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From Blackpool to hidden Huisinis: Britain’s best beaches
Not managed to get away yet this summer? The good news is you don’t have to board a plane to dig your toes into golden sand or paddle in the sea.
Our round-up of the best British beaches includes the cream of the old favourites as well as some luscious, more hidden coves around the country.
Brighton, south-east England
This fun-time south coast town is one of the originals. Today it’s just as much a piece of London by the sea as it is a beach resort, with many treating it as an increasingly stylish but more laidback escape from the big city.
Explore the pier and shingle beach, swim in the English Channel or head into town for a whirl around the quirky and decadent Brighton Pavilion, built as a seaside home for George, Prince of Wales. The Lanes area is packed with cute boutiques, cool bars and great places to eat out.
Hop on the Brighton Wheel for wonderful views and a commentary on the history of the area.
Find hotels in Brighton in all price ranges.
Blackpool is THE place to go for everything making up a traditional British seaside resort.
There’s ice cream, candy floss, kiss-me-quick hats and rock candy to get stuck into. There are also world-class theme park rides at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, a long sand beach, three piers and wall-to-wall entertainment from the immense Comedy Carpet – a concrete art work incorporating jokes and music hall catchphrases – at the foot of Blackpool Tower, to West End shows such as Mamma Mia! at the Opera House in the Winter Gardens complex.
Add in sea front trams, donkey rides, horse and trap trips, a superb zoo, fortune tellers and the Illuminations light show in early autumn and you have the UK’s premier resort.
Stay over in Blackpool for a fun and quintessentially British break.
Scarborough, North Yorkshire
The so-called Queen of the North Sea Coast, Scarborough has refreshing sea breezes, fantastic views of the coastline and three wonderful beaches, including Cayton Bay for surfing.
Set on a cliff overlooking the bay is atmospheric Scarborough Castle; the town is packed with gift shops and, on the run down to the harbour, some of the best fish and chip shops in Britain. The beach front is packed with the amusement arcades and funfair rides no self-respecting seaside resort would be without.
Or you could hop on the Miniature Railway within the zoo or see the sharks, seahorses and turtles at the Sea Life aquarium.
Choose from a big range of Scarborough hotels.
Great Yarmouth, Norfolk
This East Anglian resort is located close to the Norfolk Broads waterways, making it an ideal place to combine the beach with the countryside.
There are 15 miles of golden sands, among them the central Golden Mile packed with amusement arcades, gift shops, fish and chip shops and ice cream parlours. On Britannia Pier you can take a spin in the mini theme park, Joyland, or head to the Pleasure Beach for bigger rides, burgers and shakes.
For culture vultures there’s the Tollhouse museum, with its original dungeons, the Potteries for exhibitions of historic clay pot throwing and the Time & Tide fishery museum.
Find a Norfolk hotel for your seaside stay.
The surfing capital of the UK is also rapidly becoming a culinary hotspot with restaurants from chefs such as Jamie Oliver and Rick Stein in the area.
The quality of the beaches make this Cornish resort a delight. Fistral for surfers, Crantock to get away from the crowds, Polly Joke reachable only on foot or two mile-long Watergate Bay. Porth Beach is good for families – a sedate spot suitable for sandcastles and beach games.
If you want to learn surfing, body boarding or the skiing-surfing hybrid known as wakeboarding, the Cornwall Surfing Academy and other schools within the resort will soon have you mastering the waves.
Find hotels around Newquay.
Huisinis, Outer Hebrides
A little further afield than these traditional resorts, on the west coast of Harris in the Outer Hebrides, you’ll find the remote beach of Huisinis. Get the weather right here and, with the clear blue waters and golden sands, you could be forgiven for thinking you’re in the Caribbean – all that’s missing is palm trees.
Along with many beaches in this part of Scotland, the appeal of Huisinis lies partly in what you won’t find here. No fish and chip shops. No gaudy amusement arcades. No entertainment, apart from what nature provides – eagles, deer, cormorants and maybe even seals, dolphins and whales are among the attractions.
A ferry operates from the mainland to and between the islands of the Outer Hebrides.
Rhossili Bay, Wales
To the west of the Welsh county of Glamorgan is this little beach beauty. Not as isolated as the Huisinis, Rhossili Bay was voted the best beach in Britain in 2014 and the ninth best in the world by TripAdvisor reviewers.
If you love coastal walks and superb sunsets, then you’ll be in heaven in this little nook of the UK. Like Huisinis it lacks big resort facilities, although a National Trust visitor centre will help you to get the most out of the area.
Consider staying in a country cottage to really enjoy this corner of Wales.
A traditional Welsh resort this time, 90 miles west of Cardiff and combining a medieval town with three sandy beaches and lots to see and do. Harbour beach has won awards, beating competition from across Europe for its beautiful setting.
Once you’ve had your fill of the beach, cafes and gift shops, you can visit places out of town such as the Dinosaur Park, for kids, Saundersfoot beach for crabbing, Pendine Sands to visit the site of many a land speed record attempt, and Laugharne, home to Dylan Thomas’s writing shed and currently celebrating 100 years of his Under Milkwood novel.
Find a hotel in Tenby today.
Woolacombe Beach, Devon
This three-mile stretch of golden sand on the north Devon coast was voted the UK’s best beach this year by TripAdvisor users.
Whether you’re after clear water for little ones to paddle in, crowd-free stretches for a spot of beach cricket or waves to surf in, you’ll find it here. And there are coastal walks galore as well as pubs, cafes and restaurants to refuel in afterwards.
And, from holiday parks and B&Bs to hotels, there are accommodation options for all budgets.
Please note: This is an updated version of a previously-published article.
Where’s your favourite British seaside spot? Share your thoughts below