Instow Beach

  • Instow Beach - Devon
    © Perry Dark and licensed for reuse under this Licence
  • Instow Beach - Devon
    © Rob Purvis and licensed for reuse under this Licence
  • Instow Beach - Devon
    © Philip Halling and licensed for reuse under this Licence
  • Instow Beach - Devon
    © Tim Leete and licensed for reuse under this Licence
  • Instow is a pretty and sandy beach that tends to get very busy during the summer. Calm waters, protected from swell by sandbanks at the mouth of the Taw estuary, make this a good choice for families. There are also shops and cafes in the village which is directly behind the beach.

    From the beach at Instow it is possible to kayak down the rivers Taw and Torridge to Instow Beach.

    If you do plan on visiting Instow beach please bear in mind that you are advised not to go swimming on account of the poor water quality.  Instow beach has consistently failed to meet the requirement imposed by the Bathing Water Directives and, despite efforts made it seems unlikely that the water will meet the minimum standard in the foreseeable future.

    Type of beach


    Lifeguard service


    Dogs friendly beach?

    Dogs allowed

    Dogs are allowed on some of the beach all year although restrictions apply near the town end from May 1 and September 30

    Devon dog friendly beaches »


    • Kayaking/canoeing


    • Cafe/restaurant
    • Toilets
    • Shop
    • Pub nearby
    • Slipway

    Nearest town



    EX39 4JH

    OS grid ref.

    SS 4719 3044


    There is car parking in the village and also behind the nearby dunes.

    Water quality

    Water quality star rating

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    Instow Beach Reviews

    great for dogs

    joe o
    Mar 19th 2022

    gteat beach for dogs to run and play not sutable for bathing ,

    Why do they do it?

    Mar 06th 2024

    Yesterday, was taking my regular stroll along Instow beach. Usual flurry of dogs etc(some poo around). But what got my goat was 2 women and a small child, sat behind the roped off area opposite the pub and the child was merrily digging away. Surely they must know it is roped off for a reason.

    Lovely place but dogs everywhere

    Sep 04th 2023

    Lovely place and beautiful. A great place for families to let their children play on the sand, providing your little ones don’t mind dogs running around freely. Which is odd as it seems to say on the internet that they are not allowed on the main section of beach there from May through to September. I guess the owners know best.

    Instow beach great for all uses, not just dog walking

    Local resident
    Jul 31st 2023

    Lots of misinformation about instow beach reference water quality based on the fact that it used to fail it’s eu water quality directive testing as at low tide it is primarily river water where any agricultural run off would potentially make it less than desirable to drink. Which is why it was delisted as a bathing each so it wouldn’t keep being tested and failing… However, in reality the water quality is absolutely fine when it is sea water on an incoming tide and for approx an hour afterwards and is as clean as it would be at blue flag westward ho and Saunton. So please do not write off instow as purely a dog walking beach, it is a wonderful beach for everyone including families and those wishing to use for paddle sports and sailing.

    The issue relates only to the fact that this is an estuary beach with a river running into it, as such when it used to be tested as part of the eu water quality monitoring, it failed which is why the parish council petitioned to the environment agency to declassify as a bathing beach so instow stopped being mentioned as failing.

    Now however, unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding, sadly backed by a group of dog walkers who want instow to be exclusively used for dog walking. As mentioned on an incoming tide and when we are salt water, which is for the 3-4 hrs we operate it is as clean as blue flag beaches of westward ho and Saunton sands, it’s effectively the same water.

    However, on the occasions where we have farmers may put crap into the fields a few time a year normally in spring and autumn, after heavy rain, then I would advise against drinking it at low tide.