3 very different beaches deliver one of the best Devon Days out

There are many different options when it comes to Devon Days Out including a coastal drive from Exmouth to Sidmouth via Budleigh Salterton. Why not make a day of visiting East Devon and experience the long stretches of sand in Exmouth, the unique pebble beach at Budleigh and the grassy cliffs of Sidmouth? Al Gibson shares one of his favourite experiences of the Southwest.

When I moved to the Southwest in 2007 I literally felt I had died and gone to Devon! This is an expression I’ve heard many others use to underline the heavenly qualities of this region. It certainly is one of the most beautiful parts of the UK with much variety from its trademark green fields to Idyllic seaside towns and the rocky terrains of Dartmoor.

There is so much to see and do in Devon, it’s difficult to pick a favourite from all the possible Devon Days Out, from Exeter to Plymouth, North Devon to South. However you can’t go wrong with a coastal drive from Exmouth to Budleigh Salterton and on to Sidmouth.

This seems to be our standard outing for visitors who haven’t been to see us before. We’ve had people come to stay from all over, including the North of England and South Africa and they just love this trip. It’s not surprising as East Devon is considered an area of outstanding beauty.


We usually drive from Exeter via Topsham to show visitors the start of the River Exe Estuary. Then it’s on to Exmouth, pointing out the training centre of the Royal Marines at Lympstone. As we enter Exmouth we usually take a right at the train station to let visitors see the Exe River Mouth and Dawlish across the water.

Then we drive along the Exmouth seafront taking in the view and park at the furthermost beach beneath the red cliffs of Orcombe Point. This is an ideal place to stop as your visitors can read all about the area’s claim to fame as part of the Jurassic Coast. This never fails to impress.

This is the best beach for animal lovers as dogs are allowed and one can check out all the different breeds chasing the waves or sniffing each other out. Often we park here for a couple of hours, sit on our camp chairs and enjoy the view. It’s also the perfect environment for children with its mix of sand, seaweed and gentle waves. Great for making sandcastles or paddling or swimming safely in shallow water.

You can’t go to Orcombe Point without taking a circular walk along the clifftop overlooking the sea and providing stunning views of Exmouth. There is a ‘Geoneedle’ illustrating the various rock strata that make up the Jurassic Coast which is well worth seeing. The cliff can be accessed via a ladder from the beach or via the pathway next to the refreshments kiosk.

You could spend the whole day in Exmouth, enjoying the various amusements and getting your choice of icecream at the Seashore Ice Cremery on the beachfront. Plus there are free options like the most amazing park for children with dinosaurs and a sandpit with fossils to be found. For people with children this is a must, making your visit to Exmouth that much more affordable.

There are loads of pubs along the Exmouth beachfront to stop at for a drink or meal including Ocean Exmouth which has spectacular views as well as tin pin bowling. However we tend to move on to Budleigh for lunch. This is because, most or our visitors are only with us for a few days and we want them to see as much of our lovely province as they can.

Budleigh Salterton

Budleigh Salterton is just a few miles away so it’s not too much time in the car. We love to take people there to show them what I think is the most beautiful pebble beach in the world, with an array of muted pastel colours. It’s such a dramatic contrast to the sandy stretches of Exmouth and it’s quite an experience walking on the pebbles. Visitors love to see the boats stacked on the beach, something they have never seen before.

Again we drive through the town enjoying the view and stop at the car end park near the river and trees. This provides another opportunity for adventure. You can take a dip in the sea, but be sure to take a pair of crocs or beach shoes otherwise it’s quite difficult, even painful to move. I love to walk up the path to the river, wade across it and explore the secret cove that lies beyond with its little caves. My grandson absolutely loves this experience!

If you haven’t already had lunch, there is a very popular fish and shop at Budleigh however be warned it closes at 2pm. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve missed out, on what we were told to be ‘the best fish and chips in England’, because we got there too late. However crab sandwiches at the beach kiosk during the Summer season isn’t a bad second best.


If you plan to be be in Exmouth for a couple of hours, and the same for Budleigh then it’s another short drive to Sidmouth to finish your day in style with a Devon Cream Tea at one of the stylish hotels. Or, my favourite place to enjoy this local delicacy is the The Clock Tower, Sidmouth a popular cafe on the cliff edge.

You can choose to sit outside enjoying the Connaught Gardens or inside with views overlooking the sea. We have taken some stunning family photographs here against the backdrop of arches with the sea in the distance.

Exploring the beaches of East Devon certainly creates memorable Devon Days Out, whether you visit one town at a time or three in a go. I love showing visitors the different types of beaches from sand to pebbles to cliffs with a mix of both, all in the same day. Each place is so different and during the Summer you can’t beat the colourful floral displays of the Connaught Gardens along with breathtaking views of the sea.

Sidmouth itself is a delightful town with quaint narrow streets and a variety of little shops including many different charity shops. There are also great seafront walks including the pathway alongside the red cliffs with interesting curves, indents and caves. Again there are many places to sit outside and have a drink, fish and chips or a burger. Just be careful of the seagulls. They will literally take the food out of your hand. That in itself can be an adventure. We have many such stories to tell!

Other Devon Days out

There are many other Devon Days out to consider. A trip we often do is Dawlish, Teignmouth, and Torquay. Or we mix it up a bit and add Brixham and Dartmouth. Taking the ferry from Kingswear to Dartmouth is fun especially for those who haven’t driven onto a boat before. We love visiting Dartmouth Castle and its views of the River Dart and we invariably end up at Black Pool Sands which has to be everybody’s favourite beach. But more about these and other must-visit places in upcoming blog posts focused on Devon Days Out.

Also read: Plymouth England – an amazing tourist destination and creative hub

Al's Travel Blog

Having lived in Exeter for several years photo journalist, Al Gibson has spent much time exploring the beautiful countryside and neighbouring towns and villages and loves to write about Devon Days Out and share his photos of picturesque places.

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