Planning your South Devon holiday or short break this year? Find that time normally runs out and you get to the last day and find out all the places that you should have gone to while you were way? Sound familiar? Then have a read of our go to list of 15 tried and tested (by us, and our family!) places that we love to visit in South Devon to help you plan ahead for your Devon holiday. A couple may be dependant on reopening, so do check before you travel. If you are staying in or around Salcombe, Kingsbridge, Hope Cove, Dartmouth or any of the hidden hamlets and tiny villages that are in the South Hams you should find something that suits everyone. Especially if you are bringing your four-legged friend with you. Most of the places in the list below are dog friendly.
Love walking or running then you’ll love that the South West Coast path features quite a lot. Looking for places to eat there are some great recommendations for places to eat and drink. Want some local history we’ve got that covered too. Thinking of learning to surf or paddleboard then read on…
Walk the South West Coast Path from East Portlemouth (Salcombe) to Gara Rock
Want a stunning walk? Try walking from East Portlemouth to Gara Rock. Take the South West Coast path from East Portlemouth towards Gara Rock. If you are in Salcombe just catch the ferry over to East Portlemouth and walk towards Mill Bay to pick up the South West Coast Path. It’s just over an hour each way and the scenery is amazing. You have refreshments at both ends of the walk at the Venus Cafe at East Portlemouth and at Gara Rock. There are also beaches at both ends too so try if you can to time it with the tide so you can head to Rickham Sands just below Gara Rock which is best at low tide. One way is definitely hillier than the other!
Gara Rock | Venus Cafe | South West Coast Path
Visit Start Point Lighthouse
Take a trip to Start Point ands visit Start Point Lighthouse one of Devon’s most southerly points and also one of the few remaining lighthouses that you can tour around. (Currently closed as at April 2021). It’s a great walk down on a tarmac path. But do check before you go as it is closed at certain times of the year. Time it at sunset for an amazing view. On your way down to the lighthouse if you get halfway there’s a path to the right where the Southwest Coast path splits off. It’s worth walking uphill along the path and putting your head up to see the view and you really get a feeling for the coast and the geography of Start Point.
Start Point Lighthouse | South West Coast Foot Path
Take the ferry to East Portlemouth beach or to Salcombe
Take the ferry from East Portlemouth to Salcombe or the other way round. Salcombe has shops, East Portlemouth has beautiful beaches. If you go at low tide to East Portlemouth then you can walk along the beaches rather than the road. You can also head down the estuary creek towards Goodshelter and South Pool. It’s very Daphne Du Maurier and a bit like Frenchman’s creek.
There are shops, the RNLI lifeboat station, the maritime museum, crabbing on the quay, numerous pubs and restaurants, cafe culture, the bakery. Salcombe Dairy ice cream, boat hire. There’s an article just on Salcombe alone! The wardroom cafe is our favourite for a waterside coffee and cake. or a bite of lunch.
Salcombe | Wardroom
Afternoon tea in Salcombe
Fancy an afternoon tea with a view? In a sumptuous hotel in Salcombe? After an afternoon of shopping in Salcombe head for an afternoon tea at the Salcombe Harbour Hotel. If you can’t park in Salcombe at the hotel they will valet park your car at the park and ride at the top of town. Making it very accessible for anyone with limited mobility.
Salcombe Harbour Hotel
Paddleboard in Salcombe
Want to get paddling around Salcombe and spend some time switching off on the Salcombe estuary? Then you can either take your own paddleboard and launch at East Portlemouth or in Salcombe. Or you can hire from the Salcombe paddleboard company. Want to learn in a group or head off on your own? Head to Port Waterhouse near East Portlemouth. You could paddle to the Island Street Bar and Grill for lunch and back.
Salcombe Paddleboard | Island Street Bar and Grill
Walk to North Sands and National Trust Overbeck's House
Head to North Sands from Salcombe, a lovely walk with the most incredible (probably the best) views of Salcombe estuary as you rise above the town and then descend down into North Sands. Great when it's sunny or stormy as you can see the waves crashing over the Salcombe Bar. Head to the Winking Prawn for lunch and then on to National Trust Overbeck's, with it’s beautiful tropical garden and house full of curiosities. Dog restrictions at North Sands beach in the Summer.
Winking Prawn | Overbeck's House
Visit Hope Cove at sunset
Take a trip to Hope Cove, and have dinner in a lobster pod. Hope Cove has Inner and Outer Hope beaches. it’s right on the South West Coast path too. There are plenty of places to eat and drink and it’s also one of the best places in the South Hams to see the sunset. The lobster pot dining pods have incredible sunset views across the Bay. The newly reopened Hope Cove House Hotel is a lovely spot at sunset and has a fabulous menu too.
Hope Cove House | Lobster Pod Bistro
South Hallsands ruined village
Visit the viewing platform at South Hallsands for views across Start Bay towards Start Point Lighthouse. You’ll also see the ruins of the fishing village at Hallsands that was destroyed in storms over 100 years ago. Carry on walking towards the beach at North Hallsands. Or head up to Start Point Lighthouse along the South West Coast Path.
South West Coast Path
Walk the South West Coast Path from Hallsands to Beesands
Walk from Hallsands to Beesands, along National Trust clifftops there are new pathways where the older ones have crumbled into the sea. You’ll see for miles often as far as Portland Bill if the weather is clear but certainly as far as the entrance to Dartmouth Harbour. See if you can spot the buzzards, kestrels and also the rare Cirl Bunting. Look out for wild stock here as there are often sheep and cows grazing on the steep banks. Head to our favourite gastro pub The Cricket Inn or restaurant and takeaway Britannia for some great seafood or refreshments.
Cricket Inn | Britannia at the Beach
Bigbury beach and Burgh Island
Walk across to Burgh island that sits opposite the mainland. Accessible at low tide this Devon landmark can be reached by a sandy tidal passageway and at other times by sea tractor! The Burgh Island Hotel that sits opposite Bigbury on Sea was where Agatha Christies wrote two of her famous novels ‘Evil under the sun’ and also ‘And then there were none’ which features in one of her novels. The Pilchard Inn is well worth a visit and walking around the island you can discover the remains of the chapel and see lots of wildlife and a rather great collection of rock pools. You can also learn to surf at Bigbury surf school. Dogs restrictions.
Bigbury Beach | Discovery Surf school
Want to visit the ONLY beach in the UK that made the Lonely Plant’s Top 10 beaches in Europe in 2015? Popular with surfers, families, walkers, dog walkers, locals and holidaymakers alike. Bantham has something for everyone. It’s a huge sweeping curving sandy beach which lies the other side of the River Avon from Bigbury beach with views out across Bigbury Bay and across to Burgh island. Situated at the mouth of the River Avon with it’s vast sand dunes it’s as beautiful on a winters day in a storm as it is in the height of Summer and easy to see why it made it into the Lonely Planet Top 10 and ours. There’s the gastro bus for coffee, food and drink. Dog restrictions apply.
Visit Agatha Christie's home Greenway by boat
National Trust Greenway was Agatha Christies beloved holiday home on the banks of the River Dart opposite Dittisham. It is a fabulous place to visit. It was handed to the National Trust and you can visit by boat or by road. Head there in Spring to see the beautiful magnolias. They also do a lovely cream tea in the restaurant here! If you go by boat from Dartmouth you can then top and tail your day in Dartmouth shopping or looking around the town.
National Trust Greenway | Dartmouth Greenway Ferry
Paddleboard in Kingsbridge
Book a lesson or hire a board from Waterborn SUP. Head off and explore the beautiful Kingsbridge estuary. It's quiet and sheltered and the perfect place to learn. Paddle up to Salcombe on the outgoing tide and paddle back in on the incoming tide. Or there's even SUP Yoga! You'll find Waterborn SUP at the Crabshell Inn. So you can head for a drink and a pizza after!
Waterborn SUP | Crabshell Inn
Blackpool Sands Beach and cafe
One of our favourite beaches. A blue flag beach with a Venus Cafe and shop and large car park. Blackpool Sands is just off the A379 with a huge wide sweeping beach. There are watersports and it has lifeguards through the summer months. It's also a blue flag beach and once you've seen how clear the water is you'll understand why. It's also fab in the winter for a stroll and a hot drink in the cafe. They also hold open-air film nights here. Dogs are restricted through the summer.
Blackpool Sands | Open Air Cinema
We'd love to know how you get on, or if there's anything you think we should add to the list do let us know!