UK beaches: The surprisingly-beautiful British coastlines

For Beach Thursday this week, I wanted to do something different. I asked myself, what is one of the least-likely beach destinations for globetrotters to pick? That’s when UK beaches came to mind.

best UK beaches Porthcurno

Porthcurno Beach located in…the UNITED KINGDOM?! Keep reading to learn more! (Simon Clayson, Flickr)

I always knew the British coastlines are wildly beautiful. I had seen snapshots of its jagged cliffs over azure waters on National Geographic and the Discovery Channel.

However, I never imagined long sandy British beaches.

I always thought that UK beaches were either full of pebbles, too small to lounge in or would be too cold to enjoy them at all anyway. But boy, was I wrong! Whether you are around Edinburgh or London, just park and fly (or drive!) to one of these spots.

Best UK beaches: My picks

Bournemouth Beach, Dorset

Yes, it is in every brochure — but justifiably so. Bournemouth Beach, a mere 2-hour drive from London, busts any myth stating that a British beach holiday is an oxymoron. Golden soft sand (a good 7 miles of it), clean waters, a pier and promenade full of places to eat and drink make it the best UK beach holiday destination. Thanks to its artificial reef, you can even go surfing here. Parking is expensive though, so plan accordingly.

top UK beaches Bournemouth

Popular Bournemouth Beach (Jeremy Tarling, Flickr)

Green Bay Beach, Porthcurno, Cornwall

In my opinion, the best UK beaches are Green Bay Beach and Porthcurno. They are simply too gorgeous for words. Their water can be as crystalline as any Caribbean beach (!), the sand is fine and soft, the rock pools and stream that goes down the beach are perfect for small children.

best UK beaches Cornwall

Porthcurno beach from Minack Theater. WOW! (drgillybean, Flickr)

A must do when visiting the area is to go see a play in the spectacular rock-hewn, open-air Minnack Theatre! I was flabbergasted after finding out that Porthcurno didn’t make it to the Best Beaches in the United Kingdom Tripadvisor list. Maybe that’s a good thing? 😉

best UK beaches Minack Theater

Minack Theatre: what a stunning place for a play! (Liz Smith, Flickr)

Sinclair’s Bay, Caithness, Scotland

A Scottish beach that doesn’t even have a proper attraction page on Tripadvisor. Whales, porpoises, and 16th-century castles make the mostly-deserted Sinclair’s Bay a unique beach destination in the UK. Located in Caithness, its 4-mile coastline is ethereal. Another wonderful hidden gem! Photos can’t do it justice.

top UK beaches Sinclair

Castle Sinclair Girnigoe by Stefan Klaas, Flickr

Gwithian & Porthgwidden Beach, St. Ives, Cornwall

And here I thought the only St. Ives was in Switzerland. Anyway…! Gwithian & Porthgwidden are other Cornwall spots that will impress even the most discerning beachcombers.

Gwithian really has it all: bug free, great seafood (at a great price), rock pools, and sand dunes. The beach is also great for windsurfing. The best part? Visit around November in order to see a seal sanctuary, located in a cove past Godrevy light house. A traveler once reported seeing over 130 seals at once!

What about Porthgwidden Beach?

Top UK beaches Porthgwidden Cornwall

This is Porthgwidden. Um yeah…exactly. (Photo: Richardo York)

Great Bay, St Martin’s, Isles of Scilly

To really get away from it all, head to Great Bay in the Isles of Scilly. A 20 minute walk from the dock, this UK beach is only reachable by foot. For this reason, it is never crowded. The best thing to do while in St Martin’s, by the way? Snorkeling with the seals. Now that’s another one for my travel bucket list!

best UK beaches Great Bay Isles of Scilly

Little Bay, Great Bay, Isles of Scilly by David Edwards, Flickr

For more UK beaches that didn’t make my list (but still come highly recommended), please visit the official Visit Britain site here.

top UK beaches Minack Theater

Minack Theater again! (Simon Clayson, Flickr)

What are your fave UK beaches? Would you visit the UK for them?

12 thoughts on “UK beaches: The surprisingly-beautiful British coastlines

  1. You had me there. It’s a good thing that you made this article. It’s great to know that there are nice beaches in the UK. Some are not only nice but beautiful too. I hope to swim there one of these days, once I’m not very busy.

    • I’ve heard a lot about the Philippines and its beautiful beaches. Haven’t been able to make it to Asia yet, but hope to do so soon! Perhaps 2014? *fingers crossed*

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