Best England Beaches, UK

Man 'o' War Bay, Dorset, best England beaches.

Man-o-War Bay, Dorset, best England beaches.

Where are the best England beaches?

Often spacious and spectacular, with fine sand, efficient access, good facilities and safety precautions (some would argue too many). But England beaches suffer from cold water (September is best for warmer swimming), occasional pollution , generally rather coarse yellow sand, shingle or pebbles and unreliable, fast-changing weather conditions.

From mid June to mid September beach-lovers are most likely to get toasted, but it’s a gamble at any time.

Be prepared for anything is the bottom line; walking is always a good alternative if the weather goes wobbly as Britain’s coast is lined with well-posted, picturesque trails, lovely even if it is drizzling. The 630 mile (1008 kms)  South West Coast Path is particularly impressive.

Bugbog’s England beaches listing starts on the south west coast with Dorset, Devon and Cornwall counties due to the many spectacular beach locations, the outstanding sights and entertainments available on ‘off beach’ days, the plethora of awards for efficiency and cleanliness received and the warmer, drier weather due to the latitude and micro-climates.

Popular Beaches

1. Woolacombe Beach, Devon

2. Weymouth Beach, Dorset

3. Rhossili Bay, Swansea

4. St. Brelade’s Bay Beach, Jersey

5. Porthminster Beach, St Ives, Cornwall

6. Perranporth Beach, Cornwall

7. Fistral Beach, Newquay, Cornwall

8. Luskentyre, Isle of Harris, Scotland

9. Hengistbury Head, Bournemouth, Dorset

10. Sandbanks, Poole, Dorset

Studland middle beach, Dorset, best England beaches.

Studland beach is 2.5 miles (4kms) of wide, soft, pale sand with cool shallow water on one side and National Park grassy dunes and heathland on the other. Studland is a catch-all name but locals know the beaches as Shell Bay (near the ferry), thru Middle Beach and ending at Knoll Beach, near the grand Knoll Hotel. At Knoll beach there are beach huts, a café and car parking.

Nudists, mostly male,  hang around one section of the dunes but are reasonably discreet and inoffensive.

The Southwest Coast Path starts at the ferry and runs along Studland beach, up to Old Harry Rocks and over the Purbeck Hills to Swanage, then another 640 miles at the last count…

And one more thing: unlike many best beaches in England, Studland is easy to reach via the Sandbanks ferry (across Poole Harbour neck), with car parks at various locations.

Porthcurno beach, Cornwall, best England beaches.

Harlyn, Cornwall
It’s worth enduring the narrow lanes and caravans to find this one. When you arrive, you’ll find the stuff of childhood memories: perfect paddling, acres of proper sandcastle-building sand, rockpooling at the eastern end, and a surf school.

Treyarnon, Cornwall
South of busy Constantine Bay, you’ll find Treyarnon, a narrow, dog-friendly inlet sheltered on three sides and perfect for older kids honing their body-boarding skills. Cave-riddled rocks and snorkelling in the safe yet thrilling 30ft tidal pool.

Praa Sands, Cornwall
Praa Sands is popular with locals and tourists so get there early and stake your claim among the rocks at the western end.

Woolacombe beach, Devon, best England beaches.

Woolacombe, Devon
Ignore the crowds flocking to the glorious three miles of sand that form Woolacombe’s Middle Beach and follow the Esplanade north to two more exclusive sandy spots: Barricane and Combesgate.

Blackpool Sands, Devon
Despite the name, this beach, a four-mile drive southwest of Dartmouth, is composed of fine shingle. It is privately owned and perfectly manicured, with a bathing raft, wood-framed sandpits for castle-building, posh showers and an organic cafe.

East Sussex

Brighton beach sandcastle, yes sand! East Sussex, best England beaches.

Brighton beaches, East Sussex, looking east from the pier.

Brighton‘s beach can hardly be described as one of Britain’s best in terms of swimability/foot friendliness but deserves inclusion for the great walks and entertainments along both upper and lower promenades, the brash pier, the long history of the city and the easy access from London for day trippers since the one hour rail connection was completed in 1841. More

Kent

Joss Bay Broadstairs, Kent, best England beaches

Joss Bay, beside Broadstairs, Kent. Photo by Diliff

Broadstairs is a tranquil old resort town 78 miles from London and only 15 from medieval Canterbury.

This traditional seaside town is a place to experience old-style, traditional British beach-going, complete with donkey rides, live bands (brass bands, not the modern racket made by surly long-hairs, damn their girly looks) and fireworks in summertime.

Old fashioned it is, but Broadstairs still offers fine, large beaches (Viking Bay is the big one but another six are available if space runs out) with soft sand, Blue Flag waters and an air of timeless gentility that is missing from neighbouring Ramsgate or Margate.

Northumberland

Bamburgh Castle beach, Northumberland, best England beaches.

Bamburgh Castle beach, Northumberland. Photo by mattbuck.

Not exactly a great beach in terms of climate and facilities perhaps, but Bamburgh beach’s spectacular setting is great compensation.

Bamburgh hosts not only the biggest sand castle you’ve ever seen behind a half-crown of glossy grassy dunes, but also views across to Lindisfarne, the moors of Northumberland and the medieval walls of Berwick-upon-Tweed. Bamburgh is near Berwick-upon-Tweed, off the A1 motorway.

Cumbria

Sandscale Hawes, like Bamburgh is more about staggering views on a lovely bit of dune-clustered sand than traditional fooling about in the water with the kids, but what dunes (700 acres), what bird life and what peaks in the distance!