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best beaches in england

We are planning a trip to London during september and are interested in visiting a seaside area. We enjoy beautiful scenery,
nice restaurants, history, nautical elements, easy walking, and fairly comfortable overnight accommodations. kWhat are some recommendations?

Posted by
4744 posts

The best beaches are a long way from London - I like the north Norfolk coast, Northumberland and the Pembrokeshire coast around St David's in Wales. Cornwall is too far unless you have several days and if it's for this September, the best places will be booked up.

Brighton is in easy reach - great restaurants, history, easy walking as it's mainly flat and lots of accommodation options, but the beach is pebbly. Take a ride along the seafront on the old Vaux railway.

Hastings old town has the same as Brighton, plus it still has a fishing fleet and the small but perfectly formed Fisherman's Museum is worth a visit and the contemporary art gallery. Great fish and chips too! Take the funicular railway to the top of the cliffs. It's less trendy than Brighton and has a more traditional feel.

Rye has quite a steep hill and the beach is a mile or so away at Rye Harbour, but it's a pretty place.

I also like Whitstable on the north Kent coast - plenty cafes (known in season for its oysters), art galleries and a small harbour. It's flat, so easy walking.

In Suffolk, Southwold and Aldeburgh are genteel, traditional seaside towns and are both fairly flat.

Will you have a car?

Posted by
10344 posts

What?! They have beaches in England?
(Edit: ok, I meant "fun in the sun, swim, sandy type beaches, i.e., what many people mean by the word "beach")
:-)

What?! They have beaches in England? :-)

Well, you’ve put a smiley so I assume it’s a joke, but I can’t actually understand what you’re trying to get at.

Posted by
6332 posts

I loved Brighton for an old time seaside resort feel, I loved the pier and just walking along the beach promenade. It was a while ago I was there so may be different now, definitely more touristy I'm sure but that's part of the fun of it. I also loved some of the old buildings in the town. Didn't go there for swimming or beach sitting but it was great for just seaside fun.

And, of course, there's the Royal Pavilion there also which is well worth visiting.

Posted by
7919 posts

I love Kent’s humor... of course he knows the UK has beaches.

Posted by
10344 posts

Susan, whew, thanks for rehabilitating my image!
Why didn't they tell me that England/UK are islands? I had no idea.
But I still don't believe they have real beaches...you know, sandy, sun, warm water, warm weather, you know, beaches.
:-)

Posted by
7919 posts

Kent, you’re a long time gem on this forum.

Posted by
389 posts

There are some lovely parts around the Jurassic Coastline in Dorset. Bournemouth could make a nice base. You have Hengitsbury Head in one direction with Christchurch Harbour and Poole/Sandbanks in the other. Take the chain ferry over to Studland Bay which is beautiful. And yes Kent - there are actually miles and miles of sandy beach here (ok the water isn't warm but in September with the sun out it will be fine for a paddle!). Can also add in a stop at Wareham, Corfe Castle, Swanage, Durdle Door and Brownsea Island

Posted by
10344 posts

Ok, I'm now convinced, the UK/England does have some real beaches. I've learned something. Thanks for the contributions.

But I still don't believe they have real beaches...you know, sandy,
sun, warm water, warm weather, you know, beaches. :-)

So what you’re basically saying is it’s not the Caribbean.

Well, I must admit I thought I spent all my childhood holidays on the sandy beaches of Devon and Cornwall on long summer days in temperatures of around 25 Celsius getting sunburnt, building sandcastles and swimming in warm water but that must be a false memory.

But seriously Kent, I know you’re trying to be funny, but to British people who can’t afford to chase the sun, the beach may be sand or shingle, but it’ll be a lot of fun. There’ll be ice cream, entertainment, lots of sand if you go to the right beaches, warm water if the summer is long, and very many people having the time of their lives. That’s what the beach means to Brits.

What you think is humour, I read as rude & dismissive and coming from a place of privilege as someone who can afford to fly to the sun. Don’t try that approach if you are in the UK.

Posted by
25741 posts

oh 25. Boy that's hot for a beach... Might even come out from behind the windbreak.

Funny how things seen through the eyes of a child seem different when seen through the eyes of an adult...

Guess Benidorm just became popular because Red Barrel was available on tap.

Norfolk - as said above.

Posted by
25741 posts

Weston-super-Mare has sand.

The Jurassic Coast has fossils.

Whitby has Jet

Chambers Dictionary:

Beach

The shore of a sea or lake, esp. when sandy or pebbly.

But to get back to the OP, they were looking for a seaside area (not specifically a beach) with nautical elements, history and beautiful scenery. Portsmouth & its seaside resort of Southsea will give you two of those - it’s got history and nautical stuff in spades. And you could pop across to the Isle of Wight for the scenery. Portsmouth has the Historic Dockyard with historic shops. Southsea has Henry VIII’s castle and a cheerful pebble beach with patches of sand, a pier and all the accoutrements of a typical BRITISH beach (not one that Kent would recognise as a beach though...) The Isle of Wight is extremely pretty with some great scenery.

Posted by
8293 posts

Ken, pay no attention to “This person who writes stuff”. Just being a bit stuffy, that’s all.

Posted by
12197 posts

This is another case of "two nations separated by a common language". For people living on the west coast of North America ( California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia) a "beach" is synonymous with a broad stretch of sand, maybe bounded by cliffs and headlands, maybe with some rocky tidepool areas. But the sand is the defining factor, as in these photos of some beaches onnthe Washington Coast:

https://www.trover.com/d/1ZbSx-long-beach-washington

Posted by
3208 posts

We enjoyed the beaches at Tenby and Llandudno (for walking), although they are in Wales.

Posted by
712 posts

The west coast of Scotland and the Hebrides have some stunning beaches. And potential hypothermia.

Posted by
5630 posts

The Person Who Rights This Stuff has been very helpful and now gone.

NOT a plus! For shame.

Kent where in the H in the Pacific Northwest are the fun, sandy, swim in the sea beaches cuz they sure ain't like the Malibu coast of SoCal. I remember from my years in WA and OR that the beaches were indeed sandy but the ocean too cold to swim in. Beaches were great for jogging, romping with the dog, collecting drift wood and tide pooling but don't recall sun bathing. So weather and grayness much like one might find in the UK in September. Or bright blue skies and sun.

If the poster is driving then I think Lyme Regis might be of interest. Loved my stay there.

Enjoyed sauntering along the Cobb with my fish and chips. There is also a small but well done museum. Also liked watching the behemoth buses make the narrow turn into town as I sat on the couch in the Aroma Cafe while enjoying coffee and a nosh.

Airbnb accommodation. 20 minute stroll into town. Good hamstring workout returning each day as Lyme Regis has some hills. Soothed the pain by making the Nags Head my local.

Posted by
8293 posts

Sorry to have chased away Person who writes Stuff. Huffy reaction to a mild remark about being stuffy. Come back, Person.

Posted by
10344 posts

Claudia,
Pacific Northwest doesn't have "fun in the sun" type beaches either--not like So Cal, Hawaii, or Caribbean. The main problem here is that the Alaska Current flows south and keeps the water off Oregon and Washington colder than adults enjoy--only people in the surf are dogs, kids, and surfers with wet suits.
But once in a while we get the sun, the sand, and warm weather--with only the warmer water missing.
Oregon has stunning headlands that can be seen on a drive down the Oregon part of the US 101.

Posted by
4367 posts

There are lots of options catering for what the OP is looking for. Prior to the cheap mass holidays to the Costa's the majority of Brits spent their summer holidays in coastal resorts around the UK, the most popular having been developed substantially during the Victorian era. Unfortunately many went into steady decline once people discovered and could afford two weeks in the Med however there has been a revival and investment into a number of these resorts.

I like the Jurassic coast. Plenty of gorgeous sandy beaches and coves, warm clear water during the summer in shallow bays, fossils literally falling out of the cliffs, ancient castles, chocolate box villages, cosy pubs, glorious countryside, traditional small and large seaside resorts, fantastic food from cheap but well cooked fish and chips, excellent seafood, hearty pub food to Michelin starred restaurants. Sure, the sea isn't as warm as Florida's Atlantic coast but it also doesn't contain anything that might take a chunk out of your leg or worse! And whilst I'm partial to an outlet mall or two nothing beats leaving the beach and visiting Corfe Castle followed by a ploughman's lunch over a pint in a pub garden whilst sorting through your fossil find. You can't get that in the Caribbean no matter how attractive those palm fringed beaches look. Plus Bournemouth Beach has been voted the UK's best www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-dorset-43140528.

However the Jurassic Coast is far from unique, there are many places up and down the UK that offer a fantastic mix of coastal beauty, history, great food, traditional seaside entertainment through to the tranquility of nature reserves.

Personally I find beaches a bit boring, I'm not one for crisping myself in the sun so lying on miles of white sand lapped by warm waters sounds great I find myself itching to find something interesting to do and that's the beauty of many English seaside resorts. Often sand but sometimes pebble beaches flanked by miles long promenades interspersed with piers some containing fairgrounds, music halls, restaurants, arcades etc. Hotels ranging from the grandiose to modern boutiques and homely B&Bs, restaurants catering for all budgets, cuisines and tastes, pubs, clubs, museums, tacky curios, souvenir shops, history, history and more history. England's seaside resorts are often overlooked for the perennial favourites of London, Oxford, The Cotswolds, Stonehenge and Bath but many people are missing out on so much more.

Posted by
4367 posts

Sorry to have chased away Person who writes Stuff. Huffy reaction to a mild remark about being stuffy. Come back, Person.

I'm sure it's temporary, he's made of sterner stuff. After all, he spent his childhood summers hobbling over pebble beaches to reach the brisk water of the Solent. I'm still doing it!

Posted by
4367 posts

An example for the OP as to the variety one can find in a small part of England. As is typical I'll use my hometown of Portsmouth as an example.

From my house I can take 10 minute walk to the fringe of Farlington Marshes, an incredible nature reserve which is of huge importance for migratory birds during winter, it really is a birdwatching heaven www.hiwwt.org.uk/nature-reserves/farlington-marshes-nature-reserve.

From here you can follow a coastal walking/cycling route (or drive the Eastern Road) that takes you to Eastney where the beachfront starts. Eastney has been the home of the Royal Marines and there used to be a very fitting museum there however it has sadly been moved to the Historic Dockyard.

The long promenade starts here and a short walk will take you to the tennis courts and mini golf pitches to your right and the pebble/sand beach to your left. Looking out to sea you'll see the Palmerston Forts in the solent https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palmerston_Forts,_Portsmouth.

Further along you'll reach the area comprising of Southsea Model Village, Canoe Lake and Cumberland House Museum, a small, eclectic museum with a very good butterfly house. Adjacent to this is South Parade Pier, a restored Victorian pier that encapsulates the traditional English seaside holiday http://southparadepier.net/

Mere minutes walk will bring you to Southsea Castle, commissioned by Henry VIII abd where he watched the battle during which the Mary Rose sank. http://southseacastle.co.uk. There's also a very good micro brewery there.

The newly revamped D-Day museum is minutes away, https://theddaystory.com/, with the Blue Reef Aquarium next door.

Walking further west you'll have thd beach on your left and Southsea Common on your right https://www.visitportsmouth.co.uk/things-to-do/southsea-common-p595201

Carry on walking the promenade will kead you to Clarence Pier, Southsea's answer to Coney Island or Atlantic City's Steel Pier, slightly jaded but worth a visit.

From here you'll leave the beachfront and enter Old Portsmouth, the area that has been at the heart of the Royal Navy, was an important part of the Spice Route (hence the name Spice Island) and from where the First Fleet sailed for Australia. It also has Broad Street, a street infamous for prostitutes and which was allegedly the source if the American term "broad". A fascinatingly historical site which rapidly leads to the Historic Dockyard www.historicdockyard.co.uk.

You can then venture inland and visit Charles Dickens' birthplace.

If you have time then I recommend a visit to nearby Portchester Castle, https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/portchester-castle/?utm_source=Google%20Business&utm_campaign=Local%20Listings&utm_medium=Google%20Business%20Profiles&utm_content=portchester%20castle, one of my favourite castles.

I can reccomend more if you haven't been scared off!

Posted by
2624 posts

I love England’s seaside resorts. I have seen some beautiful beaches in England. I think Kent was trying to be funny, but I didn’t think it was funny, actually I thought it was disrespectful to the British who post on this site.

Posted by
5630 posts

@kent lived in the Pacific NW, know all about the currents and the cold water. Same thing with most of CA where I was born and have lived the majority of my life. Hung out in Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay. My favorite spot was Waddell Creek beach. Not once did I ever swim in ocean, even on sunny days far too cold.
Hopefully the OP will enjoy a day out somewhere like Whitsable, Brighton or Margate.

Posted by
618 posts

JC, your description of the Jurassic coast has me wanting to go there! Like many brits, my childhood was spent in a caravan (RV) in Devon and Cornwall in the days before we could afford Spain. I lived on the beach in Florida for 10 years and now live in landlocked Missouri (uh!) but, I still love going to British Beaches. Its just a different experience and all my American visitors to England love all the quirkiness of the British Seaside. During my stay in the UK this summer, we drove down to the Suffolk coast just to have fish and chips on the coast. Aldeburgh and Southwold are great places to visit for the OP.

Margaret

Posted by
1838 posts

Someone above has given a link to the Daily Mirror - best British beaches. I think about 3 of them do not match the photo. What they call ‘Coppey Hall’ in Pembrokeshire certainly is the wrong photo as there are no chalk cliffs in Wales.

Posted by
651 posts

Ok not a day trip from London.
But 3 miles of Guernsey on the island of Herm is Shell Beach, it has regulary been accidently used by ad agencies when they want a generic tropical beach! Have tried to share an image, but brain and hands arent working today!

Posted by
301 posts

Not wishing to flog a dead horse, but my view of "beach" is pretty much that of Kent, even though the dictionary definition is wider.

JC paints a very accurate picture of Portsmouth - my family's home town and a place I visit very regularly - but to me the stones and pebbles are not a beach (although walking to and from Eastney up to the Still and West is always a wonderful way to spend a few hours)
Bournemouth is decent as a traditional sandy beach, although I prefer Studland Bay - the nudist sections are well signposted as are the detours to avoid it.

Posted by
2746 posts

Returning to Kent's "I still don't believe they have real beaches...you know, sandy, sun, warm water, warm weather, you know, beaches." A friend from Durham reminisces about childhood summer days on the beach, huddling with siblings & parents around a Thermos of hot tea, bundled up in jumpers, hats & gloves. See the book Kingdom by the Sea by Paul Theroux, where he mentions people lying on the beach at (I think it was) Blackpool wearing their coats, "like war dead."