Easter Break on the North Devon coast.

South West Coast Path

Things to do in and around Ilfracombe while staying at Ocean Backpackers.

Just because the Southwest Coastal Path stretches over 600 miles from Minehead to Poole, doesn’t mean you’ll never have the time or the means to walk it.

Many people choose to experience this wonderful trail in sections when time and life allows. If, like me, your wild camping days are over, but you are still on a budget, Ocean Backpackers Independent hostel is the perfect base from which to explore some magnificent sections on the North Devon coast. Spanning an area of outstanding natural beauty which is home to Exmore National Park and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. incorporating some stunning views, flora and fauna, you will definitely not be disappointed.

The Southwest Coast Path is best walked between March and October. However, July and August are very busy with tourists so If dry weather is what you’re after, the months with the lowest chance of significant rainfall on the North Devon Coast are April and September. So, dig out those walking boots and book and Easer break at Ocean Backpackers.

From Ocean Backpackers you can walk the path to Woolacombe or Croyde or the opposite direction to Coombe Martin. Valley of The Rocks or even Lynmouth. There are regular buses to and from both Woolecombe and CoombeMartin.

If your preferred method of transport is two wheels, then you’ll be interested to know that the National Cycle Network (NCN) Route 27, 99-mile Devon Coast to Coast route from Ilfracombe to Plymouth, combines the beaches and estuaries of North Devon with the lush green valleys of West Country rivers. Many sections are traffic-free and flat, making them ideal for families or less experienced cyclists.

Although Exmoor is hilly, it offers cycling for all abilities. From the challenging hills and descents, on or off road, to less energetic routes for those willing to do a bit of advance planning and map reading. We also offer secure and dry storage for up to 25 bikes at Ocean Backpackers.

Remember there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes and we have a coat and boot drying room at Ocean Backpackers, so even if you do get caught out, you can start your next day dry!

Swimming & Surfing:
Situated in the picturesque Harbour area of Ilfracombe Ocean Backpackers is only a 10-minute drive from the award-winning beach of Woolacombe, which has 3 miles of golden sand and a further 10-minute drive to Croyde which has a smaller beach and a chocolate box village, and Saunton Sands, which boasts 4 miles of golden sands and the largest sand dune system in the UK and part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. All these beaches offer surf hire & lessons and in Croyde you can go Coasteering.

North Devon, and particularly Woolacombe has some of the finest surfing in the UK. Strong westerly swells from the Atlantic Ocean roll in to our long, gently shelving sandy beaches. There’s no doubt about it: the best time to surf is autumn. Furthermore, the sea is at its warmest during early autumn, so it’s a win win for all sea sports including open water swimming.

At Ocean Backpackers we have place to wash and dry your wetsuits and secure dry storage for your boards.

For swimming you don’t have to get in your car. From Ocean Backpackers it is about a 6-minute walk to Tunnels Beaches. These tunnels were hand-carved in the 1820s, leading to a sheltered bathing area, a tidal pool and a cafe/bar. Very popular with families there is a small fee to enter and some spectacular rock pools.

Also within walking distance from the hostel is Rapparee Cove, is a local swimming spot and Hele Bay, another great bathing spot, where Hele Bay Adventures offer Kayaking and SUP hire.
Broadsands beach in Berrynarbor and Combe Martin also offer a more sheltered sea swimming experience and can reached from Ilfracombe by foot or bus.

Lundy & Diving:
Our location makes us very convenient for all the boat trips, including the Oldenburg which goes to Lundy from Ilfracombe twice a week.
Lundy, meaning “Puffin Island” in old Norse, is called so, due to these enduring inhabitants. Also, home to a host of other seabirds’ birds such guillemots and razorbills and surrounded by some interesting sea life such as seals and porpoises, making it very popular with diving groups.

In fact, Lundy’s Marine Protected Area is one of the prime diving sites in the British Isles with spectacularly clear waters, a diversity of marine life and many wrecks to explore. To date, over 200 ships foundering on Lundy have been recorded, ten of which are recognised dive sites. Easy Divers and Wild Frontier Charters offer guided dives.

A 2-hour boat trip from Ilfracombe Harbour will take you to this 3 miles long and 5 mile wide Island with sheer cliffs is owned by the National Trust and managed by The Landmark Trust its cliffs make it popular with climbing groups too.

Sea Safaris & Fishing:
Ilfracombe Sea Safaris offer exhilarating safaris for up to 12 passengers in their Humber Ribs. These safe and stable boats enable you to get up close and personal with the North Devon wildlife. The Sea Swift is s bespoke built catamaran offering wildlife & coast cruises, fishing trips, Swim with seals and much more.
Bluefin Charters also offer fishing trips and wildlife adventures.

Things to do on a rainy day in Ilfracombe:

Ilfracombe has a multiscreen cinema that shows live theatre performances as well as popular films. The cinema has a licence and offers plenty snacks so you can really make an evening or afternoon of it on a rainy day.

Believe it or not, Ilfracombe also has an Aquarium that has local aquatic exhibits and is an award winning local educational attraction. It is located in the old lifeboat house in the pier in the Harbour.

If you are looking something a bit different, Ilfracombe has its very own museum located in an historic building next to the theatre. This museum houses some unusual finds, such as a shrunken head and a collection of pickled bats. First opened in August 1932 Ilfracombe Museum has eight rooms for you to explore, with almost 28,000 items in the collection including natural history, Victoriana, taxidermy, local history and much, much more. This is a great place to take young children on a rainy day.
Another interesting fact about this picturesque seaside town is that is has its own Chocolate Emporium that produces exquisite, award-winning handmade chocolates and is a both a shop and museum. It also offers tutorials and workshops through the year so could prove another welcome distraction on a rainy day!

A little bit further afield is Dinosaur & Wildlife Park and another great activity for younger children. A family run park set in a Combe Martin valley over 28 acres of spectacular gardens and as well as wolves, sea lions, African lion, primates, penguins to name a few, they are known for their impressive life size animatronic dinosaurs & gigantic Dinosaurus Playzone!

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