North Devon has long been a popular spot for families. My husband likes to wax lyrical about his childhood beach holidays in this corner of the UK and still remembers them fondly; exploring rock pools, building sandcastles, and fish and chips on the beach. Today, this part of England has even more to offer families, including lots of adventure activities. Here are 5 adventure activities for families that we’ve bookmarked for the next time we’re in North Devon.
1. Surf’s Up!
North Devon enjoys some fantastic surfing thanks to powerful swells from the Atlantic Ocean that occur throughout the year. Croyde is generally considered the best wave in North Devon as well as a world class beach break. Putsborough is a lesser known spot (among visitors, anyway!) and offers excellent surfing amongst a stunning backdrop, and Woolacombe is home to uninterrupted barrels rolling into shore.
There are a number of schools that offer lessons for all the family, including Woolacombe Surf School and Nick Thorn Surf School. Surf lessons are recommended for children aged 8 years and older. Younger kids can get started with boogie boarding. Complete beginners can wet their feet at the surf simulator at Golden Coast instead.
2. Walk with the Animals
Tracking the Beast of Exmoor might be an adventure too far so how about getting up close and personal with a black leopard at the Exmoor Zoo? Home to otters, wallabies, lemurs, leopards and more, this conservation park is a wonderful place for children to view animals in natural-style enclosures. Star of the show is Ebony, the black leopard, who is one of just five left in captivity in the U.K. Kids can watch her enjoy an afternoon snack and then listen to a talk on the Beast of Exmoor. Other activities for children include handling sessions where children can touch snakes and spiders, and feeding sessions where they’ll learn what the zoo residents like to eat.
3. Jump the Waves
North Devon has a lot of beach options for families but it’s hard to compete with Woolacombe Beach, two-time winner of the award for best beach in the U.K. It’s also been voted one of the top five beaches in Europe. Once you’ve visited, you’ll understand what all the fuss is about. This three-mile stretch of golden sand is simply stunning. There’s lots of sand for building castles, clean waters for swimming (and lifeguards on duty) and Atlantic waves for jumping and boogie boarding. Woolacombe village is lively and fun with waterside cafes and restaurants for when everyone gets hungry.
4. Go Paddling!
The rugged coastline of North Devon makes kayaking in this area a real adventure for kids. Kayaking tours will take you through caves, guide you to secluded beaches and paddle past breath-taking scenery. You may even spot dolphins and seals! H2Outdoor offer a variety of trips suitable from the most novice of paddlers to the extreme kayaker. All trips are led by experienced, qualified instructors. Kayaking is best suited to children aged 8 and older.
5. Search for Buried Treasure
Sadly, it’s unlikely you’ll find buried treasure here anymore but you can still walk in the footsteps of pirates and buccaneers on a variety of cliff top walks. North Devon was once home to smugglers and swashbucklers who used the many coves and caves to hide their loot. The skulls and crossbones may be long gone but you can still get a feel for the pirating past with a walk around Morte Point. Legend has it that the highly feared ‘Mortemen’ would lure ships towards the cliffs by stringing lanterns to the tails of their animals. Once the ships had crashed against the rocks the pirates would loot the ships and drown the surviving sailors. Fortunately, locals are more welcoming to visitors these days!
Best Time to Visit North Devon
Predictably unpredictable Devon can enjoy sunshine one minute and heavy showers the next. In theory, however, the best months to visit are from May to October when temperatures range from 10C to 20C. Winter is beautiful but it can be chilly!
Where to Stay in North Devon
Devon is hugely popular with families and accommodation options are endless. From fully-serviced camp sites and caravan parks to family-friendly hotels, lodges for multi-generational gatherings and pet-friendly holiday homes, there’s something for everyone. Now that we’re a family of five we look for space and tend to lean more towards self-catering options. I particularly like the look of these Luxury Surf Lodges with private hot tubs that come with complimentary surf board and wet suit hire!
*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post, all opinions are, as always, entirely my own