Porthminster Beach St Ives - Beaches of England

The Best Beaches in England

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If you have ever flown over some of the coastlines in the UK, you would have noticed some of the best beaches in England. They look absolutely magical from above, and even better when up close. England isn’t actually that well-known for its beaches, but this list of the best beaches of England will make you think maybe it should be!

We’ll explain the reasons why these beaches are some of the best. The majority have won Blue Flag awards highlighting their high environmental and quality standards as well as Seaside awards from the Keep Britain Tidy organisation. For a full list, check out this link for more inspiration.

Some beaches you may have heard of and some will be a pleasant surprise! Whether the English climate calls for flip flops or wellies, ice creams or hot chocolate, a trip to the beach promises to leave rosy cheeks, smiles all around and new places discovered.

Looking for the best beach in a certain area of England? Head straight to the best of them here:

South West best beaches of England

 – Fistral Beach, Cornwall

Newquay’s iconic beach

Cornwall has over 100 beaches with an impressive 15 of them winning top awards.

One of the South West’s most famous beaches is Fistral Beach. Its golden sands offer a perfect family beach day along with being one of the most consistent and best surfing beaches in the UK and Europe. Seafront facilities include restaurants, cafes, showers, toilets, car parking as well as surf equipment hire, lessons and boutiques.

Fistral Beach - Photo by Roger Green/Flickr
Fistral Beach – Photo by Roger Green/Flickr

– Great Western Beach, Cornwall

A quieter golden beach that’s still close to Newquay town centre

Newquay has miles of golden sands across its twelve beautiful beaches. Whilst Fistral Beach was mentioned earlier, Great Western Beach is well worth shouting out. It’s a quieter but still a popular family beach and comprises of several coves offering some degree of seclusion. There is a steep winding path down to the beach, but plenty to see and do as it is only a 2-minute walk from Newquay’s town centre.

Great Western Beach Newquay Cornwall England
Great Western Beach, Newquay – one of the best beaches in Cornwall, England

– Porthminster Beach, Cornwall

One of England’s most Instragrammed beaches

Visiting St. Ives in Cornwall is one of the most sought after summer activities in England. It’s known as a magical town with a laid-back atmosphere and Mediterranean charm that attracts thousands each year. The golden beaches are Cornwall’s pride and joy. The water quality is excellent and attractive to both swimmers and surfers.

There are so many St. Ives beaches to choose from with Porthminster Beach being one of the most popular and most Instagrammed. With its pretty town background and tall palm trees, the turquoise ocean is inviting, all whilst being within one of the protected bays. World-class seafood and culinary delights are tempting before a much needed picturesque coastal walk to soak in the views and work off that extra portion of fresh gourmet cuisine!

Beach wheelchairs are available from Porthminster Beach Cafe.

Porthminster Beach, St Ives
Porthminster Beach St Ives Cornwall – best beaches of England

Other beautiful beaches in St. Ives that are worth mentioning are St. Ives Harbour Beach, Porthgwideen Beach, Porthmeor Beach and Bamaluz Beach.

If you are looking for tide times, check out Cornwall Tides which covers every beach in the area!

– Perranporth Beach, Cornwall

Perranporth is one of those English beaches that comes up again and again in conversation. It’s popular due to the vast size and width of the golden sands, meaning there is space for everyone. It’s a great place for enjoying the sea, surfing, snorkelling and sailing.

Hugged by the rugged North Cornwall coast, the scenery is dramatic yet only a short distance away from many of Cornwall’s great attractions. Perranporth’s seaside resort town has plenty to do and is close enough to enjoy everything it has to offer on a perfect beach day out.

Beach Wheelchairs are available from Perranporth Gardens.

Perranporth Beach, Cornwall
Perranporth Beach, Cornwall – one of South West England’s best beaches

– Summerleaze Beach, Cornwall

Bude’s best loved beach with famous Bude Sea Pool

This beach has level access from many of Bude’s car parks with a sheltered sandy beach from the breakwater. The river makes a great splash area for the kids and there are plenty of cafes, shops, facilities and amenities available. Beach huts are also available to hire.

Situated just 5 minutes away from the centre of beautiful Bude, Summerleaze Beach is a less well-known delight. It’s unique in that it has a sea pool; part manmade, part natural rock pool which is cleaned daily by the tide and is loved by many swimmers.

Beach wheelchairs are available from Summerleaze Beach Office.

Summerleaze Beach, Bude - one of Cornwall's best beaches in England
Summerleaze Beach, Bude – one of Cornwall’s best beaches

Other popular beaches close to Bude are the award-winning Widemouth Bay and National Trust’s Sandymouth Bay which is much quieter than the main beaches.

– Croyde Beach, North Devon

The surfing mecca of the south west

Known as the surfing capital of North Devon, at low tide Croyde Beach benefits from consistent world-class A-frame barrels. There are plenty of surf schools to get on the water and the pretty village of Croyde is certainly worth a visit.

The beach is sandy and is set against a backdrop of dunes. There is a wide expanse of rock at both ends of the beach, which makes for excellent rock pooling.

Croyde beach has great facilities, deserving its place as one of the best beaches in England. However, swimmers should heed caution as the rip can be very strong, especially at the far right and left hand side of the bay at low tide. If you are looking for a family friendly beach that is safer, consider heading to nearby Saunton Sands Beach.

Croyde Beach - North Devon
Croyde Beach, North Devon – one of the best beaches in England

– Saunton Sands Beach, North Devon

A favourite along North Devon’s golden coast

Saunton Sands is one of those sandy English beaches where you imagine you could actually be anywhere in the world. Lined with colourful beach huts and a long stretch of golden grains, this beach is a firm family favourite. Safe for swimming and learning to surf, it was also a favourite with Robbie Williams who used the stunning backdrop for his hit ‘Angels‘ video. If you are looking to stretch your legs, there are some stunning walks along the coastline.

Saunton Sands beach is currently the only beach in North Devon to have a Landeez all-terrain wheelchair. This allows those who are less abled or disabled to have full enjoyment of the beach and access to the shallows of the sea. There are other excellent facilities available including surf lessons, surf hire, beach villas, beach hut hire, deckchair hire, beachside grill, beach shop and amenities.

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Saunton sands
Saunton Sands, North Devon – Image credit: Saunton Sands Hotel

– Woolacombe Beach, North Devon

Voted the 6th best beach in Europe and 20th in the world

No mention of North Devon’s beaches comes without highlighting Woolacombe Beach. It has 3 beautiful miles of wide golden sands and has won many awards for being one of the best beaches, not just in England but in Great Britain and the world.

Popular with holiday makers year after year, Woolcombe is a lively village with so much to see and do. Whilst the beach attracts thousands each year, its sheer size makes it feel less crowded. There are excellent facilities available including large car parks to avoid the stress some other beaches can cause. The beach is lined with different cafes to try and surf schools to learn some new skills. The coastal walks are just magnificent too!

Woolacombe Beach - one of the best beaches in England
Woolacombe Beach, North Devon – one of England’s best beaches

– Bournemouth Beach, Dorset

The Coast with the Most

Bournemouth Beach in Dorset is one of the most popular beaches along the south coast for many reasons. Its central location to the southwest helps, along with its seven miles of golden sandy beaches and an abundance of activities and entertainment on offer. It’s so popular that we’ve written a whole post about all the different beaches along the Bournemouth coastline – check it out here.

There really is something for everyone in Bournemouth with plenty of choices to choose the right beach for you!

Beach wheelchairs are available from Bournemouth and Boscombe beach offices.

Beaches in Bournemouth
Bournemouth Beach and Pier – a popular English seaside resort

– Weymouth Beach, Dorset

Think English Seaside town… think Weymouth Beach

Another of Dorset’s best beaches is Weymouth Beach. With its sheltered bay, powdery sand, shallow gradual sloping seabed and clear, calm waters ideal for all sorts of watersports, it’s a family favourite for perfect beaches in England. There are buckets and spades sold from every shop corner (even the kids fish and chips are sold in one!), the Punch and Judy show is very much alive and the Donkey Rides are sure to add a smile to any sunny beach day.

Beach wheelchairs are available to hire from the Weymouth beach office.

Weymouth Beach
Weymouth Beach, Dorset – Image credit: Dorset Guide

– Chesil Beach, Dorset

One of Dorset’s most iconic landmarks

If you want to escape the commercialism of the above Weymouth Beach, head to Chesil Beach where nature rules. You won’t find any stripy deckchairs or colourful beach huts here.

The 18 mile long shingle barrier beach stretches from West Bay to Portland. It forms part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site and you have to see it to believe its true beauty. The view of Chesil Beach from the coast road above Abbotsbury has been voted by Country Life Magazine as Britain’s 3rd best view.

Swimming is not recommended here, but the views are!

Chesil Beach, Dorset
Chesil Beach, Dorset – one of England’s iconic natural landmarks

South East best beaches of England

– West Wittering Beach, West Sussex

West Sussex’s little piece of hidden paradise

Not too many people know about this hidden paradise… and it’s likely that this statement will get us into a lot of trouble! West Wittering Beach is by far one of the best beaches on the southeast coastline of England. Its pure white sands, characterful old beach huts, sand dunes for protection, shallow waters, gorgeous views, watersports on offer, cafes, facilities and plenty of close parking make it perfect for a stress-free beach day out.

Don’t miss adding this to your itinerary – you won’t be disappointed!

West Wittering Beach and Beach Huts
West Wittering Beach, West Sussex – one of England’s little well-known beaches

– Shanklin Beach, Isle of Wight

Where thatched cottages meet golden sands

The award-winning Shanklin Beach is one of the Isle of Wight’s best known gentle stretches of golden sands, protected by a high sea wall with a quintessential English seafront promenade. It is popular with families as there is everything you need for a summer’s day on the beach. It absolutely has that traditional ‘bucket and spade’ atmosphere.

With panoramic views of the English Channel, there are numerous shops, cafes, restaurants, pubs, amusements and activities to keep the kids entertained.

Shanklin Beach on the Isle of Wight - English beaches
Shanklin Beach, Isle of Wight – the island’s most loved sandy beach

– Appley Beach, Isle of Wight

This is the Isle of Wight showing off now…

Most often referred to as Ryde Beach, Appley Beach is an extension of Ryde and is a stunning stretch of yellow golden sand that extends about a mile into the Solent. It’s an English beach that is known for its perfect swimming conditions and warm shallow waters during the summer.

We what love about this beach is that there is a live webcam for you to be able to see how the beach looks, the weather conditions and what the tide is doing. It’s also close enough to Ryde to enjoy all the entertainment and facilities available there.

Appley Beach Isle of Wight
Appley Beach on the Isle of Wight – a perfect sandy English beach

– Brighton Beach, East Sussex

One of England’s most famous beaches, often referred to as London’s Beach

If you love pebbly beaches, you’ll love Brighton beach and its seaside destination! Famous for its 4-mile promenade that buzzes with life all year round, its most iconic landmark is the Palace Pier along with the new Observation Tower. Stylish, flamboyant and fun, Brighton is a feast for the eyes with something to do for everyone.

Its clean and well-maintained beach is perfect for sunbathing and a dip in the sea, with plenty of watersports available. Brighton does get busy in the summer months though and with limited parking, it is advisable to get there early if you are thinking of taking the car.

Brighton Beach - most famous beach of England
Brighton Beach and Palace Pier – Image credit: Michaelasbest / Shutterstock

– Deal Beach, Kent

Margate and Whitstable have had their moments, now it is Deal’s turn

Often talked about as being one of the prettiest towns in Kent, Deal has just been rated the best seaside resort out of 91 resorts in the United Kingdom, according to The Solar Centre. It’s salty and sophisticated, quickly becoming one of the most sought after areas to live in the southeast.

It has one of only two piers in Kent. Whilst it may not be the most attractive pier, it is worth the long walk with a cafe and fishing decks at the end. There are water sports, a promenade and a long stretch of pebble and Deal Beach is just a short stroll from a range of quirky cafes, unique shops and indulgent restaurants in the town centre.

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Deal Beach, Southeast England beaches
Deal beach, Kent – Image credit: Alamy

North West best beaches of England

– Blackpool Beach, Lancashire

Nothing beats a day at the seaside like a day at Blackpool beach resort.

Blackpool Beach is divided into Blackpool North, Central and South beaches – one for each of its piers – all of which have won Seaside Awards. With seven miles of beach to explore, you can see why many Brits take to holidaying here. Amusements. Theme parks. World-known attractions. Sandy beaches. What more could you want!

Yes, some might find it cheesy, but it’s typically British! And did you know that Blackpool’s air is some of the cleanest in the whole of the UK!

Blackpool Beach - sandy beaches England
Blackpool Beach, Lancashire – one of many sandy beaches in England

– St Annes Beach, Lancashire

A quintessential English coastal resort

Enjoy good old-fashioned seaside family fun at Lytham St Annes Beach in Lancashire, with a quaint Victorian pier & kids play areas. Ice cream is optional. Kinda. Because of the big tidal range, the beach at St Annes is huge. There is plenty to keep everyone entertained on the beach, along the promenade and in the town.

The modern looking colourful beach huts that line the seafront are some of the most popular, not just in England but across Great Britain.

It’s like Blackpool, but not!

St Annes Beach
St Annes Beach, Lancashire – Image credit: St Annes Beach Apartments

North East best beaches of England

– Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear

A northeast England gem with plenty of rockpools to explore

Whitley Bay is a popular holiday destination in the northeast. The two mile long award-winning sandy beach is backed by the old fashioned style seafront with plenty of leisure and entertainment activities for all the family, including the northeast’s most iconic venue, Spanish City. Watersports are also popular here along with lots of walks to explore the coastline.

Don’t forget the annual sandcastle competition!

Whitley Bay Beach - Northeast England best beach
Whitley Bay Beach, Tyne and Wear – Image credit: Glen Bowman / Flickr

– Sandhaven Beach, Tyne and Wear

Sandcastles, surf and smiles can be found at South Shields Sandhaven Beach!

The good old fashioned English seaside town resort of South Shields is full of fairground bright lights, vinegar drenched fish and chips and the award-winning golden sands of Sandhaven Beach.

The spectacular coastal scenery provides the backdrop to the seaside funfair of Ocean Beach Pleasure Park with plenty of other activities to keep you entertained.

Sandhaven Beach - north east
Sandhaven Beach, Tyne and Wear – a beautiful northeast England sandy beach

Yorkshire and Humber best beaches of England

– Whitby Beach, North Yorkshire

One of Yorkshire’s favourite beaches, for locals and visitors

Whitby Beach is made up of two excellent beaches, divided by the River Esk. West Cliff Beach is a blue flag beach with long stretches of sand, with some rocky parts, backed by high cliffs. Lined with colourful beach huts, there are available to hire along with deckchairs and windbreaks. Tate Hill Beach is smaller and secluded with soft golden sands with some shingles.

Whitby Beach - favourite Yorkshire beach in England
Whitby Beach, North Yorkshire – Image credit: Visit Whitby

– Scarborough North Bay Beach, North Yorkshire

Nothing but sea and sand with rainbow coloured beach huts

This award-winning long stretch of sand at Scarborough’s North Bay Beach is one of the best in northern England. It is the wilder of the two local beaches, with a natural rugged feel and lots of opportunities for surfing. Safe for swimming, rock pools form when the tide is low. There are plenty of facilities and amenities close by and don’t forget that trip to Scarborough’s Sea Life Centre.

Scarborough North Bay Beach Huts at Sunrise
Scarborough North Bay Beach Huts at Sunrise – Image credit: Mark Mullen / Flickr

– Wilsthorpe Beach, East Yorkshire

An untouched East Yorkshire beach hidden in plain sight

Winner of the Seaside Awards, Wilsthorpe Beach is a rural sandy beach in the small, medieval village of Wilsthorpe, on the East Riding coast, approximately 2 miles south of Bridlington. The long, sandy beach slopes gently into the sea and backed by grassy dunes and very low cliffs. It is host to many sports and activities during the summer season with cafe facilities available during this time.

East England beaches

– Frinton on Sea Beach, Essex

A reputation for being an old-fashioned, exclusive resort

Frinton on Sea Beach and esplanade are known for being quieter and more secluded compared to other seaside towns. This was a deliberate move to keep it as uncommercialised as possible. But don’t let that fool you during the summer months – it can still get busy.

This award-winning beach is proud of its cleanliness, plenty of parking and stunning coastal walks. It is adored by many who return again and again. The firm sand is perfect for those sandcastle making contests, along with a great game of beach cricket – especially with the wide-open spaces!

Frinton on Sea Beach Essex
Frinton on Sea Beach, Essex – Image credit: Simon Turkas / Flickr

– Walton On The Naze Beach, Essex

Home to the 2nd longest pier and some of the most photographed beach huts in England

Walton-on-the-Naze is a family seaside resort with sandy beaches, seafront gardens, charming narrow streets and great for fossil hunting. The pier is the second-longest in England, offering fairground rides, ten pin bowling and fishing. Just to the north is The Naze, an unspoilt headland of heath, saltmarshes and sandy beaches.

Don’t miss, well we don’t think you’ll be able to miss, the endless displays of colourful beach huts that line the seafront. These are some of the most popular and most photographed in England.

Walton on the Naze beach and beach huts - some of the most popular beach huts in England
Walton On The Naze Beach and Beach Huts, Essex

– Southwold Beach, Suffolk

Eccentric English seaside fun with a tradionally old-fashioned pier

With its beach hut-lined sandy beach, Southwold is a traditional seaside English town. It has everything you’d come to expect from a great day out on the beach. Its thriving market town atmosphere also adds to the genuine love many have for this little haven on the coast.

The pier is a delight to explore with its cute cafes and gorgeous gift shops. You only have to meander along the wooden sidewalks to see how much people love to create memories here.

Did you know that a Southwold beach hut selling price asks within the region of £250,000? There is a lot to be said about this little seaside town from that price alone!

Southwold Beach and Beach Huts
Southwold Beach and Beach Huts, Suffolk

Are any of these one of your best beaches of England? Do you have another favourite? We would love to know in the comments below… but shhh, we won’t tell anyone!

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