Another day out from our family holiday in May, when we managed to find an airbnb to fit us all in Devon. We visited the RHS Garden Rosemoor, explored Bideford, spent a day on Dartmoor, and went surfing in Croyde Bay. Here’s everything you need to know about a day on this fabulous beach.
The Beach Cafe, Down End
Down End is the perfect arrival destination for a day at Croyde Bay. It has a car park, toilets, a cafe, surf hire, and it’s walking distance from the beach. The picnic benches by the cafe have the most amazing view over the bay, making it the most idyllic spot to get ready for the day.
If you arrive in a big group like we did then some people will smell the bacon from the cafe and immediately order a second breakfast, some people will want coffee, and some will head to the surf hire hut for wetsuits and body boards.
I can confirm that the coffee here is extremely delicious, and the good news if you’re a veggie is that they do all veggie alternatives to their breakfast baps.
Across the road from the car park you’ll find an entrance to none other than the South West Coast Path, which has just wound its way through Saunton and will now cut over Croyde Bay to get to Baggy Point.
The beach at Croyde Bay is wide and sandy, sitting between two headlands and the rolling green hills of the Devonshire countryside. The spot is extremely popular, not least with surfers, but never fear as there’s enough room for everyone. It’s super family-friendly, with lifeguards on duty, rock pools to explore and just the right texture of sand for sand castles.
We set up camp near the sand dunes and set about our respective activities. It was my cousin’s baby’s first beach trip, and she thoroughly enjoyed picking up fistfuls of sand and throwing them. Simple pleasures.
With a volunteer to stay behind and watch the bags, we all set off across the wide expanse of sand to reach the water. The surfers ran in, and the rest of us timidly dipped our toes in the freezing Celtic sea.
While the lads got their surf on, Hannah and Rosie got stuck in with their Dick Pierce bellyboards. Check out this awesome company based in South Molton in Devon, it’s got a pretty amazing history!
After a morning full of fun, our stomachs started to growl, and we made plans to track down some lunch.
Blue Groove, Croyde
It’s a 22 minute walk from the sand dunes to the centre of Croyde, but boy is it worth it!
I was recommended Blue Groove by a friend from work. A good job too, because there were lots of lovely looking places to eat in Croyde, but Blue Groove blew the rest out of the water! We had to queue a little bit to get inside, but luckily they had a table on the deck out back that fit us all perfectly.
The menu at this place is just fantastic, with everything from salt cod croquettes to spiced Thai mussells. Matt ordered Moules Frites with traditional marinière. A huge pan of mussels arrived swimming in a white wine, cream and garlic sauce and garnished liberally with fresh parsley and pickled red onion, with a side of french fries and sun dried tomatoes. Matt has a pretty big appetite but he had to get my cousin Hannah to help him finish it.
I had a delicious chorizo stew, rich with tomatoes, red peppers and chickpeas, topped with calamari and served with crusty brown bread and olives. My cousins Hannah and Gabbi shared a West Country Sharer – smoked trout, home cooked Devon ham hock, Cornish blue cheese, home smoked tomatoes, and pickled samphire with split cold pressed rapeseed oil and warm bread.
If you’re in the area I couldn’t recommend this place enough, whatever time of day it is. The whole menu looked insanely good, and I was very jealous of the people who had room in their stomachs for Devonshire cream tea.
After paying for our delectable lunch we explored Croyde some more. Amazingly we tied our visit perfectly for the Croyde Craft Market, which you can find every Thursday between 10am-4pm around the village hall. We had lots of fun checking out all the stands selling homemade jewellery, greeting cards, paintings and home decorations. Matt and I were really feeling the sun at this point so we popped into Salt Rock to buy caps and buckets hats. Then we headed to Croyde Ice Cream Parlour where we really struggled to choose a flavour out of the dozens on offer!
Back to Croyde Bay
Everyone arrived back at the beach in drips and drabs, and the surfers struggled back into their wetsuits. The timer was counting down on the surf hire, and they were all determined to make the most of the sun and the waves. I settled back on my towl and had a lovely snooze while Matt read his book. Bliss.
The surf hire place closes at 5pm, and remember to leave enough time to change and make your way back over the rocks and up the SW Coastal Path!
The highlight of our whole week in Devon, no doubt, was this day at Croyde Bay. If you’re looking for a sandy beach in North Devon then you can do no better, with all the amenities needed for a large group to fulfil all their various needs.