by Alice Parry
Day Out Guides
We have picked out the best South West beaches for you to explore on your UK holiday.
Discover a diverse selection of coastal locations! From small creeks and secluded coves, to long, sandy stretches and rocky shores. These beautiful beaches in South West England span four counties.
Both Devon and Cornwall enjoy a north and a south coastline. Expect historic mining ruins, castles and fishing villages. The southern shores of Dorset make up the ancient Jurassic Coast. Find fossils, ancient monuments and natural landmarks along the way. Finally, get to know Somerset’s scenic coast, home to seaside fun and pebbly shores.
Find perfect beaches for sunbathing, walking or surfing. And bring your whole family, including your pet pal, to one of the many dog-friendly beaches in the South West.
Read on to discover the best beaches in the South West…
Use the quick links to navigate to a particular beach or read on for our extensive guide to South West beaches.
One of the best beaches in the UK, not just the South West, is Blackpool Sands. Situated not far from Dartmouth in South Devon, Blackpool Sands is a Blue Flag award-winning beach.
This South West beach has a shingle shoreline, offering plenty of benefits compared to other sandy alternatives. If the wind picks up, you don’t need to worry about sand blowing onto food or clothing. Enjoy swimming at the waters edge and a tide line that barely changes throughout the day!
Dine at the fabulous Venus Beach Café right on the beach. Or buy any beach related items or even a postcard to send home from the Venus Beach Shop.
Is Blackpool Sands dog-friendly? Dogs are welcome in off-peak season from November to April.
Postcode: TQ6 0RG
Part of North Devon‘s gorgeous golden coast is Saunton Sands. The long stretch of water is perfect for surfers and swimmers. Families enjoy the open sands too and the spacious and diverse dunes backing the beach.
Braunton Burrows sits behind Saunton Sands and is an UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. This important habitat is home to diverse plant and animal life. There are 470 species of flowering plant including 11 species of orchid!
Saunton Sands is one of North Devon’s dog-friendly beaches. It is also one of the only South West beaches to have a Landeez all-terrain wheelchair for disabled beach access. You can find a beach shop nearby, a surf school, food outlets and toilets.
Is Saunton Sands dog-friendly? Yes, all year. Dog owners are asked to keep dogs on the lead past the initial beach hut area.
Postcode: EX33 1LQ
Woolacombe Beach is undoubtedly one of the South West’s best beaches. Winning many awards, Woolacombe Beach has golden sands which stretch for three-miles. It rests to the north of National Trust’s Baggy Point, with Croyde Bay and Saunton Sands lying to the south.
Woolacombe Bay attracts lots of surfers thanks to the unbroken Atlantic breakers. You can also almost always find space in the surf even in the height of summer because of the length of the beach. This beach benefits from three large car parks, easy access and great facilities.
The lovely village of Woolacombe is a charming spot to visit following your beach day. Dine in one of the local pubs or restaurants and stay in one of the many lovely holiday cottages in Woolacombe.
Is Woolacombe Beach dog-friendly? Yes with some restrictions. Dogs are banned from a zoned area of the beach from May to October and allowed in adjacent areas if kept on lead.
Postcode: EX34 7DN
Bantham Beach is part of the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This beautiful beach has the Blue Flag award and awards from the Marine Conservation Society.
Bantham is perfect for family beach days thanks to the shallow waters for paddling and swimming. You can ride the famous ‘sea tractor’ over to Burgh Island and look out to the scenic Bigbury Bay.
Break up your beach day at Bantham with a circular South West Coast Path walk to stretch your legs and soak up the scenery.
Bantham Beach is also one of the best surfing beaches in South Devon. Those new to surfing can practice their skills on Bantham Beach’s mellow waves or ‘ankle slappers’. Bantham Surfing Academy can provide expert teaching for beginners.
Is Bantham Beach beach dog-friendly? Yes, with some restrictions. Dogs are not allowed on the beach between May and September. However, dogs are allowed on the estuary all year round, accessible at low tide.
Postcode: TQ7 3AN
Overlooked by a beautiful Georgian seafront is Weymouth Beach. Home to donkey rides and Punch & Judy shows, Weymouth Beach is the epitome of British summertime.
The beach has awards from the Marine Conservation Society and the Blue Flag. The pristine waters are perfect for swimming and watersports. Weymouth Harbour is around the corner where you can hop on board an exciting boat trip to explore the Jurassic Coast.
Discover plenty of beachfront facilities here including toilets, cafés, restaurants and shops.
Is Weymouth Beach dog-friendly? Yes, with some restrictions. Dogs are allowed off lead all year within the allocated dog exercise area at the Pavilion end of the beach. Dogs are also allowed off lead between October and April on the sandy beach up to Greenhill Groyne.
Postcode: DT4 7AX
This stunning natural cove is a truly magnificent spot to spend the day. Discover Lulworth Cove next to the village of West Lulworth on the Dorset coast.
The beach is pebbled and very sheltered thanks to the naturally formed horseshoe shape. The waters are excellent for kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and small inflatable boats.
Walk right the way around the cove and discover the fascinating rock pools at low tide. Continue west along the South West Coast Path to find another iconic landmark; Durdle Door.
There are shops, pubs and ice cream stalls settled along the sloping road leading down to the beach from the car park.
Is Lulworth Cove dog-friendly? Yes, all year round.
Postcode: BH20 5RH
Bournemouth Beach has been entertaining holidaymakers since the Victorian times. One of the best South West beaches, it’s one of Britain’s favourite beaches too.
Bournemouth Beach’s showstopper is the pier; built in 1880 and stretching over 300 metres into the sea. Take a pleasure cruise to Swanage, Poole or the Isle of Wight from here. Grab a bite to eat, enjoy the fairground and take in the stunning views.
The beach is made up of fine golden sand and is perfect for those seeking a buzz of activity! The quieter sands of Westbourne and Southbourne provide calmer alternatives.
Is Bournemouth Beach dog-friendly? Yes, with restrictions. Dogs are welcome on the beach between October to April. In the high season dogs are only permitted in the dog exercise zone.
Postcode: BH2 5AA
Seatown Beach is a beautiful shingle and pebble beach, flanked by cliffs and not far from the neighbouring village of Chideock.
Reached via a winding country lane, Seatown Beach is a popular spot for fossil hunters and fishing.
The beach lies within the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and offers incredible coastal views. Resting above the beach is the award-winning pub, The Anchor Inn. Stop in here for delicious, locally caught seafood and a refreshing drink.
Is Seatown Beach dog-friendly? Yes, with restrictions. Dogs are not allowed on the beach between May and September.
Postcode: DT6 6JU
Minehead Beach, also known as The Strand, is one of Somerset’s most popular beaches. The beach is made up of a long stretch of sand, with some areas of shingle and rock pools too.
Minehead Beach is where the wonderful South West Coast Path begins, running all the way to Poole in Dorset. Enjoy the lively atmosphere from the Butlin’s resort here. Visit Minehead’s nearby high street to find a host of cafés, bars and restaurants.
Is Minehead Beach dog-friendly? Yes, with some restrictions. Dogs are welcome between October and April. Dogs are not allowed between the harbour and golf course on the main beach during the rest of the year.
Postcode: TA24 6GQ
Weston-super-Mare Beach is another classic Victorian seaside resort. This popular and fun-filled beach has everything! From donkey rides and golden sands, to fish and chip shops and fairgrounds.
The Grand Pier is bursting with entertainment, and offers amazing views across Weston Bay towards Wales and Exmoor.
Take the Weston Land Train running from Royal Sands to Knightstone Island to soak up the atmosphere and views.
Weston-super-Mare Beach has a huge expanse of sands at low tide, making it great for sunbathing and sandcastles! A specific area of the beach is sectioned off for watersports and kitesurfing, perfect for watersports enthusiasts!
Note: Beware of the dangerous mud flats at low tide.
Is Weston-super-Mare Beach dog-friendly? Yes, with restrictions. Dogs are welcome all year between The Grand Pier and Knightstone Island, and between Royal Sands and Uphill Beach. Dogs are not permitted between The Grand Pier and Royal Sands between May to September.
Postcode: BS23 1BE
Blue Anchor Beach is a beautiful shingle beach settled in West Somerset. Stretching for miles, visitors can enjoy views over to North Hill at Minehead to the west.
The coastal road which runs the length of the beach is perfect for bike rides with a view. Enjoy an ice cream from the local café, or stop in to The Smugglers Inn at the east end of the beach.
Is Blue Anchor Beach dog-friendly? Yes, all year round.
Postcode: TA24 6LD
Resting just around two miles from Weston-super-Mare is the vast, 7-mile Brean Beach. It is said to be the second longest stretch of sand in Europe!
Brean Beach is dominated by Brean Down, a tall headland to the north of the beach. Enjoy the climb up to the top of this natural pier and soak up amazing views of the Bristol Channel and the Somerset Levels.
The beach is a popular spot for watersports as well as horse riding. Park up on the beach or in the car park.
Is Brean Beach dog-friendly? Yes, all year round.
Postcode: TA8 2RS
Fistral Beach is known globally as one of the best surfing destinations in the world. A host of surfing competitions are held here every year, including the popular Boardmasters.
Surf rolls into the beach from the Cribbar Reef, with hollow waves reaching heights of 6 to 8 feet. Some of the biggest waves reach 30 or even 40 feet in height!
Fistral Beach is overlooked by the beautiful Newquay Golf Club. Enjoy learning to surf here at one of the many surf schools, hire equipment including boards and wetsuits, or simply relax on the sands and watch the action.
Is Fistral Beach dog-friendly? Yes, all year round.
Postcode: TR7 1HY
Settled in the picturesque town of St Ives in Cornwall is Porthmeor Beach. Made up of fine white sand, this beach is a true delight. Popular with swimmers and surfers, it rests in the shadow of the famous Tate St Ives building.
Enjoy a delicious breakfast at Porthmeor Beach Café before heading down to set up on the sands. Keen surfers should visit in the winter months to experience the best waves and surf.
Porthmeor Beach is one of just five beaches in Cornwall to have the Blue Flag award, as well as a Marine Conservation Society award.
Is Porthmeor Beach dog-friendly? Yes, with restrictions. Dogs are not permitted on the beach between 15ht May and 30th September (10am-6pm).
Postcode: TR26 1JZ
Resting in South Cornwall is Praa Sands Beach. A favourite among surfers on the south coast, it sits between the Lizard and Penwith coasts.
Praa Sands Beach is sheltered by sand dunes and has a shoreline perfect for paddling.
Enjoy the beach’s amenities clustered at the western end including several cafés and car parks.
Is Praa Sands Beach dog-friendly? Yes, with some restrictions. Dogs are not allowed on the beach during July and August from 10am to 6pm.
Postcode: TR20 9TG
Last but not least is Summerleaze Beach in Bude. Offering another surfing hub for northern Cornwall, Summerleaze Beach is an ever popular spot.
There’s plenty of activities here to keep everyone entertained. A host of surf schools are based here, with opportunities for all kinds of watersports too. Discover climbing or coasteering along the cliffs with expert guides for a unique holiday experience.
Summerleaze Beach enjoys a rare feature; Bude Sea Pool. This tidal pool is perfect for families and those wanting to take a relaxing salt water dip.
The bustling town of Bude is an exciting place to base your adventure to Cornwall.
Is Summerleaze Beach dog-friendly? Yes, with some restrictions. Dogs are welcome all year but must be kept on a lead from 10am to 6pm from the end of May to September.
Postcode: EX23 8HN
Enjoy exploring the best beaches in South West England from a holiday cottage by the beach. A host of dog-friendly properties across the South West can accommodate your whole family too, including your pet pal!
These beautiful beaches are well worth visiting even in the cooler months. Why not enjoy a break where a host of half term events in Devon and Dorset await?
Book your perfect South West holiday cottage from the excellent selection at Helpful Holidays.
Book your South West Holiday
Marika Reinholds – CC BY-SA 2.0; Roger Cornfoot – CC BY-SA 2.0; Andrew – CC BY 2.0; Matt Buck – CC BY-SA 2.0; Richard Szwejkowski – CC BY-SA 2.0; Matthew Hartley – CC BY-SA 2.0; Derek Voller – CC BY-SA 2.0; Howard – CC BY-SA 2.0; NotFromUtrecht – CC BY-SA 3.0; Roger Cornfoot – CC BY-SA 2.0; Nilfanion – CC BY-SA 3.0; Nilfanion – CC BY-SA 4.0; Lawrie Cate – CC BY 2.0; Reading Tom – CC BY 2.0; Lewis Clarke – CC BY-SA 2.0
Hi, I’m Alice! Since joining the Sykes family in April 2018 my love for UK staycations has only increased. From the beautiful be...
Sign up to receive exclusive offers, competitions and the latest news to your inbox, and you'll be entered into our monthly prize-draw 3 times!
If you’re asking yourself, is Chagford worth visiting? Or, what’s in Chagford? You’ve come to the right place! Chagford...
Break out on your own Dartmoor bouldering adventure to Devon. Dartmoor National Park sits in the heart of Devon,...
Discover this amazing National Park via these things to do in Exmoor. Exmoor National Park straddles the two counties...