The South West region is a mecca for surfing holidays and summer family coastal breaks with top spots, including Newquay’s surf hub Fistral beach and spectacular family-friendly beaches like Weymouth Beach, often named one of Europe’s best beaches.
- Best beaches in Cornwall
- Best beaches in Devon
- Best beaches in Dorset
Best beaches in Cornwall
Cornwall has one of the highest number of beaches with excellent water quality standards awarded by the Good Beach Guide. The far southwest is where you’ll find some of the UK’s top beaches, many of which consistently feature in Top 10 UK or even Top 10 World beaches, so you’ll have plenty of great beaches to explore.
Best for: Experiencing an award-winning beach
Bude beaches, including Sandy Mouth, Crooklets and Summerleaze, plus beaches on the outskirts such as beautiful Crackington Haven 11 miles south of Bude, are amongst Cornwall’s best beaches. Consistent award-winners, Bude’s Atlantic coast beaches are popular with families and surfers alike. This seaside town on Cornwall’s North Coast regularly features in the top 10 best UK beach destination lists!
Bude’s main beaches are:
- Millook Beach
- Black Rock Beach
- Widemouth Bay Beach
- Summerleaze Beach
- Crooklets Beach
- Northcott Mouth
- Sandymouth Bay
Location: St Ives
Best for: Pale golden sands
Carbis Bay in Cornwall’s far southwest is a Blue Flag award-winning beach. This spectacular beach, with its pale golden sands covering around 25 acres, forms part of the larger St Ives Bay and is backed on by a luxury hotel.
Best for: Surfer enthusiasts
Surfing favourite and grand sweeping beach bay Watergate Bay on the outskirts of Newquay is one of Cornwall’s most incredible beaches hosting top music festivals on its wide and long golden sands. This North West facing beach bay has excellent water quality, and its 3 miles of golden sands flanked by a wide choice of luxury hotels and beachside apartments. In addition, the area has plenty of great surf schools and the Extreme Academy offering a range of watersports equipment hire and tuition.
Best for: Chilled surfer enthusiasts
The ultimate surfing chillout beach, Newquay’s Fistral beach, is Britain’s top surfing beach hosting numerous international and national surfing competitions. Framed by headlands, and is flanked by stylish contemporary apartments and boutique spa hotels, surfing bars and cafes, surf shops and equipment hire outlets.
Location: Far West
Best for: Amazing scenery
World-famous Porthcurno beach (National Trust) in Cornwall’s far west has featured in many a TV drama. Flanked by high cliffs and rocky headlands, Porthcurno beach has excellent water quality. The open-air Minack Theatre looks down on this beach bay from the cliff top to a sublime scene of aquamarine waters and pale white sands. Very popular with families, Porthcurno looks more akin to a tropical beach on the Caribbean on sunny summer days!
Best beaches in Devon
Enjoy a short break by the seaside – there’s plenty of choice in Devon. From the golden sands of Oddicombe Beach to the dog-friendly Jennycliff Beach, here are some of our favourite beaches in the county.
Best for: Plenty of family fun
The popular Oddicombe Beach offers a good choice of facilities, from an onsite cafe to a handy beach shop and even kayak hire. It’s an excellent choice for families – you’ll find everything you need for a fun-filled day without having to leave the beach!
Best for: Taking the pooch out for a walk
The lovely Jennycliff Beach in Plymouth is dog-friendly year-round, which is ideal for those staying in our pet-friendly cottages! A little quieter than some of the other beaches along the coast, there’s plenty of room for picnics.
Salcombe North Sands Beach
Best for: Heading back into the town for dinner and drinks
Just a short walk from the town, Salcombe North Sands Beach is a great place to enjoy a refreshing dip in the sea. With its safe bay and substantial rock pools, it’s ideal for families with younger children.
Best for: Going for a swim!
A long stretch of golden sand and beautifully clear waters, Saunton Sands is a hotspot for swimmers and surfers. Robbie Williams’ fans might recognise the location – it was used in his classic ‘Angels’ music video!
Best for: Getting on your paddleboard
Stretching over two miles, Exmouth Beach is great for those who love getting on the water. A safe spot for kayaking and paddleboarding, you’ll easily spend hours here in the warm summer months.
Best beaches in Dorset
Whether you want to sit back and relax or explore what the Dorset waters have to offer, these are the best beaches to visit.
Best for: Its clean and safe sands
Bournemouth’s Southbourne Beach has won awards for its clean sand and family-friendly facilities. It’s also a Blue Flag which attracts visitors from all around. Pitch up your towel or hire a beach hut, but don’t forget to book a table at one of the surrounding restaurants for a bite to eat at lunch.
Best for: A classy and luxurious holiday
Boasting a Blue Flag for over 30 years, Sandbanks Beach is not only one of Dorset’s best-loved beaches but also one of the most popular in the UK. Big names and celebrity faces have been coming here for years, and today the area is home to some great beach bars and restaurants as well as a little taste of sophistication that only Sandbanks can provide.
Best for: A quintessential British affair
A trip to Dorset isn’t complete without a day at Weymouth Beach and its colourful harbour. It’s got a few awards under its belt and is often named as one of Europe’s best beaches. Spend your days exploring the beachside cafes, arrange a few water activities for all the family to enjoy and don’t forget to sit back and take in the incredible views.
Best for: A dog-friendly beach
If you’re looking for a local beach that everyone can spend a day out at, the dog-friendly Bowleaze Cove won’t disappoint. Here, the River Jordan joins the sea, and the ocean is split up into sections to allow for safe splashing. There’s also great views, local wildlife and lots of rock pools to explore.
Location: Lyme Regis
Best for: A beach that’s in the heart of the action
Town Beach in Lyme Regis has a central location and provides an excellent base for exploring the rest of Lyme Regis’ coastline. Set up your spot and wander along the sea or sit back and relax for the day. Sand and pebbles have been imported to enhance the beaches, and plenty of cafes, restaurants and kiosks have also been set up shop, meaning you don’t need to worry about a thing.