Beaches in the South West

Best beaches in the South West

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The South West is one of the first places we think of when it comes to a seaside staycation, with beaches at the heart of the region’s appeal.

From Dorset’s Jurassic Coast to Devon’s English Riviera, the counties in this corner of England provide visitors with some of the most beautiful coastal retreats in the whole of the UK. Whether these beaches serve bustling towns or the quietest of countryside, all on this list give goers an experience to enjoy and memories to go home and cherish. The South West is uniquely backed by two coastlines. The rugged Atlantic coast is ideal for a spot of surfing, whilst the southern counties backing onto the English Channel make for much calmer waters. Allow us to elaborate. Here is our quintessential list of the best beaches in the South West of England.

Perranporth Beach

Perranporth Beach

Perranporth Beach is arguably Cornwall’s finest. An impressing serving of sand stretching for miles, you won’t be short of space on a visit to this famous attraction on the county’s north coast. Outside of high season, it feels like you have the place to yourself, such is the vast expanse of your surroundings, a feeling that is relatively rare even in the quieter corners of the UK.

When the tide is out, a two-mile walk or cycle down to Ligger Point is always a delight. The stroll is ideal for seeing the sights and taking in the fresh sea air. When you’re done with your beach towels, head into the village for a quaint snapshot of Cornish life. There is an impressive selection of cafés and restaurants on the way, with the wonderful Watering Hole pub perched right on the beach.

Woolacombe Beach

Woolacombe Beach

Woolacombe Beach is widely recognised as one of the best in the UK, let alone the South West. We’d go as far to say that if there were a beach Olympics, Woolacombe Beach would be one of the country’s top medal hopes. This three-mile haunt is a consistent award winner, picking up accolades for its unique offering of facilities within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Popular with all sorts of people, Woolacombe plays host to surfers out at sea, families looking for a relax and anyone looking for a day out at the British seaside. The views are incredible, and the history is engaging to say the least. The beach was used to train the US Army in amphibious landings before they embarked on them in real life in Normandy. There are many superlatives for this Devon delight, but we’ll leave that for an article in itself!

Chesil Beach

Chesil Beach

Chesil Beach is quite simply a natural phenomenon- one that you definitely don’t see every day. The pebbles that form this part of Dorset’s coast stretch for an incredible 17 miles, but it isn’t the length that wins Chesil a place on the list of best beaches in the South West. The beach sits separately from the shoreline with what is known as a fleet in between. This unique characteristic means it’s a keen Site of Special Scientific Interest and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Unnaturally straight, the fleet section is home to an incredible range of wildlife. This conservation area is ideal for a walk with the dog. The peculiar geography here also played a part in the beach’s selection as a test site for the ‘bouncing bomb’ of the World War Two era. Today, you’d be hard pushed to find a more peaceful place in the South West. 

Durdle Door Beach

Durdle Door Beach

Durdle Door plays host to Dorset’s most iconic image. Part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, the natural archway the beach is named after was formed 140 million years ago by waves that eroded its middle. There are beautiful vistas both up on the cliffs and down on the beach, making this one of the most picture-perfect natural landmarks in the South West.

There are few better places for a picnic, with the magnificent sunset hiding behind the arch in the summer months. The rocky waters are popular with snorkelers, but swimmers need to beware of the sudden drop in the depth of water around this beautiful rocky oasis. When you’re done on the beach, simply stroll further along the coast to Man’o'War Bay.

Burnham-on-Sea Beach

Burnham-on-Sea Beach

Burnham-on-Sea is one of Somerset’s classic seaside resorts. Home to the shortest pier in the world, its promenade is lined with Victorian and Edwardian homes that today play host to staycation enthusiasts. Originally designed to challenge Weston-super-Mare up the coast, we think its lack of expansion gives it a charm worthy of being one of the South West’s best beaches.

The beach is lively in the summer and serene in the colder months, ideal for a quiet weekend away nearby and a simple escape away from the hustle and bustle of the city. This sandy stretch is great for plonking yourself down and spending a day taking in the fresh sea air. There are great areas for a paddle, with jet skiing a popular pastime along this stretch of the Somerset coast.