Sandy shores - get out there and find the one you love...
The simple natural combination of water, sand, rocks and pure fresh air make for mind blowing beauty and a blissful day out, but what makes a beach ‘the best’ for you?
Do you prefer rolling sands to lounge on or rock pools to explore? Are you searching for the best shore breaks to surf, or the calm waters of a secluded bay to paddle in? The Marine Conservation Society, Helpful Holidays’ nominated charity for 2017, which champions wildlife protection, sustainable fisheries and clean shores includes popular beaches and hidden gems in its online Good Beach Guide. You can check which beaches are dog-friendly or life-guarded, see water pollution levels, the weather and tide times and even find out what wildlife you might spot.
Blackpool Sands is an unspoiled crescent-shaped stretch of coarse golden sands surrounded by green fields, magnificent pines, craggy cliffs and a turquoise blue sea. The beach is popular among families with small children. It has a Blue Flag award and is one of Devon’s treasures. Part of its family-friendly appeal is the easy parking and the fact that it’s cleaned daily from March to the end of October and is life guarded and dog free in high season. Older children and adults will love throwing themselves off the bathing raft and the more adventurous can hire all sorts of equipment, including surf canoes, boogie boards, kayaks, wetsuits and snorkelling equipment from the watersports centre. For those who want to stretch their legs nearby, there’s a circular walk from the beach to Stoke Fleming, taking in the 13th century church, dramatic coastal views and the Green Dragon pub. The Venus Café serves hungry beachgoers fresh food, drinks and ice creams year round.
Located in a South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Bigbury-on-Sea beach is ideal for family holidays. Dusted with sand and lapped by shallow waters, the beach offers safe fun for groups, particularly if you’ve got children in tow. In addition, Bigbury-on-Sea beach is dotted with rock pools, so there’s plenty of entertainment for budding marine biologists. With a sandy beach at the mouth of the Avon estuary, Bigbury-on-Sea is connected to Burgh Island, which is just off the beach, by a causeway passable at low tide; at high tide, a sea tractor transports passengers to and from the island. The South West Coast Path follows the undulating cliff line, past Burgh Island and the beach.
A huge and golden sandy beach backed by a fabulous sand dune system and situated within a bay, it’s very popular with surfers, and with a school and hire shop right on the beach, there’s no excuse not to have a go. You won’t go hungry, with multiple cafés to choose from, and there’s plenty of car parking too. Look out to the Atlantic and you’ll spot Lundy Island - a Marine Reserve. There are good rock pools at either end of the beach and several public footpaths around the village, beach and headland. The walk to Baggy Point is popular, offering spectacular views and a chance to spot seabirds.
Sandy Bay is a secluded bay with a mile long sandy beach backed by high cliffs, part of a long strip of sand which at low tide is connected to Exmouth. It can get very crowded in the summer, so it’s worth heading there early to get the best spots. Bathing, walking, rock pooling and various watersports with equipment hire are all on offer. There are lots of local coastal walks, either along the beach or using the Coast Path. Nearby Orcombe Point is a World Heritage Site which marks the start of the ‘Jurassic Coast’, famous for fossil hunts and stretching to Studland Bay in Dorset.
Beer is a small seaside village built around a little cove. The beach is sheltered from most winds and nearby Jubilee Gardens offer lovely views. Boating and bathing are both popular here and the area has spectacular views - it is part of a World Heritage Site and the east Devon Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Explore the village and the local coastline or walk south around the headland to Branscombe beach and the village where the National Trust manages several of the historic buildings. With a mixture of sand, shingle and pebbles and excellent water quality, as well as ample parking and options for refreshments after a hard day making the most of the beach, Beer is the perfect way to enjoy east Devon by the sea.
The beach at Seaton, east Devon, is formed by a large expanse of legally protected pebbles. Backed by steep cliffs to the western end, this stretch of shore is typical of the beautiful east Devon coastline. A recent esplanade to the western end affords easy access along its length, with a café and facilities at the end of the stroll. Popular activities to enjoy here include swimming, sailing, windsurfing, surfing and fishing and, by heading up the South West Coast Path, you can enjoy Seaton as a gateway to the Dorset and East Devon World Heritage Coast site. For bird watching enthusiasts, the local wetlands a little inland have some spectacular wading birds.
A beautiful area of the Dorset coast with spectacular seascapes, Charmouth is part of the ‘Jurassic Coast’, due to the number of fossil remains discovered. Charmouth attracts families and day trippers who enjoy activities such as swimming, walking and fossil hunting. With Charmouth East and Charmouth West separated by the River Char, this is truly a stunning area of natural beauty to explore. Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre runs guided fossil walks between February and September and, for those who like to lace up their boots and get out there, the South West Coast Path runs past the beach. Walk eastwards to Lyme Regis and east Devon and westwards to Seatown; either way, stunning views and fresh sea air promise to stimulate the senses.
The picturesque harbour town has an international reputation for its ‘Jurassic’ cliffs containing a vast array of fossils, which may be found along the foreshore. It is also widely known as the setting for ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’. There is lots to do here, from swimming, sailing, scuba diving, sea canoeing, power boating and water skiing to fishing, surfing and windsurfing. There is a children’s area too, as well as zoning for watersports. What’s more, there are walks from Undercliff to Seaton and via the beach to Charmouth. A coastal path guides visitors along the famous fossil-bearing cliffs and there are plenty of inland walks too.