The once-secret Devon beaches that are now busy with tourists

With lockdown eased and the sun set to shine, people across Devon will be hitting the beaches this week.

Temperatures are set to rise for the next few days with the Met Office predicting highs of up to 28C in the South West.

Obviously one of the biggest draws to Devon are our clean and beautiful beaches, many of which can get very crowded.

But that’s OK, right? As locals we know the secret spots where the grockles never venture.

Well, maybe not. It seems many of the sandy retreats we previously considered “secret” are now not just “discovered” but actually rather busy.

Now, before we start getting all narky and suggesting that we “don’t want incomers to spoil our fun”, many of these beaches have enjoyed massive investment and undergone huge transformation specifically so they do attract more visitors – and economically, that’s something we all win from, right?

Here’s our list of the “secret” beaches that are attracting more and more people – and, more importantly, the reasons why.

Barricane, Woolacombe

(Image: Darren Cummins/Geograph)

Main beach in Woolacombe, once named the best beach in the whole UK, has always been rammed in the height of the season.

But until fairly recently, it’s smaller brother Barricane – just down the Esplanade – was mainly a favourite among locals.

Tucked away down a slope and flanked by rocks, this sheltered and secluded beach is more shale than golden sand. It’s enclosed nature makes it perfect for families, particularly those with smaller children.

Once the go-to destination for post-nightclub beach parties, Barricane’s recent boost in popularity is in no small part down to the famous Sri Lankan curries that are now served from its food outlet.

Where else can you enjoy such amazing cuisine while watching the sunset over the waves?

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Lannacombe at East Prawle, Kingsbridge

(Image: Derek Harper/Geograph)

This secluded beach in South Devon is tricky to access and doesn’t have a huge amount of parking.

But its dog friendly status – dogs are welcome here all year round – has attracted more and more dog walkers over the years.

The nearby Pigs Nose Inn pub, renowned for its live music, have made the area a bit of a go-to destination for the hipster crowd too.

Tunnels, Ilfracombe

(Image: Gareth James)

Accessed via a series of tunnels drilled through the hillside (hence the name), Tunnels beaches saw their heyday in the Victorian era.

But after this, the hidden gem went through a bit of a down turn.

However, huge investment over the past decade from managers Jamie and Zoe McLintock has seen its popularity boom once again.

As well as the unique beaches, Tunnels is now best known for the incredible wedding venue built into the cliff side which boasts stunning views over the Bristol channel.

Elberry Cove, Brixham

Known for being a favoured bathing spot for Agatha Christie, Elberry Cove near Brixham is a secluded pebble beach on the South Devon coast.

It can only be accessed by foot, with those arriving by car only able to get there by walking round the coast path from nearby Broadsands.

It’s this inaccessibility that earned its “secret” status, as well as the fact it is also flanked at one end by the remains of Lord Churston’s 18th Century bathhouse.

However, since being designated as a water skiing beach, it’s popularity with watersports enthusiasts has grown of late.

And with Agatha Christie’s Greenway holiday home also nearby, it’s seen an increase from literary tourists too.

Putsborough, Georgeham

Everyone knows about the award-winning Woolacombe beach, but those with the perseverance to walk the entire three-mile sandy stretch will be greeted by Putsborough.

Car access to Puts (as it’s known locally) is tricker than Woolacombe, with drivers having to negotiate very tight country lanes and even a ford – but the end result is worth it.

Popular with surfers due to its shelter from the wind, Puts has also recently undergone some substantial investment.

An upgraded cafe and toilet block have caught the attention of families who now flock to this beautiful beach.

Combine that with its caravan and camping provision – which boasts arguably the best view of any site in the country – and you can see why more people are heading here.

Wonwell, Kingsbridge

This sandy beach on the east shore of the Erme river in South Devon is a beauty.

Located within the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), low tide here reveals a large expanse of sand which joins up with Meadowsfoot.

There’s no actual car park here, though those in the know park on the nearby road.

The beach welcomes dogs all year round and has also become increasingly popular with kayakers and horseriders.

Locals will tell you the beach has definitely become more populated in recent years as more and more people try to uncover the county’s hidden gems.

Devon Live – Devon News