Last updated on September 3rd, 2022 at 10:14 am
There’s a little place in Devon called Croyde Bay.
Croyde is one of the most special places in the world to me. My grandparents first took my mum there in the 1960s. My parents have been visiting since the 1970s. And I took my first holiday there in 1980, aged 9 weeks old. I even got married in Croyde!
Each year I make a pilgrimage to Croyde, often visiting more than once in a single year. It’s my home away from home, I know it well and it’s an incredible place to visit.
So I wanted to share my favourite things to do in Croyde Bay, as well as my travel guide on where to stay and where to eat and drink.
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Guide to Croyde Bay: Where to Stay, Where to Eat & Things to Do
Table of Contents
Where To Stay in Croyde Bay
There is a great range of campsites in Croyde, all with space for tents and campervans, some even have static caravans, bell tents, and glamping pods. Most of the campsites in Croyde are open from the April/May to the end of September, so check before you arrive if visiting outside of these dates! I’d generally always advise booking in advance as the village can get busy!
- Freshwell Camping: Freshwell is on the Baggy Point side of Croyde Beach, with fantastic views over the surf. As well as camping they also have a super cute glamping hut and luxury bell tents. From here it’s a 15-minute walk to the village centre. They have surf hire and are home to Hippy Happy Hoppers, a Sri Lankan street food stall, Fri-Sun 8-10 am & 6-9 pm.
- Surfer’s Paradise: This is a pretty basic campsite, with limited facilities (showers, toilets, and washing facilities, but no charging points), however, it’s very close to the beach and the village centre – literally a few minute’s walk to both. Popular with the younger crowd and surfers. I have many fond memories of nights spent hanging out at Surfer’s drinking a few ciders. They are only open for a short time during the main summer season.
- Bay View Farm: This is more of a family campsite, with a mix of caravans, glamping pods, and camping. They have an onsite fish and chip shop which is very nice. To get to the beach you can either walk to the Down End Car Park and swing a right, cut through Surfer’s Paradise or take the path at the back of Croyde Bay Holiday Resort.
- Croyde Coastal Camping: Lovely campsite at the old riding stables. Just a short walk to the beach and the village. They have 12 pitches, all with electrical points.
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- Ocean Pitch: This campsite is next to Freshwell Camping, up towards Baggy Point, again with great views of the beach. Facilities include hot showers, toilets, BBQs, campers’ fridge/freezer block service, electrical hookups, and free WiFi. Also home to Biffen’s Kitchen food truck. They have space for campervans and tents but no motorhomes are allowed. They also have glamping pods.
- Cherry Tree Farm: Located away from the beach, this is a nice campsite with large grassy pitches, hot showers, and toilet facilities. They also have pop-up food trucks and in the summer the Tambapanni food truck takes up residence. The last time I was there, they were playing live music and there was a great vibe. Just a 10-minute walk from The Thatch.
- The Orchard: The most central campsite is The Orchard which is right behind the post office and the old village store (now the New Coast Kitchen). They offer breakfast and there are nice shower and toilet facilities, as well as charging points but no electrical hookups at the pitches. It’s quite a small campsite, so book ahead. They are also one of the only campsites that allow dogs.
- Camping@Croydebay: Near to the village centre, they have 10 campervan and 40 tent pitches. Electric hookups are available at a small charge. Free mobile phone charging available in reception. They have a small food truck onsite with breakfast options as well as burgers and fries.
- Croyde Bay Holiday Resort: This is the more ‘upmarket’ of the two holiday parks in Croyde and has been open since 1930. My mum and my grandparents first visited Croyde Bay Holiday Resort back in the ’60s and my family has been going ever since. It’s also where I got married. It’s changed a lot over the years but it’s still lovely, and just a short walk to the beach and village. They have a mix of self-catering chalets (some are dog-friendly) and a hotel. There’s also a lovely pool, a great kid’s playground/mini golf, outdoor games (including a tennis court), and 2 restaurants. The onsite entertainment and nightlife aren’t what they used to be (much to my dismay) and it’s very expensive during the school holidays, but you can get some good deals throughout the rest of the year. It’s owned by Unison, so members get 15% off. Check prices here.
- Ruda Holiday Park by Parkdean Resorts: So I debated adding this one because there is a lot of contention between Ruda and the locals as they were trying to expand onto the surrounding green areas in the village. But, it’s there, so here it is! It’s generally cheaper than Croyde Bay Holiday Resort, with a wide range of accommodations (some nice, some less so) – a mix of caravans and lodges (some are dog-friendly), and some camping pitches. They have a cool pool with a very fun waterslide and rapids, but when I went with my niece and nephew, there was a 45-minute limit and the pool was so busy you could barely move and we spent most of the time queuing for the slide. They have an onsite shop (the best one in the village), a few different restaurants (see below) and their entertainment programme (especially for kids) is pretty fantastic. And if you like bingo, you can play to try and win some great prize money in their national competition.
Hotels & B&B’s
- The Thatch: If you’re looking for comfortable and affordable rooms, The Thatch is perfect and right in the heart of the action. They also have more rooms at Billy Budd’s (next door), Crosscombe Cottage & The Priory.
- The Whiteleaf: Cute b&b, a short walk from the village centre.
- The Saunton Sands Hotel: Just outside of Croyde, is the upmarket, art deco Saunton Sands Hotel which has fantastic views over Saunton Sands and a great golf course.
- The Chalet Saunton: Stunning Apart-Hotel, overlooking Saunton Sands and Braunton Burrows, with 7 luxury self-catering apartments.
A lot of people choose to self-cater in Croyde as it is one of the more economical ways to spend time there as food and drink in Croyde are very expensive. Some of the popular holiday rental companies include:
- Choice Cottages
- Croyde Coastal Retreats
- Marsdens Devon Cottages
- Ocean Cottages
- Croyde Holidays
- Sykes Holiday Cottages
You can find more self-catering options in Croyde here.
Where to Eat & Drink in Croyde
There are no shortage of fantastic food options in Croyde. However, just be aware that the food in Croyde is generally pretty expensive and you will likely spend a lot of money if you eat out for every meal.
Pubs, Restaurants & Cafes
- The Thatch: I can’t say enough good things about The Thatch, it’s my favourite pub in the whole world. It’s super cosy, they play surfing videos on repeat, their food is great, the staff are friendly, the portions are massive (although not cheap) and it’s always super tasty – I used to love their pate and their chicken nachos (both of which have gone from the menu – please bring them back) and their banoffee pie (best in the village, Blue Groove’s is also good). It’s not cheap though (£14.50 for a Feta & Olive Salad – yikes). They usually have live music once a week and over the road they have a pop up bar for the summer called The Cantina.
- Billy Budd’s: This is the sister pub of The Thatch and right next door. They serve a nice range of pub grub, plus they have 2 lovely beer gardens. They often play sports matches on TV.
- The Manor House Inn: Wide selection of pub food and my dad’s favourite place to eat in Croyde. A great place for a Sunday Roast. There’s also a kid’s playground out the back.
- The Blue Groove: I love the Blue Groove for breakfast, lunch or a casual dinner. My favourite is their ‘Dirty Fries’ (below).
- New Coast Kitchen: This was previously The Stores, and before that the village shop, but now it’s a stylish coffee bar/restaurant. A great place for a coffee, brunch, or dinner. I recommend the pancakes! For dinner, they serve a mix of dishes including small tapas plates.
- Hobb’s Bistro: Intimate bistro which is great for a treat. They have lovely steaks, burgers, and seafood, but I always have the olive and sundried tomato pizza – I love it. Ask for a table away from the door as it can get annoying when people keep coming in to pick up their takeaway pizzas.
- The Beach Cafe Downend: This is a lovely little outdoor cafe located on the Down End Car Park which is on the right as you drive into Croyde. They have great views of the beach and it’s a good place to eat after an early morning surf, especially if you’ve hired equipment from Croyde Surf Academy which is based in the same location. Their avocado on sourdough is delicious!
- Cafe Croyde Bay: This is one of my favourite places for breakfast in Croyde with fantastic views over the bay. It’s a bit out of the village, near Baggy Point, so it’s a great place to fuel up before a hike to Baggy or Putsborough! My go-to breakfast is the avo and feta on sourdough with some added bacon!
- Sandleigh Tea Room & Garden: This is a nice place for lunch or cream tea. It makes an especially nice stop after the walk to Baggy Point. They also have a cute garden with pretty wildflowers.
- Croyde Bay Holiday Resort: They do the best ham and chips in the area (my opinion). Their breakfasts are also very good!
- May Cottage Tea Rooms: Lovely little tea room in a traditional thatched cottage – this is my favourite place for cream tea (with lovely warm scones) in Croyde and they also have a selection of homemade cakes, sandwiches, toasties, and baked potatoes. I love their hot chocolate.
- The Hideout: The Hideout is a bar that serves drinks, cocktails, and pizzas (including vegan pizzas). It’s at the back of The Hub.
- Thunderbird Chicken: Located at Ruda, they do amazing chicken burgers.
Food Trucks & Takeaways
- Croyde’s Ice Cream Parlour: There are often queues out the door for Croyde’s main ice cream shop! They have lots of flavours to choose from. My husband usually goes for the Nutty Tella and Mint Choc Chip, and I usually have a Mint Choc Chip and Cookies & Cream.
- The Hub Croyde: Formerly The Old Cream Shop, this is the best place to buy your pasties in the village! I also love their Kelly’s ice cream.
- Hippy Happy Hoppers: Sri Lankan street food van (and you know how much I LOVE Sri Lankan food) located at Freshwell Camping. They sometimes have live music and were also at Glastonbury too this year!
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- Biffen’s Kitchen: Surf-inspired street food. One of Croyde’s most popular food trucks located at the Ocean Pitch Campsite. Their breakfast bagels are amazing!
- Tambapanni: Sri Lankan curries and street food at Cherry Tree Farm. When I went there last time there was a great atmosphere around the truck and a DJ playing.
- Stoned: Gorgeous wood-fired pizzas (my fave is the feta, spinach and pesto pizza), they’re currently located on the lovely field opposite Ruda and overlooking the sea (or sometimes at the Baggy Point car park depending on the time of year). Bring a blanket, a few drinks, eat your pizza and watch the sunset! The pizza is FIIIIIT!
- Bay View Farm Fish & Chips: A great place to get your traditional British fish & chips. They also serve pizzas.
Where to Eat & Drink Near to Croyde
- The Rock (Georgeham): Down the road in Georgeham, The Rock is what you would call a gastropub and is known for being one of the best restaurants in the area. They also have a good pub quiz I’ve been to a few times.
- Miles Fish & Chips (Georgeham): Food stall, usually open from 5pm – 7pm. Gets great reviews!
- The King’s Arms: Cosy pub in Georgeham with good food, just around the corner from The Rock and opposite the church I got married in. I actually stopped here for a nervous pee just before my wedding! When I and my four bridesmaids wandered in we caused a bit of a stir! 🙂
- Squires (Braunton): There’s Squires Fish Restaurant & Takeaway as well as SQ bar & Restaurant, they’re across the street from one another in the middle of Braunton. SQ has a roof terrace, perfect for sunny days!
- Riverside Cafe (Braunton): A nice restaurant and bar serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The Best Things To Do in Croyde
Visit Croyde Beach
Croyde beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in the UK, backed by sand dunes and gorgeous headlands on either side, it really is a magical place.
The beach doesn’t allow dogs between May and September, but you can take dogs on to the nearby beaches of Putsborough and Saunton, and in the Croyde sand dunes all year round.
Croyde Bay is one of the best places for surfing in the UK! It’s also surrounded by other great surf beaches at Saunton Sands, Putsborough Sands, Woolacombe, and Barricane Beach.
There several great surf schools in the village, including:
Stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) is also a popular activity (when it’s not too windy/rough) and many surfing companies/shops also rent out paddle boards.
Have a Cream Tea
When you’re in Devon, a must-do is having a cream tea. If you’re wondering what a cream tea is, it’s generally a warm scone, cut in half with jam and clotted cream on top of each half, with a pot of tea on the side. Sometimes you may get some strawberries with it.
A ‘cream tea’ is different from ‘afternoon tea’ or ‘high tea’ which usually consists of sandwiches, cakes, and tea.
The most important question though… Jam first? Or cream first? This is a hotly debated topic amongst British people.
If you want to do it the ‘Devonshire way’, you have to go cream first. But personally, I find this a bit messy – plus all you can taste is the jam which is very sweet.
The ‘other’ way, with jam first, is the ‘Cornish way’. I definitely prefer this (sorry Devon) and it tasted nicer in my opinion. Creamy with a hint of jam!
Walk to Baggy Point
The walk to ‘Baggy’ is a great way to spend a few hours. It’s a beautiful and often blustery walk along the headland with views over to Hartland Point and Lundy Island, as well as across Croyde Beach, Putsborough, and Woolacombe.
You can make the walk along the coast path and back again (either along the coastal path you came or up over the top). If you do this, it’s nice to stop at Sandleigh Tea Room & Garden on the way back. You can see a map here.
Or, if you fancy a longer walk, you can do the Baggy Point circular walk via Bloodhills Cliff, on the South West Coast Path all the way to Putsborough Sands. The trip takes around 2 hours. See a map here and here.
You can even walk all the way to Woolacombe and back. See a map here.
Georgeham to Croyde Pub Crawl
Not sure if this is an actual ‘thing’ but every year, my friends and I do a pub crawl from Georgeham to Croyde. We usually walk the 30 minutes from Croyde to Georgeham, which is the next village along. Occasionally we get the bus there.
We start at The Rock for lunch. From there we move onto the King’s Arms, then it’s a bit of a walk back to Croyde to The Manor, then it’s The Blue Groove, The Hangout, Billy Budd’s, and then we stumble across to The Thatch in time for dinner! If you spend an hour or so in each pub, it works out pretty well!
Thrill-seekers will enjoy a day of coasteering, which if you’ve never done it before, is basically jumping off rocks and cliffs into the sea and swimming around the coast. It’s often a popular activity for a stag do!
I’ve only done this once, back in 2011, but it was a lot of fun! A number of companies can take you out, including:
Do the Walk from Croyde to Saunton Sands
Another great walk is the one that takes you over the hill from Croyde to Saunton Sands.
From Croyde village, take a walk up Cott Lane. After 0.2 miles you’ll come to a public footpath on the right, follow the footpath, and it will take you up over the hill and down to Saunton.
At the top, you will get amazing views over the village and the surrounding beaches of Croyde, Saunton Sands and Westward Ho!
Watch the Sunset from the Dunes
One of my favourite things to do is to watch the sunset from the sand dunes.
It’s pretty sheltered but can get cold so wear some warm clothes. If you take any drinks, please make sure you take your litter with you.
Croyde has a few nice shops selling surfwear & equipment, groceries, and the usual holiday souvenirs. They also have an outlet store in Braunton on the way into Croyde.
- Salt Rock: Great surf shop with reasonably priced hoodies, t-shirts, and surf wear.
- Ralph’s Surf Shop: In the centre of the village, opposite The Thatch. This shop is locally owned and run (by local surfer Ralph – unsurprisingly) and has been there for as long as I can remember.
- The Beach Hut: Cute surf shop, in-between the Ice Cream Parlour and the Blue Groove where you can buy brands like Roxy and Billabong.
- Little Pink Surf Shop: This is another lovely little surf shop in between the village and Ruda.
- Croyde Open Air Market: Every Tuesday (and now Wednesday) throughout the summer, the Croyde Market comes to town. Shop for locally made crafts, as well as all the usual market tat! They have it all.
- Croyde Craft Market: This takes place in the village (in the space between the Village Hall and the Blue Groove) every Thursday (some 10 am – 4 pm throughout the summer months. I always end up buying something… usually locally-made silver jewellery.
- Sunday Market: There’s another market on Sundays in the same place as the craft market!
- Post Office: If you need to post anything whilst you’re in Croyde, this is the place to do it. They also have an ATM and a small grocery/gift shop.
- Nisa: The best grocery shop in town is at Ruda.
There are more shops (including a Tesco) in the nearby town, of Braunton. And even more shops in Barnstaple.
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Go to the Sky Bar
Every so often the Sky Bar comes to town.
The Sky Bar is a purpose-built stretch marquee that is basically a pop-up mini-festival/party venue. There are different bars as well as street food and a DJ keeps the party going.
Take the Kids to the Playground
There are a few playgrounds for the kids. As well as the ones at Croyde Bay Holiday Resort, Ruda, and Bay View Farm, there’s also a public playground, skate park, and volleyball court behind the Village Hall.
There are also play parks at Billy Budd’s and The Manor House Inn.
Things To Do Near Croyde
A great day trip from Croyde, is the island of Lundy, famous for being home to seals, puffins, deer, Highland cows, and ponies. To get there, you can take the MS Oldenburg from Ilfracombe.
There are no cars on Lundy and with a population of only around 30 people, it’s a pretty peaceful place to escape the summer crowds. You can also stay on the island.
Cycle the Tarka Trail
The Tarka Trail is a 180-mile figure of eight trail, which was inspired by the route travelled by Tarka the Otter in the novel by Henry Williamson.
On the southern part of the loop, you will find the longest, continuous off-road cycle path in the UK which runs for 30 miles between Braunton (near Croyde) and Meeth. On the trail, you can visit several different towns including Instow, Bideford, and Barnstaple.
You can hire bikes from Tarka Trail Cycle Hire.
Play a Round of Golf
Visit a Theme Park
There are quite a few great theme parks in North Devon that the kids, especially, will love!
Explore North Devon
It took me years to actually venture outside of Croyde itself, but thankfully, in more recent years I’ve managed to drag myself away from the beach (and The Thatch) and see what else is on offer!
There are some amazing villages, towns, beaches, and national parks to explore. I wrote more about it in my post about the best places to visit in North Devon post. Have a read because there are some amazing day trips to take.
Events in Croyde Bay
Croyde has a few great events that you may want to add to your bucket list!
- Gold Coast Oceanfest: This great festival, usually takes place towards the end of June.
- Deckchair Cinema: Takes place in the Village Hall.
How To Get to Croyde Bay
The easiest way to get to Croyde is to drive. This will also help if you plan to explore North Devon.
If you don’t have a car, you can take the train to Barnstaple via Exeter. From Barnstaple, you can get the No. 21 bus from Barnstaple to Croyde or you can take a taxi which costs between £24 – £30.
Where to Park in Croyde Bay
There are a couple of main car parks in the village. There’s the Down End Carpark, which is on your right as you enter the village from the Braunton direction. Motorbikes park free, and for other vehicles, you can find parking costs here. Here you’ll also find Croyde Surf Academy, a cafe, public toilets and showers.
There’s also a car park up by Baggy Point. Parking is free to National Trust members. For non-members, it’s £1 for 1 hour, £2 for 2 hours, or £4 for all day. You can pay by cash, via the app, or by phone.
There’s also a car park behind the Village Hall.
I hope this guide to Croyde Bay helps you plan your holidays and allows you to make some amazing memories as I have!
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