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 ’70s. 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 guide to Croyde Bay including where to stay, where to eat, and what to do!
Guide to Croyde Bay: Where to Stay, Where to Eat & Things to Do
Where To Stay
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.
- 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 minutes 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.
- 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 Carp 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 near Freshwell Camping, up by 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. 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 occasional visits from Tambapanni food truck. 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. There are nice shower and toilet facilities, as well as charging points but no electrical hookups at the pitches. Plus, they off breakfast too! It’s quite a small campsite, so book ahead. They also allow dogs.
- [email protected]: Near to the village centre, they have 10 campervan and 40 tent pitches. New for 2021 is onsite catering. Electric hookups are available at a small charge. Free mobile phone charging available in reception.
- Croyde Bay Holiday Resort: This holiday park 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 and a hotel. There’s also a lovely pool, a great kid’s playground, outdoor games, 2 restaurants, and nightly kids and adults entertainment (usually, it’s not on at the moment). It’s owned by Unison, so members get 15% off. Check prices here.
- Ruda Holiday Park: Croyde’s newer holiday park, owned by Parkdean Resorts. They have good facilities including the Cascades Tropical Adventure Pool* with rapids, slides, and a giant flume, as well as a children’s playground, soft play, and kids club. In terms of food, they have 2 restaurants (including an Italian), a fish & chip shop, an ice-cream parlour, and a beach café. There’s also a Costa Coffee if you’re missing your daily fix.
Hotels & BnB’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 Saunton Sands Hotel: Just outside of Croyde, is the upmarket, art deco Saunton Sands Hotel which has fantastic views over the beach.
- The Chalet Saunton: Stunning Apart-Hotel, overlooking Saunton Sands and Braunton Burrows, with 7 luxury self-catering apartments.
- 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.
Things To Do in Croyde
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 an 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 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 and many of the surfing companies 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. 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. The ‘other’ way, with jam first, is the Cornish way. I usually do both!
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 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, 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 Four Beaches Walk
Another great walk is the ‘Four Beaches Walk’ which goes from Croyde, over the hill 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.
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 surfwear.
- 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 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: Takes place in the village (on the space between the Village Hall and the Blue Groove) every Thursday 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 gift shop.
There are more shops (including a Tesco) in nearby town, Braunton.
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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. They describe it as Après Sea’ – I love it!
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.
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.
Where to Eat & Drink
- 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 portions are massive and it’s always super tasty. I’m especially fond of their pâté and the chicken nachos, as well as their breakfasts. They usually have bands playing on a Thursday night.
- 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 and there’s also a playground out the back.
- The Manor House Inn: Wide selection of pub food. A great place for a Sunday Roast. There’s also a kid’s playground.
- 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.
- Sandleigh Tea Room & Garden: This is a nice place for lunch or a cream tea. It makes an especially nice stop after the walk to Baggy Point. They also have a cute garden with pretty wildflowers.
- The Blue Groove: I love the Blue Groove for a casual dinner. I love their ‘Dirty Fries’ (above) and I can say that they serve the BEST banoffee pie in Croyde (below) and I’ve tried them all.
- 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. They also do pop-up events at some of the campsites and new for 2021 they have a TukTuk coffee wagon outside.
- May Cottage Tea Rooms: Love little tea room in a traditional thatched cottage. They served traditional Devonshire cream tea, as well as a selection of homemade cakes, sandwiches, toasties, and baked potatoes. They get all their milk from Milk’s Up Farm Fresh Organic Milk.
- 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.
- Hang Loose Bar & BBQ: Above the Old Cream Shop is the Hang Loose Bar & Bbq, which serves bar snacks, as well as burgers and veggie options.
- 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 (and you know how much I LOVE Sri Lankan food).
- Biffen’s Kitchen: Surf-inspired street food. One of Croyde’s most popular food trucks.
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- Tambapanni: Sri Lankan curries and street food at Georgeham bus stop (Davids Hill) every other Saturday. Details can found on their Facebook page. They’re also at Cherry Tree Farm for May half-term (28th May- 5th June 2021) and then from 9th July – 2nd Sept 2021, 6 days a week (Tuesday-Sunday) for Sri Lankan breakfast and dinner!
- Stoned: Gorgeous wood-fired pizzas, they’re usually in the village centre a few times a week.
- Bay View Farm Fish & Chips: A great place to get your traditional British fish & chips.
- Croyde Bay Holiday Resort: They do the best ham and chips in the area (my opinion) and my dad says they make the best steaks he’s ever had (and he’s had a lot of steaks in his time). Their breakfasts are also very good!
Near to Croyde
- Miles Fish & Chips (Georgeham): Georgehamhttps://www.facebook.com/MilesFishandChips/
- The Rock: 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.
- 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 wee 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: A nice restaurant and bar serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Getting 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.
Parking 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, public toilets and there’s a little cafe to grab a bacon butty or a cup of tea whilst you’re waiting to surf.
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 smaller car park in the village for patrons of The Thatch or Billy Budd’s as well as 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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