The UK isn’t often thought of when it comes to beaches, there are certainly more obvious destinations, but if you are craving some sea, sand and sun without travelling abroad then this list has a few top recommendations. Beaches in the UK are quite distinct from what you’d usually think of when picturing a beach but they offer a uniquely British take on a summer classic. With fish and chip shops set firmly on the beachfront and brightly-coloured beach huts, bandstands and sand castles adorning much of England’s coasts, UK beaches are a wonderful place to spend a sunny day. Just make sure you plan for the weather!
I’ll begin this list with a personal favourite that I’ve visited quite a few times as I’m so close to it, based in the southwest. Not only does it have the famous beach huts painted in bold primary colours, there is plenty of amusement to be had at the arcades and attractions on Brighton Pier. A trip to Brighton beach really offers a lot more than sunbathing and swimming though it’s certainly a lovely spot for that too.
If your idea of the perfect beach is a meditteranean sandy one then Sunny Sands is the English equivalent you’re looking for. As a result of this, and being one of the closest sandy beaches to London, it means that Folkestone can get quite busy during sunnier spells so be sure to get a towel down early! As Folkestone has long enjoyed its history as a fishing port, there’s plenty of delicious seafood to be found as a bonus.
This next beach is in fact just west of Folkestone; set on the south coast in East Sussex you’ll find yourself amidst beautiful rolling dunes. This is a great beach for the more adventure-seeking traveller as it’s a popular spot for kite-surfing. It’s also just a lovely beach to stroll down, as with all these UK beaches, going for a swim is at your discretion – it may be quite cold!
West Wittering Beach
A beautiful white sandy beach with plenty of facilities to spend the entire day lounging by the sea. Just adjacent to Portsmouth you’ll find a sprawling beach and more brightly coloured beach huts standing out against a backdrop of grass and sand. This is another popular spot for surfing and if you’d like to, it’s possible to hire boards for the day. A great place to learn as the waves here are quite manageable for beginners.
Found on the Jurassic coast just south of Dorset, this whole stretch of coast is in fact a world heritage site as it spans about 185 million years of geological history. It is particularly picturesque thanks to the incredible natural features that have been formed here thanks to millions of years of erosion from the wind and sea. The Jurassic coast includes many beaches and coves that are well worth exploring but I’ve listed Durdle Door as it’s such a beautiful example of a cove with a natural archway jutting out over the sea. This spot is well worth taking the time to explore and wander around.
Another popular and more traditionally British beach close to London with all the attractions and ice creams to supply the great numbers of visitors. Set in Broadstairs, this has all the amenities of a British seaside resort from beach huts to change in, to promenade and pier to walk along. A classic spot for a family day out to enjoy the sun and sea.
Another beach that is just so picturesque, with unspoilt white sandy beach and turquoise sea it has certainly earned its title as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). This beach is one that you might expect to see in Spain as it looks straight out of a travel brochure. Because of its AONB status, the surrounding area has lots of public footpaths and trails for walking which are also great to explore when it might not be hot enough to enjoy sunbathing on the beach. Porthcurno beach is well worth a visit though to either enjoy a day at the beach or to explore the surrounding scenery.
Just a few miles up from Lizard Point which is the southernmost tip of England, Kynance Cove is another gorgeous beach located in Cornwall. And much like Porthcurno, this beach is less commercial than others which means that it can be a bit of a walk to access it but nonetheless very worth it.
Made famous by Ian McEwan’s novel On Chesil Beach which was later adapted for the silver screen. This is technically a barrier beach as it runs for 18 miles from West Bay to the Isle of Portland. Quite a unique beach that can be enjoyed for its structure alone as it’s not exactly one that you would bring a towel or bucket and spade to. However worth visiting for a walk in quite special scenery.
Being close to London means that this is another popular spot but of course, for good reason as it’s a great day out on an archetypally British seaside town. This beach has all the amenities for a relaxing day lounging in the sun by the sea. Tankerton is a typical example of the British beach offerings which is great for a day out away from the city!
Jess Cleave works for Oak Tree Parks who have over 50 years experience in running quality residential retirement parks and owner occupied holiday parks in the South West of England.