You might not get to Rio this summer but if you’re craving a beach you’ll be amazed at what we’ve got on offer in the UK. So, whether it’s romance or family time you need, you can enjoy your very own beachside staycation without boarding a flight (we just can’t guarantee the weather!)
Peace and Quiet Beaches
If you need to escape the city and travel solo or take a romantic break you can’t get more off the beaten track than the Outer Hebrides..
#1 Luskentyre, the Outer Hebrides - described as “the largest and most spectacular of all the Harris beaches” by Visit Outer Hebrides is a small settlement with vast sand dunes and crystal clear azure waters that are more in keeping with the Caribbean than Scotland.
Conde Naste recommends Scarista House, an old mansion with stunning views, here’s the list of the best.
For a spot of culture plan your trip in August for the Harris Tweed Festival Day, or if you’re up for a complete lifestyle change check out Workaways for local volunteer opportunities.
#2 Western Lake District – for romance the Western Lake Romantic Top Ten covers stays in tiny inns at the heart of the forest to fabulous spa retreats.
The Walking Englishman is a seasoned hiker here and gives a fantastic lowdown on walks from 1 mile to 15 miles to suit all abilities.
#3 Spit bank Fort, Solent – A picture speaks a thousand words and this find will totally blow you away. Why stay by the sea when you can live in the sea? This unique island fortress in the Solent is equipped with a rooftop hot tub, super Kingsize beds and a private boat from Gunwharf Quays. Perfect for romantic proposals, an opulent weekend getaway from the kids or a party under the stars. Start saving though as the best deal we could find is £750 a night with Virgin!
Travel blogger It’s All Bee has checked it out and shares what to expect (her trip was in May so expect a calmer sea) “With a tricky entry onto the fort due to rough seas, on arrival we were met with glasses of wine and canapes. Then a tour of the fort with a little historical detail of the living conditions of the soldiers that guarded the seas from within the fort”. We love her extra tip “There is a spring running 401 feet beneath the fort so you can quench your thirst”!
#4 Pembrokeshire, Barafundle Bay - Voted one of the best beaches in the world, and compared to a Caribbean island, Barafundle Bay is an isolated beach only accessible by a half mile walk and no amenities.
Not ideal for those with buggies and pushchairs but it’s a great family spot (and dogs are allowed all year round) with incredible crystal clear waters for swimming.
#5 Ullapool, Scotland – As well as visiting the stunning scenery and amazing lochs that Scotland has to offer, Ullapool boasts some fantastic heritage as well as the small communities of Achltibuie and Polbain who still croft and fish to support the community. You can sample all the local produce at most of the bars too, perfect.
Family Friendly beaches
#6 Northumberland, Seahouses – As one of only a few places in the UK to see Puffins and seal colonies, Seahouses is a seaside fishing town known as ‘The Gateway to the Farne Islands‘.
A great place to enjoy one of Europe’s most important bird sanctuaries as well as take a boat out to visit the Farne Islands and the famous Longstone Lighthouse. Stay at one of the local B&B’s or try out a farmstay or paddock if you’re travelling with kids.
#7 Isle of Wight, Nettlecombe Farm – Whether it’s fishing, yoga or family trips to the beach the Isle of Wight is full of adventure. Plus, with it only taking 1 hour to drive around the whole island and a ton of family friendly activities for all ages from clay making in a Roman villa to a fabulous local farmstay like Nettlecombe Farm.
It comes highly recommended as a stress free parenting destination by award winning Parent blogger Mummys Travels “just the right level of chilled out and practical’ and that ‘there’s play areas on site, the chance to feed the animals and self-catering which means no worries about fussy toddler meals.’ Watch her full review below.
#8 Watergate Bay, North Cornwall - One of Cornwall’s most famous beaches Watergate Bay is a huge expanse of sand on the North Cornish coast, riddled with hidden caves and rockpools, and the odd bit of celebrity spotting! Perfect for thrill seeking couples or families. To fully immerse in the sports on offer check yourself into the Watergate Bay Hotel – the only hotel on this 2 mile stretch of beach. Offering surfing, kitesurfing, waveski, stand-up paddlesurf and you can even learn all about the latest craze – handplaning.
#9 Tenby, Wales – Tenby has some of the most picturesque coastal walks imaginable, one in particular having fabulous views of Saundersfoot Bay from the headland at Monkstone Point. Although 4.5 miles long, it’s definitely with the effort. The town is picture perfect with Victorian houses painted in sugared almond colours.
#10 Sandbanks, Dorset – Last but by no means least is Sandbanks , recently voted one of the most scenic and safest beaches in Britain and the UK version of Palm Springs, Florida. With a reputation as the most expensive coastal location in the UK (Waterfront houses here sell for roughly £1,000 per sq ft, which is about what you’ll pay for a smart property in Clapham, south London) this is also a place for some serious celebrity spotting.
This family destination has something for everyone. For the adventurous try your hand at some the many water sports on offer, everything from paddle boarding, wake boarding, kitesurfing, the list goes on. Plus they claim to be the ‘premier centre for water-babies of all ages, skills and fearlessness’!
So that’s the lowdown to our Top 10 UK Beaches of all time! If you need inspiration on the best UK walks check out our earlier post or for other summer holiday ideas take a look at our Summer Experiences.
Missed your favourite beach? Share it with us in the comments below. Happy Holidays!