Whatever the season, there’s a beach to make the most of the weather. Kent, Sussex and Hampshire have over 500 miles of coastline between them and there’s a beach for every taste and occasion.
Dymchurch has three miles of flat, golden sands, perfect for enjoying the English sunshine. The village has amusements, cafes, restaurants and pubs, while on the beach there’s fine, safe sea-bathing and you can even enjoy a donkey ride! A narrow gauge railway runs between Dungeness, through Romney and Dymchurch to nearby Hythe and will be popular especially with young children.
Sandgate beach close to Folkestone is a hidden gem. Backed by a promenade and with lovely walks in the park behind, this shingle beach is a wonderful place to walk dogs, chill and watch fishermen at work or simply rest awhile and skim pebbles. The water quality here is rated excellent, so if it’s not too bracing, take a dip.
Visit Broadstairs for a great choice of beaches. There are seven bays here, including Botany Bay, dramatically framed by chalk cliffs. Indulge in some fossil hunting or simply exploring rock pools. St Mary’s Bay is a long sandy beach with sands extending for half a mile when the tide’s out, or Littlestone beach to watch the sand yachting.
Beautiful Sussex has a wealth of wonderful beaches along its coastline. Camber Sands has the only sand dune system in East Sussex and is a popular beach with find sand. It’s a huge beach stretching for nearly five miles and because it’s so large, it’s worth taking a windbreak to protect yourself from cross winds. The winds, however, make it a fabulous spot for kite-flying.
For undeveloped grandeur, check out Birling Gap beach between Eastbourne and Brighton. It’s a sand and shingle beach at the base of imposing sheer cliffs known as The Seven Sisters. You won’t find amusement arcades – head West to Brighton beach for these – but there’s a National Trust Information Centre and the beach is a good place to discover fossils. Those of a sensitive disposition need to be aware that some areas of the beach are used by naturists.
Holywell Beach at Eastbourne is another quiet beach, suitable for pottering about in rockpools and offering views of the UK’s highest sea cliffs at Beachy Head. Dogs are welcome on this beach so it’s a good option for those with four-legged friends. The beach backs onto an area of Italian style gardens called Holywell Retreat, with a tea-chalet hidden in the middle.
No mention of beaches in the South of the country would be complete without mention West Wittering. This is one of the top blue-flag beaches in the country, backed by dunes and overlooking pretty Chichester Harbour. There’s also a large grassed area which is great for ball games, picnicking and parking. A beach café serves hot and cold food throughout the year (weekends only in Winter). Popular with kite and wind surfers, and the bucket and spade brigade alike, this beach really does have it all.
While West Wittering is hugely popular (and rightly so), if you’re looking for something a little more off the beaten track, try Aldwick Bay. Parking is right next to the shingle beach, there’s a boardwalk with benches, views are fabulous and the café sells hot and cold food.
Lepe Beach is a stony beach in an area of outstanding natural beauty. With views of the Isle of Wight, the beach itself has historical interest in the form of D-day remains. Walks in adjoining Lepe Country Park are excellent too and are rich in wildlife. Although swimming is available here, be careful of the dangerous shingle spit, revealed at low tide.
An easily accessible stony beach can be found at Milford-on-Sea. It’s possible to walk along the sea wall to the bustling and charming town of Lymington from here, and the beach itself offers views of the Needles. The other end of the beach is at Keyhaven, a small village with a pretty harbour; the village itself is part of the larger Keyhaven nature reserve, so there are endless opportunities for spotting wildlife and birdwatching.