North Devon Surfing Beaches

Coastal Team

The ‘North Devon Surfing Beaches’ comprise the four main beaches on the North Devon coast – Woolacombe, Saunton Sands, Putsborough and Croyde. All are within the North Devon local authority area. Each is a wide, largely unspoilt sandy beach, backed by sand dunes with dramatic seascapes and are wild places from which to view and experience the North Devon coast.

The beaches are located within a very high quality landscape and natural environment. They all fall within the North Devon Coast Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and the North Devon UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, which is centred upon the internationally important Braunton Burrows sand dune system behind Saunton Sands. They are also protected for their undeveloped character as part of the Heritage Coast. These environmental designations bring national profile, but also constraints in terms of the ability to bring forward new developments.

This stretch of coast has been popular as a tourism destination since Victorian times, attracting visitors from across the country and abroad, as well as residents from across the county. In the summer months, local communities are transformed by the numbers of staying and day visitors. Barnstaple, the sub-regional centre for the wider area (pop. 24,000) is just 8 miles away from the nearest beach, and the coastal resort town of Ilfracombe (pop. 11,500), 5 miles away. But these are also beaches of international renown – in 2015 (and again in 2016), Woolacombe was voted the best beach in the UK, the fourth best beach in Europe, and the 13th best in the world on TripAdvisor.

Contact Details:

Sally Nelson
North Devon Council, Brynsworthy Environment Centre, Roundswell, EX31 3NP
01271 388418   sally.nelson@northdevon.gov.uk

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