With 22 miles of coastline and 20 beaches on offer, the English Riviera is a haven for those looking to enjoy a seaside holiday. From long sandy beaches to hidden coves, quiet picnic spots to top paddleboarding locations, there is plenty to do on our sparkling beaches here on Devon’s Beautiful Bay.

With all the choice, sometimes it’s hard to know which is the best beach for you. We’ve put together this Guide to the English Riviera Beaches to help you find your perfect beach day out.

Best Beaches for watersports

The shallow waters and sheltered beach of Goodrington Sands is great for water sport activities. For those looking for a leisurely paddle or kayak, head to the Seashore Centre run by Reach Outdoors where you can hire equipment, join lessons or enjoy themed trips including coasteering, kayaking, paddle boarding, rock pooling and snorkelling.

Torre Abbey Sands is Torquay's main beach with a fantastic stretch of red sand and easily accessible from the road – perfect for those bringing their own water sport equipment. You can hire equipment – from paddle boards to electric bikes - from the WeSUP cabins, based right on the beach. WeSUP also offer a variety of lessons for those wanting a bit more support.

For those looking for something more adventurous, why not take a jet-ski trip, ride the UK’s fastest RIB ride or even ride a water-bike!

Beaches with family-friendly activities

The English Riviera is a family-friendly resort, and with many long sandy beaches complimented by large greens, refreshment kiosks and playparks, there are plenty of options to enjoy a family beach day out.

Goodrington Sands is a beautiful long sandy beach, with the Dartmouth Steam Train running idyllically alongside it. Behind the long sandy beach and shallow waters of Goodrington Sands you’ll find Youngs Park. There’s plenty of family attractions here including bumper boats and swan boat rides on the manmade lake, crazy golf and amusement arcades. For refreshments, head to Cantina Kitchen and Bar, which offers a warm welcome, great food and a lovely outdoor seating area.

Another long sandy beach with sheltered, calm waters is Paignton Sands. This area of Paignton has everything you could possibly want from a family seaside holiday with crazy golf, donkey rides, endless sand and shallow clear waters for safe swimming. Paignton’s iconic pier sits grandly in the middle of the beach with an abundance of traditional seaside amusement arcade games. Children with plenty of energy can be entertained at the Geoplay Park, a free adventure playground.

Escape the crowds and head to Broadsands Beach: another long sandy beach with a gently sloping gradient, where children can splash about in the shallows. Nestled in between Paignton and Brixham, this tends to be much quieter than the busier beaches of Goodrington and Paignton. The surrounding idyllic rural landscape creates a relaxing feel and a sense of getting away from it all. The vast parkland area directly behind the beach is a perfect spot for ball games such as football, rounders or cricket. 

Rock pooling and crabbing beaches

Do you have a mini-explorer in your family? With 22 beaches on the English Riviera, there are plenty of options for your David-Attenborough-in-the-making to discover British marine life.

With rockpools brimming with crabs, shrimps and small fish, Preston Sands is a fantastic option for an adventurous family day out. This safe, clean family friendly beach is a very popular holiday hot spot. Preston Green runs the length of the beach and is a safe area for the children to play ball games or enjoy the playground with climbing frames, a basketball court and outdoor fitness equipment.

At the South end of Paignton Sands, over the harbour wall is a hidden, largely unknown beach named Fairy Cove. The sand has an unusual red tinge due to the red sandstone cliffs surrounding the beach. At low tide there are many rock pools which are great for discovering a vast array of marine life. Keep your eyes peeled for divers who favour this beach due to the clear water visibility, intriguing caverns and the remains of three shipwrecks.

Accessed via the South West Coast Path, Oyster Cove and Saltern Cove are two secluded coves which are a little-known secret amongst visitors. A locals’ favourite, these beaches tend to be much quieter than the larger sandy beaches found just around the corner. As Saltern Cove is a key site in the UNESCO Global Geopark, a local marine nature reserve and the only underwater Site of Specific Scientific Interest in the UK, it is absolutely brimming with marine life. Low lying rocks provide a great place to introduce little ones as to what lives in the sea.

Secluded Hidden Coves

Although the English Riviera is known for having long sandy beaches, there are plenty of secluded, hidden coves around Tor Bay too.

Anstey’s Cove is a hidden gem nestled between Torquay and Babbacombe. As you descend the dramatic hillside path and steps towards the cove you’re surrounded by stunning woodlands and a wildlife reserve which attracts a variety of plants, butterflies and birds, perfect for keen photographers and wildlife enthusiasts. Anstey’s Cove Beach Café offers a wide selection of hot and cold snacks and drinks as well as hiring out kayaks and stand-up paddle boards for water sport enthusiasts.

Elberry Cove is a stunningly beautiful pebble beach, with the ruined remains of Lord Churston’s bathhouse at one end. Far from the bustle of the main beaches, you can relax without being disturbed by noisy crowds surrounded by white pebbles and turquoise waters. The shoreline at Elberry Cove is quite steep and the water gets very deep very quickly.

In Brixham, locals’ favour the sheltered and largely hidden beaches of Fishcombe Cove and Churston Cove. Accessed via the dog-friendly park, Battery Gardens, you’ll discover the secluded Fishcombe Cove and can walk onwards through Churston Woods to reach Churston Cove. Surrounded by woodlands, these coves have a real Mediterranean vibe and are home to plenty of wildlife. With the award-winning Fishcombe Cove Café and public toilets, this area is a great place to spend a beach day.

Related

Goodrington Sands Paignton
Beach
Steam train going past at Goodrington Sands in Paignton, Devon

Close to Paignton is the long, sandy stretch of Goodrington Sands. With a Seaside Award, safe swimming conditions and loads of great activities, this family friendly beach promises to keep the kids happy whatever the weather.

Torre Abbey Sands Torquay
Beach
Torre Abbey Sands Torquay

This delectable beach is part of the English Riviera and it lives up to its name with its stunning sands, views and sunshine. This is the main beach for Torquay, being popular with holidaymakers from the surrounding hotels, day visitors and locals.

Paignton Sands
Beach
Paignton Sands

Paignton Beach offers the ultimate family day out at the seaside. With a sandy beach, safe swimming and a whole host of activities to enjoy, this promises to be a fun day out for all the family.

Broadsands Beach Paignton
Beach
Broadsands Beach Paignton

In between Paignton and Brixham is Broadsands on the English Riviera, South Devon’s Beautiful Bay. With a long sandy beach the whole family can enjoy, you can make sandcastles for a couple of hours and then paddle in the calm sea.

Preston Sands Paignton
Beach
Preston Sands, Paignton

A short walk from Paignton is Preston Sands, a great family beach. On this safe, clean beach you can sunbathe, swim or make castles in the sand, or why not grab a fishing net and explore the rock pools at low tide?

Saltern Cove Paignton
Beach
Saltern cove

An English Riviera UNESCO Global Geopark Key Site. Saltern Cove is one of the SSSI designate site in the English Riviera Geopark and a Local Nature Reserve. Unique in Britain, this nature reserve extends underwater to a point 376 metres below the low water mark.

Ansteys Cove Torquay
Beach
ANSTEYS COVE

Between Torquay and Babbacombe sits Anstey’s Cove. Quiet, peaceful and incredibly beautiful, this small shingle beach is the place to come if you want to escape the crowds.

Elberry Cove
Beach
Elberry Cove

Elberry Cove is a romantic impressive shingle beach with beautiful cystal blue clear waters a little gem in English Riveria, which is reached by a footpath from Broadsands beach. This is a beautiful beach in an idyllic rural setting.

Churston Cove
Beach
Churston Cove

Churston Cove is one of the many excellent beaches to be found on the English Riviera, South Devon’s beautiful bay. A secluded cove accessed via a long, steep path, this is a real sanctuary of peace and calm.

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