Salcombe’s Family & Watersport Holiday Top Picks

Discovery Surf School South Devon Salcombe Surf Lessons

More Swallows and Amazons than Bucket & Spade…Salcombe’s sheltered estuary position and golden sand beaches make it the most perfect South Devon seaside escape for watersport fans of all ages.

Read on for some of our top Salcombe and South Hams holiday picks that’ll keep keeping you and your adventurous little ones occupied for hours and hours, whether you’re visiting for the day or staying several nights in Salcombe!

Family & Watersport Holiday Fun in the South Devon Sun – our top picks

Bait, line and skuttler

For FREE, traditional seaside fun let your mob while away an afternoon on Victoria Quay in the pursuit of creatures from the deep. All they need is a bucket, a crab line, a net, some bacon or tasty squid (crabs love ‘em!) and a suitable perch in front of the town’s chocolate box houses overlooking the estuary. The deserved reward has to be a trip to Island Street for a big dollop of Salcombe Dairy’s famous ice cream salcombedairy or  The Kidz and Co Soft Play Café

Swallows & Amazons

If you and your kids love the water then Salcombe Dinghy Sailing is for you (salcombedinghysailing) ; 07809 556 457). Husband and wife team Zoe & Ross can tailor everything to your ability, from RYA certified tuition to simple hourly or daily dinghy hire. Their family boats are great for a bob along the Salcombe Estuary too, where you can haul up in quiet coves or pootle along the water among rolling Devonshire hills. Head up to Kingsbridge or Salcombe’s Captain Morgan’s for a perfect bite to eat during or after a lazy afternoon’s sailing.

Should getting stuck-in be more your style then pop into Sea kayak and SUP Salcombe at South Sands Beach (seakayaksalcombe ; 01548 843451) and off you paddle on your Kayak or Stand Up Paddleboard to uncover sheltered bays and hidden beaches, plus shipwrecks and shores teeming with wildlife.

Salcombe Boat Hire & Fishmongers also offer self-drive boating experiences thanks to a fleet of 12-16ft fibreglass boats with steering wheels (salcombeboathire. 01548 844475).

Gnarly Dudes

Your budding boardriders will thank you for dropping them off during school holidays for Discovery Surf School’s Surf Camp (07813 639 622; discoverysurf , usually from 9:30am-3:30pm Mondays to Thursdays) or Bantham Surf Academy’s Surf Club for 9-16 year olds during weekends. For younger surf dudes, their 1-hour Kiddies Class (ages 5-8yrs) is a perfect way to let the little ones experience the thrill of surfing in a fun and safe environment (01548 853803; banthamsurfingacademy ).

We know you love them but what a great way for them to develop some watery skills while you grab some down time hey?! So head over to ‘Burgh’ on the sea tractor for a pub meal, or nip to the Thurlestone Hotel for a round of golf and a ‘Voyage Spa’ pamper (01548 560382; Thurlestone Hotel).

Avast, Me Hearties!

The town has plenty of pirate, smuggler and Maritime stories that will captivate all ages. Until about 100 years ago in fact, Salcombe earned its living from fishing, seafaring and shipbuilding but the town also has a more shady past involving smuggling, piracy and even the kidnapping of Salcombe’s residents in the 1600s. They were bound up and shipped off to the Moroccan slave markets of Algiers and Sallee, with some ransomed while others were never to be seen again.

Recounting these tales and firing up the imagination of young minds is the Salcombe Maritime Museum. Thanks to its treasure trove of paintings, photographs and artefacts, as well as some life like models and pirates’ treasure in the ‘young sailors’ corner, it’s the perfect maritime stop off. (salcombemuseum ).

Continuing the maritime theme is a walk through one of the most interesting parts of the town, past the traditional boatyards along Island Street. The Salcombe Yawl is still handcrafted here with wooden clinker-built boats always on display as they receive some TLC. It’s a cottage industry that stretches back hundreds of years into Salcombe’s past and gives the town its authentic, rich culture and heritage. You can always hire a Salcombe Yawl ( from well-known local Scratch Hitchen.

Baby Beachcombers

Free bucket & spade fun, golden sand beaches and crystal clear waters…what’s not to like?!

Yep, if your kids like the feel of sand between their toes and love nothing more than pottering among rock pools then simply head to one of Salcombe’s sweeping golden sand beaches or coves.

Departing from Jubilee Pier by the Ferry Inn, you can hop on the Salcombe Ferry for a one minute crossing to East Portlemouth’s pristine beach with crystal clear, turquoise waters that promise an afternoon full of exploration for your little adventurers. When the tide is right, more than 1km of beach is exposed, weaving gently all along the estuary’s edge with Salcombe town in full view, clinging to the hillside opposite.

Opt to board the South Sands Ferry instead though and you’ll head out from Whitestrand in the centre of town before being met by the famous ‘sea tractor’, which travels out into the water to greet the ferry as it arrives at South Sands Beach. Carrying foot passengers, prams, bicycles and dogs, you and your baby beachcombers will experience Devon’s finest taxi ride (01548 561035;

Land Lubbers

If your children prefer their feet to be on solid ground, how about a trip to Salcombe Shooting School for an Air Rifle experience where getting ‘zeroed in’ is what it’s all about. Pit your skills against animal knock down targets or the more challenging moving targets to see how good you really are! They’ve even created an online game to practice before you visit (from £20pp; 01548 842727;

If Dad and son love the idea but mum and daughter aren’t keen then behold Salcombe’s fashion houses. Not only will you find the Crew Clothing store a stones’ throw from Jack Wills, Joules, Quba, Henri Lloyd and Fat Face, but with its art galleries, gift shops and designer sailing outlets Salcombe is definitely the place to bedeck oneself in the latest nautically inspired gear.

Budding Attenboroughs

If your kids can tell their bugs from their critters and their basking sharks from their seals then they are in for a treat in Salcombe.

Head up to Sharpitor and Overbeck’s Edwardian house for a search of Overbeck’s beautiful grounds for bugs & beasties. You’ll discover the weird & wonderful creatures hiding in the pond, meander through the woodland, wander through the banana garden or just relax beneath the palms and soak up the spectacular panorama across miles of beautiful coastline and estuary (01548 842893;

If Bugs and beasties don’t quite hit the mark then Sea-N-Shore’s 75 minute Seal watching trip on super-fast Ribquest ribs should do the trick. Complete with on-board binoculars for Seal, Basking Shark and Dolphin spotting, their Aqua scopes and hydrophones ensure an underwater wildlife experience too where passengers can see and listen in to the action beneath the waves. (75 minutes; Adults & children from around £30pp; 01548 842276;

Multi-Gen Family Fun

If a ‘multi-gen’ escape* is on the cards then Salcombe is the perfect destination, giving kids precious time with their grandparents while lucky parents grab a bit of ‘me time’.

There’s no shortage of fantastic holiday rental properties in the Town and surrounding area, ranging from spacious barn conversions with exposed beams to luxurious ‘chocolate box’ thatched cottages and waterfront properties with their own moorings (; 01548 843927).

For active families, Sea-N-Shore’s Banana Boat, RIB Coasteering, Wakeboarding and RIB are a must. This super fun offering comes complete with your own driver, spotter, equipment and tuition. Sea-N-Shore owner Ali Turner-Jones and her team will ensure you have a wild time, whether booking by the hour, half day or full family day (prices from £15pp; 01548 842 276;

Their Photographic Treasure Hunt is also a winner when it comes to some unique group fun. It’s carefully developed to entertain you while discovering Salcombe’s beaches, ferrymen, RNLI crew, as well as the local wildlife, flora, fauna and lively locals of course! To end, an environmentally friendly raft building exercise before the winner is announced and prizes are handed out. (from £20 pp for a half day).

Another gem is the Rivermaid ferry cruise that takes in the scenic estuary waters between Salcombe and Kingsbridge. The estuary falls within the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and has been designated a marine Site of Special Scientific Interest by English Nature. Pop into Kingsbridge for lunch and grab a movie at Reel Cinema, a small, independent, family-run cinema, housed in a historic building on the high street. You’ll then be free to head back to Salcombe for an evening by the sea…lovely!


We can help you organise your Salcombe holiday so just give us a call or drop in when you’re here!

Salcombe Information Centre | 01548 843927 |