head Nature Reserve, Brixham 

Offering immense views of the English Riviera coastline, Berry Head is perhaps one of the most stunning locations for seal watching in the region. This area was previously a Napoleonic Fort, but these days is a sanctuary for wildlife. Seals have been known to feed in the waters below and sunbathe on the rocks at the bottom of the headland.  

Dartmouth Harbour and Estuary, Dartmouth 

Both Grey and Common Seals are known to reside in the Dart Estuary and the Mewstone. Grey Seals often breed in the river and then move to the more secluded caves and coves around the Dart to have their pups in the autumn. 

If you’d like to see the seals from the water in Dartmouth, we’d recommend embarking on a trip with Sea Kayak Devon. Although they’re not a dedicated animal spotting cruise, many people who take these trips often come across marine life. Sea Kayak Devon offer day trips and kayaking excursions to showcase the incredible South Devon coastline and give you the chance to explore secret caves and beautiful beaches which are only accessible from the water. The beauty of an expedition on a kayak is that it’s a lot quieter compared to boats so you can stealthily observe the wildlife without disturbing them. Click here to find out more about Sea Kayak Devon. 

Slapton & Torcross 

Whilst Slapton Ley Nature Reserve, separated from the sea by the shingle beach, is home to hundreds of migrating birds and rare flora, seals are known to frequent the one and a half mile-long long beaches of Torcross and Slapton.  

Many a seal have been spotted floating around in the depths of the water hunting for fish, some will even venture onto the beaches to put on a show for the admiring beachgoers during quieter times! 

Churston Cove, Brixham 

Located a relatively short walk from Brixham Harbour along the South West Coast Path, Churston Cove makes a wonderful spot for seal watching. Sheltered by woodland and staggered rocks, this shingle beach has a Mediterranean feel with crystal clear water, perfect for swimming and snorkelling.  

This transparent water must be why it’s popular with seals; they can easily find food to snack on throughout the day. Even if you don’t happen to spot any seals here your visit will certainly be worthwhile as this shingle inlet is simply breath-taking. 

Exe Estuary 

The Exe Estuary is one of the most important habitats in South Devon. Each year thousands of birds migrate here during the winter and it’s a significant area for invertebrates that live within the mudflats – making the estuary as biodiverse as a tropical rainforest! 

It’s also not unusual to spot a seal or two on the Exe Estuary, usually found reclining on the mudflats or moorings in the water.  

Those taking a trip with Stuart Line Cruises are often treated to a glimpse of a seal, we were lucky enough to spot one lounging in the sunshine back in November. Stuart Line Cruises offer fantastic trips of the Exe Estuary and other excursions around Devon, find out more about them here

Equally you could rent a canoe, kayak or SUP from Saddles & Paddles which are located at Exeter Quay, or from Exe Adventures and venture down the river to the estuary. 

Hopes Nose, Torquay 

At the most easterly point of the English Riviera is Hopes Nose, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and part of the English Riviera Geopark. This area is a true natural beauty spot enjoyed by many walkers, geologists and ecologists.  

It’s also a popular angling area due to its wealth of fish, specifically being reliable for mackerel, which is probably why it’s so common for seals to be found here too, attempting to sneakily steal a fish or two from those trying to enjoy a simple pastime!  

You could also explore this area of Torbay on board a Devon Sea Safari trip, an excursion specifically designed for wildlife watching. Operating from Teignmouth harbour, a thriving fishing port, Devon Sea Safari offer tours to sail across to Labrador Bay, Babbacombe and the tiny islands opposite Hopes Nose. You might even be lucky enough to not only spot a seal, but also dolphins, porpoises and whales too! 

Do you have an epic seal picture taken in South Devon? Or perhaps we’ve missed one of your favourite seal watching spots, if so, let us know on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the tag @VisitSouthDevon.  

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Sea Kayak Devon
Outdoor Activity/Pursuit Centre
Friendly Seal!

Guided sea kayak trips…The ultimate way to explore the south Devon coast. Individuals, groups and families all welcome no experience required.

Stuart Line Cruises
Boat Trip
Geology Day Trip

Stuart Line Cruises is based in Exmouth, Devon and we are easy to find. We do have some alternative departure points in Exeter, Sidmouth and Topsham so please therefore check carefully as to where your boat trip is departing from, before making your way to us.



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