Dogs in Devon: Exploring Dog-Friendly Beaches

Devon, nestled in southwest England, is home to a stunning coastline stretching over 450 miles – rugged cliffs, sandy shores and beautiful towns as far as the eye can see. 

The allure of the sea brings travellers, sunbathers and surfers alike, and now, even dogs!

More and more owners are choosing to share the beauty of Devon’s beaches with their four-legged companions, and I’m all for it! The allure of the sea is just as irresistible to our furry friends as it is to us. 

However, dog owners must be mindful of the etiquette and rules when roaming Devon and understand which beaches are dog-friendly. 

Some can be a bit confusing, but I’ll dive into the standard policies dog owners should look out for. 

Are the Main Beaches in Devon Dog-Friendly?

Unfortunately, beaches in Devon do not follow a one-size-fits-all policy. 

It took me a while to get to grips with it, so don’t worry if you’re scrambling to find the correct information. Different policies and limitations may be in place for dog access during specific times of the year, primarily due to tourists and safety concerns. 

Knowing this in advance is invaluable to your planning as a dog owner and someone visiting for a cheeky holiday. 

Is Saunton Sands Beach Dog-Friendly?

Stretching over 3 miles, Saunton Sands Beach is a beautiful sight backed by the impressive Braunton Burrows. A flat terrain makes it accessible for all, with the beach being a favourite among walkers for its long distance. 

Saunton Sands does allow dogs all year round.

The size of the beach allows plenty of roaming space for your furry companion, letting them run, play and interact with other dogs without fear of causing a fuss or disturbing others. 

Saunton Sands Beach also has an “all are welcome” policy, meaning all breeds of dog, all sizes and multiple dogs are allowed, truly making it the best beach to visit with your pets. 

I recommend checking out the Saunton Beach Website, as it can help you better understand their specific requirements when bringing your dog. 

Is Bantham Beach Dog-Friendly?

Bantham Beach is known for its gorgeous golden dunes and picturesque spot at the mouth of the River Avon. I cannot oversell the breathtaking views of Burgh Island – a popular spot for surfers and families alike. 

Plenty of facilities, such as the Gastrobus, which serves snacks and drinks, and a nearby pub and café, make it a great spot to chill out and kick back. 

That said, there are dog limitations. Dogs aren’t allowed on central Bantham Beach from May 1st to September 30th during Summer. During these periods, however, dogs are allowed on the Estuary, which is applicable all year round. 

This beach is beautiful in the summer, so it’s kind of upsetting you’re not allowed your dog on the main beach during this time, but there’s still a tonne to do!

Bigbury-on-Sea Burgh Island

Is Bigbury-on-Sea Beach Dog-Friendly? 

Renowned for the iconic Burgh Island and sandy shores, Bigbury-on-Sea is sought after by water sports enthusiasts. As someone who loves to surf, I can attest to this. 

Burgh Island, accessed by a sea tractor during the high tide, is also a fun experience. 

There are limitations for dog owners during the seasonal summer months. Similarly to Bantham Beach, dogs aren’t allowed on the beach between May 1st and September 30th. 

This applies from the main causeway east to Sedgewell Cove.

You can still walk the beach with your dog to the west of the causeway and at the far east of Sedgewell Cove, providing access to a coastal getaway if you’re in the area with your dog during the summer months. 

That said, I’d suggest moving to the nearby Thurlestone Beach if you’re looking for something with more room. It’s a great spot to take your canine companion!

Is Instow Beach Dog-Friendly?

Instow Beach is known for its calm, beautiful surroundings, stunning views of Appledore and a favourite spot for picnics and sunsets. Unlike some other beaches, Instow Beach lacks strong waves, making it a perfect location to play ball games with your dogs. 

Similarly, an expansive shoreline ensures there’s plenty of space for play. 

Now, onto the confusing part. Instow Beach never seems to have a “this is the right answer” policy. There have been conflicting mentions of when the beach is dog-friendly. Like many beaches in Devon, May – September usually sees the most significant influx of tourists, so the beaches close down to dogs. 

However, visitors have said this beach remains open to dogs throughout the year. At the same time, some also mention that these restrictions only apply during July and August. 

A few times during summer, I have seen dogs roaming and playing there just fine. If you plan to visit Instrow Beach, I would check the latest restrictions to see whether something has changed. 

Just to be safe. 

Is Blackpool Sands Beach Dog-Friendly?

With its crescent shape, turquoise waters and beautiful backdrop, Blackpool Sands Beach is undeniably one of Devon’s gems and one of my favourites. 

The main thing to note, though, is that this is a tourist haven! For better or worse. 

There’s always something to do, and you can hire equipment for kayaking and paddle boarding on its perfect waters. But of course, tourists often mean a crowded beach when the weather is beautiful.  

Because of this, there are increased restrictions for pet owners during the peak months of the year. Dogs are prohibited from Easter to November to accommodate increased visitors and general beach safety. 

I’d love for dogs to be allowed there during this time, but the beach is also known for being pristine, and the restrictions on dogs work towards helping keep it clean. 

If you find yourself near Blackpool Sands Beach during these restricted months and want to find a coastal place to relax with your furry companion, you can instead visit Slapton Sands – a fantastic alternative pebble beach that welcomes dogs all year round with its calm waters and ample space. 

Devon’s Dog-Friendly Beach Policy

Trust me, regardless of where you go, you’re in for a treat. Devon has some of the most beautiful beach views from anywhere I’ve travelled. While we’re a happy bunch over here, do make sure to pay attention to the policies of each beach, not to ruffle any feathers. 

General Rules and Regulations

Leash Laws: While many beaches in Devon allow dogs to roam freely, this isn’t always the case. In popular destinations, dog owners may be required to leash their dogs to ensure the safety of everyone present and to minimise and negate confrontations with other animals. These restrictions may also apply during peak hours when more visitors are there during the day.

Clean Up: Most beaches are kind enough to provide waste bins, with some providing doggy bags. As an owner, ensure you come equipped with your own and are ready to clean up after your dog.

Designated Areas: As mentioned in our beach list, some beaches will have set zones that allow dogs, while the main beach may be off-limits. Typically, this separates dogs from young children and families during busy times of the year, an extra step in beach safety. However, these designated areas and rules can change over time, so be sure to check back at your favourite beach to see if anything is different. 

Small bird perched on a wire fence in north devon

Why Are There Seasonal Restrictions at Devon’s Beaches?

I’ve gone over why restrictions are in place for general safety, but another often overlooked reason is the environment. Some beautiful birds and wildlife around Devon need to be looked after. Same with the water! 

Wildlife Protection: Some Beaches sit close to reservoirs and natural wildlife, making it a concern when animals that could be considered predators are nearby. Local wildlife, such as birds, may nest on or near beaches during specific times of the year. Restricting animal access during these periods helps further protect these species. 

Water Quality: Maintaining water quality has become a paramount concern for the beaches in Devon, with many complaints of some beaches being specifically on water quality. They aim to reduce potential contaminants and ensure water quality by limiting the number of dogs on the beach or specific parts of it. 

Make Your Devon Beach Visit One to Remember

There’s just something about seeing your dog have the time of their life that brings unmatched joy. Whether rolling around in the sand, getting their paws wet or running across the sand in a fit of excitement. 

Every time new customers visit Biffen’s Kitchen with their pets, our faces light up. Denying them a chance to see the beautiful beaches of Devon is downright criminal. Ensure you don’t forget the responsibilities of bringing your dog, such as cleaning up after them, respecting the shared space, and not disturbing others or wildlife. 

And speaking of welcome spots, if you’re visiting Devon and are looking for something delicious, why not drop by Biffen’s Kitchen? 

You can find us at Lobb Fields Caravan and Camping Park in Braunton from October to March and at Ocean Pitch Campsite in Croyde from Easter to October.