Sun, sea and sand – and maybe a few pebbles. Add a 99 Flake, a bucket and spade and maybe an umbrella for emergencies, and you’re ready for a great British seaside adventure. But where are the Top 10 best beaches in South East England? Whether you’re planning a day out or dreaming of making a permanent move to the coast, our guide is ready and waiting. We have curated this list based on regular award winners and well-reviewed sites. But the only way to decide your favourite is to visit them all. So, what are you waiting for?
10 of the best beaches in the South East of England
From swathes of golden sand to city seafront gems, this Top 10 will kickstart your planning for any seaside escape, long or short. The only question is, which one offers the right combination of activities and facilities for you? Read on to find out.
1. Brighton Beach
Brighton is one of the top city breaks in the world – an accolade earned partly for its vibrant seafront. While the beach is pebbled rather than sandy, you won’t have to contend with unintentionally crunchy sandwiches. Instead, you’ll be too busy taking up watersports like kayaking, paddleboarding, or just practising your skimming skills.
After you’ve soaked up some rays, meander to Brighton Palace Pier for a go on the helter-skelter. Alternatively, browse the amazing galleries in the Artists’ Quarter or enjoy fresh seafood in one of the many nearby restaurants. There are also many other attractions to explore, including museums, clubs, and ethical and vegan-friendly fayre and wares.
2. Viking Bay
Broadstairs is a coastal town on the Isle of Thanet in east Kent, about 80 miles east of London. Viking Bay’s Blue Flag curve of sand is part of what makes this town a traditional seaside resort. The fishing boats in the northern harbour sit in the eye of Bleak House, where Charles Dickens penned David Copperfield.
Beach huts and a promenade round off this nod to Victorian England, which you can appreciate while touring the waterside shops and cafés. A lifeguard service runs on the beach, and if you can’t be bothered to walk into Broadstairs afterwards, a cliff elevator is there to make the trip a breeze. No dogs are allowed between the 1st of May and the 30th of September.
3. Tankerton Beach
Located at the entrance to the Thames Estuary on the North Kent coast near the town of Whitstable, Tankerton Beach has everything from a marine parade promenade to characterful huts and a sailing club. A large grassy area between the promenade and shingle beach offers plenty of space for families to play or picnic while appreciating the lovely views across the water.
During low tide, you can venture from the postcard-perfect beach along the 750m long shingle strip to find rock pools or look for sea creatures.
4. Deal Beach
If you wish to combine a beach trip with visiting a historic town peppered with fishermen’s cottages and Georgian townhouses, then head on down to Deal. With period buildings lining the shore and boats pulled up onto the shingle, the setting couldn’t be any more idyllic.
The long local pier also has a café at the end for taking in the view. While you’re here, why not stroll a little further along to visit Deal Castle or drop by one of the waterfront bistros?
5. Camber Sands
Unusually for a Sussex beach, the almost 3-mile-long Camber Sands is not only golden, but it also has the only dunes in the area. The western end is particularly lovely, with even more sand exposed by the retreating tide. That’s part and parcel of its popularity too – we all know wet sand is great for castles – at least when it comes to the bucket and spade variety!
Just two hours from London, Camber Sands is also a popular spot for wind and kite-surfacing as well as beachcombing. While the beach is dog friendly, they aren’t allowed in certain zoned areas between the 1st of May and the 30th of September. If you’re coming by car, it’s also worth noting that the gates to the nearby public car parks shut at 8pm.
6. West Wittering Beach
Just six miles south of Chichester, West Wittering Beach is long and sandy – perfect for romantic evening rambles or exciting watersports. You can also easily access the beach directly from the city centre by following The Salterns Way cycle path, which avoids having to park. If you are coming by car, you’ll have to pre-book a space using the Just Park app or website. Just follow the links on the West Wittering Estate site.
While you can hire equipment and pay for lessons at 2XS, windsurfing from the beach is restricted to West Wittering Windsurf Club members from March to October. You must also be a member to kitesurf at any time of year. However, the location offers plenty of opportunities to stretch your legs – keep walking to the dunes at East Head or go east to find a well-stocked high street. Dogs are banned between groynes 14a to 18 from the 1st of May to the 30th of September.
7. Joss Bay
We return to the Thanet coast to find another strip of golden grains – Joss Bay, named after the smuggler, Joss Snelling. Here, chalk cliffs provide shelter, while deck-chair hire, easy parking, and nearby amenities ensure a stress-free day out.
Joss Bay is also the place to go if surfing is your thing. It has one of the best-known surf schools around, where you can take lessons or hire equipment. In addition, the beach is well located for bike riding or walking, as it sits about halfway between Broadstairs and Margate. From the 1st of May to the 30th of September, dogs are banned from 10am to 6pm.
8. Margate Main Sands
If a traditional seaside escape is your aim, look no further than Margate. Boasting bars and restaurants alongside a beach that has been a firm favourite for decades, Margate Main Sands is as timeless as the sea.
Get ready to paddle in the tidal pool and let the children loose at Dreamland Amusement Park for a day to remember. If you need a break from the sun, walk to the Old Town and pick from a variety of refreshments.
9. Littlehampton Beach
Our penultimate offering is Littlehampton Beach in West Sussex. This Blue Flag sand and shingle beach stretches for about a mile and comes complete with lovely seafront gardens, amusements, and a traditional promenade.
It also boasts an epic 1,000ft bench, so you should be able to sit down with a flask of tea while watching the waves. Thanks to on-hand lifeguards and a Kidcare wristband scheme, the beach is safe for families too. Dogs must stay in the area east of Norfolk Road during the summer.
10. Dymchurch Beach
Our final contender sits on a peaceful stretch of coastline between Folkestone and Rye. The beach provides an appealing combination of shingle and sand, with miles of low-lying marshland behind that produces some of the UK’s most flavourful lamb.
Like it’s relatively close neighbour Camber Sands, at low tide the sea retreats to provide vast sandy plains perfect for a game of beach football, cricket or volleyball. Unlike Camber Sands, Dymchurch Beach remains relatively quiet even in the peak of summer.
So, do our Top 10 best beaches in South East England have you raring to grab a hat and a deckchair? Hopefully, you’re now armed with all the knowledge you need for an amazing day or holiday away. While you’re in the region, why not mix things up by visiting these other top attractions?
HomeViews provides verified resident reviews of the UK’s housing developments. We’re working with developers, landlords and the Government to recognise high performers and help to improve standards in the built environment.
Littlehampton beach photo by Zahid Mahmood on Unsplash
Margate Main Sands photo by Max Letek on Unsplash
Camber Sands photo by Dorin Vancea on Unsplash
Viking Bay photo by Chris on Unsplash
Brighton Beach photo by Marco Savastano on Unsplash
Stone Bay photo Judith Bennett / Broadstairs, Stone Bay / CC BY-SA 2.0
Joss Bay photo by Diliff – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4670988
West Wittering photo by Peter Facey, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14083117
Tankerton Beach photo by Mark Anderson, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4118768
Deal Beach photo by DeFacto – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=71462184