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Find your perfect beach! Croyde and the surrounding area is blessed with a wealth of beautiful sandy beaches and bays, which offer something for everyone. From stunning emotive windswept cliffs to gorgeous wide expanses of sand, you’ll be sure to find your favourite place to relax.

In this guide the major beaches, Croyde Bay, Saunton Sands, Woolacombe Bay and Putsborough Bay are all compared, and for more detailed guides you can visit our in-depth visitor guides to each bay.

Croyde Bay is a family friendly beach on the North Devon coast.

The beach is sandy and is set against a backdrop of sandy dunes, and there is a wide expanse of rock at both ends of the beach, which makes for excellent rock pooling.

Croyde is famous for it’s waves, and at low tide you can get world class A-frame barrels. When the surf is good Croyde features as one of the best, if not the best surf beaches in the UK. The waves have less shape at other stages of tide. The conditions at Croyde Bay are very consistent and during good surf it can get crowded.

Swimmers should heed caution at Croyde, most importantly the rip can be very strong at the beach, especially at the far right and left hand side of the bay at low tide. This shouldn’t deter you from taking the kids for a paddling session in the shallows.

Croyde is situated along the Croyde Road after you have passed through Saunton, a small village, in North Devon. Go around the headland and you’ll see the bay in front of you. You can either park at Down End or head into the village and along Moor Lane to access the beach.

  • Surfing: Intermediate / Advanced
  • Swim: Keep between lifeguarded flags
  • Food: The Drop In, Baggy Lodge, Croyde Beach Cafe, Sandleigh Tea Room
  • Walk: Try the National Trust Trail to Baggy Point
  • Lifeguarded beach 10am-6pm during these dates
  • Surf Schools: Surfing Croyde Bay, Surf South West, Croyde Surf Academy

Saunton Sands is a family friendly beach where the sea is much safer than Croyde Bay. It is situated just off the Croyde Road once you have passed through Saunton a small village, in North Devon.

At the south of Saunton Sands lies Crow Point which is situated at the entrance to the Taw estuary. The Taw estuary Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) includes Saunton Sands. Saunton is also part of one of the most important natural dune system habitats in the UK, North Devon’s Biosphere Reserve. As you can imagine it’s an idyllic spot to hang out.

  • Surf: Great for beginners & long boarding
  • Swim: Safe beach to swim at but always exercise caution
  • Food: Saunton Break Cafe, Beachside Grill
  • Walk: Try the Braunton Burrows UNESCO Biosphere Reserve or Crow Point
  • This is not a lifeguarded beach
  • Surf Schools: Surf Saunton, Walking on Waves

Woolacombe Bay is a beautiful 3 mile stretch of golden sand situated at the mouth of a valley in the parish of Mortehoe. The village of Woolacombe overlooks the bay and is a thriving seaside town on the North Devon coast between Croyde and Ilfracombe. It is is part of the North Devon Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and the beach was awarded Britain’s Best Beach in 2015 by TripAdvisor.

The beach is popular with surfers and holidaymakers, and is safe to swim in because the it is lifeguarded during the holiday season.

  • Surf: You’ll find mellow waves at all times of the tide, high and low. Woolacombe Bay is popular with long boarders and beginners
  • Swim: Popular swimming beach. During the peak season there are two lifeguarded swimming areas, if conditions permit.
  • Food: Try Barricane Beach Cafe, The Beachcomber Cafe or The Beach House
  • Walks: Try the South West Coastal Path and explore the sand dunes alongside Woolacombe’s wide, sandy bay
  • Lifeguarded beach in the holiday season, check RNLI for patrol times.
  • Surf Schools: Hunter Surf School, Woolacombe Surf Centre, Woolacombe Surf Centre