Some of the top beaches in England are great for families and easy driving distance from London. Take a look at a few of our favourites, tried, tested and now ready for summer days out with kids. See what you think.
1/10 West Wittering, West Sussex: one of the top beaches in England for kids
West Wittering in West Sussex is a two and a half hour drive from London. An ideal beach for active days out with kids, it’s south-west of Chichester and comes with fantastic views of Chichester harbour. The area is also great for coastal walks that provide stunning views, good for entertaining kids who’re bored with sandcastle building.
The beach is home to rock pools and these, along with nearby salt marshes, give kids the chance to seek out the local wildlife. Tell them to keep eyes on the skies, as the area is known for fabulous birdlife, including cormorants, oystercatchers and herons.
2/10 Botany Bay, Kent: recommended for kayaking adventures
Located half way between Margate and Broadstairs, Botany Bay in Kent, is just two hours from London by car, so makes for some of the easiest days out with kids.
The beach is home to a stunning stretch of white chalk cliffs and provides a perfect location for kayaking and canoeing. Remember to check the tide timetable as the beach becomes cut off at high tide. The beach also adjoins Joss Bay – a favourite with surfers.
3/10 Mersea Island, Essex: perfect for young palaeontologists
Kids who love natural history will be in their element on Mersea Island, Essex. It’s just two hours from London and Britain’s earliest inhabited island. You’ll find beaches packed with fossils here and spotting treasures like shark’s teeth and 300,000 year old animal bones is not unusual.
4/10 Camber Sands Beach: one of the top beaches in England for wild fun
East Sussex is home to legendary Camber Sands. This beautiful five-mile long beach is only four miles from Rye and made for wild running around. It’s also a couple of hours from London, right in front of cute Camber village and dogs on leads are welcome.
5/10 Hastings Beach – East Sussex
For a traditional seaside town beach, try Hastings. Complete with a Victorian pier, it’s another treasure on the East Sussex coast.
The beach has a two level promenade which is amazing for views. However, the shore is mainly pebble although there are areas of sand at low tide. So time your visit right and you can still add sandcastles to the mix.
6/10 Cley Beach, Cley-next-the-Sea, Norfolk
On the north Norfolk coast, Cley Beach is about a three hour drive from London. Much quieter than other beaches in the area, it’s a popular place for easy walks.
If you’re keen to fish, there are fantastic sea-fishing facilities here. The nearby wetlands are a haven for birds and small, wild mammals. And for a break you can explore medieval architecture in Cley-next-the-Sea. Keep your eyes especially sharp for St Margaret’s Parrish Church and the famous Cley windmill.
7/10 Sunny Sands/Folkestone Beach, Kent
Less than two hours from London is Sunny Sands/Folkestone Beach is a Kent family favourite. Its flat sands and shallow seas are ideal for younger kids. And older ones enjoy the challenge of mermaid-hunting in Folkestone. Don’t believe us? Go take a look, there are mermaids everywhere.
Looking for fish and chips on the seafront? This part of the Kent Coast also has some of the UK’s most award-winning chip shops.
8/10 Winchelsea Beach, East Sussex: one of the cleanest top beaches in England
Winchelsea Beach in East Sussex, is one of the best beaches in England for outdoorsy families. It’s also a regular recipient of the Clean Beach Award, so it’s safe for kids to play. Popular activities here include shrimping, swimming and kitesurfing. Rye Harbour Nature Reserve is also just a walk away. So you can take a beach-break and go exploring saltmarsh, shingle and woodland. Look out for marsh frogs and brown hares. Winchelsea Beach’s east side has a dog-friendly area.
9/10 Osea Island Beach, Maldon, Essex
Only reachable at low tide by a narrow causeway, Osea Island is so stunning it’s worth some patience. Less than two hours from London, the island has four and a half miles of beaches. And if you want more than just a day out, Osea is known for its beach cottage rentals and beach huts for hire, most with impressive views over Blackwater estuary.
10/10 Southwold Beach: one of the best beaches in England for beach huts
For a picturesque seaside town, complete with beach huts, visit Southwold in Suffolk. Water sports are big here and older kids can try jet-skiing and windsurfing. Keen anglers should buy a day pass to fish off the pier. Boat trips from Southwold Harbour are iconic local traditions. And if you time one right, there’s a good chance of sighting seals and occasionally even dolphins.
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