Our favourite dog-friendly beaches in Devon

The best beaches have a lot in common, but there’s one feature we love to see more than all the rest. No restrictions on dogs, all year round. We’ve rounded up a selection of our favourite beaches throughout Devon with wide open spaces, good surf or dunes, rockpools or stellar views. No matter what the beach has, your dog will love dragging you up and down in the noble search for good sniffs, long sprints and stuff that’s great to roll around in.

Written by Jem Brownlee

Hele Bay

A small cove on the edge of Ilfracombe, Hele bay is a mix of sand and shingle that’s been popular since the Victorian era. There are rockpools to explore, and smuggler’s caves to eye up, and it’s hard to know which of the view out to sea or back inland is more beautiful. Behind the beach, the hills criss cross and intertwine, making it hard to tell if you’re in England, or on a movie set. Spend a while exploring, and when it’s time to catch a little refreshment, pop up the road to Hele Corn Mill & Tearooms, where your little friend is welcome to join you in the garden.

Rockham Beach

When the tide rolls out, a sandy beach is revealed, which the locals call ‘Mortehoe Beach’. Backed with rocky cliffs, access can be quite steep – but it’s worth it to see the wildflowers that bespeckle the cliffs. It’s so rocky in fact, that shipwrecks have been common here, and the local village has some displays about these, with up to five ships in one year falling prey to the treacherous coast. Soak up the stunning views, spot wayward ship parts, and join the beach visit up to some cliffside strolls for a dog-tiring day out.

Wild Pear Beach

Another winner from near Ilfracombe, Wild Pear Beach is a stunning option, with fresh water running down in streams across the slate cliffs to the mix of rock and sand below. There’s rock pooling, a good swim and great walks on the coast nearby. It’s worth noting the beach is internationally regarded for being an excellent nudist beach, scoring high for its safety and is LGBTQ+ friendliness. So, whether your dog is comfortable or not without their collar, they’re welcome to enjoy this welcoming space.

Soar Mill Cove

One for the adventurous – Soar Mill Cove can only be reached by foot or by boat, and though there’s a lot to invest in effort, there’s a lot to gain on arrival. You could access it via canoe from Salcombe (if your dog is the sea-faring kind), or from the South West Coastal Path on foot. Wild deer roam the fields nearby, and amongst the foliage you’ll spot sloe and blackberries in season – but it’s enough to race your hound back and forth across the sands for an afternoon.

Beesands Beach

Close to Kingsbridge, Beesands is a mile long stretch of shingle to tucker out an energetic dog. Backed by fields, there’s other spots to walk, including a freshwater lake. It’s a quintessentially old-school place to visit, with fishermen still offering up the catch of the day on the village green, and local crabs failing to sidestep capture and making rather nice sandwiches. Blue Flag winner, great spot for surf, with a beach shop and café, it makes an outstanding day out.

Ness Cove Beach

Perhaps the Muppet Treasure Island is to blame, but we love a good pirate smuggling story, and this beach offers something very unique – access to the sea is only possible through a smuggler’s tunnel. Used by real pirates and smugglers? Unclear, but the bay at least was. And you can see why very easily, it’s a wide-open beach, with great views, and plenty of room to stroll. Grog, rum, and other refreshments will have to be found the other side of the tunnel at the cliff top end.

Strete Gate

Strete Gate looks a little like what you’d immediately think of if someone said ‘beach’. It’s deep, wide, with three miles of fine shingle and crystal-clear waters. By the entrance you’ll spy Lime Coffee parked up in a van, offering freshly ground java, pastries of all kinds and homemade cakes. Once again, in the spirit of welcoming all – the North end is popular with nudists, though you yourself won’t need to don the birthday suit to venture out onto this lovely stretch of coast.

East Portlemouth

A list of beaches wouldn’t be complete without a white-sand spot. With crystal clear waters, great facilities and an abundance of life – sailboats, swimmers, kayakers and paddle boarders - it’s a lively spot to revel on. The beach itself is actually made up of several smaller beaches, so there’s plenty of space to explore, smells to sniff out, and cosy spots to choose and hunker down in warm sun patches. Best of all, the water quality is repeatedly graded ‘excellent’, so you can splash around with confidence, and even wash off the dog if you’ve come by way of a mucky coastal walk.

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Written by Jem Brownlee

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