With such amazing weather in the UK over the past few months, it’s little wonder we’re all desperate to head out to a beach. As travel’s currently on a standstill, it’s time to look closer to home. The UK’s beaches are incredibly underrated, with sprawling scenery and beautiful ocean hues. From the sandy spots of Scotland to the azure waters of the Scilly Isles, we’re lucky enough to have an impressive coastline of glorious beaches. So, what are you waiting for? Grab your picnic hamper and bucket and spade, and check out my list of the best beaches in the UK.
Looking for a beach a little further afield? Check out my guide to the best beaches in the world.
Whitstable Beach, Kent
Whitstable Beach is well loved for its candy coloured beach huts which line the pebbly beach. Take a gentle walk along the beach with a coffee and pick out your favourite. Undoubtedly one of the best beaches in the UK, Whitstable’s a real hub for independent shops, cafes, and food outlets. Don’t miss the wonderful oyster stalls along the beach, or opt for some traditional fish and chips. There’s even a yearly Oyster Festival for those who are a real ‘shucker’ for seafood. Burn it all off by participating in watersports like windsurfing and sailing. Or simply head to The Old Neptune pub for drinks you can enjoy from Whitstable’s pebbly beach.
Seven Sisters Beach, Sussex
There aren’t many beaches in the UK that boast such iconic views as Seven Sisters Beach. With its long stretch of characteristic white cliffs, Seven Sisters is one of the UK’s finest natural landmarks. The area is so called Seven Sisters thanks to the number of cliff peaks. Visitors can relax and enjoy the views over the beautiful aquamarine water from the beach. See if you can spot the unmissable stripes of Beachy Head lighthouse while you relax. For anyone seeking a little more of an adventure, Seven Sisters Beach is ideal for canoeing and wild swimming. There’s always the hike across the top of the cliffs too, which is tough but promises incredible views out to sea.
Pentle Bay, Scilly Isles
On the stunning island of Tresco in the Scilly Isles, you’ll discover beautiful Pentle Bay on the eastern coast. Undoubtedly one of the best beaches in the UK, it boasts white sand and clear, azure waters. Thanks to its remote location in the Scilly Isles, it’s also likely to be fairly quiet when you visit. Pentle Bay has a backdrop of sand dunes, and while relaxing on the beach you can try and spot the tiny islands of Little Ganilly and Great Arthur out at sea. With a sub-tropical climate, Pentle Bay is one of the warmest beaches in the UK. The water is safe making it ideal for swimming and water sports. Alternatively, sunbathe, relax, and collect sea shells among the white sands.
Brancaster Beach, Norfolk
Look no further for the best beaches in the UK than north Norfolk. It has an entire stretch of coastline that’s declared an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. One of the most relaxed and beautiful beaches is Brancaster Beach. It has four miles of expansive golden sand that’s perfect for dog walking or simply building sandcastles. Come along and fly a kite, or check out the birds and wildlife at the nearby Titchwell Marsh Nature Reserve. Keen historians might like to take a peek at the SS Vina shipwreck. This was used back in WWII by the RAF as target practice. When you’ve worked up an appetite, head to Brancaster Beach’s iconic Crab Hut. It serves freshly caught crab and lobster rolls – the perfect treat for any dinner.
Durdle Door, Dorset
Another of the best beaches in the UK, Durdle Door is also one of the country’s most iconic landmarks. Durdle Door is the name provided to the arch of limestone that separates the beaches of St Oswald’s Bay and Man O’War Cave. Located along the attractive Jurassic Coast, it was England’s first natural UNESCO World Heritage Site. To get down to the pebble beach, you need to climb down the cliff steps until you reach the pretty spot. Sheltered from the wind and with clean waters, it’s a great beach to spend the day. Durdle Door is so beautiful, in fact, it has served as the backdrop to various films including Nanny McPhee, Wilde, and even for Cliff Richard’s music video for Saviour’s Day.
Sennen Cove, Cornwall
Not far from Land’s End, Sennen Cove offers sprawling views of the ocean in all its incredible turquoise hues. There’s over a mile of beautiful beach within the cove, and it’s one of the best beaches in the UK. It’s a hot surf spot for many with top rated conditions, so grab your wetsuit if you’re so inclined. It’s also a great swimming spot within the flagged areas that are tide dependent. Or, simply relax on the golden sands and enjoy the splendid Cornish views. Myth used to have it that mermaids would visit the beach at Sennen Cove, although they turned out to be dolphins. If you’re lucky, even nowadays you can spot dolphins during some parts of the year. The nearby village of Sennen retains its appeal as a traditional fishing village if you fancy exploring after a trip to the beach.
West Wittering, West Sussex
Located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it’s little surprise that West Wittering is one of the best beaches in the UK. A long stretch of sandy beach on Chichester Harbour, at West Wittering beach, you can expect to join a crowd from all across the south coast. Adventurous visitors may like to make the most of the impressive windsurfing conditions. Otherwise, you may enjoy relaxing on the Blue Flag beach. Spend a day at West Wittering beach building sandcastles, or take the scenic walk around East Head. If you get peckish, there’s a Beach Cafe serving tasty hot and cold foods to eat in or takeaway. Right behind the beach huts, there’s a grassy area where you can sit and picnic while enjoying the beautiful views.
Beautiful Sandbanks is a peninsula in the mouth of Poole Harbour in Dorset. Its stunning beach is a long stretch of golden sand and sparkling clear waters, making it one of the best beaches in the UK. The beach has boasted a Blue Flag for over 20 years, reflecting how safe and scenic it really is. This makes Sandbanks ideal for swimming and bathing, and kids will love playing in the sand and making sandcastles. It’s a perfect day out for all the family, with areas for barbecuing, a children’s play area, and a crazy golf course. Active visitors to Sandbanks can participate in water sports and hire equipment like table tennis and volleyball nets. There’s also a promenade packed with cafes and shops for grabbing a bite to eat. Otherwise, sit back and enjoy the marvellous views over Studland and Old Harry Rocks.
Whitley Bay, Tyneside
Whitley Bay in the north east of England is another Blue Flag award-winning beach, as well as one of the best beaches in the UK. With its gorgeous golden sands, Whitley Bay stretches all the way from Whitley Bay North to St Mary’s Lighthouse. Whitley Bay beachfront began as an iconic holiday resort back in the Victorian era, where there was a funfair and a bathing area. Nowadays, it’s still a popular holiday destination and perfect for swimming thanks to its clean water. Visitors to Whitley Bay can enjoy long walks along the promenade, and also The Links with their beautiful beach backdrop. You can stop off at the Rendezvous Cafe for a cup of tea and some refreshments. Don’t forget to take the kids along too – they’ll love the annual sandcastle competition each summer.
Scarista Beach, Lewis & Harris
The islands of Lewis & Harris in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides offer beautiful deserted beaches and turquoise waters. In the south of the Isle of Harris, you’ll find the incredible Scarista Beach. Facing the Atlantic Ocean, you’ll find miles of golden sands and gorgeous views across the Sound of Taransay. One of the best beaches in the UK, Scarista Beach is scattered with seashells and backed by dunes. Thanks to the aquamarine waters, it’s hard to believe you’re even in Scotland. Scarista Beach is perfect for surfing (just don’t forget that wetsuit!) and you may be lucky enough to spot seals in the water. Eagles are known to fly overhead, and deer even walk down to the beach. The Isle of Harris Golf Club in nearby Scarista is a great course for after a day at the beach.
Rhossili Bay, Gower Peninsula
Undoubtedly one of the best beaches in the UK, Rhossili Bay is part of the scenic Gower Peninsula coast. With large stretches of golden sand and coves, Rhossili Bay is three miles long and relatively untouched. Surrounded by limestone cliffs, you can discover the remains of the Norwegian shipwreck Helvetica, dating back to the late nineteenth century. Rhossili Bay offers perfect conditions for surfing and water sports, as well as simply relaxing. Enjoy one of the gorgeous coastal walks for the spectacular views. See if you can spot the iconic Gower landmark of Worms Head and the many cliffs. You may even spot some seals or dolphins on a breathtaking walk if you’re lucky.
Camber Sands, Sussex
Camber Sands is a vast stretch of golden sand and home to the only sand dune system in East Sussex. It looks so exotic, in fact, that it has been used as the backdrop for a number of film locations where desert shots are required. The shore itself spans across nearly five miles – with such open space, you’ll find a lot of power kites. This makes the beach a very colourful place to be. It’s the perfect getaway with stunning views of sand and sea, unlike the shingle beaches along the rest of the Sussex coast. One of the best beaches in the UK, Camber Sands is so vast it’s likely you can find a secluded spot to enjoy. Head to the western end where the River Rother meets the sea for one of the prettiest parts of the beach.
If you’re looking for a great day out near the sea, discover my list of the best seaside towns in the UK to explore.
That’s my roundup of the best beaches in the UK! Are there any beaches you think I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments below.