The best UK beach holidays
Whether you're looking for fun fairs or deckchairs, TheSite.org picks you the best coastal locations to be found a little closer to home.
Oh we all like to be beside the seaside... especially us Brits, but that needn't mean leaving the UK. Scarborough was recognised as the first British seaside resort, and was the most popular in the 19th Century. Today almost 30 million people flock to the UK seaside each year, from the bright lights of Blackpool to dolphin spotting in Wales.
Ah, Camden-on-Sea. It may not have white sands and guaranteed sunshine but it does have the promenade, deckchairs and winning chip shops to provide British Summer postcard moments. Shop for new kooky outfits in The Lanes. Stare out at the pebbly shores and remember the mod-rocker riots - oooh, a bit of history. Feel sorry for the dilapidated piers. Then get back into happy summer mode and party on down along the seafront in the clubs and bars.
Bournemouth has, in recent years, become the blue rinse destination of choice, (aka BORE-mouth) but no longer. While your Granny may still be there with her SAGA crowd, wetting herself over winning the bingo, a renaissance has been underway to transform Bournemouth back into Surf Central, complete with four Blue Flags for its beaches and stylish Surf Pods designed by Wayne Hemingway. There's an 11km stretch of sand, and sea, and a family-friendly Kidzone Scheme complete with coloured wristbands to keep your little ones, should you have any, safer.
New Quay, Wales
Newquay, Cornwall may be Party Central, but New Quay, near Cardigan in Wales is a whole different matter. Many believe that the picturesque streets of New Quay are the 'cliff-perched town at the far end of Wales' immortalised by Dylan Thomas. Want to see dolphins in the wild? Then head on over - you're more likely to see them here than anywhere else within the UK. The Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre is based in New Quay and runs boat trips throughout the summer to spot seals, dolphins and old boots.
Tresco, Scilly Isles
You don't need to head to the Caribbean for more tropical climes. Instead set your sights on the Isles of Scilly. You can travel over on the Scillonian III ferry service from Penzance to St Mary's (£76/£38 rtn for adults/kids). Once there, catch a boat on to Tresco, the second largest island. Enjoy the bright and colourful flowers in Abbey Garden, the warm climate, island hops and walks, dinky beaches and cosy pubs. Nice one!
Porthcurno Beach is a stunning picture-postcard destination of clear blue waters and white sands. It is breathtakingly beautiful, sheltered by towering granite cliffs, and perfect for picnics and sunbathing. It has a dangerous undercurrent though, so not best for swimming. Instead enjoy your picnic before catching a daytime or evening performance at the Minack open-air theatre cut into the cliffside above.
Attempting to be a kind of Las Vegas by the sea, with casinos and cabaret shows a-plenty, Blackpool is trying to shed its donkey ride persona. It hasn't worked yet, but Blackpool is still one of the top UK destinations for groups of teens and twenty-somethings off on short weekend breaks, hen nights and stag weekends. With the rollercoasters of the Pleasure Beach, the bright lights of the Blackpool Illuminations and plenty of clubs and bars it's still the seaside party capital of the North.
Luskentyre, Isle of Harris, Western Isles
I can hear you, your disbelief saying: "You do realise this is in Scotland?" Yes I do, doubters, for there are plenty of lovely coastal destinations to be found in the land of Haggis and Loch Ness Monsters (especially around Fife). Luskentyre is a gorgeous stretch of soft, golden sand and turquoise water on the wild north-west coast of the Isle of Harris offering views of a choppier sea farther out; speckled with smaller, windswept islands.
West Wittering, Chichester
The beach is owned locally and managed by a conservation company who aren't allowed to let it become another Butlins, instead West Wittering is the best managed beach (joint winner with Bournemouth), according to the Blue Flag Awards. HM Coastguard Sea Smart identity bands for children are handed out free at the car parks. With natural lagoons acting as paddling pools at lowtide, surf classes and perfect conditions for wind and kite surfing it is a top location for families and watersports enthusiasts alike (although some time restrictions apply). The coast is sheltered by the Isle of Wight, and also boasts sand dunes and beach huts.
Littlehampton, West Sussex
Sheltered by the South Downs and nestled at the mouth of the River Arun, Littlehampton is making something of a comeback. A Blue Flag destination with harbour, riverside development and two beaches it now also boasts the crazy Flintstone architecture of the new East Beach Café - a super tasty, super popular seafood cave of a destination.
Whitby, North Yorkshire
The gateway to the North Yorkshire Moors, Whitby is also an "Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty". The town is divided by the River Esk, and boasts a harbour area and sandy beaches. Beyond the coast there's gothic architecture of the parish church of St Mary - the inspiration behind Bram Stoker's Dracula - and the ruins of St Hilda's Abbey on the East Cliff. Goths, not known for their love of sun and sand, still flock to Whitby twice a year for the Whitby Gothic Weekend, one of the most popular gothic events in the world.
Three Cliffs Bay, Wales
Named after the trio of rocky peaks rising from the shoreline, Three Cliffs Bay offers a stunning curved ribbon of pale sand, caves, dunes, shells, wild horses, and surf. Part of the Gower Peninsula, many other wonderful beaches are but short car, bus or bike rides away including Oxwich, Rhossili, and the quieter hide away of Tor Bay. Three Cliffs has a holiday park, windsurfing, waterskiing, a golf course, a 540-acre nature reserve, pony trekking and medieval castles all in its pretty vicinity. I loves it, I do. I'll also admit that I live near there so I'm a tad biased, like.
Whitepark Bay, Ballintoy, Northern Ireland
The National Trust's scenic Whitepark Bay in Northern Ireland offers a relatively secluded white arc of sand between the two headlands with distant views of Scotland. It is banked by sand dunes and only a couple of miles from the tourist attraction of Giant's Causeway. Get dizzy with this 3-D exploration of the beach. Lush!
Image provided by Claire Allen
By Susie Wild
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