Finding the best beaches in Cornwall, Devon and Dorset gives you pretty much endless scope. To help you out this Easter we’ve narrowed the choice down a little and picked 10 of the ones we love best for days out – or longer, if the south of England is on your staycation wish list this year – take a look and see what you think.
1/10 St. Ives Harbour Beach | Cornwall
St Ives Harbour Beach is one of the best beaches in Cornwall for family days out. There’s sand here even at high tide, so plenty of sunbathing time and during low tide you can walk across to Porthminster Beach. Sitting on the doorstep of St Ives town, this beach is surrounded by lovely gift shops and galleries, as well as a plentiful supply of cafes and restaurants. The working harbour will entertain the kids for hours as they watch the local fishing boats delivering their catch. Take a stroll along Smeaton’s pier and check out the lighthouse at the end that has been there since 1890. There’s parking available in town, but the spaces fill up fast. The beach is just a 15-minute walk from St Ives train station.
2/10 Kynance Cove | West Cornwall
With turquoise water and white sand, Kynance Cove was once an isolated and inaccessible paradise on the West Cornish Coast. But having recently undergone a National Trust transformation, it’s now one of the best beaches in Cornwall for families. Accessible by car via a toll road, it has a good car park and the National Trust has also improved the water quality and protected the local environment by employing renewable energy sources. The cove is home to a number of interesting rock formations, including the stunning serpentine rock, whose unique shaping creates the impression of a snake’s head protruding from the water. At low tide, it is possible to explore these rock stacks, as well as the caves with names such as ‘the drawing-room’.
More about best beaches in Cornwall from and family friendly places to stay near Kynance Cove
3/10 Hive Beach, Burton Bradstock | Dorset
A seaside treasure nestled on the West Dorset Coast, Hive Beach, Burton Bradstock, the is one of the best family beaches for keen fossil hunters. Known as the gateway to the Jurassic Coast, kids will love searching for prehistoric remnants in the limestone boulders here. Fishing and surfing are also available but simply swimming in the sea is a real treat as the water is so clear. And when the skies are clear, beach-goers are treated to fantastic views and can see all the way to the East Devon coast.
4/10 Broadsands Beach, Exmoor | South Devon
Broadsands Beach lies on the South Devon coast between Paignton and Brixham and is the ideal destination for families. The calm waters are perfect for paddling and, as Blue Flag beach, you can rest assured they’re safe and clean. Take in the stunning views from the Southwest coastal path that’s just a ten-minute walk away. This beach is accessible for wheelchairs and buggies and has disabled toilet access.
5/10 Torre Abbey Sands Beach, Torquay | South Devon
A long sandy beach west of Torquay Harbour, Torre Abbey Sands is located in the heart of Torbay on the English Riviera, South Devon. A short walk from local car parks and the train station, the beach is close to the promenade and has easy access to all facilities you may need for a beach trip, including shops to buy buckets and spades. The waters are shallow so kids can paddle safely and deckchairs are available to hire. Torre Abbey Meadows is a garden and grass area above the beach, ideal for picnicking.
6/10 Gyllyngvase Beach, Falmouth | Cornwall
Gyllyngvase is one of the best beaches in Cornwall if you’re wrangling a baby buggy this summer. It’s the largest beach in Falmouth and has nearby toilets and a good size car park. Just a short walk away are the Queen Mary Gardens, opened in 1910, home to species of tropical plant such as Agapanthus and perfect for keen gardeners. Walk along the southwest coast path to the Swanpool Nature Reserve, great for wildlife lovers who may be able to spot kingfishers. The town of Falmouth is just a 15-minute walk away.
7/10 Shell Beach, Studland Bay | Dorset
A four-mile stretch of golden beaches on the coast of Dorset, Studland Bay has breath-taking views to Old Harry Rocks and the Isle of White. One of the main attractions here is the number of self-guided walking trails around the National Trust Estate, where you can explore the nature reserve and heathland. Kids will love exploring the sand dunes and woodlands which are a haven for dragonflies and even the odd deer. Other beaches in the area include Knoll Beach, Middle Beach and South Beach – the area in between Shell Beach and Knoll Beach is a nudist beach.
8/10 Summerleaze Beach, Bude | North Cornwall
Sumerleaze is one of the best beaches in Cornwall for keen surfers thanks to Atlantic waves and the nearby seaside town of Bude. A number of surf schools offer lessons for children and families here during summer. The beach is also great for swimming and, when the sea is too powerful, you can retreat to the Sea Pool: a salt-water swimming pool that fills with the tide. Away from the beach, the town of Bude is home to a wide range of surf shops, galleries and restaurants. Coastal walks on the surrounding cliffs have stunning views of the Atlantic and across the bay.
More about best beaches in Cornwall and family friendly places to stay in Bude
9/10 Swanage Beach | Dorset
Swanage Beach has a Blue Flag, so you can depend on its excellent water quality, services and safety. A designated swimming area is sectioned off with buoys to ensure the safest swimming experience in summer. Beach huts are available to hire all year round, giving you the much-needed freedom to store buckets and spades and come and go as you please. The town of Swanage itself was particularly popular in the Victorian era and it has retained this traditional seaside charm through its remaining architecture from the era, including the pier.
10/10 East Portlemouth Beach, Salcombe – South Devon
East Portlemouth beach isn’t just one of the best family beaches in Devon, it’s three − Mill Bay, Fishermans Cove and Smalls Cove – all of which look west across the bay towards the popular holiday destination of Salcombe, just over half-an-hour’s drive away. East Portlemouth beaches are quieter than those close to Salcombe and shallow waters and safe bathing awards mean kids can paddle peacefully. The beaches have easily accessible toilets and access for wheelchairs and buggies. Check out the spectacular views from the National Trust coastal path or explore the sea life in rock pools.