South Devon National Landscape
Follaton House, Plymouth Road,
Totnes TQ9 5NE


Tel: 01803 229330


Beaches FAQs

Find answers to frequently asked questions relating to South Devon’s beaches.


Who owns South Devon beaches?


Above the high-water mark – The beaches are in a wide variety of ownerships including the National Trust, the council, charitable trusts and private landowners. Some have split ownership. Beaches owned or leased to South Hams District Council include Slapton Sands, Salcombe North, Salcombe South and small sections of Sugary Cove, Bovisand and Beesands.


Below the high-water mark – Nearly all beaches are Crown Estate or Duchy of Cornwall owned with the exception being some estuary beaches, where the private ownership may extend down to the low-water mark (e.g. East Portlemouth).

Can I have a BBQ on a beach?

Barbecues are prohibited at the following beaches:

  • Crownhill Bay
  • Wonwell
  • Coastguards
  • Meadowsfoot (Mothecombe)
  • Lannacombe
  • Beaches of East Portlemouth (Fishermans Cove, Mill Bay, Sunny Cove)


Restrictions apply at:

Blackpool Sands (see:
Permission to barbecue at other beaches would need to be sought from the landowners. Where this is not possible, and you take the decision to have a barbecue, we would recommend it takes place outside of the busiest times, and away from other beach users and local houses.

Please remember to take away your disposable barbecue, litter and ash afterwards.

If your barbecue is going to be a large event, rather than a small gathering, please refer to ‘Do I need permission to hold an event on a beach?’

Is camping allowed on beaches?

Camping is prohibited at most beaches in the area, in many cases with a byelaw in force. Many have no space for camping at high tide. We’re unable to inform you of any South Devon beaches where camping is allowed.


If you do take the decision to camp, ensure you are properly prepared, be aware of tide times, choose only quiet, remote beaches that aren’t overlooked by local houses, and move on early the next morning. Please remember to leave the beach as you found it.

Which beaches are lifeguarded?

During the summer season (May to September) the following beaches are known to be lifeguarded:

  • Shoalstone (sea water pool) at Brixham
  • Blackpool Sands
  • Slapton Sands (central area)
  • Thurlestone Sands (also called South Milton Sands)
  • Bantham
  • Bigbury-on-Sea
  • Challaborough
  • Hope Cove

For beaches patrolled by RNLI lifeguards, you can check here for up to date information.

Who is responsible for cleaning beaches?

Beach owners are responsible for keeping their beaches clean. Although we can all do our bit to keep this area special by picking up some rubbish and popping it in the bin as we pass! Individuals and communities can also take part in organised beach cleans across the area.

For more information visit Marine Convservation Society – Beachwatch.

Which beaches can I take my dog to?

During the summer season (1st May to 30th September inclusive) the following beaches are closed to dogs:

  • Salcombe – South Sands
  • Hope Cove – Mouthwell Sands
  • Challaborough
  • Bigbury (partial ban)
  • Bantham (partial ban)
  • Blackpool Sands (see for exact dates as they extend beyond the dates stated above)
  • Mothecombe
  • Wembury
  • Bovisand – Sandy Parlour
  • Most other beaches welcome well-controlled dogs all year round.

Do I need permission to hold an event on a beach?

Yes, you will need to contact the beach owner to discuss your request.

Which beaches can I launch a dinghy from?

Small, lightweight dinghies which can be carried, can be launched from the following beaches:

  • Torcross
  • Slapton
  • Strete Gate
  • Beesands
  • Hallsands
  • Hope Cove
  • Sedgewell (next to Bigbury)

Please be aware that most of these are shingle beaches and can have steep ridges.


For larger crafts that require reversing a trailer down to the water’s edge, you would need to launch from the slip at Salcombe or Dartmouth and find legitimate parking for your trailer and pay harbour dues to the relevant authority: Salcombe Harbour Authority, Dart Harbour Authority.

Am I allowed to remove sand / pebbles from beaches?

Not without getting permission from the beach owner. South Hams District Council does not permit sand/pebbles being taken from any of the beaches they own.

Related Information

Salcombe Tide Times

Salcombe Weather