Britain's 15 Best Beaches

By: Lindsay MacNevin

Many people don’t necessarily think of hitting the beach when they visit the UK, but in fact it is absolutely loaded with beautiful coastline, alas the water isn’t always the warmest but the views will make up for that. Many of these beaches lie untouched, wildly beautiful and free from crowds of people. Others are popular spots among surfers (yes, there’s surfing in Britain) and water sports enthusiasts. Brilliant blue waters, silky white sands, beautiful dunes and luscious landscapes make up these 15 best beaches in Britain.


15. Blackpool Sands, Dartmouth

Located in South Devon is a beautiful beach, sheltered in a bay surrounded by evergreens and pines with water so turquoise in color it almost feels Mediterranean. The water here is crystal clear, in large part due to the small smooth pebbles that make up the beach and the ban of dogs on the beach. Perfect for families, Blackpool Sands has lifeguards on duty during the summer months, along with plenty of amenities to keep everyone happy. A floating raft in the summer months is one of the most popular activities as many choose to sunbathe on it, or dive off into the blue waters. With a café producing local and organic meals, a shop renting out water sports equipment and events happening all summer long, Blackpool Sands is the perfect Britain beach getaway.

Blackpool Sands, Devon england

14. Llanddwyn, Anglesey

This stunning island beach is known as the “Beach of Romance” due in part to a story about a runaway princess that fled here after a love affair gone wrong. This three-mile stretch of sand is backed by impressive sand dunes and has been awarded for having extremely clean water. The beach is cleaned daily, although they are no lifeguards on duty and therefore parents should be aware of that before they visit. Just beyond this beach is the Newborough Warren National Nature Reserve, a 1.5 acre piece of property that is popular with bird-watchers and wildlife enthusiasts. There are over 10 miles of footpaths for hiking enthusiasts and visitors should keep their eyes open for the elusive red squirrel that lives here. Stunning scenery, a laid back atmosphere and a lovely island to explore makes the beaches here the perfect getaway.

Llanddwyn island, Anglesey

13. Watergate Bay, Newquay

It is one of the most popular beaches in the area due to the predictable Atlantic swells that provide the perfect waves for any surfer. This two-mile stretch of golden sand also happens to be beautiful with its dunes and cliffs providing the picture perfect backdrop. Families happen to love this beach as there are plenty of rock pools filled with crabs and other creatures to amuse the kids, while adults can book a surfing lesson or relax nearby. This wide stretch of beach ensures that it never feels crowded and there are plenty of things to do other than swim, including taking a hike along the cliff top or taking a traction kiting lesson from the nearby academy. There are a couple of restaurants located right on the beach as well as hotels for extended stays. Make sure to grab your board, pack plenty of buckets for the kids and prepare to spend at least a day exploring this beach.

Watergate Bay, Newquay

12. Luskentyre, Outer Hebrides, Scotland

The landscape in the Outer Hebrides is enough of a reason to go, never mind the breathtaking beaches that are present here. Arguably the best of the beaches here is Luskentyre, largely in part to its azure-green waters that look more like Caribbean waters. Miles of white sand backed by beautiful dunes set the stage for this incredible coastline. This beach is truly incredible at any time of the year and the most popular activity here is to walk along the stretch of sand. Depending on the sun, clouds and sky, expect the water to constantly change color from green to blue to black and back to green. Expect the scenery to change along the way with pools, cliffs, islands and an abundance of wildlife. Otters, seals, dolphins, wild ponies, eagles and deer are all known to call this place home.

Luskentyre, Outer Hebrides, Scotland


11. Lunan Bay, Scotland

This two-mile stretch of beach is located on the Angus coastline and provides visitors a picture perfect escape from reality. The beach is backed by magnificent dunes and the equally stunning Red Castle, a crumbling 12th- century fortress that makes for the perfect backdrop for any budding photographer. The beach is littered with curious rock formations, low red cliffs and some people swear that the sand takes on a pinkish hue at times. If you are lucky to be here after a storm you will most likely be able to find semiprecious stones that have washed ashore, such as jasper and agate, you might even find a shark egg here as well. The currents at this beach tend to be strong and swimmers should take great care when they are in the water. The two most popular activities here have to be surfing and bird watching.

Photo by: Visit Scotland
Photo by: Visit Scotland

10. Woolacombe Beach, Devon

This three-mile stretch of white sand is popular among both families and surfers and remains one of the most popular and most-loved beaches in all of Britain. Because of its size, this beach never feels crowded and throughout the day visitors stretch out amongst the white sand to play games, build sandcastles or play in the water. Lifeguards are on duty throughout the day and with plenty of rock pools to splash in and gentle sloping sands; it is truly the perfect beach for children. Plenty of amenities such as shops, cafes, washrooms and showers make it easy to spend the entire day here. The world-class surf breaks are perfect for those wanting to catch a wave while cliff top trails provide the perfect experience for hiking enthusiasts. Make sure to stick around for sunset as the colors that light up the sky are truly unbelievable; just don’t forget your camera.

Woolacombe Beach, Devon

9. Scarborough South Bay, North Yorkshire

This large sandy bay is full of excellent amenities, facilities, trained lifeguards and beautiful surroundings. Legend has it that Scarborough was one of the world’s original spas and that people came here as early as 1611 to bathe in the waters that were thought to have healing powers. Scarborough Castle, although in ruins is what separates North and South Bay and the ruins are well worth exploring. There is a working harbor along with a marina located at this beach which means there is no shortage of seaside stalls selling amazing fresh seafood. The waves lap gently onto shore and the waters are relatively free of currents and therefore perfect for any type of swimmer. It is important to note that this beach can get crowded on a hot sunny day and visitors should arrive early to grab a prime beach spot.

Scarborough South Bay, North Yorkshire

8. Porthmelgan Beach, Pembrokeshire

This sandy, sheltered cove is perfect for any visitors looking to escape the busyness of everyday life, with its tranquil nature and beautiful scenery. The beach itself is a triangle of golden sand that is surrounded on three sides by protective cliffs, making it a haven for sun lovers and keeping the winds out. The rock pools are a delight for both kids and adults alike, full of interesting creatures such as crabs, shrimp and small fish. Furry four-legged animals are welcomed here all year around and there is plenty of room for them to run and play. It is important to note that at high tide the beach is made up of pebbles and the sand doesn’t appear until the tide starts to retreat. Overlooking Ramsay Island, home to the UK’s largest grey seal population, this picture perfect beach is a respite from the overcrowded Whitesands Beach, located just a short walk away.

Photo by: Visit Pembrokeshire
Photo by: Visit Pembrokeshire

7. Achmelvich Beach, Highlands, Scotland

The west coast of Scotland is home to an abundance of beautiful beaches; some just miles of golden, others sparkling with crystal clear turquoise waters and all of them uncrowded and pollution free. Achmelvich Beach is located in the far north-west of the Highlands and is actually a series of intimate beaches with clean white sand. The waters here are pollution free, safe for swimming and are often filled with playing porpoises. Expect a beautiful background full of lush greenery and brilliant flowers. Achmelvich Beach is also home to the tiniest castle in all of Europe and an amazing annual sandcastle-building competition. Camping is quite popular around this beach and there are a total of two campgrounds and one caravan park that are open for business. Visitors should not that dogs are banned from this beach in the summertime, as well as they are banned year round in the camping parks.

Photo by: Welcome to Scotlande
Photo by: Welcome to Scotlande


6. Rhossili Bay, Wales

This beach bay is made up of three-miles of fine golden sand and incredible Atlantic Swells, making it the perfect beach for both sandcastle building and surfing. During low tide visitors will be privy to the remains of Helvetia, a ship wrecked in 1887. If you are looking to stay away from the crowds, make sure to stick to the Rhossili end of the beach rather than the Hillend. You won’t find any sort of facilities at this end but you will find incredible picturesque views and amazing tranquility. The water tends to be quite warm in July and August, unusual for Britain and many swimmers and surfers can be seen enjoying it. One of Gower’s most famous landmarks, Worms Head is also found here. Head down to the Hillend side if you are looking for shops and restaurants.

Rhossili Bay, Wales

5. Pentle Bay, Tresco, Scilly Isles

The white sand and sparkling blue color of the water gives this beach a tropical feeling, and with a slightly warmer climate here than the rest of Britain, it is easy to feel as though you are sitting in the midst of the Caribbean. This beach is one of the smallest on this list at just half a mile but that doesn’t make it any less breathtaking and amazing. Because of its location on the opposite shore of where the boats land, Pentle Bay remains largely unvisited. It is only a 10-20 minute walk here but surrounding beaches that are closer means this one often gets overlooked. Surrounding low dunes, sheltered and safe waters and an outstanding view are all reasons to make the walk here. Whether you are looking to collect seashells or simply lounge on your beach towel, be sure not to miss out on Pentle Bay.

Photo by: Tresco Island
Photo by: Tresco Island

4. Scarista Beach, Isle of Harris, Scotland

For those looking to enjoy the island life, Britain is the perfect place to be as it is home to more than 6,000 islands. Isle of Harris, located in the Outer Hebrides is home to one of the best beaches to be found. Scarista Beach is made up of miles of shell-scattered golden sand with gently lapping water. The sand is backed by towering dunes and a mountainous lunar landscape. The stunning blue water is often filled with seals playing nearby and make sure to keep your eyes peeled for nearby deer that often wander down to the beach. This beach also happens to be very popular with surfers as it packs a great swell for both beginners and experts. Make sure to pack your beach towels and a picnic and spend the whole day here, often unaccompanied by any other visitors.

Photo by: Rough Guides
Photo by: Rough Guides

3. Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire, Wales

This golden sand beach is one of Wales best kept secrets and although it has come into the spotlight in recent years, it stills remains largely untouched. There is no road access to this beach and visitors can expect to walk about half an hour over the picturesque cliff top to reach it. Beach goers should be aware that the hike is not suitable for anyone in a wheelchair, pushchair or stroller. The reward for the trek is a breathtaking crescent shaped beach, with deep soft sand and a brilliant shade of blue, often compared to the color of the Caribbean Sea. Gentle waves and a lack of currents make this the perfect place for children to swim that is if they can endure the hike. Make sure to bring along a picnic if you plan on spending the day here as there is nowhere to buy food or drinks, nor is there a washroom to use.

Photo by: Bluestone national park
Photo by: Bluestone national park

2. Durdle Door, Dorset

On the Jurassic Coast lie a couple of beaches so hard to get to that we promise they won’t ever be overcrowded, and it sure is worth the effort. Durdle Door is actually the name of the limestone arch between the two beaches, St Oswald’s Bay and Man O’War Cove. To reach these beaches visitors must descend down several hundred steps built into the cliff. Once you get down though, the location is absolutely stunning. Besides the obvious beautiful rock formation, visitors are treated to windless conditions, clear blue waters, lush green vegetation and a wild and desolate feeling. We recommended bringing everything down with you that you may need as it is a long way to get back up. Swimmers are warned the water is cold, all year round and draws gasps of disbelief from even the bravest of swimmers. Think of this beach as a photographer’s paradise more than swimmers.

Durdle Door


1. Bantham Beach, South Devon

It is hailed as one of the finest sandy beaches in Devon and certainly one of the best in all of Britain, with its vast expanse of sand and beautiful blue waters. Families love this beach for its fantastic rock pools, tiny estuary and windless conditions. Surfers flock here for the long and low waves that make the conditions perfect for both beginners and veterans. The favorite time at this beach is low tide, when the miles of sand are exposed and it looks like you can simply walk out forever. A background of dunes and cliffs create the perfect backdrop for a memorable day at the beach. Grab a bite to eat at the Gastrobus in the dunes, spend the night at the art deco hotel and enjoy one of the best beaches in all of Britain.

Bantham Beach, South Devon