Ilfracombe on the North Devon Coast can lay claim to one of the most unique collections of beaches and pools in the country. The Tunnels Beaches – originally six but today four great coastal tunnels were hand carved by Welsh miners in the 1820s. The Tunnels Beaches transformed what was a quiet fishing village into a popular seaside resort. Today they are an award-winning attraction with cafe blue bar, a play hut with indoor soft play area and a beach shop. The Tunnels Beaches coast is also a top spot for kayaking and you can even get married here under a thatched gazebo overlooking the sea! The beaches are licensed for civil ceremonies and civil partnerships.
The Tunnels Beaches are open daily from 10am to 7pm across the summer season, and they sit in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty holding both a Blue Flag and a Quality Coast Award. These are some of Devon’s safest beaches (sorry no dogs allowed). A full lifeguard service is in place during summer season and the attraction includes a gentle tidal sea water swimming pool perfect for children. The tidal pool has its own timetable – visible every three hours before and after each low tide!
Tunnels Beaches History
An Ilfracombe attraction that has been around since the resort’s earliest years has a few fascinating stories to tell. From good health and bath house facilities for ‘waifs, strays and worn out clergy’ – so said a local article of 1867 – to good etiquette, beach bathing huts and segregated bathing. The Tunnels Beaches have played an integral role in the development of Devon’s favourite Victorian heritage resort. Read the full history of the Tunnels Beaches in the free history booklet guide and swim in what has to be one of Britain’s most stunning cliff aqua settings!