Welcome to the aquatic wonderland of South Devon
With its picturesque coastline, sparkling azure waters, and hidden gems, this region is a playground for wild swimming enthusiasts. With our team living and working in South Devon and the edge of Dartmoor, we’ve tried and tested all the best swimming spots and have pulled together our top recommendations and a few tips for you. So grab your swimsuit, pack your sense of adventure, and get ready to dive into our top swimming spots in South Devon.
Open water and tidal swims at Royal William Yard
If you’re based in the city of Plymouth or visiting, it’s still easy to take the plunge and get out into nature at Royal William Yard. A favourite of Hayley’s you can swim in the tidal swimming pool at Firestone Bay alongside many locals including some members of our team! Ace Swimming based here offer swim coaching, from safety in the sea with kids to sea swim groups if you’re looking for some company.
Firestone Bay is also the kick-off location for the popular Drakes Island swim which happens in July each year.
Hike and swim in the secluded Ayrmer Cove
An adventurous pick from Oli, Ayrmer Cove is a lovely 3-mile walk from the village of Ringmore for the keen walker and confident swimmer. This hidden cove lies at the foot of a valley, flanked by silvery white cliffs and backed by rolling countryside hills. If you come at low tide there are plenty of rock pools to explore and for swimming, it’s generally quite calm but it’s worth noting that there are no lifeguards here.
Private Beach Vibes at Mothecombe Beach
Although privately owned, Mothecombe Beach is open to the public all year-round and can be found at the mouth of the River Erme, around a 10 minutes walk from the car park at the top of the estate. As a sheltered cove with a freshwater stream running gently into the sea, it’s a popular spot for floating around. Its quiet waters and shallow, gradual slope make it good choice for families and those new to wild swimming.
A regular favourite with the whole Life Space team.
Easy-Access Dips At Blackpool Sands
Prepare to be awestruck by the ethereal, almost Mediterranean beauty of Blackpool Sands. A sand and shingle beach backed by pines and evergreens, it’s a coastal paradise that we highly recommend to those new to wild swimming or looking for an easy-to-access but beautiful location to swim.
Privately managed, it has kept its standards high and the sheltered cove ensures the water remains fairly still. An RNLI lifeguard is on duty from July to September which makes it a great beach for family swims.
Simple Swims At Abbey Sands
While it may usually be a tourist trap during the day in summer, head down to Abbey Sands in Torbay (a blue flag beach) during a morning high tide and enjoy the seafront in peace while the world is still in slumber. You may even spot the resident friendly seal. Waters can be quiet here and at high tide the sea reaches the top of the concrete steps and it’s like dipping into your own crystal clear pool.
Wild swimming alternative at Chagford open air pool
A safe and lifeguarded alternative to wild swimming, Chagford swimming pool was originally dug by hand and opened in 1933. It’s the largest open-air, freshwater pool in the southwest that’s fed from the River Teign. A beautiful, historic community pool, it’s a gorgeous location for first-time fresh water swimmers and a favourite for Life Space Cabin’s Jamie and Kate!
Wildcard: Stay In Rusty Sheds & Indulge In The Private Beach
Rusty Sheds are two brand new cabins nestled in the Flete Estate in South Devon, looking out across boundless countryside views. Just a five-minute walk down the hill from our cabins will take you to the private Pamflete Beach. It’s so private that it’s not even marked on a map. Part of the marine conservation area, this estuary beach astounds with its turquoise waters and will be one of the most unique places you can wild swim in South Devon.
South Devon’s wild swimming spots offer a playground for adventurers seeking that perfect balance of playful exploration with smart, safe swimming choices. From the pristine sands of Ayrmer Cove to the tidal pools in Plymouth, each spot invites you to create memories that will last a lifetime. Remember to always swim responsibly and respect the natural environment!
Our top tips to holiday like a local.
- Go early in the evening when most people are heading homeward. You’re much more likely to have the swim spot to yourself.
- Prepare to walk a bit further up river (wear decent shoes) you’ll be surprised what a difference 200m will make to your wild swim experience.
- Bring back your girl guide/scouting skills and look at a map! Or even google earth. You can discover your own secret swim pools on the moor or coast.
- Chat to locals! Most are happy to share their beautiful places with you.
- Pack a hot flask and flapjack. You’ll need to warm up and have some sustenance after cold water swimming
- Try a lido or outdoor swimming pool. Plymouth, Asburton, Dartmouth and Bovey Tracey all have renovated outdoor pools.
Disclaimer and useful notes:
- ALWAYS check tides and go with others. Click here for more information.
- Cold water shock is real and can happen to anyone. Know your risks and check out the RNLI for more details.
- Leave only wet footprints. Devon is a beautiful part of the world. Let’s keep it that way.
- Always seek permission before entering private land.