When you think of beautiful beaches, England might not be the first country that springs to mind. This is mostly because of our unpredictable weather, but when you look past that you’ll find that England has some truly stunning beaches.
This island country is surrounded by coastline, and no matter where you are based in England, you don’t have to travel for long to get to a beach. Some are pebbly and shingly, some are miles of soft golden sands that can rival beaches anywhere in the world, and some are quirky and unusual. Here are beautiful beaches to visit in England.
1. Bovisand Beach
Bovisand Beach is a small bay in between two headlands. The soft golden sand and the secluded position of this beach make it a big draw for tourists, especially as it’s situated in the sunny country of Devon. So if you visit in the summertime, you’re unlikely to be alone. Visit out of season and you’ll have a much quieter experience. It’s only 5 miles from the coastal city of Plymouth and you can see “the sound” and its famous lighthouse from the beach.
Due to the position of the beach — between two headlands and below the rocky cliffs — the steps down might not be suitable for anyone with mobility issues. There is no access for wheelchairs, and be aware that once you’ve got down there, you have to come back up by the same set of steps. For more on Plymouth, take a look at Best Things To Do In Historic Plymouth, England, The City By The Sea.
Pro Tip: There is a car park right by the beach, up on the headland, but you will be charged to park your car here. If you don’t mind the charge, it is a convenient car park. The alternative is to park further away and walk to the beach. Be aware, it’s a walk of around 2 hours from Plymouth.
2. South Bay
For a traditional English beach that’s clean and well kept, seek out Scarborough’s South Bay. This is a long, flat sandy beach with a promenade running right along it, so you can walk down on the sands. If the tide is in, you can walk the promenade next to the beach and still get great views and fresh sea air. Over the road from the beach are some traditional English seaside attractions like the slots, candy shops, cafes, and restaurants.
You can hire deck chairs and spend the whole day on the sands, and many people do. This beach is very popular with families and it gets busy in the summer. If you visit out of season, it’s much quieter and a totally different experience. You might get some sea breezes and some drizzle, but it has its own moody beauty in rougher weather.
3. Crosby Beach
If you like your beach a little bit quirky, England has plenty of those too. Up the coast from Liverpool in the northwest of England, you’ll find Crosby Beach, which has its very own unique art installation. The majority of the beach is part of this art installation, which is a series of iron figures gazing out to sea in contemplation. The installation by artist and sculptor Anthony Gormley, called Another Place, isn’t the only reason to come here — though it is a good reason to come.
The beach is backed by fluffy white sand dunes, great for sitting atop and doing some contemplating of your own. You can sit on the sand down amid the figures and you can take a walk on this interesting beach. Crosby Beach is a short drive from Liverpool, where you can stay or spend the day. For more on what to do in the city take a look at 8 Incredible Things To Do In Historic Liverpool.
Pro Tip: There aren’t any facilities at Crosby Beach. Most people who come here visit to see the art installation rather than to spend the day, but there is a café close to the beach, and everything you need in Crosby town is just a short walk from the sands.
4. Charmouth Beach
If you like something to do on the beach and you’re interested in history and archaeology but also like soft sands, Charmouth Beach in Dorset might be for you. Part of the Jurassic Coastline, Charmouth Beach is famous with fossil hunters for being the place you’re most likely to pick up some interesting fossils.
During the summer months, the beach is popular with families who visit for the flat sands and for the small warm water pools between the rocks that are perfect for rock pooling. But in the winter months, fossil hunters brave the sea breezes and bring their bags to collect interesting rocks and fossils. You can view some of the amazing dinosaur fossils that have been found on this beach in the Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre.
Pro Tip: You’ll notice a lot of people come here to find fossils and, especially in winter when the crashing sea loosens the rocks, you may hear the sound of small hammers knocking open stones. However, be aware that while it’s perfectly permissible to collect the rocks and fossils that have already fallen from the cliffs, it is not acceptable to dig rocks directly from the cliff face.
5. Marazion Beach
The beaches in Cornwall are some of the most spectacular in the country, and at Marazion Beach, you have the added bonus of the unusual view out to St. Michael’s Mount. St. Michael’s Mount is an island just big enough to contain a castle and a medieval church. You can walk across on the cobbled causeway, but only at low tide.
There are around 30 people currently living on St Michael’s Mount, so you won’t be there alone. You can spend some time on Marazion Beach gazing at this tidal island, and then you can have a wander over the causeway. Don’t worry — even though the tide does cut the island off from the mainland, you won’t get stuck there. If you do miss your chance to walk back, there is a ferry service that will take you back to the beach.
Pro Tip: If you or someone in your party has mobility issues and wants to enjoy the beach, you can hire sand chairs from St. Michael’s Mount. These specially adapted mobility chairs are like standard basic wheelchairs but have wheels made for traveling over the beach.
6. Brighton Beach
While it’s true that visitors to Brighton don’t usually go for the beach, this seafront has a certain charm and character that makes it unique. This is a rocky, pebbly beach, so it’s not great for sitting on, but you can rent deck chairs to sit by the sea, and lots of people do. In the summer it gets busy here, and lots of people come for the nostalgic pier full of fairground rides, slots, restaurants, street food stalls, shops, and candy stalls.
But a quiet sit down on the beach gives you another view. Within sight is the ghost pier, an old abandoned former pier that is now an eerie shell. This one isn’t a sandy beach for sunbathing on but is a quirky and unusual beach experience.
7. Cromer Beach
They are very proud of their Blue Flag status at Cromer Beach, and rightly so, but that’s not all they have to be proud of. Cromer Beach is a lovely flat sandy beach with character and romance, and it is also one of the few beaches in England to have ramp access onto the sands, meaning anyone in a wheelchair can easily make their way down to the beach.
You can simply sit and enjoy the beach and sea, or you can walk the coastal path that offers incredible views out over the bay. Cromer has an intimate village feel to it, and everyone is friendly and welcoming. It’s a laid-back atmosphere, and even when it gets busy on the beach, it never feels crowded.
8. St. Bees
Depending on the tide, St. Bees is a shingle or a sandy beach, because in fact it’s both. When you walk down onto the beach, you’re met with a bank of shingle, but that soon gives way to soft sand. If the tide is in, you’ll only see the shingle, making the revealing of the sand at low tide something like a miracle.
This is a quiet beach with dramatic hills and beautiful landscape all around it. It’s not a destination beach, and many people don’t even know it’s here. There’s a caravan park up behind the beach and a golf course, but most people come here to walk their dog or to stroll the promenade and take in the fresh sea air.
Pro Tip: If you like spotting wildlife, take your binoculars with you to St. Bees. This is the ideal place to sit on the beach and spot some seabirds.