Beach cafes in Devon: 7 great places by the coast
- Credit: Archant
Having two distinctly different and unconnected coastlines, Devon boasts some very fine, and very varied, beach and coastal cafés that really come into their own during the outdoorsy days of summer.
Remember to practice social distancing on your visit and book ahead wherever possible to avoid disappointment.
1) Venus Café at Blackpool Sands, South Hams
The first time I visited this beach café I was bowled over by its lovely interior. But it’s glorious outside too with a lovely sandy beach set along the South Hams coastline – a stunning part of the county.
From early breakfasts to sunset suppers this is a great destination and part of the Venus ethos - they take care to maintain the environmental balance, aiming to be the ‘greenest beach café’ and serving much organic fare.
Info: Open 8am to 8pm (last orders) during July & August; earlier closing at other times. Takeaway option. Parking adjacent to the café.
2) Kenno’s at Beer Beach, East Devon
A visiting relative was astounded and delighted when we took him to a village called Beer. But we weren’t heading for a pub. Instead we were introducing him to Kenno’s, one of three beach cafés on Beer Beach, part of the Jurassic Coast.
I love this place, with its smooth squeaky stones underfoot and wafting stripy deckchairs; a place where the tea comes in proper china mugs and the people in the café are unfailingly jolly – even when it’s raining. I usually make a little mug-holder with stones beside my deckchair and wander in search of lucky stones with holes in. Bliss.
Info: Outside seating area only with picnic tables and chairs as well as deck chairs. The café is open all summer. Parking and toilets a steepish walk away in the village.
3) Fremington Quay Café, North Devon
Not on the beach, but on the expansive River Taw estuary and the South West Coast Path, this place is a real Mecca for walkers and the café is renowned for its breakfasts. Once upon a time this area was industrial with the export of clay.
By the mid 19th century the quay was linked by railway with the rest of Devon but eventually the industry declined and the infrastructure fell into disuse. In 1991 the long-distance Tarka Trail opened, running along the route of the former railway and reinventing the area as a place for outdoor leisure. The café building is redolent of the railway era and also houses a fascinating display on the area’s history.
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Info: Open every day 9am to 5pm (5.30pm at weekends). Dogs are welcome on the platform area outside the café and can enjoy a special Quay Bone treat. Parking adjacent to café.
4) East Portlemouth Beach Café, South Devon
Sitting above the attractive ferryboat passage, which carries the South West Coast Path across to Salcombe on the other side of the estuary, this well-positioned café sits above a long stretch of sand – depending on the tide you can walk round to Mill Bay.
It offers a great takeaway service and has outdoor seating for fine weather. Its boat-studded views are gorgeous – and it has the added advantage of being another of the ethical Venus Group.
Info: Open every day unless wet! Adjacent toilets. Parking at the top of steep steps
5) Putsborough Beach Café, near Croyde, North Devon
Up on the north coast with its vast beaches and big skies, this café is set at the end of a vast sandy beach that runs to Woolacombe. The views from inside are superb. Another excellent stop for walkers on the South West Coast Path, which is how I first discovered it, walking between here and Saunton Sands.
They also have the unusual accolade of award-winning toilets and this summer are opening a new ‘self-service’ area for those wishing to just buy drinks and snacks, to avoid having to join the food queue – though I would recommend the food!
Info: Open April to October 8am (ish) until evening and at weekends from November. Car park adjacent
6) The Sea Shanty, Branscombe Mouth, East Devon
This delightful thatched beach café sits at the back of the stony beach in a deep valley, with lofty cliffs to either side. The food is excellent and the place has the distinction of having a memento from the wrecked MSC Napoli whose anchor lies outside.
As well as being well-sited for coastal walking there is also a pleasing footpath from the café, heading inland to the pretty village of Branscombe. One year, on an appallingly wet winter’s day, we were customers number one and two; when we returned two hours later we were customers number three and four. They cheered when we arrived and the portions were huge!
Info: Open seven days a week throughout the summer, 9.30am to 5pm. Parking nearby.
7) Winking Prawn, North Sands, Salcombe, South Devon
There’s always a bit of a party atmosphere at the family-run Winking Prawn, but it’s the name that captivates me.
Info: Open seven days a week, 8.45am to 8.30pm. Parking adjacent
This article was updated by Martha Griffiths in May 2021.