Our 10 best staycation beaches in the UK, ranging from the south coast of England to the northern tip of Scotland.
Including some of the more well-known staycation destinations, in addition to some wilder, more off the beaten track gems where you’ll hardly see another soul all day.
Beaches in England
Blackpool Sands, South Devon
Blackpool Sands, not to be confused with its Lancastrian namesake 200 miles to the north, is a privately managed Blue Flag pebble beach. Just 3 miles southwest of Dartmouth, makes it popular for seaside staycations. However, due to the depth of the shingle beach, it rarely gets crowded.
The Venus beach cafe does more than just serve chips and ice cream. With fresh local seafood and a good selection of local beers and wines, bringing a picnic is optional.
Great for: Paddlesports, due to its normally calm and crystal clear waters. Kayaks, bodyboards and Paddleboards can be hired by the hour, and during the summer season, there are lifeguards on duty.
Unfortunately due to the Blue Flag certification, dogs are not allowed during the summer months.
The skyline of Bamburgh beach is dominated by the castle. The current structure was built in the 12th century, although earlier castles are known to have stood in the same spot since the 6th.
The huge expanse of sand, backed by dunes and is a perfect place for windswept walks any time of year. While the water certainly isn’t the warmest in the country, Bamburgh has some of the most consistent waves for surfing in Northern England, and lessons are available.
Great for: Sandcastle building and dog walking. Bamburgh beach is dog friendly.
Holkham, North Norfolk
Part of the Holkham estate and nature reserve, Holkham beach is a protected and unspoilt four-mile stretch of golden sand backed by large dunes, pine woods and salt marshes. Dogs are allowed on the beach, except for the eastern end near Wells in front of the beach huts.
Great for: Peace and quiet. Even in summer, you will find a secluded spot.
Watergate Bay, North Cornwall
Located about 3 miles from Newquay, a popular area for beach staycations. This golden sand beach is a surfers paradise. Northwest facing, this Cornish beach gets the swells from the North Atlantic, creating some impressive waves.
It can get quite busy in peak season, in particular around the main car park near the Watergate hotel. Most of the beach disappears at high water so check the tide tables before you go.
Great for: Catching some surf.
Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove and Mupe Bay, Dorset
This short section of the 95 mile Jurassic coast packs in some of the most iconic coastal vistas in the country. Sand and shingle form the beaches along the Portland limestone cliffs. Hundreds of steep steps cut into the cliffs provide access for those who are not faint-hearted.
As the name suggests, ancient fossils can be discovered along the entire Jurassic Coast. Therefore, keep an eye out for treasures while exploring this beautiful stretch of coastline.
Great for: Ramblers. The South West Coast Path follows the clifftops along this stretch and is easily accessed from the car park at Lulworth Cove.
Beaches in Wales
Rhossili beach, Gower Peninsula,
Widely accepted as one of the best beaches in the UK, even making it into the top 10 in the world. Rhossili is three miles of golden sand on the Welsh Gower Peninsula, near Swansea.
Low tide creates a huge expanse of sand and exposes the wreck of the Norwegian ship Helvetia that ran aground in November 1887.
Great for: Surfers. Facing out into the Bristol Channel and exposed to the Atlantic Ocean swells, has resulted in Rhossili becoming a mecca for surfing in Wales.
Harlech Beach, Gywnedd, Snowdonia National Park
Harlech beach and the shifting dunes behind are a designated National Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest. Migrating leatherback turtles are found off the coast in summer months. The water is generally safe for swimming, although be aware there is no lifeguard presence on the beach.
Harlech Castle, built in the 13th century, used to stand on the seashore. Now, however, it lies 1km inland due to the nature of the shifting sands.
The beach is dog friendly apart from a small section in front of the caravan park in the summer season.
Great for: Wildlife watching.
Beaches in Scotland
Sandwood Bay, Cape Wrath, Sutherland
Being difficult to get to doesn’t make this beach not worth visiting. Situated in the far Northwest of mainland Scotland, Sandwood bay probably isn’t the beach to choose for a day out. However, if you are in the area, or perhaps driving the NC500 road trip, it is well worth a visit.
The beach, a mile of pristine sand owned by the John Muir Trust, is a 4-mile hike along the footpath from the car park and nearest road, therefore, bring your walking boots.
Great for: Wild camping. Scottish right to roam laws make wild camping legal on most unenclosed land. Wake up to the majestic natural beauty of one of the most remote and isolated corners of Britain.
Uig Sands, Lewis, Outer Hebrides
With white sand and crystal clear azure blue waters, you could be tricked into believing Uig Sands is somewhere in the Caribbean, if not for the temperature.
The site of the discovery of the famous Lewis Chessmen, ivory figures carved from walrus tusks in the 12th century. They are now on display at the British Museum in London and National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.
Great for: Kite buggying. The open flat sands make Uig one of the UK’s top spots for kite buggies.
St Cyrus, Aberdeenshire
Situated between Aberdeen and Dundee on the Scottish North East coast, St Cyrus is more accessible than some of the other beaches in Scotland. Set in a nature reserve, the beach is 3 miles of sand backed by red granite cliffs.
According to Legend, at the northern end of the beach, a 14th century Sheriff was boiled to death by a cannibal – Yikes!
Great for: Wildlife watching, with an abundance of birdlife overhead, and porpoises regularly sighted at sea, it is a great spot for an animal enthusiast.