Torre Abbey Sands South Devon is arguably the flagship, iconic beach that people associate with when they imagine the English Riviera. The vast, sandy beach connects Torquay and Paignton, around it is a huge green area, playing host to many events, there is the famous ‘white bridge’ and recently developed alfresco dining area at Abbey Sands.

Torre Abbey Sands really shines at low tide. Here it reveals lots of little spots for crabbing, the sea becomes accessible for almost everyone, but most importantly opening up a large expanse of beach, for locals and visitors to enjoy, and also local sandcarving artist to get to work!

Our local sandcarver, Geoffrey Ward, has become famous with locals and holiday makers alike and loves to express his creative side right on the beach at Torre Abbey Sands in Torquay, Devon.

During the summer months, Geoffrey likes to spend as much time as possible on Torquay’s main beach, particularly at low time when he has lots of beach to work with and ‘draw’ different designs into the sand for himself and everyone to enjoy!

We were lucky enough to catch Geoffrey at low tide and on a day when the beach wasn’t too busy, this was perfect as it gave us the opportunity to carve Torre Abbey Sands’ Seaside Award 2018 winners plaque into the sand! Where else have you seen this on a South Devon beach?

Local sand-carver at Torre Abbey Sands in South Devon

Geoffrey is among lots of creatives in the English Riviera and his choice of beach is no coincidence, due to its proximity to the Torre Abbey Museum, an art gallery and home to some of the best creative work in South Devon.

Local sand art on Torre Abbey Sands in Torquay, Devon

Torre Abbey Sands is also the home to another creative, but one who displays creativity in a completely different way.. Mostly 50-60 ft off the sea water!

Hydro Flying in South Devon

Local hydroflyer, James Prestwood, has began to stand out whilst showcasing this new sport to crowds on the beach and around Torquay Pier.

Hydroflight is a new category of sport which is when water jet propulsion is used to create sustained flight where lift and movement are controlled by a person. This new sport has been growing in popularity over the last few years, and the 22-miles of coastline within the English Riviera really lends itself to the sport.

There are a few different methods to take flight on the water but all have one thing in common, they need a water based engine, normally a jetski to power the water propulsion which gets them off the water and into the air. It is then down to the skill of the individual to successfully control the level of propulsion, their weight and direction.

Local fly boarder at Torre Abbey Sands in Torquay, Devon

Local lad, James Prestwood, who has lived in the ‘Bay his whole life has really taken to the sport and his growing in stature each day as he progresses in this emerging watersport. James was first introduced to the sport whilst on holiday in Ibiza; bizarrely there was a hydroflight performer in an indoor swimming pool at a huge nightclub venue supporting one of the biggest names in techno music, the late Avicii. The performer was laden in an LED suit and put on a show to more than 7 000 party goers.

Immediately after returning home, James wanted to learn the art of hydroflight. In order to do so, he bought himself a jet-ski, a flyboard and learnt the basics at a training facility in Poole. The rest is history…

Let's take a closer look at James’ equipment... He use a Seadoo RXP 300 hp jet ski, which pumps the seawater up through a 76 ft (23m) long hose attached to his flyboard. This can enable him to reach dizzying heights of 50-60 ft off the surface of the water!

Having been hydroflying for 2.5 years now, James modestly admits it is only a hobby, which he manages to fit in around his other work commitments. However he is often taking flight all over the world to perform day and night shows in front of audiences and started to enter competitions. He was hopeful of entering the World Championships in France this June but unfortunately due to the recent poor weather on the English Riviera, he was unable to train and enter his qualifying video in time. However, he is very optimistic of being successful for next years event, and he is hoping for some great weather this summer so that he can get his training hours up!

James is predominantly self taught, with only a couple of training sessions in Malta, which he admits really gave him the confidence and technique to perfect the stunts he now does in-front of people.

He absolutely loves to ‘fly around the Bay’ as he says it's “the best place to live and is so lucky it's his hometown”. His favourite spots to take his flyboard, are Torre Abbey Sands in Torquay, and Elberry Cove near Brixham. Elberry Cove is a small water-skiing beach which is a beautiful little bay to spend a day in the sun. James loves to set up camp with some friends, get the BBQ going and a enjoy a couple of beers after doing some training.

Flyboarder at Torquay Harbour in Devon

Things to do near Torre Abbey Sands

Although the centrepiece, and the hub of Torre Abbey, is the golden beach. There is lots to do in the immediate area. There are additional activities, restaurants, history and events to keep every member of the family occupied. Even on the not so sunny days!

Within walking distance from the beach, you have Torre Abbey Museum, home to some of the best contemporary art in Devon, the grandeur of The Grand Hotel, The Princess Theatre for your evening entertainment, the newly renovated ‘Rock Walk’ offering incredible views of Torquay harbour and Torre Abbey Sands. There is also the Abbey Sands development, home to some of the best restaurants and al fresco dining experiences that South Devon has to offer!

You also have all-weather fun at Waves Leisure Pool, outdoor fun at Jungle Journey Adventure Golf. If you feeling a little lazy and not up to walking, then you can even catch the land train from right opposite the entrance to the beach!

Torre Abbey Museum and Gardens

Just a stone’s throw from the beach is Torre Abbey Museum and Gardens. This is a stand-out feature in Devon and one of the best museums for a day out by the seaside. The building dates right back to 25 March 1196 and now houses over 600 pieces of art from the 18th century to the present day.

The gardens in particular are growing in popularity, there are a number of exquisite plants, delicately placed within the Abbey’s ruins. The Abbey runs a number of different talks and tours around the gardens, all hosted by the head gardener or a local horticultural expert. Kids are encouraged to rome around the gardens and take as much of it in as possible.

Torre Abbey Gardens offers a great learning day out for all the family. One of the most popular tours they offer now is the Agatha Christie inspired ‘Potent Plants Tour’!

Apart from its normal setting, Torre Abbey is always open for a series of unique events throughout the year, including the open air cinema. It also makes a fantastic wedding venue and the gardens can be open for members of the wedding party should you wish.

If you are keen to soak up some of the Abbey’s atmosphere but not quite convinced you want to look around the museum then the Torre Abbey tea rooms which are situated right at the front, and overlooking the sea would be a great spot to sit down and take it all in! If that is more your ‘cup of tea’ then you should also check out the nearby Cockington Court Tea Rooms.

Torre Abbey opening times vary during the seasons so it is best to contact them directly.

Aerial shot of Torre Abbey Museum in Torquay, South Devon

Abbey Sands restaurants on Torquay seafront

The dining experience in Torquay has really ‘upped its game’ in recent years, there is now an abundance of high quality and reasonably priced restaurants to suit everyone’s taste and budget. Most notably was the development of the Abbey Sands restaurants, right opposite the beach slipway - the perfect location!

Arguably one of the best spots to sit with family or friends and have some drinks or a lovely meal. The restaurants at the Abbey Sands development offer a true al fresco dining experience right on the seafront in South Devon.

If you decide to stop by you will have a choice of some great spots, including Bistrot Pierre, On The Rocks, Visto Lounge, Las Iguanas Torquay, The Sea Bank Cafe and Fish & Chips.

Just slightly further along the Promenade, towards Torquay harbour and right next to The Princess Theatre, is Pier Point Restaurant & Bar. Lots of choice for event the fussiest of diners!

Alfresco dining on the English Riviera in Torquay, Devon

Abbey Sands apartments

If you are looking for your own piece of luxury on the English Riviera then there may not be a better place to look than the newly developed Abbey Sands holiday apartments in Torquay. There are 14 luxury, serviced apartments, built into the natural curvature of the landscape and benefiting from stunning views of Torre Abbey Sands and beyond, right over to Paignton and Brixham on clear days.

These beautiful self-catered apartments are the perfect base for anyone looking to explore the English Riviera, Devon and beyond. The development is part of our plans, working with Visit England to deliver a 5-star experience on the English Riviera.

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