To sum up Woolacombe in three words you could simply opt for – Beach Lover’s Paradise, but don’t let that fool you into thinking the village can only offer its three mile stretch of award-winning golden sands.
There is plenty more Woolacombe can provide, from a lively range of pubs and restaurants to laid back cafes and coffee shops. Throw in some top visitor attractions and you will begin to see why this is a destination for all ages.
Can you tell me more about the beach?
Woolacombe is consistently voted one of England’s best family resorts, and the beach is undoubtedly the star attraction. It has been recently voted as the UK's Best Beach by TripAdvisor users for the second year in a row (February 2016) and also ranked fifth in Trip Advisor's guide to best European beaches! The northern tip of the beach is perched in front of Woolacombe village, and the southern tip merges with Putsborough to form Putsborough Sands. The beach is eminently popular with families and surfers.
For surf lovers, Woolacombe runs Croyde pretty close in the stakes for top surfing conditions in North Devon. The swell of waves and sheer size of the beach, makes finding a quiet spot with perfect surfing conditions easy to come by. (Be prepared: When the tide is out, it can be a fair walk to reach the waves).
For families, the beach offers perfect conditions for sun-bathing, relaxing and of course, good old fashioned beach games. The sand, for the most part is compacted by the sea water leaving it in perfect condition for beach cricket, a personal favourite of mine.
Nearest the village you will find the softer sand, and protection from the wind. But be warned this is naturally the most popular spot, and during summer, you will have to get down to the beach early to grab your spot.
On the beach, refreshments and food are offered from a mobile-catering unit, and bins are prevalently scattered around to ensure beach cleanliness is maintained.
What about your four-legged friend? Woolacombe in the main is a dog-friendly beach. Between April 1st and September 30th dogs are only permitted south of the stream. As you enter the beach, via the main entrance, you will see the stream running towards the beach. Here you will be presented with two signs. The one on the right will signify the beach is dog-friendly, and the one of the left will say dog-free. But for the rest of the year, your dog will be able to enjoy unrestricted access to the three-mile stretch of sand playground.
What can I do away from the beach?
If you want a break from basking in the North Devon sunshine on the golden sands then you won’t be left disappointed by Woolacombe’s assortment of things to do.
If you have kids to entertain then a trip to Funder Island may suffice. This 15-hole pirate themed adventure golf course is a hit with kids of all ages. The attraction can also offer self-controlled pirate boats, water-cannon games and racing cars. For the more experienced golfers amongst you, there is a 9-hole pitch and putt course in the grounds of Woolacombe Bay Hotel, opposite Funder Island. A small admission fee is charged for both of these, but hours of entertainment are guaranteed.
For a more relaxing experience away from the beach, take a relaxing stroll around the New Gallery. This showroom and art gallery boasts an impressive display of local work (all of the work in the gallery is produced by North Devon folk).
Alternatively, for a completely unique holiday experience, why not head down to Woolacombe Riding Stables. Located next to Woolacombe Sands Holiday Park, the stables offer you the chance to ride in over 200 acres of countryside, and during the quieter months, along the beach.
Where can I eat and drink in Woolacombe?
Woolacombe offers a countless array of eateries and pubs for you to handpick from. It’s hard to pick a favourite from the ever-growing list, but for location and uniqueness alone it is hard to ignore Barricane Beach Café. This is a bit of a local secret, and I may come under scrutiny for giving it away, but the beach café hides a culinary secret. During the day they rustle up baguettes, cakes and coffees, but come the evening the café transforms itself into a Sri Lankan curry house, allowing you to sit on the beach eating authentic Asian cuisine. (Note: The evening cuisine is only available between June and September).
For a restaurant and bar that certainly doesn’t hide anything, The Red Barn in the centre of Woolacombe is a popular spot. A large, in your face, red building that once inside could have you believing you are in Australia. Good food, drinks, music and surfboards are guaranteed.
The Boardwalk is another top joint, with stunning views out across the Atlantic Ocean. They specialise in rustling up authentic local produce, and often run themed Asian and Italian evenings.
A notable mention must also go to Beachcombers. Perched just yards away from the beach this restaurant is not the easiest to find, but well worth doing so. They are also open as a café throughout the day. A final mention must go to Eddy’s, a small café turned restaurant in the heart of Woolacombe.
For a more detailed look at what the restaurants can offer, feel free to visit our interactive map, packed with restaurants, pubs and attractions.
What is nearby?
If you want to spread your wings beyond Woolacombe, then you will be pleasantly surprised to discover the village enjoys a wonderful location for exploring the rest of North Devon. If you travel south, within 10 minutes you will find yourself swapping the golden sands of Woolacombe for the golden sands of Croyde, and Braunton is only a further five minutes south. In a northerly direction, Mortehoe is just a stone’s throw away and the quirky town of Ilfracombe can be reached within 10 minutes.