South West England secret beaches

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You may have thought that secluded beaches with fine sand, crystal clear water and just the cry of the gulls for company were long gone, but they're not. Tucked away in the nooks and crannies of the South West England coast are any number of unspoilt hidden gems where you can enjoy a little peace and quiet.

Here at the Beach Guide we have compiled a list of your favourite hidden beaches in South West England that are just far enough off the beaten track to never get too busy.

Of course escaping the crowds may not be your only reason for visiting these little known spots. Not only are they a little tricky to find and get to, they are also some of the loveliest beaches in South West England.

  • Moor Sands Beach © Philip Halling | BY-SA

    1. Moor Sands Beach

    East Prawle, Devon

    Moor Sands (or Moorsand) is something of a misnomer as there really isn't much in the way of sand here. The beach is in fact mostly made up of smooth pale-coloured pebbles and a few rocks. There is however…

  • Spekes Mill Beach © Derek Harper | BY-SA

    2. Spekes Mill Beach

    Hartland, Devon

    Speke's Mill is set just north of the Devon / Cornwall border, near Hartland Point. This stretch of coast is beyond rugged with high cliffs and jagged rocks jutting into the full might of the Atlantic…

  • Peppercombe Beach © Philip Halling | BY-SA

    3. Peppercombe Beach

    Bideford, Devon

    This rocky beach is very different to the next beach along the North Devon coast - Westward Ho! You won't find much in the way of sand at Peppercombe and it's possible you won't have much in the way of…

  • Heddon's Mouth Beach © Noel Jenkins | BY-SA

    4. Heddon's Mouth Beach

    Lynton, Devon

    Set on the rugged North Devon coast between Combe Martin and Lynton is the rocky cove of Heddon's Mouth. As the name suggests the cove sits at the mouth of the River Heddon which has carved a deep valley…

  • Scabbacombe Sands Beach © Philip Halling | BY-SA

    5. Scabbacombe Sands Beach

    Brixham, Devon

    Scabbacombe Sands is somewhat off the beaten track despite being only a few miles south of Brixham. Admittedly it is a bit of a hike from the nearest car park on Scabbacombe Lane, but we think it is worth…

  • Broad Sands Beach © Philip Halling | BY-SA

    6. Broad Sands Beach

    Combe Martin, Devon

    Tucked away on the rugged North Devon coast between Watermouth and Combe Martin is a little known cove. Named Broad Sands for reasons unknown, the beach is neither broad nor that sandy, more shingley!…

  • Arlo Porth Beach © | BY-SA

    7. Arlo Porth Beach

    Hugh Town, Isles of Scilly

    Small stretch of sheltered sand tucked in behind the harbour wall in Hugh Town. Overlooked by most visitors, the beach is usually empty on account of it requiring a climb down.The beach is only accessible…

  • Grunta Beach © Sarah Charlesworth | BY-SA

    8. Grunta Beach

    Woolacombe, Devon

    The sandy little cove of Grunta is situated below the cliffs in front of the village of Morthoe. A stone's throw from Woolacombe it is a very different place and you may even get it to yourself. As pretty…

  • Portheras Cove © Jim Champion | BY-SA

    9. Portheras Cove

    St Just, Cornwall

    Portheras is a sandy beach on the South West Coast Path, located a little to the east of Pendeen lighthouse. Only accessible on foot, the beach is unspoilt and exposed, with occasional good, though dangerous,…

  • Pedn Vounder Beach © Sarah Charlesworth | BY-SA

    10. Pedn Vounder Beach

    Penzance, Cornwall

    One of Cornwall's finest beaches with stunning cliffs of Treryn Dinas, crystal clear turquoise water and a beautiful white sand beach. Take the path from Treen and make sure you have a good pair of walking…

  • Gammons Head Beach © Bill Boaden | BY-SA

    11. Gammons Head Beach

    Salcombe, Devon

    A small, sandy cove, sheltered by high cliffs, that disappears at high tide. Accessible on foot only, via the South West Coast Path and a steepish climb down. There are no facilities. The nearest parking…

  • Woody Bay © David Mason | BY-SA

    12. Woody Bay

    Lynton, Devon

    Woody Bay, on the rugged Exmoor Coast, certainly lives up to its name. The rocky cove is backed by steep, heavily wooded cliffs. The walk down to the beach is as much of a delight as the cove itself;…

  • Wonwell Sands Beach © Martin Bodman | BY-SA

    13. Wonwell Sands Beach

    Plymouth, Devon

    A sandy beach within the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Situated on the east bank of the river Erme and the Erme estuary, the beach joins up with Meadowsfoot (Mothecombe) at low tide.…

  • Landcombe Cove © Derek Harper | BY-SA

    14. Landcombe Cove

    Dartmouth, Devon

    This isolated cove set between Slapton and Blackpool Sands is a great escape from the summer crowds, but also well hidden. Not only that, unless you have your own boat the climb down is fairly challenging.…

  • Barricane Bay (Woolacombe) © Roger A Smith | BY-SA

    15. Barricane Bay (Woolacombe)

    Woolacombe, Devon

    Barricane is a secluded beach located at the far northern-end of Woolacombe. Often referred to as Combesgate Beach, Barricane gets its name from the range of shells found on its sands. Exotic shells here…

  • Porthmeor Cove © Philip Halling | BY-SA

    16. Porthmeor Cove

    St Ives, Cornwall

    Porthmeor Cove is a small, sheltered cove halfway between Morvah and Zennor on the South West Coast Path. One of Cornwall's most important geological destinations, the cove is a combination of sand, pebbles…

  • Chapman's Pool Beach © Jim Champion | BY-SA

    17. Chapman's Pool Beach

    Worth Matravers, Dorset

    Chapman's Pool sits in the lee of St Aldhelm's Head on Dorset's Isle of Purbeck (not an island at all!). Backed by high cliffs this quiet little cove does present something of a challenge to get to. The…

  • Luccombe Bay © Mypix | BY-SA

    18. Luccombe Bay

    Ventnor, Isle of Wight

    Set on the east coast of the Isle of Wight Luccombe Bay is approximately halfway between Shanklin and Ventnor. Despite this, the main road between these two coastal towns runs some way inland and the…

  • Mupe Bay © Philip Halling | BY-SA

    19. Mupe Bay

    West Lulworth, Dorset

    Just around the corner from Dorset's best-known cove (Lulworth) is the hidden gem that is Mupe Bay.  A crescent of beach with towering white chalk cliffs to one end and the distinctive string of…

  • Elbury Cove © Tom Jolliffe | BY-SA

    20. Elbury Cove

    Torbay, Devon

    Elbury (Elberry) Cove is a steeply-shelving pebble beach surrounded by woodland. The calm, sheltered waters are great for sea fishing and waterskiing. Only accessible on foot, via the coast path from…

Please note: we would have preferred it if these beaches could have remained secret forever and would like to make it clear that the Beach Guide would never be the first to publish the details of any hidden beach.