A day out on the English Riviera: Preston Sands, Oddicombe and Babbacombe beach

When I asked my tribe on social media about the best coastal towns for small families, a couple of my lovely Facebook compadres (including my fellow blogger, fabulous Organised Jo) suggested a visit to Paignton. Now, according to one or two of my born and bred Devonshire friends, Paignton has the Marmite effect – you either love it or you hate it, it has a bit of a kiss me quick seaside town reputation.

I am a great believer in finding the beauty in everything and finding things out for myself so last weekend we jumped in the camper and headed down to Paignton – Preston Sands beach to be precise – with our buddies and their kids and I took a few pictures to share with you.

This is The Boathouse. Nestled on the sea front is a cosy looking bar / cafe with a garden (complete with pink rhino), sea views, live music on a Sunday and very nice staff.

The food is reasonably priced, they do good coffee too. We had a Sunday lunch there, I was a bit disappointed at the lack of veggie options, but I love my veg and I enjoyed a roast without the meat.

Here is a filtered pic of Preston Sands seafront, you can see The Boathouse straight ahead, the pier jutting out to the left and the iconic (alleged, ultimate Paignton status symbol) beach huts to the right – looks lovely doesn’t it?

I still haven’t sussed the lure of the beach hut – I mean they are cute and everything but essentially they are just sheds, sheds painted in pretty colours. And this row didn’t even have a sea view! But I am reliably informed that they are highly sort after and are purchased through closed bids.


There is more much to Painton, we just popped to one of the beaches, we are planning a trip back to explore the Geopark, the pier, the Zoo, Broadsands and Saltern Cove. There are also plenty of shops, in fact, until 2009, Paignton also housed the quintessential department store Rossiters, famous for the filming of late 1970’s early 80’s sitcom Are you being served, we also came across this 1980’s special that Benny Hill or Jim Davidson would probably appreciate..

From Paignton we headed around the coastline to Oddicombe, a pretty little bay in Torquay that can be reached via the Babbacombe Cliff Railway. The railway itself wasn’t running and is closed for repairs for a while so we drove down in the car, had a cream tea at the little tapas cafe / bistro Three degrees West and explored the beach.

A rusty winch (I think – please do correct me if I’m wrong). In the background you can see Babbacombe and the The Cary Arms sitting pretty on the cliff.

Pebbles and the beautiful red sand on the beach.

Apparently (according to my mate Viv) Oddicombe is a very popular destination in the summer, the water is azure blue and the combination of Tapas and Spanish music from the cafe makes you feel like you’re in Spain.


From Oddicombe we walked to Babbacombe Bay, this walk is part of the South West Coast Path, Babbacombe Cliffs are a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), for their rock formations, this is a waterfall we passed on the path.
Some Banksy style stencil graffiti on a building in Babbacombe Bay,

It’s a lovely walk and we are looking forward to revisiting the beaches in better weather.

Have you got any stories or tips about the places we’ve visited? We’d love to hear about them in the comments..



8 Comments Add yours

  1. Clare M says:

    We only live an hour away but have never really been to Paignton so thank you for the tips. We will make the effort to go there and some of the other local beaches when it’s a bit warmer! I like the idea of pretending to be in Spain!


    1. Stephanie Darkes @ Exploring Exeter says:

      Pleasure, there are definitely some lovely parts of Paignton x


  2. Abi says:

    We had delicious fish and chips at the Cary Arms before Christmas and were struck by the beauty of the coastline and lots of potential swimming spots

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Stephanie Darkes @ Exploring Exeter says:

      Lovely! It is beautiful isn’t it? We’ll have to try the fish and chips when we visit again.


  3. Yeah! Looks like you had a fab day out in the Bay. When you come back to take in the other side of the Bay let me know as I have a beach hut at Broadsands and can show you why we love the beach hut life!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Stephanie Darkes @ Exploring Exeter says:

      Ah! Excellent, yes please I’d like to have the full beach hut experience 😀


  4. I love all your suggestions of what’s around and the beautiful pictures! I really enjoy taking my son to Paignton seafront because there is so much on for littles but my mum hated it so I agree very marmite! Parking like most places in the SW can be a nightmare in Summer but the great thing about being a local is that we visit places off season to get the best of both worlds x


    1. Stephanie Darkes @ Exploring Exeter says:

      Thanks lovely & I totally agree, there’s one Devon for locals and one for tourists. We’ve had some lovely quiet beach days out of season x


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