Woolacombe guide

Woolacombe is replete with great things to do and has long been a favourite family destination, offering an outstanding beach along with every local amenity you could need. This large village makes a great base for a holiday exploring North Devon, as there's plenty to see within just a few miles.

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- Read our Ocean Cottages Blog for more ideas on what to do and where to go 


Woolacombe village

With a host of pubs, cafes, and shops, there's always plenty going on in Woolacombe, both in the daytime and evening. Visitors love the friendly, laid-back atmosphere and frequently return year after year. The village offers lots of amenities with local individual shops including a post office/general store. There are ample surf shops, bistros, cafes and ice cream parlours in which to while away your time.

Woolacombe beach

Woolacombe's three miles of golden sand and surf are every child's idea of heaven. It's very popular with surfers though suitable for beginners, and very clean: the beach has been awarded a Blue Flag and is prized for its water quality. Woolacombe is also the proud holder of the 'England for Excellence Gold Award for Best Family Beach'. There are many other smaller beaches just a short walk away, including Barricane Beach (a lovely shell beach, awarded 'beach of the week' in Sunday Times August 2008) and Combesgate Beach (known for its rockpools which lies just below Gull Rock). On the main Woolacombe Blue Flag beach, there are beach huts available for hire and a small children's play area with swing boats etc., and there is even an adventure playground in the centre of the village with mini golf! Lifeguards patrol the main Woolacombe Beach daily between Easter and October.

Woolacombe for dog-lovers

Dogs are welcome on Woolacombe beach all year round. The first third of the beach is dog restricted, dogs on leads are allowed in the second third of the beach (from the river) and they are allowed off the lead from the last section all the way to Putsborough!

Woolacombe walks, beauty spots and natural delights

The South West Coast Path passes along this stretch of coastline, and walkers can admire extraordinary views - on a fine evening the sunsets are magical. Exmoor National Park is also just a short drive away, and its rugged coastline, mysterious moorland and undulating hills have to be experienced. You may even see Exmoor ponies, wild deer or birds of prey.

Woolacombe activities

Being so beach-centred, opportunities to take part in water sports such as surfing, kite surfing, and kayaking abound in Woolacombe. There are plenty of other activities and family days out to be found nearby too, including coasteering, rock climbing and paragliding. Golfers are well catered for with Saunton Golf Club's two championship courses just six miles away, and cyclists revel in the fabulous coastal views from the lanes, or the off-roading opportunities on nearby Exmoor. Horse riders will also enjoy the exhilaration of a beach ride.  

Woolacombe events

Being a large, vibrant village, there's always plenty going on in Woolacombe, from small events such as weekly pub quizzes organised by local pubs, to large events like the UK National, often based around the beach.

Near Woolacombe

Around the corner from Woolacombe Sands is the cliff top village of Mortehoe - pretty, romantic and with a fascinating history. It's perched above small sandy beaches and hidden coves, just waiting to be discovered. Mortehoe was mentioned in the Domesday book, has a church dating back to Norman times, and a past full of tales of smugglers and wreckers. Look out for the excellent pubs or opt for fish and chips or a cream tea. Climb down to pretty Rockham Bay and head over to deserted Grunta beach, which is perfect for rock pooling.

Those wanting a bucket and spade holiday but preferring something a little quieter often choose Putsborough, a delightful, unspoilt sandy beach, where time seems to have stood still. The Blue Flag beach is located on the western side of Woolacombe Bay and has its own extensive car park, cafe and shop, and of course, stunning views.

Nearby Braunton acts as a natural focus for visitors to North Devon, with its wealth of amenities and facilities, including supermarkets and a full range of shops. The village also has the distinction of lying at the heart of England's only UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. North Devon Biosphere Reserve  has an exceptional range of wildlife habitats, is a rich source of research for scientists, and a great place for walkers. 

Read our guide to Croyde

Other North Devon attractions

Holidaymakers wanting to explore the area are spoilt for choice. There are so many beautiful villages, inspiring views and seaside locations to visit during any North Devon holiday! High on the list of places to visit must be Clovelly, where quaint houses cling to the steep cobbled streets that lead down to the working harbour. Also, Appledore and Instow, sit opposite each other across the River Torridge, linked in the high season by a small ferry. Closer to Woolacombe, a visit to the glorious Victorian seaside town of Ilfracombe is not complete without a look at Damien Hirst's controversial 'Verity', a statue which has divided opinion among visitors putting the town on the international map. Have a look when you're in the area and see what you think!

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