South West England beaches

The beach guide has 452 beaches listed in South West England.

South West England is justly famous for its diverse and intriguing coastline. Cornwall and Devon's rugged north shores, which receive the brunt of uninterrupted Atlantic weather systems, are a mecca for surfers in the UK. Sandy beaches such as Fistral, Bude and Croyde are well-known surfing destinations, taking the pressure off dozens of other more remote, rocky and isolated spots. The creeks, lush wooded valleys and historic fishing villages of South-East Cornwall, such as Looe and Readymoney Cove, offer plentiful opportunities for safe swimming, while the sunny, palm-fringed Torbay area, in South Devon, has been dubbed the 'English Riviera'.

Dorsets Jurassic Coast has been given the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in recognition of the abundance of rare fossil remains that have been found there. Lyme Bay has a long association with fossil-hunting, while beaches such as Lulworth Cove remain endlessly fascinating places to study ancient geological processes. After the sweeping sandy bays of Swanage and Studland and the popular seaside resort of Bournemouth come the surprisingly unspoilt beaches of Hampshire's Lepe Coastal Country Park, which forms part of the New Forest National Park.

Regular ferries leave Southampton for the Isle of Wight, which boasts thirteen award-winning beaches, ranging from traditional coastal resorts such as Shanklin and Sandown to quieter west coast beaches such as Freshwater Bay. Head back to the mainland for Hampshire's Solent coastline and the developed beaches on the five-mile seashore known as Hayling Island.

Somerset is best-known for its classic resort beaches, such as Burnham-on-Sea and Minehead, which marks the start of the excellent six hundred mile trail known as the South West Coast Path.

The Isles of Scilly, lying thirty miles due west of Land's End, offers something truly unique. With limited transport to the mainland and no cars on the smaller islands, you are almost certain to have the white sand beaches, clear turquoise waters and achingly picturesque coves all to yourself.