Salcombe: The Jewel of the South Hams

Salcombe, UK by Paavan B

Stunning Natural Setting of Salcombe

Nestled in the southernmost part of Devon, Salcombe is a picturesque harbour town that epitomizes the beauty of the English Riviera. Known for its turquoise waters, sandy beaches, and sailing culture, Salcombe has long been a favoured destination for both the well-heeled and those seeking a quintessential Devon seaside experience.

As you approach Salcombe, you’re immediately struck by its stunning natural setting. The town is perched on the western side of the Kingsbridge Estuary, a protected area of outstanding natural beauty. The estuary, technically a ria or drowned valley, creates a sheltered haven that has made Salcombe a sailor’s paradise for centuries.

Bustling Waterfront: Yachts and Fishing Boats

The heart of Salcombe is its bustling waterfront. Here, colourful fishing boats and sleek yachts bob side by side in the crystal-clear waters. The town’s maritime heritage is palpable, from the traditional crabbing boats to the prestigious Salcombe Yacht Club, which hosts regattas throughout the summer months. For those keen to get out on the water themselves, numerous companies offer boat hire, sailing lessons, and guided trips around the estuary.

Salcombe’s Finest Beaches

Salcombe’s beaches are among the finest in Devon. North Sands and South Sands, both within walking distance of the town centre, offer golden sand and safe swimming. For the more adventurous, a short boat trip across the estuary reveals the secluded beaches of East Portlemouth, including the beautiful crescent of Millbay. The famous Venus Café at Blackpool Sands, a short drive from Salcombe, is renowned for its stunning location and delicious locally-sourced food.

Exploring Salcombe Town: Shops, Galleries, and Eateries

The town itself is a delightful maze of narrow streets lined with boutique shops, art galleries, and eateries. Fore Street, the main shopping thoroughfare, is packed with independent retailers selling everything from designer clothing to local crafts.

Food and Drink Delights in Salcombe

Salcombe is also famous for its food and drink offerings. The Salcombe Dairy ice cream is a must-try, while Salcombe Gin, distilled in the heart of the town, has gained national recognition for its smooth, citrusy flavour.

Historical Insights: Salcombe Maritime Museum and Overbeck’s

For history enthusiasts, Salcombe offers several points of interest. The Salcombe Maritime Museum provides fascinating insights into the town’s seafaring past, including its role in fruit schooner trade and its involvement in World War II. Just outside town, Overbeck’s, a National Trust property, offers stunning subtropical gardens and panoramic views over the estuary.

Nature and Wildlife Around Salcombe

Nature lovers will find plenty to explore in and around Salcombe. The South West Coast Path passes through the town, offering spectacular walks in both directions. To the east, the path leads to the dramatic cliffs of Bolt Head, while westward it meanders through the picturesque South Hams countryside towards Hope Cove and Thurlestone.

Salcombe’s Microclimate and Unique Ecosystem

Salcombe’s microclimate, one of the mildest in the UK, allows for a unique ecosystem. The estuary is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including seals, dolphins, and numerous bird species. For a closer look, guided wildlife watching boat trips are available, offering the chance to spot some of the area’s more elusive inhabitants.

Summer Events: Salcombe Town Regatta

The town comes alive during the summer months, with events like the Salcombe Town Regatta drawing visitors from far and wide. This week-long celebration includes sailing races, sandcastle competitions, fireworks, and the quirky sport of ‘crab-trawling’ – essentially crabbing from a boat.

Relaxed Nightlife and Dining by the Water

As day turns to evening, Salcombe offers a relaxed nightlife scene. Waterside pubs like The Ferry Inn and The Victoria Inn provide perfect spots for watching the sunset over the estuary while enjoying local ales and fresh seafood. For a special dining experience, The Winking Prawn at North Sands offers beachside dining with a fun, retro vibe.

Preserving Salcombe’s Charm and Character

Despite its popularity, Salcombe has managed to retain its charm and character. The town has strict planning regulations that have preserved its traditional architecture and prevented overdevelopment. This commitment to conservation extends to the surrounding countryside, helping to maintain the area’s natural beauty.

The Perfect Blend: Sophistication and Coastal Simplicity in Salcombe

Whether you’re drawn by its sailing heritage, its beautiful beaches, its food scene, or simply its laid-back coastal charm, Salcombe offers a slice of Devon at its finest. It’s a place where you can truly unwind, where the pace of life slows down, and where the beauty of the natural world takes centre stage. In Salcombe, you’ll find the perfect blend of sophistication and simplicity, all set against the backdrop of one of England’s most stunning coastal landscapes.


Q: What natural features make Salcombe a popular destination for sailors?

A: Salcombe’s location on the western side of the Kingsbridge Estuary, a protected area of outstanding natural beauty, creates a sheltered haven perfect for sailing. The estuary’s calm and clear waters, along with its status as a ria (drowned valley), have made it a sailor’s paradise for centuries.

Q: Which beaches in Salcombe are recommended for visitors, and what can they expect there?

A: Recommended beaches in Salcombe include North Sands and South Sands, both of which offer golden sand and safe swimming. For those seeking more seclusion, East Portlemouth beaches like Millbay can be reached by a short boat trip across the estuary. These beaches provide a peaceful retreat with beautiful scenery.

Q: What are some of the unique shops and food offerings in Salcombe?

A: Salcombe boasts a variety of unique shops and food offerings. Fore Street is lined with boutique shops, art galleries, and independent retailers. Must-try local specialties include Salcombe Dairy ice cream and Salcombe Gin. Additionally, the Venus Café at Blackpool Sands is renowned for its stunning location and locally-sourced food.

Q: What historical insights does the Salcombe Maritime Museum provide?

A: The Salcombe Maritime Museum offers insights into the town’s rich seafaring history, including its role in the fruit schooner trade and its involvement in World War II. The museum houses artifacts and exhibits that illustrate Salcombe’s maritime heritage.

Q: What outdoor activities and wildlife can nature lovers enjoy in Salcombe?

A: Nature lovers can enjoy walking along the South West Coast Path, which offers spectacular views and leads to dramatic cliffs like Bolt Head and picturesque areas like Hope Cove and Thurlestone. The estuary and surrounding areas are home to diverse wildlife, including seals, dolphins, and numerous bird species. Guided wildlife watching boat trips provide opportunities to see these animals up close.