Where is the best beach in Devon? With two coastlines and a huge and diverse array of sandy stretches, rocky outlets and tiny coves, there are plenty of contenders.
Clean water to swim in, decent services and good lifeguard cover are just some of the things holidaymakers look for when choosing a beach on which to plonk themselves. So opting for a beach with a Blue Flag Award is a good starting point - especially if you are holidaying with young children.
Widely considered the gold standard for beaches, the Blue Flag is internationally recognised, not least because it is a sign of safe water quality: the most important stipulation is that no industrial, wast water or sewage related discharges should affect the beach.
Here are the eight beaches in Devon which won Blue Flags in 2015.
Blackpool Sands, South Devon
Backed by evergreens and scented pines, Blackpool Sands has more than a whiff of the Mediterranean. The beach is privately managed and has kept its standards high, making it one of the most popular family beaches in the region.
The watersare unusually clear and beach is cleaned daily basis. As well as the usual showers, toilets and disabled facilities, Blackpool Sands also has sand pits so that the kids can enjoy safe and supervised play.
Challaborough, near Kingsbridge
This horse-shoe-shaped sandy cove boasts lovely scenery and great rock pools at low tide, as well as occasional surfable waves. Facilities include a cafe, beach shop and small car park (you'll need to park at Bigbury-on-Sea if the car park is full and walk for 15 minutes to get here).
This is a lovely long sandy beach to the north of Torquay, away from the hustle and bustle of the town centre's beach. Its only drawback is that there's not much sand left at high tide...
One of south Devon's quieter beaches, Oddicombe is served by a cliff railway (it's at the bottom of a steep cliff and the walk back up again isn't for the fainthearted).
While Dawlish Warren is well known as a traditional holiday resort, it's also a valuable ecological asset: thousands of wildfowl and wading birds who use the mudflats to feed, overwinter, and visit on migration. In addition to the beaches and mudflats, the Warren has freshwater pools, herb-rich grasslands, woodland and reedbeds.
Sandy Bay, near Exmouth
A sandy beach backed by high cliffs, part of a long strip of sand which at low tide is connected all the way to Exmouth. Be warned: idyllic beach can get crowded in the summer. Nearby Orcombe rocks is a heritage site and a famous spot for fossil hunting. Sandy Bay is home to the massive Devon Cliffs Holiday Park.
South Sands, Salcombe
This beautiful sandy beach boasts a boutique hotel, a watersports centre with sailing tuition, beach craft for hire and a beach-side café. Close by is Overbecks, the National Trust gardens, with a museum and café. South Sands vides access to the start of inspiring coastal walks and is part of the Southwest Coastal Path network
This vast sandy beach is backed by a pebble ridge that extends for two miles north of the village of Westward Ho! Facing westwards into Bideford Bay, the beach is popular with surfers and backed by the Northam Burrows Country Park.
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