Ilfracombe in north Devon offers the peculiar The Tunnels Beaches, a Victorian development where four hand-carved tunnels lead to private sheltered beaches with an adjacent large tidal, rock pool that is very popular with kids and supervised by a lifeguard.
There are plenty of other smaller rock pools too, as well as facilities such as shop, bar, play hut, café and sea kayak hire. Open 10am – 6pm April-June, Sept-Oct and 9am – 9pm July and August. Recently entry costs £1. 95 per adult, £1. 50 per child, free for kids under 3; family deals available.
Westward Ho! hosts a great all-round beach environment with two miles of soft beige sand, beach huts, café, toilets and lifeguards. Part of the beach is good for surfing or windsurfing, watersports kit is readily available and, as usual, the gorgeous South-West Coast Path is a great draw for hikers. Get there from Bideford via the A29 – A386 – B3236.
Bantham beaches, south Devon. Photo courtesy of Bantham Estates.
Bantham is an attractive old town with an inviting bay 4 miles west of Kingsbridge (off the A379), offering a privately owned Blue Flag beach – designated as an Area of Outstanding Beauty – with a few facilities in the summertime, including a lifeguard, though toilets and eating places are in the village a few hundred yards away.
The bay provides modest surf, many kid-friendly rock pools and adult-friendly coastal walks.
Blackpool Sands Beach
Blackpool Sands beach, Devon. Photo Richard Knights.
Blackpool Sands – ironically a shingle beach (Sands is an historic name) – is known for its space, sheltered family ambience and lush natural backdrop. It’s a privately managed ‘Blue Flag’ family beach with sand pits, a bathing raft, kayaks and paddle boards for hire, a café and a beach shop.
Lifeguards monitor the beach and no dogs are allowed during the summer season.
Facilities include toilets, showers, wet suit hire.
Blackpool Sands is 3 miles west of Dartmouth on the South Devon coast in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Paignton Sands in the town of Paignton offers actual sand, a deep red sand beach washed by placid, shallow waters rated as 5* quality, excellent. It hosts the usual facilities: disabled, toilets, shops, café/restaurant and is scattered with child-friendly activities including kayak hire and boat trips from the interesting little harbour. There are no lifeguards, nor are dogs permitted on the beach.