Stunning Salcombe has it all - harbour views, rugged walks, dog-friendly beaches, abundant sailing, and a wonderful array of boutiques, cafes, pubs and restaurants right on your doorstep.
The beautiful waterside town of Salcombe, with its outlook across the stunning harbour to golden beaches and the sparkling sea beyond, is one of South Devon's most desirable holiday cottage destinations. A mecca for sailors and water sports enthusiast, and a playground for the rich and famous, Salcombe is the UK's answer to Saint-Tropez.
In the summer months, traditional sailing boats race past the Princess Yachts moored in the harbour, while sports cars cruise through Fore Street, past buzzing designer clothes stores and local boutiques. The shops and restaurants located by the waterfront exude the perfect nautical vibe, complementing the boatbuilding heritage that has long served the local townsfolk lucky enough to live in this scenic, naturally sheltered harbour.
Strolling down Fore Street you will find a tempting selection of cafes, delis, restaurants, and pubs to frequent, whilst children (and adults!) will insist on a trip to the old fashioned sweet shop, Cranch's, or treat them to delicious local ice cream at the Salcombe Dairy. The recently refurbished, family and dog-friendly pub, The Victoria Inn, serves excellent food and also operates a 'man crèche' that may be useful for more relaxed shopping trips!
A little ferry makes the short trip back and forth to the golden sands of East Portlemouth and the dog-friendly beaches at Mill Bay and Sunny Cove, whilst the energetic can pick up the South West Coast Path from here to enjoy unrivalled scenery from the rugged clifftop trail. The beach at North Sands is an easy stroll from town, where you'll find The Winking Prawn, a child-friendly institution amongst locals and holiday makers alike, where diners can enjoy delicious food and drink for breakfast, lunch or dinner... or all three if you fancy a full day on the beach.
The exquisite Overbeck's National Trust, just a little further along the coast at South Sands, is well worth a visit for the spectacular views and world famous gardens, capable of growing a broad range of rare and exotic plants not commonly found on these shores thanks to the site's unique location, perched high on the coastline and open to the Gulf Stream.
Outside of the peak season, visitors can expect to find a much quieter town more akin to a sleepy West Country village. However, the shops and restaurants generally stay open throughout the year, and the natural beauty of the area is so abundant that Salcombe remains a fantastic holiday destination all year round.
A holiday cottage in Salcombe has all the ingredients for a relaxing seaside holiday in a simply stunning area of outstanding natural beauty.
Hiring a traditional Salcombe Yawl or launch is a fabulous way to explore the Salcombe estuary taking in the beaches and wildlife along the way. The Salcombe Yawl is an attractive 16ft dingy unique to Salcombe suitable for racing or cruising with the family, or alternatively, less experienced sailors can hire a sturdier harbour launch with inboard engine to potter from beach to beach. Both are available on a weekly basis along with everything you need to have and enjoyable yet safe time on the water. Sailing tuition in a Salcombe Yawl, or leisurely skippered sails around the harbour are also available in the safe hands of experienced local sailor Scratch Hitchen.
Salcombe is known for its unique sailing opportunities thanks to the spectacular coastline. A favourite destination amongst some of the best in the sailing community, getting out on the water is very much part of the South Devon holiday experience, and at Salcombe Dinghy Sailing, owners Zoe and Ross are a highly skilled, warm and friendly duo who make you feel safe, happy, confident and well prepared on the water whether you’re having lessons, hiring a boat, are a beginner or a practiced sailor looking to sharpen your skills. You can opt for taster sessions, bespoke private tuition, or RYA teaching courses with up to four students per instructor. Just make sure you bring warm, waterproof clothing with you – it can get nippy our there!
A beautiful art space on Island Street in Salcombe, Paper Bird Island is where you can ‘let your creativity fly’. Owned by artist Alice Alderson, the walls are painted so that you feel like you’re entering an illustrated tropical island dedicated to colouring in, being creative and if you really want to give it your all, getting the glitter involved as well. Refreshments are available and it’s a wonderful spot to relax in peace whether you’re in a group, on your own, whether you’re bringing children or going as a group of adults. Available for parties or simply somewhere to pop in on a rainy day, it’s a charming space to visit and make your own South Devon souvenirs.
The ultimate fishing experience for anyone on holiday in South Devon, Phoenix Charters provides sea fishing tours our of Salcombe for bass, cod, pollock, ray, sole, plaice, shark, conger eel, mackerel and other species. This is about quality angling for both the experienced fishing fan and beginners alike all in this beautiful little corner of South Devon. Take in the views, hope for sunshine, and choose from a variety of boats and experiences including private groups and organized tours. Take your catch home with you and enjoy a day well spent in true Salcombe style!
A super friendly water sports company offering RYA courses, events and family friendly days out on the water around Salcombe. A popular choice is the thrilling Fast Rib Ride, a 75 minute 007 style high speed rib ride taking in the magnificent South Devon coastline and its wildlife. Or groups can try the exciting half day treasure hunts where teams are challenged to carry out fun tasks culminating in a raft race. Other options include more relaxing rib rides up the Salcombe estuary taking in lunch and drinks, coasteering trips, wakeboarding, water skiing and banana boat rides.
Sea n Shore are very flexible and can tailor courses and activities to your requirements. They can also provide lunch time hampers, or decadent cream teas with champagne to enjoy on your day out.
A warm and friendly pub in the centre of town with plenty of seating and a pretty rear beer garden. The menu is made up of quality pub classics such as fish and chips, burgers and steaks which can be washed down with a range of local beers and ciders. Kid friendly with children’s menu and outside play area.
Enjoy stunning views of the Salcombe estuary whilst sipping the signature ‘Salcombe & Tonic’ made of course with Salcombe Gin, a high quality gin made on site in traditional handmade copper stills. A great spot for a few drinks after a day on the water, or before heading out for dinner in Salcombe.
Salcombe Gin The Boathouse, 28 Island Street, Salcombe TQ8 8DP (T: 01548 288180)
A centrally located waterside pub and restaurant with lovely views over the harbour from its sunny terrace. Fresh local fish and seafood features heavily on the menu along with other pub classics and freshly made pizzas. A great location for a quick bite whilst browsing the shops, or drinks and dinner after a day on the water.
Accessed either by boat, via a 10-minute walk through the woods from parking at Mill Bay, or a stroll from the Salcombe to East Portlemouth Ferry, Sunny Cove is a sandy beach which, as you might expect, catches the sun throughout the day, weather pending. It’s on the East Portlemouth side of the Salcombe Estuary opposite North Sands beach and Fort Charles, the ruined fortification that was originally constructed during the reign of Henry VIII to defend the Kingsbridge Estuary against French and Spanish Pirates. It’s a relatively gentle spot for swimming and ideal for picnics, lazy summer afternoons, and reaching on kayaks and paddle boards from other nearby beaches as well as being the perfect spot for building sandcastles. That said, the tide can come in quite quickly so make sure you don’t get caught out and be careful of the swell when bringing boats into the beach. Head there for the day in the summer or as a stop off en route to the café at Gara Rock or a longer walk along the coast path towards Prawle Point. Dogs are welcome all year round but keep in mind that there aren’t any facilities in the immediate vicinity (it would be a 10-15-minute walk along wooded footpaths) so take your sandwiches with you!
A sandy beach on the East Portlemouth side of the Salcombe Estuary, at low tide Mill Bay stretches all the way up the coastline to East Portlemouth beach.
It has the most wonderful view of Salcombe itself and is popular with everyone, especially families, because of the large swathes of sand on which you can set up camp for the day and enjoy safe, clean swimming conditions.
Parking is limited, so the best way to get to it is either by boat or by catching the East Portlemouth Ferry from Salcombe and strolling along. That way you can also nip past The Venus Café by the slipway to pick ice creams, sandwiches and refreshments before settling in for the day.
There are rock pools to explore, sandcastles to build and swimming to be done, just make sure you’re careful of any boats coming in and out of the beach. Dogs are welcome at Mill Bay all year round, and it makes an excellent spot to run around with them whatever time of the year.
Like the other beaches along this stretch of coast, Mill Bay makes for an ideal place to spend the day right into the evening, although it is a little stroll to the nearest facilities. It’s also a lovely beach to meander across en route towards Gara Rock or on a longer walk along the coast path.
The first beach as you walk along the Cliff Road out of Salcombe, North Sands sits in a valley and is a sandy horseshoe shaped beach that’s expansive at low tide. Thanks to its shape and location, it’s extremely popular in the summer because there’s plenty of space to set up camp for the day with buckets, spades and fishing nets in tow for avid marine biologists and sand castle connoisseurs.
The beach has a fresh water stream running through it from the top of the valley, which, aside from providing hours of entertainment for accompanying dogs and a marvellous place to wash the sand off your feet, also means that the beach is largely wet sand, so don’t forget to take something to sit on if you’re heading there for the day.
Popular with swimmers, despite the chilly water, North Sands provides a wonderful view out of the mouth of the Salcombe estuary and into the deep blue yonder so, for keen photographers, it’s ideal. If the weather is right then it’s a favourite amongst body boarders or even surfers on choppier days, and it’s a great place to take the paddle boards and kayaks if you happen to have them.
Dogs are allowed on the beach all year round, unlike many of the beaches in the area, there are toilets over the road and there’s a car park with charges from £1 throughout the year. The cherry on top of this beautiful location is The Winking Prawn café and restaurant that’s right next to the beach. Open all year round they serve everything from breakfast, lunch and dinner to coffee, tea and cake, and in the summer they provide a barbecue in the garden overlooking the sea. It is popular though so leave a little time to queue for that Salcombe Dairy honeycomb ice cream in the height of summer!
Over a (rather large) hill along the road from North Sands and around a 30-minute walk from the centre of Salcombe, South Sands is a sandy beach, with a stream running through it, that’s particularly geared up for water sports.
South Sands is also accessible from the centre of Salcombe by the South Sands Ferry, a merry looking yellow, blue and red boat that takes around 15 minutes at a cost of £3.60 per adult and £2.60 for children over the age of three. You’re then greeted at the beach by a sea tractor to take you onto the dry sand, where you will find the South Sands Hotel as well as the enchanting Bo’s Beach Café.
The beach café is a family run business serving all the necessities for a day on the sand including tea, cake, coffee and light lunches as well as beach essentials and toys. It runs in conjunction with Sea Kayak Salcombe who provide kayak and paddle board rental and tours for all levels.
During the Salcombe Town Regatta, South Sands also plays host to the annual sandcastle competition, an illustrious occasion that welcomes all participants with enthusiasm, so make sure you keep an eye out if you’re a budding architect or artist, or potter along and take a look at the local and visiting handiwork if you’re more of a spectator.
It’s worth noting that there’s limited parking at South Sands so it’s a good idea to either walk to it, park at North Sands a short walk away, or park in Salcombe and catch the ferry over. Dogs are also welcome at South Sands.
A short ferry ride over the estuary from Salcombe to East Portlemouth, followed by a scenic walk along the coast (around 40 minutes depending on how speedy you are), will lead you to a dramatic headland and beach café known as Gara Rock.
With panoramic views of the sea, the café is open for teas, cakes, lunch, and afternoon tea before you descend to Gara Rock Beach below. The beach is a sandy cove flanked by rocks, and can also be reached by parking at the Mill Bay car park which is around two miles away on foot.
The beauty of this beach is that it is only accessible either on foot or by boat, so it does have a wonderful sense of escapism alongside its rugged splendour. Although it is a little bit of a climb back up to the café, the proximity of food and toilets means that you can set up camp here for most of the day, dipping into the water as and when you choose if the weather is warm enough.
Alternatively, it’s the perfect place for a pit stop if you’re spending the day walking along the coast path towards Prawle Point and Dartmouth beyond. Dogs are allowed on the beach but not in high season, so keep that in mind, and while it’s a slightly tricky beach to get to it’s worth the effort… maybe just see if you can get a takeaway brownie and a cup of tea from the café to keep you going!