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The top 10 dog-friendly beaches in Devon

Devon’s coastline flaunts some of the best dog-friendly beaches in Britain; from secret coves on the South West Coast Path to the smooth pebbled stretches of Westward Ho! and Slapton Sands, it’s all to play for here. You've made your way through the list of things to consider when travelling with pups in tow, so now the fun begins. Dogs dart through the dunes, scouting for treasures buried in the sand, digging up seashells, and leaving playful paw prints on the ever-shifting canvas of the shoreline. And after a day in the surf, slumbersome and sandy, they'll follow you back to a dog-friendly Devon cottage, where the evening’s agenda promises snoozes by the fire and sweet dreams of tomorrow's walk from the door.



Saunton Sands

This golden stretch of beach near Braunton welcomes dogs all year round. Spanning three-and-a-half miles of shoreline, it’s a popular spot for active types looking for a longer amble by the sea and stick-fetching in the fray (though do be mindful of larger swells; this is home to some of England’s best surf). The beach is also backed by Braunton Burrows – a UNESCO-protected Biosphere Reserve – which is home to a diverse range of wildlife and rare flora (including sea stock, sand toadflax, and water germander). Dogs are welcome to sniff to their heart's content, but must be kept on a lead in areas where Devon Ruby Red cattle and sheep are grazing. If in doubt, information regarding the grazing zones can be found on visitor boards in the main car parks of Sandy Lane, Saunton Beach, and Broadsands. 

Stay: Novella 


Westward Ho!

The Blue Flag beach of Westward Ho! welcomes dogs throughout the year, but they must be kept within the north end of the beach (between Sandymere Bridge and the estuary) from 1st May to 30th September; there are helpful signposts if you’re unsure. Backed by Pebble Ridge – an iconic coastal feature made up of fine-grain sandstone – and boasting long, flat stretches of sand, it’s perfect for bounding and skimming stones at low tide. Nearby, Northam Burrows Country Park (a Site of Specific Interest spanning 253 hectares) ensures plenty of space to roam through grassland, salt marsh, and sand dunes at high tide, too. After a bracing walk, refuel with street food and sea views from The Pig on the Beach’s dog-friendly beer garden. 

Stay: The Creamery


Barricane Beach

Located near Woolacombe, this picturesque cove is a popular pitstop on the walking trail to Mortehoe, and welcomes dogs year-round, though a lead is required from 1st May to 30th September. It’s affectionately known as ‘Shell Beach,’ owing to the unique shingles and exotic shells that wash up on its shore, so be sure to pack your camera to capture your beachcombing spoils. There are plenty of shallow rockpools for pups to splash in at low tide, but do consult the times before planning your visit, as the entire cove becomes a glistening natural pool and inaccessible at high tide. 

Stay: Kohtalo 


Beesands Beach 

Set between the sea and a freshwater lake, this mile-long Blue Flag beach is ideal for doggy paddles in every season. It is shingle, as opposed to sand, meaning the water is crystal-clear and there’s less risk of errant grains adding unexpected crunch to your picnic sandwiches or beach barbecue. Beesands Beach is directly on the South West Coast Path, so explorers can reach Hallsands – another award-winning dog-friendly beach – in less than half an hour. Prefer to stay put? You’ll find a rustic café on the headland, serving traditional cream teas and homemade pasties for a true taste of the West Country.

Stay: Ivy Cove


Broadsands Beach 

You’ll have to descend 200 steps to get there, but the clear water at Broadsands Beach is worth the effort, and often means the beach is less crowded than other popular spots, even in peak summer. Being somewhat off the beaten track, the beach doesn’t have facilities (or a lifeguard service), so be sure to pack a picnic and plenty of dog treats if you’re planning on spending the afternoon sand-side. With ancient sea caves and intriguing rock pools revealed at low tide, there will be plenty of salty spots for dogs to sniff. Be sure to check the tide times before visiting, as the beach shrinks considerably as the tide comes in. 

Stay: The Lost Music Hall


Ness Cove

Access to Ness Cove is through Smuggler’s Tunnel (local folklore maintains that this was a crucial route for those bringing contraband in and out of the country), which leads visitors and their four-legged friends inside the Jurrasic Cliffs and down steps to the beach. Tucked away underneath Ness Headland’s rocky cliffs, the cove is dog-friendly throughout the year – and often quieter than nearby Teignmouth, too. At high tide, most of the beach is submerged, so be sure to check tide tables before visiting. The best time to arrive is at low tide, when unspoilt stretches of fine red shingle are revealed under lapping waves. 

Stay: The Riddle 


Budleigh Salterton

You may recognise Budleigh Salterton from the scores of postcards that line the shelves of Exmouth’s old-school gift shops – and there’s a reason it makes for such an iconic shot. Marking the start of Devon’s Jurassic Coast, this pebble beach is popular with families (and their loyal companions). Triassic sandstone cliffs cast their spectral shadow over the western end of the beach, but avoid setting up camp at the base of the cliff as erosion can result in falling rocks. You can extend your walk along to Otter Estuary, a 33-acre salt marsh home to rare flora, such as glasswort, sea purslane, and sea lavender. Dogs are welcome year-round on Budleigh Salterton, but must remain east of Lime Kiln car park, and west from the west end of the prom between 1st May and 30th September. 

Stay: Botania


Instow Beach 

Situated between the Taw and Torridge estuaries, Instow Beach welcomes dogs throughout the year. It’s a dog’s life at Instow, so take your pick from chasing balls down flat stretches of sand, playing hide and seek in the dunes, or curling up on the picnic rug with a bone after a tiring morning trekking the Tarka Trail. Sandy feet – and paws – are welcome at Instow Arms, just steps from the shoreline, where warming fare, live bands, and well-kept local ales await.

Stay: Castle on the Well


Dawlish Warren

A narrow sand spit that separates the Exe Estuary from the open sea, Dawlish Warren offers a diverse mix of sandy beaches, dunes, and salt marshes to roam – a haven for dogs on their Devonshire holidays. The gently sloping shoreline and shallow waters create a safe splash zone for pups of all ages to paddle and play. Later, hop aboard the dog-friendly Dawlish Warren Railway, where a front-row seat to winding country tracks and tail-wagging views across the English Channel awaits. Be sure to stop at Ryder's Homemade Bakery for an apricot danish or foot-long baguette with all the trimmings.

Stay: Verte


Slapton Sands

Sandwiched between the sea and freshwater lake of Slapton Ley, this golden arc of sand and shingle offers over three miles to explore and swim. As well as being in an AONB, the area around the beach is also an important nature reserve, so Slapton Sands has a designated dog-friendly area to keep both habitats happy. Here, dogs are allowed to roam off-leash, chasing tennis balls and romping through the shallows. Just behind Slapton Sands, the Slapton Ley nature reserve and freshwater lake requires dogs on leads in certain areas, but makes for a tranquil spot for strolling and birding.

Stay: Rydon


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