The UK is home to many beautiful beaches right on our doorstep, these beaches see thousands of people flocking to them during the summer months making the most of the British weather. We know it's not quite the same as jetting off to somewhere exotic, but UK beaches are often overlooked as they can make a great day out for you or the whole family, why not take your bucket and spade or enjoy a picnic.
When deciding which beach you would like to visit, it's worth checking out if your beach of choice has the Blue Flag certification. The Blue Flag is a certification by the Foundation of Environmental Education (FEE) that a beach meets its standards. Certificates are issued as rewards on an annual basis to beaches of FEE member countries, including the UK. To reach the prestigious status of Blue Flag, a beach has to meet specific criteria:
- Water quality
- Environmental management
- Safety and services
- Education and information about the environment
What you Need For a Beach Day
When adventuring to the beach during the summer months (or even the autumn/winter if the weather allows for it) it's wise to come prepared to handle the ever-changing weather. We've put together a short list of our essentials for heading to the beach during the warmer weather.
The Best Blue Flag Beaches In The UK
As of 2021, the UK boasts 195 beaches with the Blue Flag Award. We have listed some of the most notable ones and provided you with a map so you can see where these beaches are located!
Blue Flag Beaches Map
King Edwards Bay
Families will love this small sandy beach at the foot of the majestic Tynemouth Priory and Castle. Surrounded by cliffs, King Edwards Bay is popular for bathing and surfing. Located in the heart of Tynemouth, there are plenty of shops and cafes nearby so you can make this a great day out. There are several facilities available at this beach to make this a great day out, these include snorkelling, fishing, swimming, and surfing.
Lifeguards are on duty through the summer months but unfortunately, dogs are not allowed on this beach between 1st May to 30th September.
The bay is only a short walk from Tynemouth Front Street.
Brighton Central Beach
Enjoy the vibes of Brighton and its unique atmosphere. With plenty of little shops around the promenade and water sports that you can participate in you won’t get bored easily. Located west of Brighton Pier where there are numerous arcades, this beach is ideal for kids.
To reach Brighton Beach, you can take either the B or the Q train to Coney Island Avenue or Brighton Beach Ave. If you take the subway to Coney Island Avenue and take a left out of the subway, you'll enter the beginning of Brighton Beach Avenue.
For all the sunrise lovers out there, this is the place for you. Thanks to its wonderful walk along the seafront, Hove Lawns Beach is a stunning background not only for the outdoor enthusiast but also for the ones looking for a romantic escape! Hove Lawns makes a great day out for all the family, with a great space for all the family to enjoy as well as several tennis courts, a nearby café and bowling greens available to use with a small charge.
The beach is adjacent to the centre of Hove and the closest parking from the beach can be found on Hove Street, with access to the beach down a slipway. There are also numerous facilities off St Aubyn's Street including crazy golf.
Thanks to its hard flat sandy beach, Whitby is ideal for game lovers and sporty people. In this beautiful location you can play almost any game from beach volley to beach handball and if you just want to keep fit why don’t you go for a lovely running on the foreshore. There is so much to see at Whitby beach as it is home to rock pools so you can explore marine life, you can also see the sights of Whitby Abbey from the cliff tops.
Please be aware when visiting this beach there are restrictions when bringing your dog, between 1st May to 30th September dogs are unfortunately not allowed.
You can access the beach via a footpath that starts near the Whitby Holiday Park on the cliff above the bay.
Sandy Bay beach
Sandy bay is a half-mile-long sandy beach near the town of Exmouth. The location looks unique, being the beach set in a secluded bay surrounded by high cliffs. It’s ideal for families with kids thanks to the many facilities available, including cafes, restaurants, and toilets. Lifeguard service is also available for a piece of mind. However, a downside for some is that dogs are not allowed on the beach between April 1st and October 31st.
There are several facilities at Sandy Bay Beach including deckchair and pedalo hire, there is also disabled access and facilities for wheelchair users.
You can access Sandy Bay via Littleham Village and through Devon Cliffs Holiday Park. Ample parking is available. You can also access this beach via public transport with the Exeter to Exmouth Sandy Bay bus route.
Bournemouth Manor Steps
Located to the East of Boscombe Pier, it’s one of the quieter beaches in the Bournemouth area. The Pier has been recently renovated and is now home to many attractions including the “fish-friendly” mini-golf, which features biodegradable golf balls which are fed to the fish. This sandy beach is a great place to chill out with family and friends and after a long day on the beach why don't you hang around in one of the many pubs and restaurants nearby.
The easiest way to access the beach is from Fisherman’s Walk Cliff Lifts. Alternatively, you can join a pedestrian pathway from Boscombe Overcliff Drive which includes some steps.
Situated in Portrush, Ireland, Whiterocks beach is particularly popular among surfers and kayakers and it’s also ideal for long walks when the wind is not too strong. It’s surrounded by high cliffs, along with tall rocks emerging from the sea, make it a stunning picturesque location that is impossible to forget.
Whiterocks is famous for its limestone cliffs which over time have eroded and through centuries have therefore been carved into a labyrinth of caves and arches with the most notable being Shelagh’s Head, the Wishing Arch, Elephant Rock, and the Lion’s Paw.
Dogs are welcome for part of the year with restrictions meaning dogs are not allowed between 1st June to 15th Sept. There are lifeguards on duty everyday between 11 am and 7 pm from June 21st until Sept 7th.
Whiterocks beach is located just off Causeway Coastal Route and stretches from Curran Strand to Dunluce Castle. You can enter the free car park via a narrow access road off Dunluce Road. At the car park, you will also find disabled parking, and adjacent you will find the toilets which include disabled toilets. This beach can also be accessed via public transport, a daily bus service passes close to Whiterocks Beach entrance.
West Wittering Beach
Located at the entrance of Chichester Harbour, West Wittering beach is a large sandy beach that you can enjoy both in summer and during winter. Photographers love it because of its marvellous scenery with long stretches of sand that make it look like an untouched natural gem. Also, a magic place if you love picnics outdoors and for long walks with your four-legged friends.
Access to the beach is limited so it is recommended that you make use of the beach wheelchairs that are free of charge, please note a fully refundable deposit is required to hire a wheelchair. Dogs are not allowed in the main swimming beach between 1st May to 30th September but are allowed on the whole beach outside of these dates.
You can access it via West Wittering Village, once you reach the village you should see the car park signposted. The postcode you will need for the satnav is PO20 8AJ. This beach can be easily accessed via public transport with the nearest train station being located at Chichester and the number 52/53 regular bus service from Chichester bus station.
Botany Bay is located in Kent and is famous for its astonishing views of white cliffs. Botany Bay got its name from Australia's Botany Bay as local smugglers were caught on the beach and deported to Botany Bay. This beach usually quiet and peaceful, ideal for nature lovers that can find a place to relax and practice sport. It’s also perfect for family days out and romantic walks with your loved ones.
Botany Bay Beach is accessible by both car and public transport. You can reach it from London via the A201, A2, and M2. The recommended car parks are on Palm Way Avenue and Marine Drive.
Whether you love sunbathing, swimming, surfing, or visiting ancient historical ruins, in Llanddwyn you can do it all. Situated at the southern tip of Anglesey, Wales, this beautiful sandy beach boasts spectacular views of Snowdonia National Park, Caernarfon, and the Llyn Peninsula. Thanks to its mixture of sandy dunes and rock pools it is considered one of the finest beaches in Britain. If you want to dive deep into ancient times, then you can visit the historical site of Ynys Llanddwyn, which is in a short distance range.
Dogs are not allowed on the western section of the beach between 1st May to 30th September but are welcome the rest of the year.
The easiest way to get to Llanddwyn Island is by car. You’ll need to drive a short distance on the A55 North Wales Expressway. Seven car parks are available. This beach is also accessible by bus, the number 42 bus runs frequently Monday to Saturday, you will need to walk or ride a bike the three miles to the beach.
If you are interested in visiting more of the Blue Flag Beaches please refer to this full list of all the Blue Flags Beaches in the UK.