Explore the Best of Salcombe

Explore the Best of Salcombe

Discover the ultimate travel guide to Salcombe, a picturesque sailing town on Devon’s south coast, featuring stunning beaches, unique shopping, and exciting activities for all. From sailing and kayaking to exploring historic sites and indulging in local seafood, Salcombe offers a perfect mix of relaxation and adventure.

The Best Things to Do in Salcombe: A Complete Guide

1. Enjoy Salcombe’s Beautiful Beaches

One of the main attractions in Salcombe is its stunning coastal location and the many beautiful beaches nearby. North Sands and South Sands are the closest to the town center, and you can hop on the South Sands Ferry to avoid a hilly walk. For more serene spots, take a ferry across the estuary to East Portlemouth, where you’ll find a series of picturesque white sand beaches that get quieter the further south you go.

2. Independent Shopping on Fore Street and Island Street

Fore Street is Salcombe’s high street, running parallel to the river and lined with historic fishing cottages and traditional pubs. Don’t miss Cranch’s Sweet Shop, Devon’s oldest sweetshop established in 1869. Other notable stops include Bert & Buoy, Salcombe Candle Co, and Nika. Island Street extends the indie shopping experience with distilleries, artist studios, and boutiques nestled between boatyards and sailing suppliers.

3. Take a Ferry Ride to Kingsbridge

The Kingsbridge-Salcombe Ferry is a leisurely 40-minute cruise up the river, perfect for soaking in the tranquil landscapes and spotting wildlife such as seals, dolphins, herons, egrets, and curlews. Spend some time exploring Kingsbridge before returning on the ferry.

4. Hire a Boat in Salcombe

Explore the Kingsbridge Estuary from your own boat by renting from Whitestrand Boat Hire. You don’t need a license or experience, and the staff will provide all the necessary information. Sail up Southpool Creek and stop for lunch at Millbrook Inn, or head up to Kingsbridge and moor at the Crabshell Inn for a drink by the water’s edge.

5. Visit Overbeck’s Garden

Overbeck’s Garden is a hidden paradise on a clifftop above Salcombe. This National Trust site features a stunning garden of exotic plants from around the world, thriving in South Devon’s climate. The grounds of the Edwardian manor house, Sharpitor, offer incredible ocean views and a variety of themed gardens.

6. Gin Tasting with Salcombe Gin

Salcombe is home to the award-winning Salcombe Gin distillery. Visit their riverside distillery on Island Street for a tour and tasting session. They also offer a Gin School where you can create and distill your own bottle of bespoke gin.

7. Kayak or Paddleboard in the Estuary

Rent a paddleboard or kayak to explore the Kingsbridge Estuary at a slower pace. North Sands Watersports offers a variety of equipment for hire. Paddle along the estuary to spot wildlife such as dolphins, seals, and birds.

8. Walk the Coast Path

The South West Coast Path offers stunning walks with routes to suit all abilities. Notable trails include the Bolberry Down, Kingswear to Brownstone Battery, Salcombe to Gara Rock, and Snapes Point, each offering breathtaking coastal scenery.

9. Snorkelling in the Kingsbridge Estuary

The Kingsbridge Estuary is a marine system rich with seagrass meadows and marine life such as seahorses, fan mussels, and stalked jellyfish. Snorkel to explore these unique habitats, taking care not to disturb the protected environment

10. Eat Seafood

Salcombe boasts an impressive seafood scene. Recommended spots include Crab Shed, Winking Prawn, Oyster Shack, Beachhouse, Victoria Inn, King’s Arms, South Sands Hotel Restaurant, The Jetty at Harbour Hotel, and Rockfish.

11. Learn to Sail with Salcombe Dinghy Sailing

Salcombe Dinghy Sailing offers various courses, including beginner-friendly options. Their Stage 1 “Start Sailing” course is perfect for newcomers, taking two full days or four half days to complete.

12. Discover the Town’s History at the Maritime Museum

Visit the Maritime Museum in the Old Council Hall to delve into Salcombe’s seafaring history, including boatbuilding, wartime naval activity, and local shipwrecks.

13. Learn More at the Lifeboat Museum

The Salcombe Lifeboat Museum, housed in the Lifeboat Station on Union Street, chronicles over 140 years of lifesaving history. Admission is free, and the RNLI shop offers great souvenirs.

14. Soak Up Local Art at Salcombe Art Club

Salcombe is home to numerous art galleries. Salcombe Art Club, located in a disused sail loft near the lifeboat quay, transforms into an art gallery for the Summer Exhibition from May to September. Admission is free.

15. Unwind at the Harbour Beach Club Spa

The Harbour Beach Club Spa features a 12m pool, sauna, steam room, and hydrotherapy pool with floor-to-ceiling windows offering stunning countryside views. Guests at 4 The Reach can enjoy discounted or free spa access.

16. Don’t Miss Salcombe Dairy Ice Cream and Chocolate Factory

Visit Salcombe Dairy on Island Street to watch ice cream being made and enjoy a scoop on the cafe terrace. The nearby Chocolate Factory offers a bean-to-bar chocolate-making experience with interactive tasting machines.

Where to Stay in Salcombe

For a luxurious stay, consider 4 The Reach, a beautifully decorated two-bedroom apartment overlooking South Sands Beach. Enjoy high-end furnishings, a fully equipped kitchen, and a large balcony with stunning views.

Best Day Trips Near Salcombe

  • Dartmouth: A sailing town with historic buildings, a large marina, and an excellent seafood scene.
  • Totnes: A historic market town with a focus on sustainability and independent businesses.
  • Burgh Island: Accessible at low tide by walking and at high tide by Sea Tractor.
  • Start Bay and Start Point: Featuring some of South Devon’s best beaches and coastal walks.

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