SALCOMBE... GOLDEN SAND AND AZURE WATERS
Sea Safaris running May to October.
Inshore and Estuary Trips Running Year Round.
2 Hour and 4 Hour Dolphin and Marine Life Safaris
Tucked away on the southern coast of Devon, Salcombe is an iconic seaside town and one of the county’s best-loved holiday destinations. Situated on the banks of the Salcombe Estuary, this Devonshire harbour town features pristine sandy beaches, calm turquoise waters and an abundance of traditional seafood shacks. Whether you enjoy a relaxing boat trip along the estuary, a thrilling surfing lesson, a day out in a local museum or a fun morning, building sandcastles with the kids, Salcombe is the perfect setting for a holiday in Devon.
Salcombe is a beautiful coastal town sitting on the banks of the Salcombe Estuary. It is within the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is one of the prettiest towns in the south of the region.
Whether you want to try sailing, kayaking, surfing, paddle boarding or something else entirely, everyone loves the waters and local beaches. There are beautiful golden sands and several beaches to choose from. South and North Sands are ideal family beaches and just across the estuary you will find East Portlemouth, which can be accessed via a ferry. To the west of the town, you’ll find Bigbury on Sea and Burgh Island, which is accessed at high tide by a historic sea tractor and is the home of one of the oldest pubs in the country.
Salcombe is famous for its coastal views and the surrounding countryside, as well as for being a haven for sailors. Salcombe is a great place for anyone wanting to spend their time playing in the water, whether it is just for the day or for a few days. With a population of 1,900 lies at the southern-most tip of Devon and, due to its breathtaking scenery, wonderful sandy beaches and sheltered sailing opportunities, is one of the principle tourist destinations in the South West.
Salcombe lies at the mouth of the six kilometre long Salcombe-Kingsbridge estuary or, better said, ria since it is actually an ancient flooded valley with no significant tributaries. It lies within the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is connected to both the National Cycle Network and the South West Coast Path.
Needless to say, the sailing and boating enthusiast is well catered for by a variety of boat hire establishments and facilities, the Salcombe Yacht Club, and the Island Cruising Club whose headquarters is to be found on board a former Mersey ferry permanently moored in the harbour. Power boating, kayaking, windsurfing and scuba diving are also popular. Sandy beaches are plentiful and most can be reached via seasonal ferries running across the estuary to East Portlemouth and to South Sands. A further ferry service connects Salcombe and Kingsbridge. The National Trust’s Overbecks Museum and Garden are to found at Bolt Head and take advantage of the mild climate and headland views.
Run by the National Trust, Overbeck's Museum and Gardens is a paradise of subtropical gardens surrounding an Edwardian house containing the quirky collections of eccentric scientist and inventor, Otto Overbeck. Perched on the cliffs above Salcombe, the gardens enjoy a unique microclimate which encourages rare and tropical plants from all over the world. There are even banana trees growing in the open – a perfect day out for families who enjoy exploring or keen gardeners looking for inspiration.
The Salcombe Maritime Museum houses a treasure trove of paintings, photographs and artefacts, detailing the town’s fascinating sailing past. There is a wealth of pirate, smuggler and maritime stories to uncover as well as some lifelike models and pirates’ treasure in the ‘young sailors’ corner, sure to captivate all ages.
Beautiful East Portlemouth Beach boasts excellent facilities, is dog-friendly and is also relatively quiet for most of the year. From here, you can take the East Portlemouth Ferry across the estuary to Mill Bay (or walk the 300 metres when the tide is out), where you’ll find a sweeping stretch of sandy beach that’s equally perfect for sunbathing or sandcastles. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can find many more beaches and coves by joining the South West Coast Path and dipping down from the path on to the sands.
A short drive from Salcombe, Gara Rock is one of South Devon’s best-kept secrets. Around 1 mile from Mill Bay car park, you’ll come to this secluded sandy cove, lined by craggy rocks bursting with intriguing rockpools. Also, a short drive away, are more of South Devon’s best beaches including those at Hope Cove, Thurlestone, Bantham, Bigbury-on-Sea and the famous Burgh Island which is accessed at high tide via a sea tractor. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins, basking sharks and seals who are all frequent visitors to these waters.
One of the best ways to see the picture-perfect sights in and around Salcombe is by foot along the South West Coast Path. The walk from Start Point Lighthouse to Mattiscombe Sands is a particularly lovely way to spend an afternoon, taking you along the windswept coast path and down to a secluded beach that’s the perfect spot for picnicking.
Or, you can follow the trail from Salcombe, past North and South Sands and out to dramatic Bolt Head, which can easily be covered (there and back) in half a day. On the East Portlemouth side of the water, you can walk high up along the sea-facing cliffs towards Gara Rock, admiring awe-inspiring panoramas, before rewarding yourself with a cream tea in one of the cafes at either end of the route.
Inspired to grab your bucket and spade and take a holiday in Salcombe? Browse the fantastic range of Devon holiday cottages to discover your perfect getaway.
If you fancy exercising your card rather than your body, Salcombe town is full of pretty boutique shops, where you’ll find high street brands and independent producers, as well as art galleries and gift shops. You can spend hours browsing through the town and markets. Salcombe is known for hosting some of the best restaurants and bars in Devon, where you’ll find locally caught seafood and locally farmed produce. As well as regionally made ice cream and award-winning gin. For anyone looking for a holiday destination, Salcombe has a whole host of luxury accommodations, from spa hotels, holiday cottages and quaint B&Bs.
From beachside cafes to award-winning restaurants, cosy pubs and delicatessens, there is a myriad of places to eat in Salcombe where you can sample freshly landed seafood and delicious Devonshire produce including West Country steaks, burgers and chicken dishes. Salcombe is particularly famous for its crab. It has its own annual crab festival, usually on the first May bank holiday weekend, and many of Salcombe’s restaurants serve up enormous plates of whole crab accompanied by chips and mayonnaise.
If you’re staying in one of our Salcombe holiday cottages, why not pop to the fishmonger to pick up some freshly caught seafood, including scallops and prawns to cook up at home? Alternatively, you can’t beat the Devon tradition of paper-wrapped fish and chips on the beach. For a real taste of the sea, you can also take part in a ‘Catch it, cook it, eat it!’ experience where you can head off on a fishing trip with local fishermen to enjoy a unique seafood foraging escapade before learning how to prepare, cook and dress your catch.
There are such a lot of beautiful wildlife walks you can do from Dartmouth and Kingswear... Here are out top ones.
Kingswear, Dittisham, and Dartmouth Loop
Just a short 11 mile circular walk along both sides of one of the loveliest river estuaries in England, taking in Greenway, Agatha Christie's country home, and punctuated by a great lunch stop overlooking the river Dart, either as a picnic or a pub lunch at The Ferryboat Inn or Anchor Stone cafe in Dittisham. Or if the lunch gets out of hand, stop at the 5.3 mile point at the Ferry Boat Inn and catch the ferry back to Dartmouth
Dartmouth Castle and Church of St Petrox
Dartmouth Castle and Church of St Petrox is a 7.6 kilometer loop trail located near Dartmouth, Devon, England that features a river and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
Brownstone, Froward Point&Coast Path Circular
A delightful, yet in places steep and rugged, walk taking in Dartmouth "day mark", the Coastguard Lookout Point (including the disused WW2 gun batteries) and a fairly demanding stretch along the South West Coast Path before returning uphill across fields to the starting point.
A very picturesque walk around Waterhead Creek in Kingswear south Devon. Walk around the creek and through the woods above the creek. Look out for wildlife on the creek, boats on moorings and of course the stunning views across the creek to the River Dart. A short stroll which can be extended through Long Wood. This extended walk takes the total distance up to just 3 miles....well worth it! If you do keep your eyes peeled for both Goldcrests and Firecrests, both of which have decent numbers in the wood. Also a great walk for Kingfishers and even the occasional Common Seal or Otter.
The Marine Life here from Salcome is outstanding, as in Dartmouth, Brixham, Weymouth and Lyme Regis, from May to the end of September large amounts of Common dolphins move from the warm waters of Bay of Biscay along the south coast of the U.K and into Start Bay, Lyme bay and Torbay. Some of these pod are truly massive with sightings of over 200 animals at a time and it being nothing to encounter several hundred animals in a day. These animals are frequently found between Start Point and Berry Head, as well as regularly been observed feeding off of the back of the Skerries Bank. This area also holds several resident pods of common dolphins that if we are lucky, can be found 12 month of the year. Lyme bay also holds a resident population of around 150 White Beaked dolphins, this is about the furthest south they are recorded and make them quite a rarity and unique along the south coast, we usually find some of these pods several times a year and run special days trips looking for them further offshore. These large and playful animals truly are one of my favourites.
Risso and Bottlenose dolphins are regularly encountered, and although these are normally in offshore encounters, as in the case of the Minke Whales that we snapped less than 100 yards from Berry Head early 2021 and Start Point for the Fin whale and was observed later 2021, both have been found within a few hundred yards from the shore in the Torbay area.
Salcombe's Grey Seal population is always a highlight of our trips, the low-lying rocks at the foot of the Start Point Lighthouse provide the perfect haul out spot for these gorgeous animals, its nothing to be able to observe upwards of 20 individuals at the lowest of the tide, pups are frequently seen towards the Autumn, bring your binoculars and a half decent 70-200 lens on your camera and your sure to get some fantastic shots. If we are lucky we might even find a couple of the much smaller Common seals that have turned up in the last few years, the River Dart now holds the south wests largest ( Now Breeding) group. Its great to be able to see the 2 species side by side so you can truly appreciate the differences. The river Dart is only a short distance away as a seal swims and can be frequently be seen feeding and resting in the Salcombe area.
Some of our other Large animals seen are, Minke Whales, Basking and Thresher Sharks, GIANT Bluefin Tuna, Sunfish, Harbour Porpoise and as in this year (2021) a Leatherback Turtle. Humpback, Fin and Pilot Whales have also been recorded numerous times in recent years.
Our Salcombe trips also see's masses of birds life. There's a host of breeding and nesting Pelagic and Wading birds. Berry Head (a stones throw away as a gull flies) holds a staggering breeding population of around 1400 guillemots, hazardous shelves and crags attract the largest breeding colony (also known as a 'loonery'!) of guillemots on Britain's south coast, earning the site its status as a National Nature Reserve. Their choice to breed here is so special, that the surrounding waters are protected by a Parliamentary Act. Fulmars, Shags, Cormorants and for the first time in several years Kittiwakes have all used the site for nesting and rearing chicks. Its not surprising that these birds choose the inshore areas of the close by bay area to hunt and feed.
Peregrine Falcons and Kestrels frequent the area both for nesting and hunting, the fledged chicks can often be heard during the summer months calling to there parents. Out to sea, Gannets, shearwaters (including the critically endangered Beleric, Manx and Sooty) and Storm Petrels also regular seen as well as many Skewers towards the end of summer and autumn.
Up the river on the mud flats we search for and observe many of the Waders the river holds; Jack snipe, Purple sandpiper, Red-necked phalarope, Snipe, Woodcock, Whimbrel, Curlew, Bar-tailed godwit, Black-tailed godwit, Greenshank, Redshank, Common sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Dunlin, Sanderling, Turnstone, Lapwing, Ringed plover, Oystercatcher, Coot, Moorhen, Kingfishers, Little Egrets, Shelducks and Grey herons are seen frequently as well as the occasional migrating Osprey. Also keep your eyes peeled for Kingfishers, Goldcrests and Firecrests. Also the occasional Otter might make an appearance.
Check out the photo gallery below on just some of the animals we hope to find...
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