All about Salcombe

Salcombe was once a major port for the fruit trade and, over the years, has found fame as a safe haven for family holidays and visiting yachtsmen.

It is situated at the southern end of the Salcombe Estuary; the estuary is, in fact, a ria which is a landlocked, salt water inlet, with beautiful, safe, sandy beaches.  The whole area is a Marine Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Marine Local Nature Reserve and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The estuary is bordered by magnificent cliffs which form part of the South West Coast Path well loved by walkers throughout the year. The South West Coast Path has been mentioned recently in the Great Adventures book, published by the Lonely Planet, as one of the world’s most awe inspiring hikes.  Described as “walking at its most diverse and most spectacular”, the South West Coast Path is the only hike in the UK to make it into the highly respected guide book.

Leaving the town centre and going seaward you pass two pretty beaches, North Sands beach and South Sands beach, and beyond on the hillside is “Overbecks” National Trust property.  The house is a small, interesting museum and, because of the micro climate (we have warm summers and mild winters), it means that they are able to grow semi-tropical plants in the delightful garden surrounding the house – this includes oranges, lemons and bananas! The museum, house, tea room and gardens are generally open from early February to 1st November each year

Looking from Salcombe over the water is the village of East Portlemouth with its lovely beaches.  There is a ferry from town which runs regularly to the other side and, if you are adventurous you can find many smaller beaches by joining the South West Coast Path and dipping down from the path on to the sands.

Not far from East Portlemouth inland is the pretty village of East Prawle with a pub and village shop.  Also nearby is the hamlet of South Pool with its pretty thatched cottages. Further along the coast is the Start Point Lighthouse, which is open to the public, as is the National Coastwatch Institution Look Out at Prawle Point, both well worth a visit.

Moving west from Salcombe you come to Hope Cove, a two-part village of Inner and Outer Hope.  If you are fit, it’s a wonderful walk from Bolt Head to Hope Cove along the Coast Path, passing through Soar Mill Cove, a sheltered and unspoilt cove, and over Bolberry Down.  At both these places there are hotels where you can stop for lunch or a coffee before continuing on to Hope.  At Hope Cove there are two small, sandy beaches sheltered by outcrops of rocks.

Inner Hope is well worth a visit with its square of thatched cottages and an old Lifeboat station.  Hope Cove has a pub, a shop and an interesting art gallery, together with hotels where a warm welcome is extended to visitors.  Also worth a visit is the tiny church of St Clements which appears to be perched on the rocks overlooking the sea.

An easy walk from Hope Cove, continuing along the Coast Path, is Thurlestone which has good beaches (probably the best for rock pooling!), and a magnificent rock rising out of the water.  There’s a beach café, a large hotel, a pub, village shop and golf course.  From Thurlestone you can continue on to Bantham with its famous surfing beach, and further to Bigbury with a surf school, golf course and view of the famous hotel on Burgh Island.

Also, inland, are the villages of Malborough, Galmpton and South Milton.  Malborough has pubs, a shop, post office and a splendid church which dominates the skyline and is often referred to as ‘the Cathedral of The South Hams’. Galmpton & South Milton are both pretty villages with attractive cottages and fine churches.

Outdoor & watersport activities in South Hams and Salcombe

Activities in the area are boundless.  You can learn to sail, hire a dinghy (with or without a sail), canoeing & kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, surfing, fishing, power boating, rib riding, walking or just laze on one of the lovely beaches.  If you decide to bring your own boat with you, then you will find the Harbour Office at Whitestrand most helpful.

In August Salcombe holds the Salcombe Town Regatta, which is a wonderful week packed full of events and activities for the whole family, with fireworks on the Thursday evening. Passenger ferries run regularly from Salcombe to East Portlemouth and South Sands.  The “Rivermaid” plies between Salcombe and Kingsbridge at different times of the day according to the tide, and it also runs evening trips through the creeks and out to sea.  These trips are highly recommended for bird lovers and naturalists as there is so much to see along the shores of the estuary.

South Devon Food & Drink

You will find a wide range of restaurants, pubs and shops providing local produce as often as they are able.  Don’t forget to sample a Devon pasty, a cream tea, locally caught crab and Salcombe Dairy ice cream – all quite delicious!

Further afield you can visit South Devon Chilli Farm, Sharpham Vineyard and Avon Mill Garden Centre near Loddiswell. All are perfect or trying stunning Devon produce or buying beautiful treats for friends and family. Or if you fancy lunch or evening meals, there are, of course, an amazing number of restaurants, cafes and pubs in Salcombe to choose from. Our food & drink pages are the perfect place to start plotting your next meal!

Salcombe & South Hams Accommodation

Accommodation is plentiful with beautiful hotels, bed and breakfasts and self-catering all detailed on our Places to Stay page. You have a varied choice of town or country places to stay and you will find everyone most friendly and helpful.

Salcombe pet friendly accommodation

Dogs are most welcome in Salcombe and at the majority of our accommodation providers, but please do check before making a booking that they will be able to stay with you. A few beaches have dog restrictions between the months of May and September and you will find these in the Beach Guide .

Please also respect livestock in the fields if you’re on a country walk by keeping your dog on a lead if asked and use the bins provided.

Shopping in Salcombe & South Hams

There is a large selection of national designer clothing shops and excellent independent retailers selling everything from classical to brightly coloured clothing, shoes, accessories and fashion jewellery. You will find some of these detailed in our shopping pages. On Fore Street, Union Street and Island Street you will find an interesting mix of art galleries exhibiting works of local artists, a centre for contemporary fine art, and a photographers gallery.

Finally, we hope that you will visit Salcombe and the South Hams and, don’t forget, the Salcombe Information Centre is there to help you both before and during your holiday so call us or email with any queries.

Enjoy your visit from all of us at Salcombe Information Centre!