On The Water
The South Hams boasts many of the finest and most unspoilt beaches and waterways in the country, all protected under South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
For families there is great choice: sheltered coves and fine sand at Mill Bay and Hope Cove, or the sweeping, safe beach with award-winning Venus Cafe at Blackpool Sands; rock-pooling at Thurlestone; surfing on the magnificent beach at Bantham. For visitors with dogs most of these and many other beaches welcome dogs such as Slapton Sands, Torcross, Beesands, East Prawle, and Rickham Sands. Find our more from our Beaches page.
Kayaking and Canoeing – low carbon watersports
We have three beautiful estuaries in this area: the Dart, the Avon and the Erme rivers make their way from Dartmoor and before they reach the sea they slow and widen, making gentle waterways for wildlife exploration and safe kayaking and canoeing. Canoe Adventures offer trips on the Dart in 9 and 12 seat voyager canoes, ideal for family groups. Singing Paddles has 2-4 hour sessions taking tours, learning paddling skills and playing games on and off the water. Dogs are welcome on these trips and go free of charge. During a paddle down these rivers you could expect to see White Cranes, Herons, Bitterns, and Oystercatchers close up.
Sea kayaking allows you to visit remote beaches and get up close to a variety of amazing wildlife and guided tours are offered by Sea Kayak Devon based in Dartmouth.
Stand up paddle boarding is all the rage at the moment and you do this instant and gentle sport on the sea, on rivers and on lakes too. The gentle creeks around Kingsbridge and the estuaries of the Avon and Erme are perfect places for a spot of SUP. It can be enjoyed by all levels of abilities and ages. Lessons are on offer with Waterborn near the Crabshell Inn located on the Kingsbridge estuary.
Watersports and Extreme Sports
How about trying something new and exciting during your holiday? There are plenty of estuary and seaside adventures in and around our waterways with several local companies offering lessons, hire and adventure days:
Coasteering can take you places along the coastline and around our beautiful estuaries that most other people don’t get to see. Our coastline has a perfect mix of lovely scenery, clean water and some fantastic coasteering terrain to explore. Go Coasteering organise groups from Salcombe and Start Point near Dittiscombe when the conditions are right.
South Devon is known as a great place for wild swimming. There is a good selection of rivers and sandy beaches and the estuary rivers are good for swimming such as the Avon, Erme and Dart. However, you are advised to check tides (tide timetables are provided in your cottage) and beach safety on the Visit South Devon website.
There are windsurfing, kite surfing and kayaking facilities at Blackpool Sands.
Endurance Life operate running, wild swimming and other adventure sports in the area beginning with the picturesque and punishing half and full marathons along the coastal trails near Beesands and Start Point Lighthouse in February – described as ‘strenuous and extreme’, its not for the faint-hearted!
There are many and varied fishing opportunities in South Devon. For easy access there are miles of beaches and abundant seas, or for something more challenging there is rock fishing off Start Point and Bolt Head. Many fishing trips are on offer at Dartmouth and Salcombe; or visitors can take out a permit to fish from the banks on the Dart estuary
Sailing and Boating
Salcombe Dinghy Sailing operates from Whitestrand in the centre of Salcombe. Here boats can be hired or you can take professional sailing tuition. Or the Island Cruising Club, based in the Salcombe and Kingsbridge estuary, is a sailing and sail training centre offering tuition or RYA courses for children and adults.
There are numerous ferries which cross the estuaries in the summer months, and river cruises operate for most of the year on the river Dart. Based in Dartmouth the Steam Rail and River Company have several sailings a day and also connect with the steam train to Paignton to make a full day out. Dogs are welcome on these trips. For a water adventure with a splash of history the Paddle Steamer Kingswear Castle is the last remaining coal-fired paddle steamer in operation in the UK today and is running on her home waters of the River Dart once more from May until October.
Sea Kayaking at South Sands in Salcombe with Ben and his team Sea Kayaking Salcombe is a must and you get to see parts of the Ria (not an Estuary as no river runs into it) you cannot see from land. They do trips for groups and families with coaching if you want.