Miles of rolling landscape and estuary walks to explore, a nautical vibe with boats aplenty, cream teas with coastal views – these are just some of the baits to hook you into Salcombe.
Whether you want to stay in Salcombe and look around the town on foot or use the town as a base for discovering the surrounding countryside by car, there are plenty of options for things to do for seniors.
1. Go for a circular walk
Salcombe has many superb circular walks on the South West Coast Path, with many routes to choose from. Starting from Salcombe, you can walk to Snapes Point, but you’ll need to hop on a ferry across the estuary for the clifftop walk to Gara Rock. You can walk from Salcombe to the rocky peaks of Bolt Head, where you can spot kestrels, peregrines, and even wild ponies if you’re lucky.
2. Enjoy seafood in local restaurants
Freshly caught seafood is ubiquitous on menus in Salcombe. Whether it’s a crab sandwich lunch at the Wardroom café, fish and chips at the South Sands Hotel, or a lobster supper at Dick and Willis, the emphasis is firmly on locally sourced seafood, served with an estuary view. Beyond Salcombe, you can sample some shellfish at the Oyster Shack in Bigbury.
3. Coffee and cake
Check out Salcombe stalwart the Wardroom café for coffee and cake overlooking the waterfront. The Salcombe Coffee Company serves delectable home-made cakes, amid a buzzy hubbub of local gossip. For a more sedate experience, try the cream tea at South Sands Hotel restaurant.
4. National Trust action
Explore one of the National Trust properties near Salcombe. Set in lush subtropical gardens at South Sands, Edwardian Overbecks was once home to a scientist and inventor and displays his beetle collection and other natural history and maritime artifacts. Mill Bay, known for its secluded sandy coves, has a 19th-century coastguard lookout and prehistoric field systems and is just across the estuary at East Portlemouth.
5. Explore the shops
Salcombe’s lively main drag, Fore Street, has a choice of independent shops and high names. Browse nautical garb in Quba and Musto, and pretty pottery and homeware in Susie Watson Design. You can find treats for the grandchildren at Tree House Toys and Cranch’s Sweetshop, with its famous pink and white striped bags.
6. Beach walks
Catch a ferry to East Portlemouth for a walk at low tide along the uncrowded beaches of Fisherman’s Cove and Smalls Cove. You’ll be on the other side of the estuary, so you can look back over to Salcombe for an alternative perspective of the town. Or head out of Salcombe for an easy short stroll to North Sands with its Winking Prawn beach café. You could try their memorably named Prawn Juice beer or time your visit for a summer evening barbecue.
7. Relax in a local pub
Pull up a seat by the fire at the Victoria Inn or Fortescue Inn in the centre of Salcombe. They offer local ales and gin menus, and board games for rainy afternoons.
8. Discover hidden beaches
Beaches are abundant around Salcombe. Bantham is a must for Agatha Christie fans, with views over Bigbury Bay to her former haunt, Burgh Island. The long stretch of shingled beach bar called Slapton Sands and its village of Torcross are famous for their WWII history, where a training session for the D-Day Landings went tragically wrong. A monument and tank here commemorates the hundreds of US soldiers who lost their lives. Slapton Ley nature reserve features a freshwater lake with marshes and reedbeds inhabited by otters, warblers and other wildlife. You can have lunch at the Beachhouse café overlooking the broad expanse of South Milton Sands and its landmark Thurlestone Arch or at the School House on the more enclosed Mothecombe beach.
9. Mine’s a Margarita!
With an extensive cocktail menu and a rooftop terrace overlooking the estuary, the Salcombe Harbour Hotel is an ideal spot for a sundowner on a summer evening.
10. Happy spa days
You can enjoy some me time at Salcombe Harbour Hotel Spa, for a half-day and full day, or a short break if you fancy staying overnight. There’s an indoor pool, sauna and steam room, and treatments include manicures, exfoliating facials, and aromatherapy massages.
11. Visit the Salcombe Gin Distillery
If gin is your thing, head to the Salcombe Gin Distillery for a gin-based drink, or book a class at its Gin School to concoct a bespoke bottle yourself.
12. Cookery class
Learn how to prepare lobster and other freshly caught seafood with a cookery class taught by the head chef at the Crab Shed on the harbour.
13. Go Fish
Fancy going fishing? Join the crew on the Anglo Dawn boat to try your luck at catching anything from mackerel to sharks. Charters operate to a variety of angling spots, including reefs, wrecks and the Skerries sandbank.
14. You simply must…
For trips on Salcombe estuary to the sheltered South Sands beach, take the South Sands Ferry, accessed on a novel sea tractor from Whitestrand Pontoon in Salcombe. Don’t forget to bring a pair of binoculars for spotting seabirds. If you’re feeling active when you arrive, you can hire a kayak from one of the watersports places on South Sands beach.
15. Go sailing
Whether you’re a complete novice or nautical expert, Salcombe Dinghy Sailing can offer you a trip on the estuary. You can book a one-off beginner’s class, a cruise with a skipper or go it alone by hiring a boat and discovering the tidal creeks near Salcombe.
16. Rib ride!
For adventurous types, Sea N Shore runs exhilarating rib rides, where you can see seals and view the rugged coastline. They also offer stand-up paddleboarding, windsurfing, and water-skiing.
For somewhere to stay, our Salcombe holiday homes offer some characterful places, from a converted piggery to a former fisherman’s cottage. Most are in waterfront locations, which are perfect for bird spotting or people watching, while some are near the popular South West Coast Path that snakes around Salcombe estuary.
Interested in finding out more? Request more information about our special seniors offers here.