Salcombe – A little piece of Devon Heaven!

Our family favourite

I have been visiting Devon for as long as I can remember. Summer holidays were spent visiting my grandmother’s family in Torquay. Their Devonshire accents were so strong and it was sometimes difficult for me to understand them! Fast forward to some years later and my Devon holidays were to continue with my own children. My husband’s family lived an hour away in the beautiful estuary town of Salcombe.  Here the population swells from 1,800 in winter to 19,000 in the summer months.  The town does get very busy in high summer with people, dogs and some seriously large 4×4’s. They’re all vying for space on the very narrow streets.




I have been visiting Devon for as long as I can remember


Fun and fantastic food

It is well known for its outstanding coastal views and beautiful rolling countryside of the South Hams.  It’s also a popular centre for sailing. South of the town there are two beaches within walking distance – North Sands and South Sands. Both can be accessed by car but with very limited parking available. You might want to leave your car for the day at the town’s Park And Ride car park, walk down to Whitestrand and catch the South Sands Ferry over to the beach. It’s great to see Salcombe from the water. The kids love being greeted by the sea tractor as it drives out to sea to meet the ferry.

Once at South Sands you can set up for the day on the small sandy beach. It is perfect for building sandcastles and the clear water is great for kayaking and paddleboarding. It was here that I tried paddleboarding for the first time last year, hiring boards and wetsuits from South Sands Sailing. There is also a great beach cafe serving hot and cold drinks and snacks.

After a day at the beach, you can hop back on the ferry into town and stop off for ice creams at Salcombe Dairy. Chocolate Orange and Honeycomb are firm family favourites, and I think this is the only place in the world where we eat ice cream every day! Their ice cream has even made it onto the menu at The Dorchester Hotel in London!


Familiar routine

Our holidays in Salcombe always follow the same pattern and we never really venture very far. Our days are slow and are mostly spent at the beach with our paddleboards. The Winking Prawn is a favourite of ours and is sat just back from the beach at North Sands. The place has a great atmosphere and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. And in the summer months they put on a fantastic early evening BBQ.

Our holidays in Salcombe always follow the same pattern and we never really venture very far

So much to do

You can order picnics from one of the many shops in town, our favourite being The Bake House. They sell the most delicious baguettes and freshly filled rolls.  Take the ferry from The Ferry Inn (obviously!) across the estuary to East Portlemouth. Then spend the day on the beautiful sandy beach, taking in one of the best views of the town. If you’re looking for something more energetic then follow the coastal path to the south, past Mill Bay and Sunny Cove. Head around the headland until you’re facing east with the English Channel on your right. The path is fairly steep and narrow in places so not great for small children. My ‘not so small’ children felt it was all far too arduous and were relieved to finally make it to the newly refurbished Gara Rock. Here we stopped for lunch and to admire the beautiful view.



Pick your beach

If we want to head out of Salcombe for the day then Bantham is a great sandy beach. It’s excellent for bodyboarding. There is a surf school and the Gastro Bus for food if you haven’t been organised enough to pack a picnic. From the beach, you get a great view of Burgh Island. It can be reached on foot when the tide is out or by sea tractor from nearby Bigbury. Blackpool Sands is another lovely beach which is home to the Venus Beach Cafe. It’s a chain of family-run beach cafes who are really doing their bit for the environment and the ocean. No plastic straws since 2003!



 No trip to Salcombe is complete without a trip to Cranch’s!


This year we visited during Regatta week, a great time to go. There are lots of events going on every day, such as a fun run, a harbour swim and the “greasy pole”! On Thursday evening there was an amazing fireworks display that took place over the harbour.  We walked into town and had dinner at Island Street Bar and Grill before stopping at  Cranch’s, the oldest sweet shop in Devon. No trip to Salcombe is complete without a visit to Cranch’s!


If you’re visiting in high season you’d better be prepared to queue, but in our opinion it’s well worth it!

See you next year!

There are plenty of places to stay in and around Salcombe and accommodation ranges from campsites to spa hotels. Salcombe Harbour Hotel is a popular choice in town and Salcombe Holidays Homes and Salcombe Finest have a great selection of rental properties.

We love our time in Salcombe and we are always sad to drive up the hill for the last time, with that beautiful estuary in the rearview mirror.  It’s been a constant in our childrens’ lives and the holiday snaps provide a vivid record of their development (and of our degeneration!). Over the 20 years or so that we’ve been visiting word has definitely got out. Many people feel that it’s been spoilt somewhat. Second-homers have bought up and redeveloped so many of the original houses. If you’re visiting in high season you’d better be prepared to queue. But in our opinion it’s well worth it!