No doubt most first-time visitors will head for places like Ilfracombe and Appledore that hug a coastline constantly broken by wave-lapped combes.
To the east, however, the Exmoor coast boasts the highest cliffs in southern Britain with the Great Hangman, near Combe Martin, soaring to 1043ft or 318 metres.
In between are numerous sandy beaches - exemplified by those at Woolacombe and Saunton - and many sites of special scientific interest. So important is the area that the Taw and Torridge Estuary, together with the dunes of Braunton Burrows, has been awarded the status of a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.
This area takes in the plant-rich Braunton Marsh as well as Northam Burrows. Braunton Burrows is the largest sand dune system in the UK, possessing about 500 species of flowering plants, including a number of rare orchids.
A few miles off the coast is Lundy Island, now owned by the National Trust. It's a haven for puffins, not to mention peace and quiet - it has a tiny human population and can only be reached by ferry.
In contrast with the drama of North Devon's seashore, inland lies rolling countryside, picturesque river valleys, evocative market towns and a welcoming climate.
It was the arrival of the railways in the 19th century that opened up the region to tourism and this aspect of Devon's economy is now worth well in excess of £1billion a year. The region as a whole is a pleasing mixture of farmland, eye-catching country mansions and fascinating buildings set against the atmospheric backdrop of Dartmoor's hills.
One of its most talked-about attractions is the Tarka Trail, a 180-mile, figure-of-eight footpath that takes in many of the places Tarka the otter visited in Henry Williamson's fictional story. Many of these sights have changed little since his novel hit the bookshelves in the 1920s. It was made into a film in the 1970s.
The route takes in the Torridge Valley, where the heroic otter was born, and Eggesford Forest in the Taw Valley where the footpath joins the Tarka Line railway.
It also crosses part of northern Dartmoor and the heather moorland of Exmoor.
Williamson lived in a small cottage in Georgeham and is buried in the village's churchyard.
Among North Devon's great houses is Hartland Abbey, near Bideford, which was built in the 12th century as a monastery. Its gardens wind their way to a rocky cove.
Arlington Court, near Barnstaple, is a treasure-packed Regency house, while ancient Docton Mill boasts eight acres of gardens in a sheltered, wooded valley with a number of babbling streams.
Overall, northern Devon also offers huge potential for those who like to take exercise in addition to sightseeing. Walkers, cyclists, riders, surfers, bird watchers, anglers and an endless list of other activities are catered for. And for families who love traditional festivals, this part of the West Country has plenty of opportunities.
The biggest festival is the Goldcoast OceanFest, staged on the beaches of Croyde and Woolacombe.