It might come as a surprise to some of you that you can bathe in azure waters, discover secluded coves and surf rolling barrels right here in the UK. The rugged Cornish and Devon coastline is blessed with almost 400 beaches, including prime spots for beginner and avid surfers, as well as hidden gems for dog walkers and family picnics. You’ll think you’ve been transported to a Caribbean paradise when you visit the southwest coast.
In light of our summer’s heatwave, we’ve collated our favourite beaches in Cornwall and Devon that we believe are some of the best for surfing, swimming, escaping for the weekend with family and friends and of course, dog-friendly.
The most secluded beaches in Cornwall and DevonAs you journey along the southwest coast of the UK, you will find hidden coves and dramatic shores waiting to be explored. Devon forms part of the fossil-rich Jurassic Coast, which is England’s only natural World Heritage Site. Whereas, the Cornish Riviera is a picturesque peninsula comprising wild moorland and soft sandy beaches.
Whitsand Bay, southeast Cornwall
What makes Whitsand Bay a remote oasis is the rocky paths and steep, cobbled steps that wind between the wildflowers until they reach the golden soft sand. This three-mile stretch of unspoilt beach, dotted with rocks and backed by windswept cliffs, stretches from Rame Head to Portwrinkle and is considered to be one of Cornwall’s hidden gems. If you want to beat the summer rush, the beaches here are rarely crowded and at low tide, the bay provides excellent walking and jogging tracks, with rock pools spotted along the beach revealing marine life creatures. Surfers will also be happy at this secluded bay with constant swells and huge waves. Wander down the coast to Sharrow Point to take a peek inside Lugger’s Cave, a small grotto excavated by hand in 1784 by a sailor who carved mysterious verses on the ceiling.
Mattiscombe, DevonOn the Devonshire coast lies another beach that’s quite a challenge to get to and so has yet to be spoilt by over-tourism. Nestled alongside the South West Coast Path, it’s a short 2km steep walk down from the Start Point Car Park. Those who are able to manage the hike are certainly rewarded. It’s known as one of South Devon’s most secluded beaches and is the perfect haven for those looking for a quiet escape. Dog-owner’s delight—Mattiscombe is also dog friendly all year round and for wildlife lovers, you might be lucky enough to spot some grey seals or even basking sharks! Stick around for when the sun sets as the dramatic rock formations cast enchanting shadows on the sand. Don’t forget to take your D-Robe with you for when the sun dips below the horizon—it can drop more than a few degrees!
Family-friendly beaches in Cornwall and DevonThis summer, many of us are staying closer to home and enjoying what the British countryside and coast have to offer, and we couldn’t think of anywhere more idyllic than Cornwall and Devon’s many family-friendly beaches to spend your summer family holiday.
South Milton Sands, south Devon
This sheltered bay overlooks the iconic Thurlestone Rock—an arch formation that rises out from the water—and is overseen by the National Trust. It is the perfect spot for family outings as kids can snorkel in the clear waters of the shallow rock pools and adults can have a go at navigating the gentle waves on a Paddle Board. Sunsets are phenomenal and best enjoyed with ice cream from the Beachhouse. Our signature, oversized Robes are for the whole family and are designed to keep you snug and cosy when the summer evening chill comes rolling in, meaning that you don’t need to cut your family time short.
Nanjizal Beach, west Cornwall
If you’re looking for a secluded, dog and family-friendly beach that will keep the whole group entertained, Nanjizal Beach is definitely worth going off the beaten track to find. You really get a taste of why the tip of Cornwall’s peninsula is called Land’s End when you visit this rugged and wild bay. The real highlight is the spectacular Song of the Sea eyelet rock arch. You can bathe in the shallow rock pool and snorkel through the sea tunnel, passing through coralline pink walls and the sounds of water crashing around.
Kynance Cove, west CornwallStep into a French Polynesian postcard at undoubtedly the best beach in Cornwall, Kynance Cove. Set among moss-covered serpentine rock formations, including a distinctive pinnacle, caves and towering sea stacks, this beach is incredibly popular for swimmers and snorkellers due to its deep turquoise waters and astonishingly white sand. At low tide, you can walk around to the north bay opposite the aptly named, Asparagus Island, where you and the family can explore the sea caves and rock pools. It does get very busy here in the summer, so arrive early to avoid disappointment.
Surfing beaches in Cornwall and Devon
While Devon may not be as well-known for surfing as Cornwall, the two have put the UK on the map as a top surfing destination, both home to huge barrels, hollow tubes and beginner-sized beach breaks.
Bantham, south DevonFor the surfers hunting the coast’s gnarliest waves, Bantham is the top choice, with an Atlantic swell range between 2ft and 12ft. This Blue Flag beach—awarded for its crystal-clear waters, good public access and the highest environmental standards—attracts a wide range of levels and abilities, as well as families who enjoy spectating. The swell at Bantham is surprisingly consistent but the quality of the waves depends heavily on the sandbanks, which can shift at any time. You can find yourself riding a world-class wave, followed by a set of less impressive ones—which can always be picked up by beginners.
Polzeath Beach, CornwallEven at the height of the summer, this surfer beach maintains a laidback atmosphere and relaxed vibes with a collection of seaside cafes, bars and local shops. As this is a gradually shelving beach, the waves are long, slow breaking and less powerful—perfect for beginners. Hire a surfboard or body board from one of the beach shacks and get out on the water. Towards sunset the crowds begin to disperse, leaving those left to breathe in the show-stopping views in peace.
Saunton Sands, north DevonThe long, straight, golden beach of Saunton Sands plays a vital role in shaping Britain’s surfing culture and is one of the best beaches in Devon for beginner and intermediate surfers. The slow walls of water offer beginners good stead for getting up and riding the waves and also for those looking to perfect their more advanced skills. With an expansive 3 miles stretch, there is much more space for all, creating a safe environment to learn.
Dog-friendly beaches in Cornwall and Devon all year round
Last but certainly not least are our favourite dog-friendly beaches in Cornwall and Devon. You will find that many beaches on the southwest coast are dog-friendly, except for in the summer months when crowds flock in their hundreds. However, there are a few beaches that, to our delight, are dog-friendly all year round!
Man Sands, Devon
The Art-Deco country house, Coleton Fishacre, is located on a stretch of rugged coastline where you will find hidden coves and pebbled beaches. Nearby you can walk through quiet paths surrounded by countryside and sea views, ideal for a tranquil beach walk with your furry friends. On the way to Coleton Fishacre is Man Sands beach, a popular spot for swimming and surfing, as well as rock pooling at low tide. Dogs are allowed all year and the hike there will certainly keep them tired for the rest of the day.
Northcott Mouth, north Cornwall
This rocky beach is a quieter alternative to the nearby popular beaches in the town centre and it opens up to a large expanse of sand, allowing your dog to run wild. The walk to Sandymouth is beautiful, especially at the low tide when you can walk down the sand instead of on the South Coast Path.
Free to be with D-Robe
Although this summer is set to be a scorcher, any family adventure or sports outing requires the right kit. Don’t get caught out in a summer storm or find yourself shivering post-surf—our outdoor robes are seasonless and geared up to protect you all year round. When that sun is shining, lay out your robe on the sand to catch some rays and when the day is coming to a close, huddle up with your friends and keep warm with our versatile and indispensable collection of Robes.
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