Ilfracombe has a large tidal range of between 3m (neaps) and 10m (springs). Therefore, there are strong tidal streams in the approaches, which at times can reach 2-3 knots. Care should be taken near the Buggy Pit where there is often a tidal rip. Buggy Pit is marked on Admiralty Chart 1160 and is approximately 3 cables NNE of Beacon Point.

Leading lights (Occ W 10s) have been established to the South of the Harbour and mark the clearway approach into the Outer Harbour. These leading lights together with 3 sets of 2FG (vert) which mark the Outer Pier (North and South) and the Old Quay Head (South) clearly identify the harbour approach. From further to sea the Fl. G. (2) 5sec light atop Lantern Hill guides mariners to the Harbour.

On approaching the harbour, care must be exercised to avoid a number of unlit shellfish store pots approximately 1 cable to the south east of the Pier.

Before entering the harbour, all vessels should contact the Harbour Authority, call sign 'Ilfracombe Harbour' to ensure that visitors berths can be allocated. The Harbour Office maintains a listening watch on VHF channels 16 and 12, the harbour working channels are 12 and 14. This is not manned 24 hours. During silent hours proceed to a suitable berth - see mooring and anchorage information.

The speed limit in the Harbour Authority area is 4 knots, and vessels are requested to avoid excessive wash.