Thurlestone, Devon: Travel Guide & Things To Do

Thurlestone holds a special place in my heart and it’s definitely worth a visit if you find yourself on the south coast of Devon.

When I was young I spent every summer holiday down in Devon and almost every day my mother would make the hour drive from my grandparents’ house to Thurlestone. We would pack a cooler with lunch boxes, magazines and cold drinks, then trek across Thurlestone golf course to Yarmer Beach. There’s no parking at the beach and you have to hike down a steep cliff path to get to it, but it was always totally worth it. We would spend our days fishing in the little rock pools when the tide was out, or bodyboarding when the tide was in. Since the beach faces southwest and is flanked by tall cliffs, it was always sheltered and seemed to have its own microclimate.

After the beach we would sometimes stop at The Village Inn for a nice cold drink to reward ourselves after the hike. The village itself is a quintessential English countryside village, with thatched cottages and a historic church. It’s a small place so there’s not a ton of stuff to do there, but it’s beautiful and relaxing.

In this guide I’ll cover things to do in Thurlestone, how to get there, and where to eat while you’re there.

Getting There

By Car: Thurlestone is easily accessible by car. It’s about a 4-hour drive from London, taking the M4, M5, and then the A381 towards Kingsbridge, followed by local roads leading to the village.

By Train: The nearest train station is Totnes, which has good connections from London and other major cities. From Totnes, you can take a taxi or a bus to reach Thurlestone.

By Bus: There are local bus services from Kingsbridge and other nearby towns to Thurlestone, though these may be infrequent. I’d highly recommend driving or renting a car.

Where to Stay

There’s only one hotel in Thurlestone, and in the summer it can get pretty booked up. If it’s full, I’d suggest looking at hotels in nearby areas such as Hope Cove, Kingsbridge and Salcombe. Or you could consider renting a holiday cottage.

In Thurlestone

  • Thurlestone Hotel: For those seeking luxury, the Thurlestone Hotel offers high-end amenities with stunning views of the sea.
  • Guest Houses & B&Bs: There are several charming bed and breakfasts in the village that offer a cozy and personal experience.
  • Holiday Cottages: Renting a cottage can give you a home away from home feel, ideal for families and groups.


  • Burgh Island Hotel – An iconic Art Deco hotel on its own private island.
  • The Old Chapel – A unique accommodation experience in a converted chapel.

Hope Cove

  • The Hope and Anchor – A cozy inn with stunning views of the bay.
  • The Sun Bay Hotel – Offers a comfortable stay near the beach.


  • Salcombe Harbour Hotel & Spa – A luxury hotel with a spa and picturesque harbour views.
  • South Sands Hotel – A chic beachside hotel with a sea-facing restaurant and contemporary rooms.


  • The Royal Oak – A traditional hotel with modern facilities.
  • Kings Arms Hotel – Known for its warm, friendly service and central location.

What to Do

Thurlestone Beach/South Milton Sands

South Milton sands beach

Thurlestone Beach is famed for its natural beauty accentuated by the striking Thurlestone Rock arch offshore. This family-friendly, sandy beach offers safe swimming, rock pooling, and water sports, set against a backdrop of rolling hills. With easy accessibility and nearby facilities, it’s a perfect spot for both leisure and adventure. The scenic coastline and rich marine life also make it popular for snorkeling and wildlife watching, providing a serene escape within South Devon.

Yarmer Beach

Yarmer Beach, a hidden gem in South Devon, offers a tranquil retreat with its stretch of golden sands and rugged beauty. This secluded spot is perfect for those seeking peace away from the crowds, with opportunities for rock pooling and coastal walks. The beach is backed by undulating golf greens, adding a unique charm. Ideal for dog walkers and nature lovers, Yarmer Beach provides a serene haven for relaxation and exploration along the picturesque coastline.

Bantham Beach

Bantham Beach, acclaimed for its stunning landscape, offers a sweeping expanse of golden sand against a backdrop of lush Devon hills. Renowned as one of South Devon’s premier surf spots, it draws surfers and paddleboarders alike. Its shallow waters and rock pools make it an ideal playground for families. With the dramatic Burgh Island in the distance, Bantham provides a picturesque setting for beachgoers, making it an essential visit for anyone exploring the South Hams coast.

Thurlestone Rock

Thurlestone RockThurlestone Rock

Thurlestone Rock, an iconic natural archway, stands majestically off the coast of South Devon, near Thurlestone Beach. Fashioned by the relentless force of the sea, this striking geological feature is composed of eroded limestone, creating a picturesque silhouette against the horizon. Popular among photographers, birdwatchers, and nature enthusiasts, Thurlestone Rock is a beloved landmark, embodying the rugged beauty of the English coastline. Its presence enhances the scenic charm of the surrounding beaches and offers a unique backdrop for beachgoers and water sports aficionados.

Thurlestone Golf Club

Thurlestone Golf Course, set against the stunning backdrop of the South Devon coast, offers golfers an 18-hole, par-71 links challenge. Its fairways roll through natural coastal terrain, providing breath-taking sea views and a varied play that caters to all skill levels. The course is celebrated for its meticulous maintenance and the picturesque landscapes that encapsulate the beauty of Thurlestone, including views of the famed Thurlestone Rock. A welcoming clubhouse adds to the appeal, making Thurlestone a must-visit for golf enthusiasts.

Hiking the Southwest Coastal Path

Southwest coastal pathSouthwest coastal path

Hiking the Southwest Coastal Path through Thurlestone offers an exhilarating experience, where rugged cliffs meet the azure expanse of the sea. This segment of the path winds past the iconic Thurlestone Rock, through verdant countryside and scenic beaches, providing a diverse landscape. Ideal for nature lovers and avid walkers, the trail presents opportunities for bird watching, photography, and immersing oneself in the tranquil beauty of the South Devon coast. Each step reveals breathtaking views, making it a quintessential outdoor adventure.

Water Sports

Thurlestone, with its stunning South Devon coastline, is a haven for water sports enthusiasts. The area’s clear waters and scenic beaches offer perfect conditions for a variety of activities, from serene paddle boarding and kayaking around the iconic Thurlestone Rock to exhilarating windsurfing and kitesurfing when the wind picks up. The sheltered bays provide safe spots for swimming and snorkeling, allowing visitors to explore the rich marine life. Thurlestone caters to all levels of experience, promising adventure and enjoyment on the water.

All Saints Church

All Saints Church in Thurlestone, a quintessential feature of the English countryside, holds centuries of history within its walls. With origins tracing back to the 13th century, this beautiful parish church, constructed of local slate and shale, stands testament to the area’s rich heritage. Its serene churchyard, offering panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, provides a tranquil space for reflection. The church’s architecture, with its unique tower and elegant interior, captivates visitors, making it a focal point of community life and spirituality.

Where to Eat & Drink

There are just a handful of places to eat at in Thurlestone. If you want more options, I’d suggest paying a visit to Hope Cove or Salcombe.

  • The Village Inn – A traditional pub presenting classic English meals and an array of local beers.
  • Thurlestone Hotel – A fine dining venue within the hotel, highlighting local, seasonal produce.
  • Beachhouse Cafe – Ideal for casual dining, it offers light meals and drinks with breathtaking seaside views.
  • The Sloop Inn – Located in nearby Bantham, this inn is renowned for its fresh seafood and inviting atmosphere.
  • The Trevilder – Offering a diverse menu with culinary delights ensuring a delectable dining experience for its patrons.

Local Events

Thurlestone Village Fete: An annual event, often in August, featuring games, stalls, and traditional English entertainment.

Travel Tips


Thurlestone experiences a mild maritime climate, with the best weather usually from late spring to early autumn (May to September). Summers are warm but not overly hot, ideal for beach activities and hiking. Winters are cooler and wetter, suitable for those who enjoy quieter, scenic walks. For optimal conditions for outdoor activities and to enjoy the coastal scenery at its finest, visiting between June and August is highly recommended.

Mobile Signal

Some areas, especially on the beaches or along the coast path, may have limited mobile reception. Keep this in mind!

A Final Word…

Thurlestone is truly a jewel in Devon’s crown, offering a peaceful retreat where you can lay on the beach, play a round of golf or relax with a cold pint in hand. If you’r visiting with a car, make sure to explore more destinations along the south coast of Devon, including Salcombe, Hope Cove and Kingsbridge.

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