Row peninsula. Tiny beach, endless sea. There’s a seafront pub right there in Kingsand, the Devonport, just up the steps, serving delicious food – or you can just sit outside and look at the sunset. We went to Kingsand for our very first holiday together, my then-lover and I. I booked at short notice – the guesthouse we stayed in has since been put up for sale. We played guitar on the beach and got roped into a sea shanty singalong with the locals. We went back about 10 years later – same beach, same gorgeous yellow house on the beach, same pub. Children were playing on the beach who wouldn’t have been born yet when we had last come. It was special.
Felixstowe hits that sweet spot of being prosperous without being pretentious. Five miles of sand and shingle stretch south to north, from the nature reserve, fortress and museum at Landguard with views over the Stour and Orwell estuaries to the hamlet of Felixstowe Ferry. The seafront gardens north of the pier are worth a traipse, and by Mannings amusements there’s not only a fine fish and chip shop but also the Beach Street food and crafts market. There are also historic beach huts, gentle cliffs and the blue-flag south beach to enjoy. Try the Spa Pavilion for shows, and drinks overlooking the sea.
Revel in jolly, traditional British seaside fare in Swanage: an ice-cream on the sandy blue flag beach, arcades as you stroll along the waterfront and a tea under the watchful eye of seagulls. At the end of the town climb up the Downs to join the coastal path; wonderful views of Durlston Bay await. Top off your stay in style with a meal at Shell Bay restaurant in Studland. Soaking up the beach vibe, we went all out with the crab, fries and bubbly while basking in a glorious sunset. Hard to believe that this haven is only a few hours from London.
Facing west, Hunstanton could be the only town on the east coast with great sunset views. All those beautiful sunsets after days of doing what comes naturally at the seaside: beaches, safe bathing, funfair, amusements, fish and chips to die for. Then there are the cafes, independent shops, promenade kiosks, concerts and the entertainment on the Green overlooking the sea, where there is a statue of artist Henry Styleman Le Strange, who developed the town in the mid-19th century. The town’s theater has a full range of family entertainment throughout the year. Hunstanton is a proper old-fashioned seaside resort with plenty for everyone to enjoy.
Tynemouth, Tyne and Wear
Maybe I’m biased because I’m local, but Tynemouth has one of the most beautiful stretches of beach in the north-east. About 20 minutes from Newcastle city centre, it’s a perfect little seaside escape to enjoy with friends and family. Front Street, the main hub of Tynemouth, has a great mix of gastro pubs, fish and chip shops, coffee shops and small, independent businesses. If you get to do just one thing, walk from Tynemouth Priorymake a lunch stop at Riley’s Fish Shack on King Edward’s Bay for some local seafood then head to Long Sands beach.
Stonehaven, near Aberdeen
While it’s a seaside town with a choice of two beaches – the main beach or the locals’ secret, Skatie Shore – the real gem is the harbour. Eat at the Seafood Bothya vintage horsebox selling freshly caught lobster, or the Marine Hotelwhere you can sample craft beers from the owner’sSix°North brewery. Visit at night, when the lights are twinkling off the still water, or in the early morning for dawn paddleboarding, followed by a hike up the cliffs behind the harbor to Dunnottar Castle.
Littlehampton, West Sussex
This is definitely not the best seaside town in Britain, but it does have a great climate, cheerful atmosphere, good beach, funfair, and excellent fresh seafood that can be bought at several places along the pretty, pedestrianized approach to the coast by the bank of the Arun. Across the Arun there is a nature reserve and a quiet beach offering lovely walks for miles west.
Porthcawl between Cardiff and Swansea has a beautiful golden sandy beach. The tide goes really far out leaving lots of rock pools to search in as well as little pools of water which are great for little ones to play in safely. There is a lovely walk into town along the seafront, where you’ll find a funfair. One fee covers all the wrinkles, and just outside the entrance is an amazing ice-cream stand with a fabulous array of flavours; we always order two scoops each because, well it’s a must! We visit every other summer as its just glorious and afterwards we always feel like we’ve been abroad.
New Brighton, Wirral
New Brighton, on the Wirral, flies under the radar but is a brilliant seaside town close to Liverpool and Manchester and easily accessible by train. Head to vibrant Victoria Road, recently revived by a local resident, for on-street dining, fantastic pubs and eclectic street art. Don’t miss the breakfast “bin lids” at Becky’s Breakys – proper soul food sandwiches with a proper scouse welcome. Follow it up with a stroll down the promenade and an ice-cream at local favorite Coffee Cream.
Winning tip: Eyemouth, Scottish Borders
This charming fishing village boasts stunning coastal scenery, fresh seafood and plenty of outdoor activities. Head to the working harbour, where you can watch the local fishers bring in their daily catch and feed the resident seals that gather in the area. Here you’ll also find Joe’s Catch seafood hut, where you can enjoy freshly caught fish, crab or lobster. For some adventure, take a canoe or paddleboard out into the bay or lace up your boots and head north on the Berwickshire coastal path. The trail will lead you to St Abb’s Head with its thousands of guillemots, razorbills, and kittiwakes.
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