Whatever the weather, Salcombe and the surrounding area have an amazing choice of half-term activities for the whole family. Whether you’re here for a day trip, a weekend or a week-long holiday, the miles of sandy beaches, child-friendly museums, numerous watersports and locally made ice cream mean that everyone will find something they want to do.
1. Half-term activities for those who want to keep active
Explore Salcombe’s seashore along the South West Coast Path. From spectacular cliff walks to lazy meanderings along the beach, the path is an ideal location for spotting wildlife like kestrels and peregrine falcons and for scrambling down to secluded coves. For the best views of the surrounding coastline, from your Salcombe holiday home, climb up to the jagged rocks at Bolt Head and rest with a picnic lunch when you get to the top. There are also many circular walks around Salcombe, if you don’t fancy going back the way you come when out on a hike.
2. Life’s a beach
Sandy beaches abound in Salcombe. Rockpooling, sea tractor rides and making sandcastles are just some of the beach-related activities you can do in and around town. Catch a ferry to East Portlemouth for a walk at low tide along the uncrowded beaches of Fisherman’s Cove and Smalls Cove. An easy short walk from Salcombe goes to North Sands with its Winking Prawn beach café. Overlooking the beach, it serves Salcombe Dairy ice cream for the little ones and Prawn Juice beer for the grown-ups.
3. All aboard!
There are also half-term activities perfect for boat lovers. For instance, you can dive into local history at the Salcombe Maritime Museum, featuring treasure from local shipwrecks. Models of sailing ships, schooner photographs and Second World War artefacts portray Salcombe’s nautical past. Among the museum’s interactive displays bringing history alive for younger visitors is a treasure chest overflowing with pirate dressing-up clothes.
4. Get creative
At Paper Bird Island in Salcombe, kids can decorate animal shapes and hanging birds with shiny paper, coloured sand, paint, crayons, glitter and pens. In Kingsbridge just north of town, you can paint pottery at the Art Café, or get a ceramic memento of your child’s footprint or handprint.
5. Action stations
If rain stops outdoor play, younger kids can still get active at Kidz & Co Soft Play Café. The soft play area is for 0 to 7 years olds, and has a café for coffee and cake or a healthy family lunch. At Beesands east of Salcombe, Forest and Beach run outdoor activities for children, including forest school, archery and coastal days. Kids can get stuck into den-building, campfire cooking, rock pooling and beachcombing.
6. Fun at the farm
There are pigs and ponies aplenty at Pennywell Farm – and piglets, if you arrive at the right time of year. In nearby Buckfastleigh, Pennywell has loads of opportunities for children to experience farm life first-hand, like milking the goats, collecting eggs, and bottle feeding lambs and kids, as well cuddling a pet at teatime. There are also tractor rides, go-karts, pond dipping activities, and ferret and miniature pig racing.
7. Water babies
From sailing lessons in the scenic Salcombe estuary with Salcombe Dinghy Sailing to supervised surfing lessons with the Bantham Surfing Academy, Salcombe has loads of choice on the watersports front. Discovery Surf School runs surf camps in nearby Bigbury on Sea, where you can drop your children off in the morning and take some time out to laze on the beach. In the summer months, you can go for a dip in Salcombe’s outdoor heated pool. For the adventurous ones in your family, Sea N Shore operates exciting rib rides and water-skiing trips, as well as windsurfing and stand-up paddleboarding.
8. Target practice
For older children, check out their shooting skills at the air rifle target range at the Salcombe Shooting School. You can join them in testing your ability with short-range and animal knock down targets and more challenging long-range and moving targets, under an instructor’s supervision.
9 Park life
Of course you need to include some all-day theme park action in your half-term activities. Here you can visit Woodlands near Dartmouth. If you’re feeling brave, venture on the Vertigo and Avalanche rides. Or you could also hop on to the bumper boats for a slightly less challenging experience. Parrots, meerkats and boa constrictors are just some of the animals in the Zoo Farm, while in the falconry centre you can see flying displays of owls, hawks and other birds of prey.
10 National Trust spots
Children will love exploring the Edwardian house Overbeck’s, which was once home to an eccentric scientist and inventor. On display is his beetle collection and other natural history and maritime artefacts. And there’s also an organ to play and Fred the friendly ghost to find.
The exotic subtropical gardens are perfect for a game of hide and seek afterwards. Just across the estuary at East Portlemouth is South Sands and the National Trust’s Mill Bay. Known for its secluded sandy coves, you can peer out over the shoreline through a telescope at the Prawle Point Visitor Centre.