Challaborough Bay

If you are staying in Challaborough itself, you will immediately benefit from the close proximity of the Beach. The beach access is extremely good and the seasonal RNLI lifeguards keep a watchful eye.

As you arrive at Challaborough you are greeted by two reasonably sized car parks, managed by the lower holiday park, Parkdean. There is a charge to park, which is normally slightly less than neighbouring beaches. From either car park you have pretty much a flat walk to the beach itself, a distance which is only really a few metres.

Beach access for boats and watercraft is quite good. There is a small public slipway by the bridge in the middle of the seafront, but this leads you down onto the stream, where children are usually playing. It's fine for smaller boats, canoes and windsurfers, but is not really appropriate for craft requiring a vehicle to tow it.

For the larger craft Parkdean have their own slipway on the western end of the beach which the public can pay to use. This slipway, although well maintained, is really very steep. The park does have a tractor that residents can arrange to give them assistance launching, and we would strongly recommend using this if you have a boat of any significant size.

Challaborough is renowned for its surf, and Challaborough now hosts it's very own surf shop. Although the wave height is not any greater than any of the other local beaches, the shape of the bay and the position of the sand bars gives a particularly well formed wave pattern.

Generally speaking, the larger waves are on the Eastern side, the left of the beach as you look out to sea. The centre portion of the beach is flagged as a bathing area and the right (which is usually flat) is the boating lane.

At medium tide the waves roll over the bar and reflect off the Eastern cliff, making them peel gradually away to the west. This makes the waves much easier, and more pleasing, to ride and directs you towards the safety of the centre of the beach. Once in the centre of the beach the waves are generally less aggressive, meaning it is easier to get back out and work your way back around to the Eastern side. Normally wave sets alternate along the beach, working from one end to the other, depending on the tide and wind.

At low tide the wave begin breaking out on the sand bar. The braver surfers will venture out and ride these waves, which can lead to very long uninterrupted runs. When the surf is small, some fearless surfers attempt to ride the waves breaking over the rock on the western shore, but this is (obviously) very dangerous. The waves at low tide tend to all break at once and fizzle out fairly quickly. There can be quite strong rip out on the bar, so it's best to only travel out there with others.

At high tide the waves dump abruptly on the beach. As soon as you catch the wave you can literally just be thrown on to hard sand and shingle; it's not very nice and will damage your equipment!

For Sailing Challaborough forms a neat bay with Burgh Island, offering a certain amount of security. Unless you have auxiliary power it is probably unwise to venture out any further. There can be strong currents and waves around the back of Burgh Island and to the West there are various navigational risks which could see you trapped under sail.

The prevailing wind is from the South West, and like any coastal area you can normally be sure of a decent breeze from around midday. Returning the Challaborough under sail can be tricky at high tide because the beach is sheltered by the Westerly rocks and headland. When approaching the beach stay between the line of buoys and the rocks and you should not run into any difficulties. At low tide don't forget the sand bar; it can cause problems for any boat drawing more than 30cm on Springs.

To the East, past Burgh Island, the coastline gradually sweeps around to a large headland. Hope Cove is a popular place to visit by boat, with pubs, restaurants and easy landing. South Milton beach and Bantham Beach both have reasonably sheltered boat lanes should you wish to come ashore. At high tide you may wish to venture up the Avon estuary, but be aware this can be rather shallow in places. The Bantham sailing club is based on the Eastern shore as you enter the estuary and they race regularly throughout the season.

Heading down the coast to the west, the coastline is quite rocky and hazardous. It is well worth exploring this area by foot at low tide, before attempting to land by boat. If you do though, you will be rewarded. There are a number of hidden coves and inlets, so quiet and tranquil you will want to throw down the anchor and soak it all in. If you travel a little further round you will come to the Erme estuary, but do study a chart before attempting this. There is a large rocky formation and a wreck right across the mouth of the estuary, just below the waterline.

Water Skiing

Due to the ease of launching, water skiing is a fairly popular activity in Challaborough. The speed limit in the bay though means you will have to travel out to sea; this is best done in the morning or evening when the water is still. Local bylaws do not permit water skiing within the bay. The bay is too small and there have been accidents in the past, so do travel out past the white marker buoys.

Jet Skis / Personal Water Craft

Like most beaches in South Devon, Jet Skis and PWC are not permitted.

Kite Surfing

There isn't really space for kite surfing in Challaborough, and it is a bit too sheltered. Bigbury-on-Sea in the next bay is much more suitable.

Bigbury beach at low tide is very large and flat. The sand bar linking the island to the mainland is a perfect place to set up the kite and prepare your rig. Once ready, you can work across the wind to either the East or West shore and launch. Due to the shape of the coast, you are then already a good distance from the beach and can enjoy uninterrupted runs across either bay.


Challaborough is also a popular launch spot for scuba divers. The picturesque coastline and the numerous wrecks offers unlimited possibilities for divers. There is a well-established diving tutor runs trips for diving visitors.

Sea Kayaking

Again, the coastline presents a number of possible routes and adventures in this area. At low tide the rocks form an interesting web of canals that are best explored by Kayak. For those that want to travel further afield, the island and the Avon estuary are within easy reach. The back of Burgh island particularly is best explored on a kayak, as well as the coastline snaking away to the West. Do be aware of the tides, particularly in the estuary and all around the island.