Britain's best family-friendly beaches
From puffin spotting and surf schools, to kite-flying and tide-filled paddling pools, here is our pick of the best family-friendly beaches in the UK.
There's nothing that says summer in the UK like a trip to the seaside, and with so many child-friendly activities, it's a perfect place for the whole family to enjoy a day out. Taking into account safe paddling, rockpooling, cafés, ice-cream parlours and great picnic spots, we've put together some of the best beaches for mums, dads, grandparents and kids alike.
Whether you’re after a sprawling sandy bay for beach games or guaranteed waves for surfing or body-boarding and lifeguarded beaches for safe swimming and paddling, here is our guide to the UK's best family-friendly beaches, including facilities and how to get there.
UK's best family friendly beaches
1. Porthminster, Cornwall
This crescent beach enjoys one of the UK’s mildest climates. Hire everything from buckets and spades to windbreaks, and enjoy award-winning seafood in the café. Then take in the views of Godrevy Lighthouse while the kids bury you in golden grains. St Ives train station is a three-minute walk away. visitcornwall.com
2. Joss Bay, Kent
The 200m-long sands of Joss Bay – named after a 19th-century smuggler – are sheltered by chalk cliffs. There’s plenty of parking, plus a café and deckchair hire. Little ones will no doubt make a beeline for the bouncy castle in the kids’ corner, while teenagers can learn to surf with Kent’s longest-running surf school. visitkent.co.uk/joss-bay
3. West Wittering, West Sussex
Bordered by wildlife-rich saltmarsh, The Witterings’ best beach has white sand and top-notch water quality. The watersports school offers kids’ lessons on the low-tide lagoon, plus a full range of kit hire, from paddleboards to surfboards. westwitteringestate.co.uk
4. Ballycastle, County Antrim
A stunning spot en route to the Giant’s Causeway, Ballycastle’s sand and shingle stretch is almost a mile long. Dogs are welcome, so bring the whole family for ball games and beach fun with views (and boat trips) out to Rathlin Island. discovernorthernireland.com/Ballycastle-Beach
5. Benllech, Anglesey
This golden bay is a family favourite. The clear waters are considered ‘exceptionally safe’, the ice creams are excellent and pushchairs can be rolled down the ramp to the beach where there are rockpools to be explored. At low tide, the sand reaches out for miles – the best time for kite flying. visitanglesey.co.uk
6. Frinton-on-Sea, Essex
Frinton’s sand is spotless, firm and plentiful, perfect for building sandcastles. The gently shelved beach is ideal for safe paddling, and the promenade is lined with colourful beach huts. This Sunshine Coast gem has toilets and free parking but no outlets, so bring a picnic or stroll into town for supplies. thebeachguide.co.uk
7. North Berwick, East Lothian
Famous for its puffins, North Berwick is a must for young explorers, and it’s only 30 minutes from Edinburgh by train. Go paddling in the tide-filled pool on sandy Milsey Bay, then stroll to the Scottish Seabird Centre and see wildlife up close with a boat ride to Bass Rock. north-berwick.co.uk
Lucy is the co-author of Wild Guide Southern and Eastern England.