North Devon and Exmoor are packed with award-winning sandy beaches, outdoor activities and attractions including zoos, theme parks and family fun farm parks. Devon’s Atlantic North Coast offers some of the UK’s best surfing and bathing beaches at Woolacombe, Croyde and Westward Ho! The area is a real magnet for family beach holidays, year round surfing breaks and spectacular coastal walking along the South West Coast Path which takes in dramatic cliff top stretches and sand dune nature reserves. The South West Coast Path, Britain’s longest National Trail, begins on the Exmoor North Devon Coast, and the entire North Devon region is brimming with long-distance walking and cycling trails including the popular Tarka Trail following in the footsteps of Tarka the Otter. Just over 20% of Exmoor National Park is in North Devon, with top holiday locations on the Exmoor coast including beautiful Combe Martin with its great rock pooling and coastal walking, and classic Lynton & Lynmouth, a harbour and cliff top village connected by a water powered cliff railway.
Attractions & Beaches
Budget seaside family holidays are on the menu along the North Devon coast in Blue Flag beach resorts like Woolacombe and Westward Ho!, and in bustling seaside Ilfracombe with its unique man-made Tunnels Beaches. The North Devon coast is a surfing and watersports paradise, with great family surfing beaches at Woolacombe and more challenging swells around Croyde. Relaxing days out and holiday destinations include beautiful coastal fishing villages like Clovelly and Appledore, and North Devon contains charming historic houses, gardens and country estates with highlights including Victorian Watermouth Castle near Ilfracombe and Hartland Abbey and Gardens nestling in a wooded valley on the coast.
Families love North Devon and it’s here where you’ll find some of the region’s most popular family attractions including Exmoor Zoo and The Big Sheep with play zones and the must see sheep racing! Thrilling rides and live shows galore feature at North Devon’s Milky Way theme park near Clovelly, and top family resorts like Ilfracombe and Woolacombe offer all you’ll need for that perfect family holiday from Tunnels and Blue Flag sandy beaches to aquariums, surf schools and boat trips. Some wonderful long-standing quirky attractions also feature in the region like the enchanting Gnome Reserve and Wild Flower Garden at West Putford.
Boat Trips to Lundy Island
A boat trip from either Ilfracombe or Bideford to Lundy Island off the North Devon coast is one of the region’s not to be missed experiences. This great granite outcrop is just 3 miles long and a half mile wide, and sits where the Atlantic meets the Bristol Channel. Evidence of prehistoric Bronze and Iron Age settlement has been unearthed here on one of Britain’s great mythical off shore islands which is often shrouded in mists to great atmospheric effect. Never crowed even in peak summer season, Lundy is a peaceful oasis with its mild climate, epic Atlantic seascapes and network of walking trails. Climbing, diving, fishing, walking and birdwatching are all popular on the island – Lundy is brimming with wildlife and wildflowers and there are regular warden led events, walks and even snorkel safaris available.
North Devon offers a range of adventure sports and outdoor activities including world class coastal golf links, horse riding around Lynton & Lymouth in Exmoor or coastal walking along North Devon’s cliff top Exmoor Coast and Heritage Coast around Hartland Point from Clovelly village. Exmoor National Park is a haven for walkers, horse riders and cyclists, with a choice of colour coded mountain bike trails criss-crossing the Park. Indoor and outdoor activity playgrounds are numerous. Woolacombe on the Golden Coast has a unique Sports Complex with Surf Simulator so you can test and enhance your surf skills before heading out on the Blue Flag Beach. Premier karting tracks and woodland paintball sit around Barnstaple and a wide choice of accredited surf schools can be found flanking best surfing beaches at Croyde, Woolacombe and Westward Ho!
Where to Stay
The variety of family friendly and pet friendly accommodation in North Devon is outstanding. Choose from all inclusive family holiday parks around Woolacombe or book a luxury surfing or coastal walking break in a contemporary beachside apartment around Croyde and Westward Ho! North Devon’s magical coastline from Hartland to Exmoor has a huge choice of cosy romantic cottages, and both the coast and countryside in this part of Devon is famed for its friendly and classic B&B guest houses, many of which are Grade Listed.
Lovers of vintage coastal charm and outdoor activities will find beautiful Lynmouth or Lynton on the Exmoor coast the perfect choice or stay around picture-postcard coastal village Clovelly, childhood home of Charles Kingsley, author of the "Water Babies". Spectacular estuary and coastal villages offering an exceptional choice of accommodation are numerous along the North Devon Coast. Stay in a B&B in Appledore close to ferry services across to Instow or opt for a beautiful North Devon country guest house within walking distance of Ilfracombe.
Character Georgian, Victorian or Edwardian guest houses and 17th century farmhouse B&Bs are numerous around heritage coast villages, historic seaside resorts and just inland on the western edge of Exmoor National Park. From luxury beach pads and family holiday parks to Exmoor cottages and Bideford inns with rooms and real ales, Grade Listed country guest houses and B&Bs alongside the Tarka Trail, North Devon accommodation is varied, unique, spectacularly situated and always great value.
Michelle is an experienced travel writer with iknow and has travelled extensively across the UK, Spain, Portugal and the USA. When she’s not busy writing for iknow she enjoys spending time touring museums and art galleries and seeking out the best independent shops in Manchester and Leeds.