Home | The Finest Stays Blog | Activities | Why you should visit Hope Cove in South Devon


Aug 1, 2022 | Activities, Area Guides, Hope Cove

You may have stayed in Salcombe and not left the town and we don’t blame you, after all, it is one of the most stunning seaside towns in the country! But if you fancy a change, looking for somewhere a little more discreet, we’d like to introduce you to Hope Cove. 

Where is Hope Cove?

Hope Cove lies on the south Devon coast in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Just five miles from Salcombe. In fact, you will have driven past the sign for Hope on your way to Salcombe and not even noticed it. 

What is Hope Cove like?

It is all about the beach…

This charming fishing village has two beautiful sandy beaches and is sheltered by the Bolt Tail headland. Hope Cove has two distinct areas, Inner Hope and Outer Hope. 

At Inner Hope, alongside a pretty row of fishermen’s cottages, we have Harbour beach which is partly protected from the elements by the sea wall. This horseshoe bay is excellent for watersports with two slipways, one at each end of the cove providing easy access to the water. 

The beaches are buzzing during the summer months with dinghy sailing, paddleboarding and kayaking. It’s also one of our favourite spots for wild swimming and adventurous swimmers can follow the coast and swim to Pilchard Cove or paddle their way around by kayak or paddleboard and enjoy a little seclusion. If you’re in the right place at the right time you may spot seals bobbing in the surf. Inner Hope Cove beach is dog friendly all year round. 

The second beach is Mouthwell Sands at Outer Hope. This soft sandy beach is lifeguarded during the summer months and has easy access from the main car park just across the road. Backed by cliffs and scattered with rocks, Mouthwell Sands is great for families. Pack up a picnic and relax on the sands while the kids splash around on the shoreline and in the rock pools. Don’t forget the bodyboards and wetsuits, the beach faces west and picks up some reasonable waves from time to time. There is a seasonal dog ban at Mouthwell Beach between  May and September.

hope cove beach

Hope Cove has gin clear waters…

The water quality is designated as excellent, in fact, it’s named as one of the 2022 Marine Conservation Society Recommended beaches, all of which had to meet stringent criteria to qualify. 

Things to do in Hope Cove

People say that Hope Cove is the perfect seaside holiday hotspot… and we totally agree! Families flock to the sandy beaches with buckets and spades, bodyboards and wetsuits. The calm, gin clear waters are a watersports playground, popular for dinghy sailing, kayaking, paddleboarding and wild swimming. The slipway is just alongside the old lifeboat station at Inner Hope where you can easily get down to the water and you don’t need to paddle far to find your own stretch of sand for a picnic beach either. 

The ultimate seashore safari!

Rockpooling is an old favourite seaside pastime for all ages. Delve into the rugged rock pools along the beaches in and around Hope Cove and you’ll discover a thriving habitat of shrimps, snails and crabs lurking under swathes of seaweed and mini molluscs clinging to the rocks. 

Welcome to our coastal world

Look up, down and all around… The stunning coastline around Hope Cove is home to seals, pods of dolphins and a whole host of birdlife including cormorants, black headed and herring gulls and ravens on the cliffs. You may be lucky enough to see gannets diving into the sea for fish. 

Step back in time 

The village was a thriving fishing port and was quite the smuggling hotspot! But in the 1890s. The Earl of Devon had a plan which would encourage tourism, and he was on to a winner… in 1894 Hope Cottage was built as a second home. As a result, fishermen began to let out rooms in their cottages and take in lodgers. 

A walk on the wild side

Pack up your walking boots and trainers, the walks around Hope Cove are awesome and the views along the coastline are simply stunning!

A short step

The South Devon coastline sits in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the coast path itself forms part of the 630 mile South West Coast Path. But don’t worry, you don’t need to walk it all! We do however, recommend heading west from Hope Cove and taking the 20 minute walk to South Milton Sands; this fairly gentle walk is especially beautiful in the springtime when the paths are surrounded by clusters of wild flowers. Take your cossie and go for a swim from the sands and stop off for a coffee or lunch at The Beach House before heading back to Hope. 

Time your walk and stop for coffee and cake or dine on the freshest seafood at The Beach House, a rustic shack overlooking the beach at South Milton, the perfect pit stop to refuel before stomping on to Thurlestone or Bantham or heading home. 

Looking to the west you’ll see Burgh Island and the beautiful Burgh Island Hotel. This Art Deco bolthole, once frequented by Agatha Christie and Noel Coward, is celebrated by the rich (and the not-so-rich) and famous. The island is totally cut off at low tide and only accessed by the one-of-a-kind sea tractor which trundles back and forth through the waves.

And for more of a hike

Take the coastal path in the other direction towards Bolt Tail, Soar Mill Cove and Bolt Head and on into Salcombe (8 miles). This path climbs up to Bolt Tail (you can even see the Cornish headlands on a clear day!) The path drops down to rugged cliffs overlooking the bay where fishermen used to pick up kegs of brandy which smugglers had dropped. You can imagine the drudgery that went on here!

This is a more undulating and rugged walk of jagged rocks and outcrops, dotted with highland cattle and a shoreline of secluded beaches. Just before you get to Salcombe, look out for the beautiful National Trust gardens at Overbecks. This tropical paradise is dotted with palms through rocky paths. From its cliff top position the views over the Salcombe estuary and along the coast are simply stunning. The perfect place for a pitstop and a picnic. 

Along to Bolberry Down an important Royal Air Force base during WWII, complete with a disused runway and former barracks. Follow the path as it gently winds down to Soar Mill Cove, an idyllic sandy beach and the perfect spot for a quick dip before lunch at the Soar Mill Cove Hotel. 

Don’t miss Hope Cove Weekend 2022

This fun filled weekend is back after the 2 Covid years. There’s been an annual festival at Hope Cove since 1973 which takes place over the August Bank Holiday weekend. The free festival is a jamboree of live music, children’s games and races, street entertainment, treasure hunt, sandcastle competitions and water based activities. To top it all there’s a firework display on Saturday evening. 

So this is how the Hope Cove bank holiday weekend is shaping up for 2022:

  • Friday evening: Filthy Gorgeous
  • Saturday evening: Diamond Geezers, country dancing and the firework display
  • Sunday afternoon: Benny Carr
  • Sunday evening: DJ Pragmatik

A great bank holiday weekend in South Devon – not to be missed!

Shopping in Hope Cove

Okay, so we don’t have big high street brands lining the pretty harbour but we do have a very well stocked store and post office for your daily essentials, whether you’re looking for a pasty for a picnic on the beach or a freshly baked loaf of bread, a pint of milk or a bottle of wine, you’ll find it here. There’s also a lovely ice=cream shop just up from the harbour beach and the charming Hope Cove Gallery is packed with works of art from local crafts people and artists. 

Foodie Haven

When it comes to dining, Hope Cove has something for everyone with a couple of good pubs serving great food, fish and chips and wood-fired pizzas. The Cottage Hotel and the quirky Lobster Pods overlooking the bay and cafes for takeaway tea and cakes. 

south devon food

Beaches nearby include: 

Mouthwell Sands (0.1 mi)

Thurlestone (0.7 mi)

Leas Foot Sands (0.9 mi)

Thurlestone North (0.9 mi)

Yarmer Beach (1.3 mi)

Bantham (2.1 mi)

Soar Mill Cove (2.2 mi)

Bigbury on Sea (South) (2.8 mi)

Sedgewell Cove (2.8 mi)

Burgh Island (3 mi)

As you can see, Hope Cove may be a peaceful coastal village but when it comes to activities, it’s great and certainly ticks all the boxes with the Salcombe Finest team! If you like the sound of Hope Cove and want to visit, get in touch. At Salcombe Finest we have a range of luxury holiday homes in South Devon to suit you.

All Properties

Join our mailing list

Access exclusive offers, discounts and promotions on the most beautiful holiday homes, plus insider guides from our South Devon experts