Whether you’re after a sandy stick chase, a romantic sunset date or a day filled with sandcastle building and rock pooling, find a beach close to one of our Dartmouth self-catering holiday cottages to suit you. A trio of coves are tucked away close to the town centre or further afield there are a handful of other sandy spots for you to visit. Below are some of our favourite beaches for wild swimming, bucket and spade days and for enjoying water sports.
An exotic looking bay which hides beneath the sea at high tide, Castle Cove boasts crystal clear waters and a dramatic backdrop. Overlooked by rugged cliffs and the historic Dartmouth Castle, this shingle, rocky cove is perfect for adventurers and those who enjoy wild swimming. Though it’s not the best destination for family beach days due to steep access, Castle Cove welcomes dogs all year round so is a great place for your pups to make a splash in the water and for romantic evenings (should the tide be in your favour!).
Though access is via a steep path and steps, there is parking nearby at Dartmouth Castle and you can tuck into post-swim treats at the tea rooms. There are also toilets at the castle which you can use if you’re staying a while.
A picturesque cove which disappears at high tide, Sugary Cove is another dog-friendly destination where you and your four-pawed pals can enjoy wild swims and salty outings. Sitting at the mouth of the River Dart, there’s a lovely grassy picnic area above the cove where you can enjoy seaside lunches and warming mugs of tea after an invigorating dip.
Access is via the South West Coast Path and steep steps, so take care on your way down. There is parking on the road above the cove and at Dartmouth Castle where you can savour treats in the tea rooms and use the toilets.
The perfect spot for family-friendly outings and traditional bucket and spade beach days, Blackpool Sands is less than a 15-minute drive from the centre of Dartmouth. The golden crescent of privately-owned beach is backed by sweeping lush greenery, and crystal blue seas lap over the shingle. Patrolled by RNLI lifeguards from July to September, let little ones paddle safely and enjoy making a splash in the gorgeous water before tucking into lunch from the café on the beach. If you’re feeling adventurous and fancy a different vantage point of the beach, hire kayaks or stand-up paddleboards and paddle your way around the bay. If you need a break from the sand, Blackpool Gardens are directly behind the beach and offer some fantastic viewpoints with vistas over Start Point.
Blackpool Sands does not welcome dogs, so you’ll have to choose another sandy spot if you’re holidaying with your pups. There is parking so you can bring all of your beachy belongings with you with ease, there are toilets if you’re staying a while, showers for freshening up in and disabled facilities.
Compass Cove is a tiny, secluded, sandy beach with gorgeous Grecian-style waters, a cave and lots of interesting rocks. Accessed via the South West Coast Path, take care when descending to the beach (access is sometimes unavailable due to landslips) and enjoy a refreshing wild swim with possible sightings of starfish, oyster catchers and spider crabs. Compass Cove holds an interesting history and was once home to one of the earliest telegraph cables which passed under the sea. The cable ran for 108km though there’s not much to see of the old Victorian Cable House now.
Another family-friendly destination, Bigbury-on-Sea Beach has a gorgeous expanse of sand which welcomes all the family, including those with wagging tails (though some areas are restricted during summer months). Rockpools dot the beach and there is an array of water sports for you to try your hand at including surfing, kite surfing and wind surfing. Bigbury-on-Sea Beach is patrolled by lifeguards during summer months so you can paddle and swim safely and chat to those who know the water well. If you work up an appetite, there’s a café which serves up local produce and treats to fill hungry tummies and a beachside kiosk if you fancy a quick snack. With disabled access, parking, toilets and showers, this is a great sandy spot for all the family- well-worth the 40-minute drive from the heart of Dartmouth if you’re planning a day in the salty air with sand underfoot.
Not only does Bigbury-on-Sea Beach boast golden sands and gorgeous shallow waters, at low tide, a causeway is revealed which leads to Burgh Island. Standing tall out of the water, Burgh Island is a great place to enjoy a walk, to spy wildlife and the remains of the chapel, and to whet your appetite. Grab a bite to eat in the waterside inn or visit the island’s infamous hotel and indulge in an evening meal or a Sunday roast. If the causeway is covered by the water, fear not! Hitch a ride on the unique sea tractor and explore.
Forming part of the Slapton Ley National Nature Reserve, the beach at Torcross and Slapton Sands has an interesting history and is renowned for its coastal geomorphology. The shingle beach encloses a coastal lagoon and boasts wonderful views which reach across the water to Start Point. With dogs welcome all year round, Slapton Sands is a great spot for family days out and there are plenty of places to enjoy tucking into picnics, licking local ice creams from the van and chasing sticks. If you’re a keen water sport enthusiast, Slapton Sands is a good place to make a splash and work up an appetite and there are cafes, pubs and a traditional fish and chips shop in nearby Torcross.
20 minutes in the car from Dartmouth, Slapton Sands has parking with a ramp for disabled guests and toilets to use whilst visiting.
If you’re holidaying with your four-pawed companion by your side, waterside walks and sandy stick chases are a must!
Castle Cove, Sugary Cove and Compass Cove are perfect places to throw sticks in the sea and let your pup enjoy a swim though there isn’t much room at either for a good old stretch of the legs.
For a walk, a swim and a game or two of fetch, Bigbury-on-Sea Beach welcomes all the family all year round, though restrictions are in place in certain areas during summer months. Slapton Sands at Torcross also welcomes your pups all year round and is another great spot for a walk and a stick chase.
Though Blackpool Sands Beach doesn’t welcome dogs on its shores, there are some great circular walks with wonderful views to enjoy. Take to the South West Coast Path and admire vistas which reach from Start Point, Torcross and Slapton Ley in the south, all the way towards the Daymark at Froward Point in the north.
Perfect for paddle boarding and kayaking, hire equipment at Blackpool Sands and make a splash. Head out solo or hire a two or three-seater kayak so you can paddle out to sea with family and friends in the lifeguard-patrolled (during summer) waters.
The water at Slapton Sands in Torcross is often perfect for kayaking and paddle boarding, equipment is not available to hire at the beach itself so bring your own or hire some nearby.
Learn to surf at Bigbury-on-Sea and visit Discovery Surf School where you can also hire paddle boards, kayaks, bodyboards, surf boards and wetsuits. If you’re a keen kite or wind surfer, bring your equipment and make a splash.