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Ever Thought Of Visiting Burgh Island, Devon


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Mallorie Bain



Burgh Island, located in the beautiful county of Devon, England, is a hidden gem that offers a unique and enchanting experience for visitors. With its rich history, stunning landscapes, and a touch of old-world glamour, Burgh Island provides a perfect getaway for those seeking relaxation, adventure, and a taste of quintessential English charm.


Situated on the stunning South Devon coast, Burgh Island is a tidal island that is accessible via a sandy causeway at low tide and a sea tractor at high tide. This secluded spot has been a popular destination for artists, writers, and those in pursuit of tranquility since the early 20th century.


Stepping onto Burgh Island is like stepping back in time. Its Art Deco architecture and vintage charm evoke a sense of nostalgia, transporting visitors to a bygone era. The island’s unique blend of history, natural beauty, and luxurious amenities make it a must-visit destination for both locals and tourists alike.


Burgh Island offers a range of experiences to suit various tastes and interests. Whether you’re looking for a romantic weekend getaway, a family adventure, or simply a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, this idyllic island has something for everyone.


In this article, we will explore the fascinating history of Burgh Island, delve into the accommodation options available, discover the array of activities and attractions to enjoy, and sample the delectable cuisine on offer. We’ll also provide tips on how to get to Burgh Island and offer some insider advice to ensure you make the most of your visit.


So, if you’re ready to embark on a journey to a place where time stands still and natural beauty abounds, let’s explore the captivating world of Burgh Island.


Location of Burgh Island

Burgh Island is located off the coast of South Devon in England. It is situated approximately 0.6 miles (1 kilometer) offshore from the charming village of Bigbury-on-Sea. The island is surrounded by the picturesque waters of the English Channel and offers breathtaking views of the coastline.


The island itself is relatively small, covering an area of just 26 acres (10.5 hectares). Despite its size, Burgh Island is rich in natural beauty, with rugged cliffs, sandy beaches, and rolling hills that provide a stunning backdrop for visitors.


What sets Burgh Island apart is its accessibility. During low tide, a sandy causeway is exposed, allowing visitors to walk across to the island from the mainland. This provides a unique and memorable experience as you make your way to this secluded and enchanting destination.


However, during high tide, the causeway is submerged, making it impossible to cross on foot. But fear not! The iconic sea tractor, a one-of-a-kind vehicle that looks like something out of a fairytale, ferries visitors safely to and from the island at high tide. This mode of transportation adds to the charm and romance of visiting Burgh Island.


Located in such a picturesque part of England, Burgh Island offers an idyllic setting to escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty, it provides a serene and peaceful retreat where visitors can unwind and immerse themselves in the tranquil atmosphere.


Whether you’re searching for sandy beaches to relax on, rugged cliffs to explore, or simply a place to enjoy the beauty of nature, Burgh Island’s location offers it all. With its proximity to the mainland and stunning coastal views, it truly is a destination like no other.


History of Burgh Island

Burgh Island has a rich and fascinating history that spans centuries. It is believed to have been inhabited since prehistoric times, with evidence of human activity dating back to the Stone Age. Throughout its history, the island has served as a place of religious significance, a defensive outpost, and a luxurious retreat.


During the medieval period, Burgh Island was home to a Benedictine monastery. The monks believed that the island’s isolation and natural beauty provided the perfect setting for their spiritual practices. It is from this period that the island gets its name, derived from the Old English word “burh,” meaning a fortified place.


In the 18th century, Burgh Island became an important strategic location for the defense of England’s shores. A Martello Tower, a small circular fortification, was built on the island to defend against potential French invasions. Today, this historic tower still stands proudly on Burgh Island, serving as a reminder of its military past.


But it was in the early 20th century that Burgh Island truly gained prominence as a glamorous and exclusive destination. The island became a hotspot for the rich and famous, attracting renowned artists, writers, and celebrities. This era saw the construction of the iconic Burgh Island Hotel, which became a playground for the wealthy elite.


The Burgh Island Hotel, with its captivating Art Deco architecture and luxurious amenities, quickly became renowned for its opulence and elegance. The hotel hosted glamorous parties and gatherings, attracting famous guests such as Agatha Christie, Noël Coward, and Winston Churchill. It is said that Agatha Christie was particularly inspired by the island and used it as a setting for one of her famous novels, “And Then There Were None.”


Despite its rich history, Burgh Island fell into decline after World War II, and the hotel closed its doors in 1961. However, it was lovingly restored in the 1980s and reopened as a hotel, once again welcoming visitors to experience its unique charm.


Today, Burgh Island stands as a testament to its storied past. Its history is palpable as you explore the island’s nooks and crannies, and it continues to capture the imagination of all who visit. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply intrigued by the allure of a bygone era, the history of Burgh Island adds an extra layer of fascination to this remarkable destination.


Accommodation Options on Burgh Island

When it comes to accommodation on Burgh Island, visitors are treated to a range of options that embody the island’s history and charm. From the iconic Burgh Island Hotel to cozy self-catering cottages, there’s an option to suit every taste and preference.


The Burgh Island Hotel, a landmark of luxury and elegance, offers an unforgettable stay for those seeking a truly exceptional experience. With its Art Deco architecture and glamorous interiors, the hotel transports guests back in time to the golden age of the 1920s and 1930s. Each room is uniquely designed and meticulously equipped with modern amenities, ensuring the perfect blend of comfort and nostalgia.


For those looking for a more intimate and self-contained accommodation option, there are a handful of self-catering cottages available on the island. These quaint cottages provide a cozy and homely atmosphere, allowing guests to enjoy a true island getaway at their own pace. With fully-equipped kitchens and comfortable living spaces, these cottages offer a flexible and charming retreat for families, couples, or solo travelers.


Regardless of which accommodation option you choose, staying on Burgh Island guarantees access to its breathtaking surroundings and exclusive amenities. Guests can indulge in the hotel’s exceptional dining options, ranging from fine dining experiences to more casual meals, all featuring the finest locally sourced ingredients.


In addition to the luxurious accommodations, the hotel offers a range of activities and facilities to ensure an unforgettable stay. From the stunning Mermaid Pool, an outdoor seawater pool nestled among the rocks, to the indulgent spa and wellness center, guests have ample opportunities to relax and rejuvenate during their time on the island.


For those who prefer a day trip to Burgh Island rather than an overnight stay, the hotel offers a number of day packages that allow visitors to enjoy the island’s amenities and dine at its renowned restaurants while immersing themselves in the unique atmosphere.


Whether you’re looking for a lavish and opulent experience in the Burgh Island Hotel or a cozy and secluded retreat in one of the self-catering cottages, the accommodations on Burgh Island offer a range of options to ensure a memorable and enchanting stay.


Activities and Attractions on Burgh Island

Burgh Island offers a myriad of activities and attractions that cater to a wide range of interests. Whether you’re seeking relaxation or adventure, there is something for everyone to enjoy on this captivating island.


One of the must-see attractions on Burgh Island is the historic Burgh Island Hotel. Its iconic Art Deco architecture and glamorous interiors make it a popular spot for visitors to explore and take in the ambiance of a bygone era. Even if you’re not staying at the hotel, a visit to its exquisite dining areas, lounges, and gardens is a treat for the senses.


For beach lovers, Burgh Island boasts several stunning stretches of sandy beaches. Take a leisurely stroll along the shoreline, soak up the sun, and breathe in the invigorating sea air. The island’s location, surrounded by the crystal-clear waters of the English Channel, offers the perfect setting for beach activities such as sunbathing, picnicking, or building sandcastles.


Adventurous souls will find plenty to do on Burgh Island. Embark on a thrilling coastal walk, exploring the rugged cliffs and picturesque landscapes that envelop the island. The breathtaking views and fresh sea breeze are guaranteed to invigorate the senses. You can also try your hand at water sports such as paddleboarding, kayaking, or surfing, taking advantage of the island’s idyllic location.


No visit to Burgh Island would be complete without a trip to the famous Mermaid Pool. Nestled amidst the rocks and filled by the tides, this natural seawater pool offers a unique and refreshing swimming experience. Dive in and enjoy the tranquility and beauty of this hidden gem, where the sounds of the waves crashing against the rocks create a serene and magical atmosphere.


For those interested in history, the Martello Tower on the island is a must-visit attraction. Built in the 18th century as a defense against potential attacks, the tower stands as a testament to Burgh Island’s military past. Take a guided tour or simply marvel at its architecture and imagine the role it played in protecting the shores.


In addition to the outdoor activities, Burgh Island also offers a range of indoor pursuits. The hotel’s spa and wellness center provides the perfect opportunity to relax, indulge in rejuvenating treatments, and recharge your batteries in a serene and luxurious setting.


Throughout the year, Burgh Island also hosts a variety of cultural events, from themed parties to live music performances. These events add an extra element of excitement and make every visit to the island a unique experience.


From exploring the historic hotel and relaxing on the beach to engaging in outdoor adventures and immersing yourself in the island’s cultural offerings, Burgh Island has a wealth of activities and attractions to keep visitors entertained and enthralled.


Dining and Cuisine on Burgh Island

When it comes to dining on Burgh Island, prepare to embark on a culinary journey that delights the senses. The island offers a range of dining options that showcase the best of local produce, fresh seafood, and exquisite flavors, all presented with impeccable style and elegance.


The renowned Burgh Island Hotel is home to several exquisite restaurants, each offering a unique dining experience. Indulge in fine dining at The Ballroom, where you can savor mouthwatering dishes crafted with the utmost care and attention to detail. The sophisticated and elegant ambience adds an extra touch of luxury to your dining experience.


For a more relaxed atmosphere, head to The Pilchard Inn, a traditional pub nestled on the island’s edge. This historic establishment serves up delicious pub classics and local specialties. Take a seat by the fireplace or enjoy the outdoor terrace with stunning views of the surrounding coastline. It’s the perfect spot to unwind and sample some traditional British fare.


Seafood lovers will rejoice at the abundance of fresh catches available on Burgh Island. From succulent lobster and delicate crab to plump scallops and juicy oysters, the island’s restaurants showcase the best of Devon’s coastal bounty. Indulge in a seafood platter or opt for a beautifully prepared seafood dish that highlights the flavors of the sea.


The island’s emphasis on local sourcing ensures that the ingredients used in the dishes are of the highest quality and full of flavor. From fresh seasonal vegetables to locally reared meats, every bite on Burgh Island is a celebration of the region’s culinary richness.


Of course, your dining experience would not be complete without a selection from the island’s impressive drinks menu. Enjoy a perfectly crafted cocktail at one of the hotel bars, where skilled mixologists create innovative concoctions using top-quality spirits and locally sourced ingredients. Alternatively, sample a selection of fine wines, carefully curated to complement your meal and enhance your dining experience.


Whether you’re indulging in a sumptuous fine dining experience, enjoying a relaxed pub meal, or savoring the flavors of the sea, dining on Burgh Island is a true delight for food enthusiasts. The island’s commitment to culinary excellence and its incorporation of local flavors ensure that each meal is a memorable experience that will satisfy even the most discerning palate.


How to Get to Burgh Island

Getting to Burgh Island is an adventure in itself, as the island’s unique location requires careful planning to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey.


If you’re traveling by car, the best approach is to head to the village of Bigbury-on-Sea in South Devon. From there, you can park your car in the designated car park and make your way to the beach. At low tide, a sandy causeway is exposed, allowing you to walk across to the island by foot. This walk provides a wonderful opportunity to take in the picturesque views and the ever-changing tides.


However, it’s important to note that the causeway is completely submerged during high tide, making it impossible to cross on foot. But fear not! Burgh Island has its very own mode of transportation known as the sea tractor. This iconic vehicle, unique to the island, operates as a ferry, transporting visitors safely to and from the island during high tide. It’s a truly unforgettable experience as you board the tractor and make your way across the water to the island, surrounded by breathtaking coastal scenery.


The sea tractor operates at regular intervals and is operated by experienced drivers who ensure a safe and enjoyable journey. So, whether you’re crossing the causeway on foot or taking the whimsical sea tractor, the journey to Burgh Island is an adventure in itself and adds to the allure of visiting this charming destination.


If you prefer to travel by public transportation, the nearest train station to Burgh Island is in the town of Ivybridge, which is approximately 7 miles (11 kilometers) away. From Ivybridge, you can take a bus or a taxi to Bigbury-on-Sea. Once you’ve arrived at Bigbury-on-Sea, you can follow the same instructions mentioned earlier to reach Burgh Island.


It’s important to plan your visit to Burgh Island around the tides, as the causeway is only accessible during low tide. Before your visit, it’s advisable to check the tide times to ensure that you can make the crossing safely. The sea tractor operates in accordance with the tides, so you can still enjoy a visit to the island during high tide.


Visiting Burgh Island is an unforgettable experience, not only due to its breathtaking landscapes and luxurious accommodations but also because of the unique journey required to reach the island. Whether you’re walking across the causeway at low tide or hopping aboard the sea tractor during high tide, the journey adds an extra touch of excitement and adventure to your visit.


Tips for Visiting Burgh Island

Visiting Burgh Island is a unique and enchanting experience. To make the most of your trip, here are some valuable tips to keep in mind:

  1. Plan your visit around the tides: The causeway to Burgh Island is only accessible at low tide, so be sure to check tide times before your visit. This will ensure that you can make the crossing safely or coordinate your arrival with the sea tractor schedule if you’re visiting during high tide.
  2. Book accommodation in advance: Burgh Island is a popular destination, especially during peak season, so it’s advisable to book your accommodation well in advance to secure your preferred dates and room choice. The iconic Burgh Island Hotel tends to fill up quickly, so make your reservations as early as possible.
  3. Explore the island’s history: Take the time to learn about the island’s rich history, from the medieval monastery to the Martello Tower. The island is steeped in fascinating stories and heritage, and understanding its past will enhance your appreciation of the place.
  4. Embrace the vintage glamour: Burgh Island is known for its Art Deco architecture and old-world charm. Embrace the glamorous atmosphere by dressing up in elegant attire, adding an extra touch of magic to your experience.
  5. Try the seafood: Being surrounded by the sea, Burgh Island is renowned for its fresh seafood. Don’t miss the opportunity to indulge in the local catches, from lobster and crab to scallops and oysters. Let your taste buds savor the flavors of the coast.
  6. Take in the views: Whether it’s from the island’s sandy beaches, the cliff paths, or the outdoor terrace of the Burgh Island Hotel, make sure to pause and take in the breathtaking views. The rugged coastline, turquoise waters, and panoramic vistas are simply spectacular.
  7. Experience the Mermaid Pool: The Mermaid Pool is a natural seawater pool on the island that offers a unique swimming experience. Take a dip and immerse yourself in the magic of this hidden gem, surrounded by the sound of crashing waves and the beauty of the surroundings.
  8. Join island events: Burgh Island hosts various cultural events and themed parties throughout the year. Keep an eye out for any upcoming events during your visit as they offer a chance to experience the island’s vibrant social scene and add an extra layer of excitement to your stay.
  9. Respect the island’s tranquility: Burgh Island is cherished for its peaceful atmosphere and serenity. When visiting, be mindful of other guests and residents, and help preserve the island’s tranquility by maintaining a respectful and considerate demeanor.
  10. Capture the memories: Don’t forget your camera or smartphone to capture the stunning landscapes and moments of your visit. Whether it’s a sunset stroll on the beach, the picturesque views from the island’s vantage points, or the elegant interiors of the Burgh Island Hotel, you’ll want to preserve the memories of your time on Burgh Island.

By keeping these tips in mind, you’re sure to have an unforgettable and memorable visit to Burgh Island. Whether you’re seeking relaxation, adventure, or a touch of old-world glamour, this hidden gem in Devon is the perfect destination to escape and immerse yourself in its unique charm.



Burgh Island in Devon, England, is a destination that captures the imagination and transports visitors to a world of timeless charm and beauty. From its rich history to its breathtaking landscapes, from luxurious accommodations to exceptional dining experiences, the island offers a truly unforgettable getaway.


Stepping foot on Burgh Island is like stepping back in time. Its Art Deco architecture, historic landmarks, and vintage glamour create an atmosphere that is both nostalgic and captivating. The island’s secluded location and stunning surroundings provide the perfect backdrop for relaxation, exploration, and the creation of lasting memories.


Whether you choose to stay at the iconic Burgh Island Hotel, immerse yourself in the luxury of a self-catering cottage, or simply enjoy a day trip, the accommodations on the island cater to every taste and budget. The island’s emphasis on local ingredients and seafood ensures that dining experiences are a celebration of Devon’s culinary richness.


Activities and attractions on Burgh Island are plentiful, catering to nature lovers, adventure seekers, and those with a penchant for cultural experiences. From coastal walks and water sports to the historic Martello Tower and the famous Mermaid Pool, there is always something to see and do.


Visiting Burgh Island is an experience like no other, made even more magical by the unique journey to reach it. Whether walking across the causeway or taking the iconic sea tractor during high tide, the journey adds a sense of wonder and excitement to the overall adventure.


As you explore the island’s history, enjoy the stunning views, savor the delectable cuisine, and immerse yourself in the island’s tranquility, you’ll understand why Burgh Island has been a beloved destination for artists, writers, and those seeking respite for centuries.


So, if you’re longing for a getaway that combines history, natural beauty, luxurious accommodations, and a touch of old-world glamour, look no further than Burgh Island. It’s a place where time stands still, allowing you to create memories that will last a lifetime.