Dog-friendly beaches

When you come on holiday to an area with some of the finest beaches in the country, why wouldn’t you want to share them with your beloved canine pal?

This article was written on 10 February 2023
and is a 8 minute read

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We have stunning shores in this part of the country, as well plenty of variety: from the wind-swept marram grass topped dunes of the North Coast to the pebbly red-cliffed beaches of East Devon and the white chalk of Lyme Bay. This news article contains all the information you need about where you can take your dog and when. We should start by saying that, in general, owners can walk their dogs on most beaches in the south west between 1 October and 30 April, with dogs being prohibited between 1 May and 30 September, however there are some that allow pets all year round.


Exmouth is a long, sandy beach in East Devon. Dogs are allowed all year at the two ends of the beach from the 3rd breakwater east and from the Octagon Café west. This is a very popular beach with dog-owners and your pet will love running for miles along the golden sand, playing with all the other canine friends they’re bound to meet. We particularly love Orcombe Rocks with its gorgeous red sandstone. You can walk around the rocks at low tide to find a further small tidal beach: Rodney Bay, overlooked by the “geoneedle” at Orcombe Point, marking the western end of the Jurassic Coast. It’s funny to think that your dog’s paws might be treading land once crossed by dinosaur feet! Dogs are allowed on the whole beach between 1 October and 30 April, but when the central beach area is closed to dogs, you can still wander the length of the esplanade at the back of the beach to the opposite end of the beach, where you’ll find Exmouth’s attractive harbour area. You and your pet can even enjoy a cruise with Stuart Line Cruises, since dogs are welcome on the vast majority of their trips.

Borage and Billy at Exmouth (Photo: Sarah Dixon)
Beautiful colours at Orcombe, Exmouth (Photo: Maria Thorne)


Sidmouth Town Beach

Dogs are allowed all year on Port Royal beach at the eastern end of the promenade, but not on the main town beach from May to September. Head towards the far end of the prom and you’ll find the little pebbly Port Royal beach just inside the breakwater at the mouth of the River Sid. This is a superbly picturesque spot from which to admire the red cliffs that have become famous for their gradual but occasionally dramatic erosion into the sea. For safety, you shouldn’t try to enter East Beach (on the other side of the river mouth).

East Beach is prone to cliff falls but dogs are allowed on the near side of the river’s mouth (Photo: Maria Thorne)

Sidmouth Jacob’s Ladder Beach

Jacob’s ladder is a long beach with tiers of pebbles leading down from the cliffside to the sandier shoreline. At low tide, there’s plenty of sand. Dogs are permitted all year round on the west end of the beach, starting at around 100m from the ladder. So just be sure to pop your pet on a lead when making your ways to that area. Most families tend to gather around the ladder area in any case, since that’s where the ice creams can be found! So you and your doggy friend should have plenty of space. Once you’ve had enough time on the beach, make your way up to Connaught Gardens for a meander amongst the beautifully planted flower beds and views over the esplanade. Or pop in for a cream tea at the Clock Tower Tea Rooms where dogs are allowed in the conservatory and they provide water bowls and treats as well as selling doggy ice cream!

A Sunny Day in Sidmouth

Image credit: MG Photography on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


Dogs are allowed at the two ends of Seaton Beach all year round, but should be kept off the middle section. Seaton is a lovely, long beach with refreshments kiosks and cafes. You will notice the difference in cliff colour, tending towards the paler grey/white of Lyme Bay. It’s a gently-sloping beach, wonderful for swimming or kayaking. The South West Coast Path is easily accessible from here so, if you fancy longer ‘walkies’, hike along to the nearby village of Beer.


The eastern half Beer Beach, a small, shingle beach, is open to dogs all year round. Since there is still an active fishing community here (particularly famous for mackerel), this beach is great for your pet to have a good sniff about among the boats! Visit the fishmonger at the back of the beach for the day’s freshest catch. Beer boasts a network of underground caverns. Beer Quarry Caves were man-made 2,000 years ago for quarrying the famous beer stone. This is a fascinating attraction, and since dogs are welcome, it’s a great place for everyone to cool off on a hot day.

Fishing Boats at Seaton (Photo: Maria Thorne)

Budleigh Salterton

Budleigh has a long pebble beach, near to the town centre and dogs are allowed all year at either end of the beach: east from the Lime Kiln car park and west from the end of the prom. They’re banned from the central part of the beach in May to September. It’s popular with families because of its calm, clean waters. From the Lime Kiln end, you can enjoy nature-packed walks inland, beside the salt marshes we mentioned in our last blog.

Budleigh from Lime Kiln (Photo: Maria Thorne)

Further afield

Dawlish Warren

Dawlish Warren’s distinctive groynes – the long wooden protuberances that you’ll spot spaced along the beach – are key to understanding where you can take your dog! They’re welcome at Dawlish Warren beach on the section of the tidal beach directly to the right of the lifeguard tower and between groyne 3 and 9 on the main beach. Between April and September, dogs are not allowed between the lifeguard tower and groyne 3, or past groyne 9. We mentioned the dunes at the back of the beach in our last blog and you must keep your pet on a lead in this important nature reserve.

The groynes at Dawlish Warren help you know where you can take your dog (Photo: Maria Thorne)

Ness Cove Beach

Ness Cove at Shaldon is one of the few places in Devon where your dog is welcome with no restrictions, all year round at. Interestingly, you access this beach through what some believe to be an old smugglers’ tunnel. This shingled, sheltered beach, with its fascinating rock pools, is enclosed by the cliffs and is perfect for swimming.


Stunning Woolacombe in North Devon is highly-acclaimed for over two miles of wide, fine, sandy beaches. You’re gazing at the Atlantic here, so be prepared for occasionally big surf! Dogs are allowed on this huge beach all year round, apart from (between Easter and end of September) the small section between the stream at the town-end and the rocks at the north end. This still leaves you with plenty of space to find somewhere to settle yourself and your pup. To escape the crowds, we recommend parking near the Porthole Cafe on Marine Drive. From there, you can wind down the steep paths through the dunes to land a spot on the beach all to yourself. Perhaps your dog will help pull you back up! The cafe sells doggy ice cream and delicious human snacks too!

Ember on Woolacombe Sands (Photo: Sarah Ward)
Doggy friends at Woolacombe (Photo: Linda Davies)

A little bit of advice about taking your dog to the beach

  • The information we’ve provided here is correct to our knowledge, but please do always check signs and local information on arriving at a beach to avoid straying into areas where you could be fined for taking your dog.
  • If your pup has never been to a beach before, with all those huge open spaces, lots of busy families and the sound of the waves crashing, it can be a “bit much” for some dogs, so be prepared for this by popping them on a lead and perhaps bring some treats to encourage best behaviour.
  • Some of our beaches are vast! So, if your dog doesn’t have good recall, it’s worth putting him on a lead to prevent having to chase him down for miles. We can tell you from experience that running on sand or pebbles is really hard work!
  • Naturally, you’ll want to make sure you have enough poo bags and pick up after your dog everywhere you go. Most beaches have dog poo bins dotted along the sea front, but you can use any public bin.
Ember and Jacob at Branscombe (Photo: Sarah Ward)