Feeling the sand between your toes, discovering hidden coves, and watching the sea sparkle as if cloaked in dazzling crystals are bucket list experiences if you come to south Devon on holiday.
And finding secret beaches adds to that spirit of adventure, where you can relax in peace.
Along the south Devon coast, we have a few favourites, so if you’re up for a hike, grab a picnic and your cozzie and enjoy.
Man Sands, Wood Huish
Man Sands is just 3.9 miles from Bayards Cove Inn and is a wonderfully secluded pebble beach with sand exposed at low tide.
You’ll need to put your walking shoes on as there is no parking near the beach, and either walk from Sharkham Point along the coast path which has some steep sections, or park at Woodhuish lane.
The National Trust manages the land behind the beach which is a haven for birds, and information boards will tell you what to look out for.
There are no facilities at this beach, and those on the water are advised to be careful as there is a rip current on the turning high tide.
Western Combe Cove
Park at the National Trust’s carpark at Little Dartmouth a mile east of Stoke Fleming and head straight to the coast path, then left for 400m to find steps down the west side from Combe Point.
This is south Devon at its most rugged, with steep cliffs cascading down to the see. Caution is needed as the steps are steep, uneven, they can be slippy and they are not for the feint hearted.
Sugary Cove is a little beach of shingle and rocks and a short walk from Dartmouth Castle. Largely hidden by woodland until you’re very close, it’s an easy place to miss – especially since there are no signs to guide you. The walk downhill to Sugary Cove is steep but well worth it. Dogs are allowed all year.
This place is perfect if you are looking to combine spending time at the beach with the opportunity to explore the castle and delve into the past with a little local history.
If you like a hike, this beach is perfect for you. The steep slope down deters most visitors who prefer the nearby Slapton and Blackpool Sands.
It’s a 3km walk from Strete but it is worth it as you’ll find caves and another more secret cove that can only be accessed when the tide is out, but its worth remembering you’ll have a stiff walk back up the cliffs.
We recommend you head from Dartmouth towards Strete on the A379 and just before you reach the village there are some parking bays. The coastal path runs into the fields next to the bays. Head away from Strete and after 20 minutes or so you’ll enter a valley from where you’ll see Landcombe Cove and the path leading down to it.
Half a mile south of the very popular Southpool Sands, if you’re lucky you’ll squeeze into a spot on the layby.
Walk down the road for 200m and you’ll find a footpath down to the beach.
From Landscombe Cove to the west is Forest Cove, another glorious inlet that is flanked by grassy cliffs with rolling fields its backdrop. People shun Forest Cove in favour of more popular nearby beaches. There’s a steep climb down to the cove, but you’ll be rewarded with azure blue seas on a summer’s day, and an empty beach too.
Keep a keen eye on the tide times to avoid being trapped as there is no way off this beach, except to Landscombe Cove.
It’s an arduous climb back to the A379, but it is well worth it.