Lizzie PopeSee other travel guides written by Lizzie Pope
Croyde and surfing are synonymous with one another. They go hand in hand and, for such a tiny village, its population is swelled daily by the number of surfers looking for the swell.
In comparison to the three-mile stretch at Woolacombe Sands to the north and the even longer Saunton Sands to the south, the beach at Croyde Bay is positively cosy and yet its attraction, with its picturesque location on the North Devon coast, is obvious.
If you want to appreciate the village at its best, truthfully, take caravan holidays in Croyde out of season. This really is a very pretty village, with some quaint cottages along a roadside stream on the way to neighbouring Georgeham (also very pretty) and a handful of shops and eateries along a small parade right in the centre. But its size, and the surrounding roads, cannot cope with the numbers of people who all wish to appreciate its appeal by rushing there on a summer weekend, so you’ll find the place quieter in the middle of the week and away from the summer months, when only the hardier surfers don a winter wetsuit.
The beach at Croyde is run by Ruda Holiday Park that lies behind the small bank of sand dunes, so you can pitch your caravan within a short walk of the beach. It’s not necessarily the best caravan park in the area, especially if you prefer the peace and quiet of a farm campsite and a pretty view (although there are plenty of these within a few miles of Croyde), but it does have all the facilities required for a beach holiday. There’s a beachside surf school too, where you can learn the skills required to stay upright and hire all the gear.
Nearby Putsborough Sands is also popular with surfers. Just north of Croyde, it’s at the southern end of Woolacombe Sands, but the roads are single-track and not suitable for caravans. There is a small caravan park however (approached off the B3343 towards Georgeham) within walking distance of Putsborough Sands.
Between the two lies Baggy Point. A great place for a walk, there are superb views of this craggy coastline where the waves put on a spectacular display crashing against the blackened rocks. Owned by the National Trust, there’s a car park at the northern end of Croyde Bay, which is also within walking distance of the beach.
If you enjoy caravan holidays in North Devon, don't forget there are some wonderful campsites in North Devon, especially near Croyde Bay and there are many more tourist attractions in Devon to see while you're here.
Top five things to do in Croyde
Enjoy lunch at the Sandleigh Tea Room and Garden, a National Trust tenanted property where much of the produce comes from the walled garden. There are great homemade pasties, cakes and more – plus, of course, cream teas.
Visit the Museum of British Surfing at nearby Braunton. This bustling town has the UK’s only museum dedicated to surfing – the home of UK surf history and a celebration of surfing heritage.
Explore the strange, lunar-looking landscape of the sand dunes at Braunton Burrows. A vast swathe of grass-covered lumps and bumps, these dunes look very different to those that back the beach at Croyde. Braunton Burrows, one of the biggest dune systems in the UK, is at the core of North Devon’s UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
Go walking and take in the outstanding views from Baggy Point on a circular walk – the small office at the National Trust car park has recommendations for routes to follow. Various activities from here also take place throughout the year, such as Easter egg hunts for children.
When to visit Croyde
How to get to Croyde
To get to Croyde from the north and east, take the M4/M5 to junction 27, then the A361 to Barnstaple. Avoid the A39 coast road through Exmoor National Park as this has some 1:4 hills at Porlock, Countisbury and Barbrook that are not suitable for caravans. That said, this is a spectacular road to enjoy the Exmoor coastline on a day out once you've pitched your caravan at the campsite.
The A361 is a reasonably fast, straight road with sections of dual-carriageway (and speed cameras) plus plenty of places to pull off for a cuppa. Beyond Barnstaple the approach roads to Croyde – the A361 and the B3231 – become narrower but perfectly passable with the appropriate speed. Anticipate possible delays at the traffic lights in Braunton, four miles south east of Croyde.