Many happy summer holidays were spent in Devon and Cornwall during my childhood and it’s great to see many of the beaches listed in Trip Advisor’s best beaches poll. From 25th to first position, here are the 25 best beaches in the UK:
25. Kiloran Beach – Isle of Colonsay, The Hebrides
Scotland’s association of nature doesn’t tend to surpass gorgeous rolling hills and pastures, but the fact is that it actually boasts some fabulous beaches that make for the perfect holiday location, and Kiloran Beach on the Isle of Colonsay is one of them. Overlooking the bay of the same name, Kiloran Beach still boasts that sprawling landscape typical to the Scottish Isles, and interestingly enough, is often times populated a herd of grazing cows!
One of Scotland’s hidden gems, Camusdarach Beach may be a bit difficult to find for a first timer, but it’s certainly worth the search. The serene arc of white sand and clear waters is surrounded by lush foliage and absolutely perfect for kids. It has beautiful views of the crest of Cuillin on the Isle of Skye, sea cliff of Eigg and the blue peaks of Rum.
23. Shell Beach – Herm, Guernsey
Located on a tranquil island free of the traffic and clamour of the city, Shell Beach is reminiscent of a tropical isle right in the middle of Scotland. Visitors can catch an early morning ferry from Herm and walk to the beach. Afterwards, they can prepare to sped the day relaxing on the gorgeous white sands and wading in the idyllic cerulean tides. The rugged atmosphere provides for excellent hiking and sightseeing with spectacular views all around. Those who are looking for a bite to eat can stop by The Mermaid Pub, and of course, there is no shortage of seashells to take home as souvenirs.
22. Godrevy Head – Hayle
Godrevy Head is reminiscent of the small coastal beach you’d expect to be the setting of a classic romance novel. It’s peaceful, quaint and has everything one can want for a relaxing day at the beach. A short walk can take you to watch seals basking on the rocks, while a jaunt in the other direction will position you to watch the sun set behind the lighthouse off the shore. This National Trust Park is noted by all for its breathtaking views, serene atmosphere and perfect walking route.
21. Bigbury-on-Sea Beach – Bigbury-on-Sea
The small English island of Bigbury is dog and kid friendly, with lots of wide open space to run and play. The tides are calm and shallow, perfect for wading and helping the little ones get their feet wet. It’s connected to Burgh Island by a short ferry or tractor ride, and boasts the charming Venus Café.
20. Calgary Bay – Isle of Mulls, The Hebridges
Another stunning walking destination in Scotland, the bright landscape of Calgary Bay is said to be even more breathtaking in the winter. With the population of visitors down during the colder months, the pale sands beneath clear skies provide a dreamlike spot for a relaxing stroll. In the summer, tourist traffic picks up but the secluded location and fact a car is needed to reach it from any destination prevent it from becoming overcrowded.
19. Durness Beach – Durness
With breathtaking cliffs overlooking the tides, Durness Beach has an atmosphere that will make anyone feel nostalgic for their childhood summers. The sprawl of golden sand is accessed through a cliff path, and it’s constantly noted for its “spotless” landscape and it’s ideal dog and kid friendly environment. It’s generally not heavily populated, so those who are seeking a quiet and stress-free day at the beach to relax with a good book or toss a ball with the kids should love Durness.
18. Mwnt Beach – Cardigan
Much more ideal for walking and sightseeing than sunbathing, Mwnt is a small beach rich in natural beauty. It’s preceded by the rolling green pastures Wales is known for and boasts a plethora of exciting wildlife such as seals, dolphins and porpoises. Parking is free to National Trust members. A must-see while you’re there is the tiny Mwnt Church up on the hill.
17. Saunton Sand Beach – Braunton
A great spot all year round, Saunton is beloved by its locals who find it ideal for brisk walks in November and long weekends lazing by the sea in the summer months. Kids will love climbing over the sand dunes while adults will love its proximity to surrounding bars and restaurants. The nearby Saunton Sands Hotel makes for the perfect spot to spend a weekend away from home.
16. Hunstanton Beach – Hunstanton
Nestled under towering cliffs with dark sands broken up by rocks jutting from the ground, Hunstanton Beach has been loved by many for decades. There are plenty of ice cream stalls and coffee shops nearby to refresh after a day walking along the shore. Anyone who wants to experience a classic beach holiday in an old fashioned seaside town will love the friendly atmosphere and clean, calm beach at Hunstanton.
15. Llangennith Beach – Swansea
Llangennith is a surfer’s paradise with deep swells of beautiful clear waves and a breathtaking expanse of beach during low tide. The wreck of Helvetica is one of the main attractions. The beach stretches from the island of Burry Holmes to Worm’s Head in the east. It’s ideal for surfers, fishers or simple beachgoers alike and has a charming pub located atop the hill with great views.
14. Barafundle Beach – Stackpole
Barafundle Beach is small yet perfectly formed, situated between towering sea cliffs and beautiful blue waters. It’s ideal for hiking and the view from atop the cliffs is perfect to watch the sunset. Surrounded by green countryside, it’s peaceful and remote although there aren’t any notable dining establishments nearby, so you’ll need to pack your own food.
13. Narin Beach – Narin
Great for camping, Narin Beach provides miles of pristine white sand and sparkling sea. Its location places it in prime waking distance from a variety of hotels such as the Braeval Hotel and The Albert Inn. Despite the accommodations in the vicinity, Narin doesn’t tend to be overcrowded and is more popular among locals to find the beach to be the perfect spot for dog walking year round.
12. Gorleston Beach – Gorleston
The golden-sanded Gorleston Beach is perfect for families, with its clean stretch of coastline and picturesque waters. It’s within walking distance to a cafè and promenade. The All Seasons Lodge and Pier Hotel are two of the most notable accommodations in the area, both under a mile from the beach itself. Gorleston is quiet and lesser-known, so it’s ideal for those who want a day out but don’t want to fight their way through crowds.
11. Filey Beach – Filey
The traditional seaside resort of Filey provides a charming weekend getaway experience. The local town and promenade have a nice selection of restaurants and cafès to choose from, while the beach itself is flat, spacious and great for relaxing with a book or gazing out across the waters beneath the massive expanse of blue sky.
10. Sandbanks – Poole
Sandbanks Beach has been designated by the European Commission as one of the few areas in the United Kingdom to achieve the highest possible standard of cleanliness. This is even more noteworthy given its popularity. The Sandbanks Cafè is on-site for beachgoers to grab a bite to eat and rehydrate after a day out swimming. Equipment can be rented from the beach and there’s also golfing and a children’s play area. Designated swimming and barbeque posts help keep the crowd organised. There’s a nearby car park with a capacity for 550 vehicles, though Sandbanks is also reachable by number 50 Wilts and Dorset bus from Bournemouth Station to Swanage.
9. Hengistbury Head Beach – Bournemouth
Hengistbury Head provides great views and a typical beach setting with white sands and beautiful view of the sea. It can, however, become crowded so choosing your time is important. The walk along the path is the crowning point of Hengistbury Height, as the top of the cliffs provide breathtaking views of the Isle of Wight.
8. Luskentyre – Isle of Harris, Lewis and Harris, Outer Hebrides
Luskentyre beach is located at the end of a winding 3 mile sea road, and provides stunning panoramic views that will leave you breathless. The North Harris Mountains loom in the north, Taransay is out across the sea and a walk can bring Ceapabhal into view. Vast dunes are located behind the beach and one of the greatest wonders of Luskentyre is that it’s virtually empty all the time, so you’ll have the peaceful views and glorious beach almost entirely to yourself.
7. Fistral Beach – Newquay
Fistral is a narrow strip of sand that is surrounded by lush green countryside and faces high tides that make it perfect for surfers. The rock pools are great for kids and the rugged terrain of the cliffs make it a great pick for hikers looking to spend the day out climbing. Since the waters tend to be rough and mostly populated by surfers in competitions, it isn’t recommended for those looking for a place to wade and splash about with the kids. Its views and nearby restaurants, however, are very much worth the visit.
6. Perranporth Beach – Perranporth
A dog-friendly beach popular among families, Perranporth offers miles of clean golden sand to frolic under the sun all year long. The waves aren’t too strong so it’s a fine place to dip your feet and listen to the splash of the water as it washes over the shore. There are stepping stones, rock pools and even a pub on the beach – The Watering Hole – that often has live music.
5. Porthminster Beach – St. Ives
Porthminster is a highly popular beach that overlooks the Godrevy Lighthouse and provides soft white sands and crystal clear waters that would, from a picture, seem much more likely to be from a tropical island than the UK. There are plenty of shops within walking distance as well as restaurants that are praised for their excellent dining and friendly staff. Porthminster Beach is ideal for families, couples and single beachgoers alike with plenty of space to either sit back and relax or run about.
4. St. Brelade’s Beach Bay – St. Brelade
St. Berade’s is another beach on the list that has a strong personal history with many of its visitors. It’s been around for decades and is the ideal family spot. The low tides make it a great place for kids to paddle and the spacious stretch of golden sand is perfect for castle building. The beautiful vista, smooth terrain and calm waters are all made even better by the nearby parking, hygiene facilities and restaurants. St. Brelade’s has all the comfort, convenience and fun of a major beach without the massive crowds.
3. Rhossili Bay – Rhossili
A stunning strip of golden sand along the Gower Peninsula is only the start of Rhossili. It’s surrounded by a lovely, winding walking path and beautiful green pastures that are filled with grazing horses. Surfers often spot the waves of the bay, while paragliders soar overhead and delicious smells waft from the local bistro.
2. Weymouth Beach – Weymouth
A crowded but well-maintained beach, Weymouth is a great family or couples retreat with hotels like the Bay Royal Weymouth overlooking the white sands and lots of facilities nearby such as ice cream parlours, fish n’ chips stands and trampolining. Dog and kid friendly, the stretch of Weymouth Beach is perfect for paddling and sand castle building as well as just lounging beneath a parasol and reading a book.
and the winner is…..
1. Woolacombe Beach – Woolacombe
No one would expect a beach as spectacular as Woolacombe to exist in the United Kingdom given it’s weather’s reputation, but the white, soft sands and spectacular blue waters are very much a reality.
Woolacombe is the ultimate family getaway spot in the UK, with the Woolacombe Bay Holiday Parks located nearby and providing lovely accommodations (from caravans to apartments to villas and bungalows) that boast all the amenities of home all within walking distance to Britain’s best beach.