It’s no secret that Salcombe is a dreamy destination. Beaches stretch for miles, seashell-coloured houses line the harbour, and you’ll find ‘Salcombe’s best crab sandwich’ around every corner. The coastal town is also a haven for sailing enthusiasts, with plenty of watersports on offer thanks to the gorgeous blue sea. And, if you dig beneath the surface, you’ll also find some slightly more unusual activities on offer.
Have Drinks On the Water
Who needs a bar stool when you could be relaxing on a gigantic paddleboard for drinks instead? The XL Gondolier service slowly take you around Salcombe estuary, in a rather unique fashion. Up to 5 people fit on the board, so grab a few friends and get out onto the water in style.
Get a tour with a twist whilst enjoying dinner or drinks – all you need to do is sit back, raise a glass and enjoy the ever-changing view as the sun sets. G&T has never tasted so good.
Craft Your Own Surfboard
Score some serious brownie points by enrolling the surfer in your life on a surfboard building workshop. Lignum Surf combine traditional carpentry techniques with modern technologies to create bespoke wooden boards – and now they’re offering the opportunity for seasoned and amateur surfers alike to have a go themselves.
As well as the 5-day course, participants will have a face to face or Skype meeting to discuss designs before you get started – you can even replicate your favourite board in timber if you wish. On the course, you’ll use traditional woodworking hand tools to shape your board. No woodworking knowledge is necessary, as the small team at Lignum will guide you through everything you need to know with expert care.
A handmade wooden surfboard is certainly one of the more unusual holiday souvenirs we’ve seen!
Go Wine Tasting… With a Twist!
I know what you’re thinking. What’s so unusual about a wine tasting tour? Well, this one involves getting to the vineyard by meandering down the River Dart on a stand-up paddleboard. Not your standard tour! You’ll get to see the waterfowl of the area up close and personal – keep an eye out for Kingfishers and try to steer clear of the Canada geese and swans. You might even cross paths with a seal on your travels.
Once you get to Sharpham Vineyard, you’ll be greeted with fresh local produce, including 4 local Devonshire wines and 3 delicious local cheeses. The best part? You won’t feel remotely guilty about indulging… you’ve earned it after all!
Hunt Razor Clams
For a child-friendly activity that’s equal parts fun and fascinating, pack up your bucket and a bottle of table salt, and head to Smalls Cove during low tide. This sandy beach near East Portlemouth lies on the eastern bank of the Kingsbridge Estuary, opposite Salcombe, and is one of the best places to hunt razor clams.
It may not be the first activity that comes to mind when you think ‘beach break’ but hunting for razor clams is strangely addictive. Head down the beach towards the sea and you’ll see key-shaped holes in the sand. This is where you’ll find your razor clams. Pour a little salt into these holes, followed by a little bit of sea water, then repeat a few times. After a while, if you’re lucky, the razor clam will slowly slide out from the sand – and it’s up to you to catch it!
If you fancy cooking up your catch, rather than releasing back onto the shoreline, you’ll find a surprising number of recipes online – Jamie Oliver has a roasted razor clams recipe, Good Food magazine serves them with chorizo, and The Hedge-Combers have a delightful Asian-inspired recipe.
Cook Your own Moules Marinières
Embrace your surroundings by foraging your own mussels and cooking them up with some garlic, butter, white wine and cream. There’s a general rule to only harvest mussels when there’s an ‘r’ in the month. This is not only better for you (as there is less bacteria present in cooler waters), but it also gives them a chance to breed in the warmer months.
When picking mussels, start at the visitors’ pontoon in Salcombe and look for the larger shells. This is a more sustainable approach to catching, as these mussels will have had more of a chance to breed. It’s worth noting that mussels found higher up are often less gritty as they have had less exposure to sand.
Once you’ve filled your bucket with mussels, it’s time to prepare them. Scrub off any barnacles, pull off their ‘beards’ and give them a good rinse. Discard any mussels that are already open.
For extra peace of mind, place the mussels in a bowl of salted water and leave overnight – this will give them a chance to filter out any nasties that may be lurking inside. The next day, cook up your favourite recipe and serve with crusty white bread! Rick Stein has a traditional recipe, but if you fancy a different approach, why not try a tomato-based moules provencal instead?