Fresh sea air, an exhilarating morning dip, sunsets over the bay – you can’t beat a summer spent under canvas by the British coastline. Many of these beach campsites are popular with families and offer a good opportunity for coastal walks, exploring rockpools and for fun family days on the beach building sand castles or beachcombing for hidden treasures along the shoreline.
From the Cornish coast to remote Scottish beaches, why not plan your own coastal holiday with our pick of the best beach campsites to pitch up and chill out in the UK.
Best beach campsites in England
Treen Farm Campsite, West Cornwall
Down a rough track, and sheltered by stone walls and scented gorse hedges, this simple patchwork of Cornish meadows straddles the cliffs above one of the best wild coves in Britain. It’s a tricky descent down to the beach but the pink sand bars and turquoise lagoons, combined with views of Logan Rock, make it worthwhile and keep the crowds at bay. There’s a good shop and a pizza van on Thursdays, and a little seasonal café and pub five minutes’ walk away. The only downside is that they take no bookings, so arrive early.
- Treen, St Levan, Penzance, TR19 6LF
- For more information, visit: www.treenfarmcampsite.com
Bedruthan Steps, Cornwall
Spacious and perfectly placed on the coast road between Padstow and Newquay, this seasonal campsite sits right on the cliff and has some of the best sea and sunset views in Cornwall. Bedruthen Steps beach is just below, an awesome mile-long stretch of low-tide sand with giant sea stacks and many lagoons and sea caves. Do take care though – this is the north Atlantic coast and currents are strong so you need to be aware of tide times and only swim if there is no swell. This is a basic campsite with only one hot shower and two loos, no other facilities, but there is a good tearoom at the National Trust car park. Campsite open July and August only.
- Off B3276, one mile north of Terrance.
- For more information, visit: www.bedruthansteps.com
North Morte Farm, Devon
Morte Point is named after its many shipwrecked souls, but it also shelters a collection of sandy secret coves. Rockham Bay is the best, with amazing rock formations and the remains of an old trawler. From the South West coastpath above a little gate leads up to this campsite. There is a complex of shops, wetsuit hire and static caravans at the top, but the lower set of gently sloping fields are reserved just for tents. You can also walk round on the coastpath to Lee Bay, or Barricane Beach – home to the delicious Sri Lankan curry shack (summer only) – and there are several pubs in the village.
- Mortehoe, Woolacombe, North Devon, EX34 7EG
- For more information, visit: www.northmortefarm.co.uk
Normans Bay, Sussex
This is a great train escape from London, right by its own wild sand and shingle beach, and with a pub in walking distance. This is where William the Conqueror landed in 1066 and the sound of waves will lull you to sleep at night. The downside is the wind, so bring a wind break, a suitable tent and maybe a kite. There is a good shop and children’s play area and the beach is brilliant for wind surfing and sea-bass fishing. Sand at low tide only.
- Pevensey, BN24 6PR
- For more information, visit: www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk
Chine Farm, Isle of Wight
South west Isle of Wight has miles of remote beach below cliffs, only accessible via steep ravine gullies called chines. This campsite offers cliff-top camping with big sea views and takes its name from Cowleaze Chine which provides a little stream and sandy path down to the beach. This is a particularly good spot to try out some moonlit bass fishing. Aim for one of the large grassy pitches away from the road and enjoy the sunset. There are several good pubs a short drive away.
- Archerfield Bay, Vintner, Isle of Wight, PO38 2JH
- For more information, visit: www.chine-farm.co.uk
Highsand Creek, Norfolk
Stiffkey’s saltmarshes offer a unique coastal landscape that’s rich in wildlife. Little paths and bridges lead over the marshes to muddy creeks filled with sun-warm water and miles upon miles of golden sand guarded by lounging seals. Highsand Creek is a tent-only campsite just behind the nature reserve and its simple facilities include hot showers and a playing field. A short walk away is the village shop and in nearby Morston is the Anchor Inn gastro pub.
- Stiffkey, Norfolk, NR23 1QP
- For more information, visit: highsandcreekcampsitestiffkey.co.uk
Henry’s Campsite, The Lizard, Cornwall
A campsite that feels much more like staying in a kooky back garden, each pitch at Henry’s has its own unique character, decorated with an array of wild and cultivated plants. The site is dotted with sculptures and artwork including an entire flock of wooden seagulls. It’s also in a wonderful location, nestled on the rugged coastline of the Lizard, England’s most southerly point. Nip into Lizard Village for a pint or wander along by the sea to spot resident seals and choughs. henryscampsite.co.uk
Hooks House Farm, North Yorkshire
This small, friendly, family-run campsite has sweeping panoramic views out over Robin Hood’s Bay, a long stretch of sand, rock pools and tiny coves with quirky names, such as Boogle Hole. The facilities are simple but plentiful and while there’s no shop, the ancient smuggler’s village of the same name, a huddle of tiny cottages and cosy pubs, is only 10 minute walk down the road. This is a great place for fossil hunting and crabbing, and an old railway cycle path leads to Scarborough or Whitby for days out.
- Whitby, North Yorkshire, YO22 4PE
- For more information, visit: www.hookshousefarm.co.uk
Troytown Farm, St Agnes, Isles of Scilly
Get away from modern life and escape to the remote Isles of Scilly. Step out of your tent and look out across the clear, blue waters of these peaceful place, where the silence is broken only by the waves and the birds. At low tide a sandbar appears from the waves – walk across it to explore the uninhabited island of Gugh and its hidden coves. Rent a pre-erected bell tent if you like a bit of creature comfort when sleeping under the stars. troytown.co.uk
Best beach campsites in Wales
West Hook Farm, Pembrokeshire
West Hook Farm has a stunning location, sitting high on the cliffs with the golden Marloes Sands and secret Musselwick beach less than a mile away. This is almost as far west as you can get in Wales, with just ocean and an island archipelago as far as the eye can see. Puffins and the world’s largest population of Manx shearwater’s can be seen on a visit to Skomer Island Marine Nature Reserve – boats depart from Martin’s Haven cove, right next to the farm.
- Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, SA62 3BJ
- For more information, visit: www.westhookfarm-camping.co.uk
Pencarnan Farm, St Davids
This superb site has its own path down to the secret cove of Porthselau, with creamy sand, rock pools at low tide and amazing sunsets. It’s also within easy reach of the pubs and cafés in St David’s, Britain’s tiniest cathedral village ‘city’. Some of the best beaches, sea kayaking and coasteering in Pembrokeshire are within easy reach. There is plenty of space for caravans and hook-ups here too, and the facilities and shop are excellent.
- St Davids, Haverfordwest, SA62 6PY
- For more information, visit: pencarnanfarm.co.uk
Aberafon, Llyn Peninsula, North Wales
Aberafon camping is a good low-key seaside option for busy August. The Llyn Peninsula has some of the most stunning white sandy beaches in Wales and it’s also only a short drive over to the dramatic peaks of the Snowdonia National Park to the east. From the campsite you have direct access onto a lovely pebble beach and the west facing sunset views call out for a beach barbeque and sundowner. There’s even a little stream for making dams. Facilities include hot showers, a pool room and a little shop for emergencies.
- Caernarfon, Gwynedd, LL54 5PN
- For more information, visit: www.aberafon.co.uk
Smuggler’s Cove Boatyard at Frongoch, Snowdonia
Mere metres from the edge of the water and nestled amongst the trees of the surrounding forest in the Dyfi Estuary are the Smugglers Cove Boatyard’s camping pitches. As the tide goes out, a private, sandy beach is revealed directly before just three tent pitches – perfect if you want a site for a big family gang. This small working boatyard gives campers their own campfire spot, on a plateau just above the waters edge, so you can cook up a feast whilst the sun goes down over the water. smugglerscove.info/camping
Best beach campsites in Scotland
Cnip, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides
The machair grassland on Scotland’s west coast is one of Europe’s rarest habitats and one of its most beautiful. At Cnip’s community-owned campsite, caravans and tents can set up camp right on the flower strewn dunes, only steps from the world-class white-sand beach of Traigh na Beirgh. Facilities are simple with coin operated showers and clean loos. Look out for signs in the village for hand-dived scallops and strawberries. Fees are collected every evening.
Kneep, Isle of Lewis, HS2 9HS
This is one of the wilder sides of Scotland, reached by a perilous mountain road. Sheltered by trees, and with flat grassy fields, the campsite is the hub of this tiny community and enjoys awesome sea views towards the islands of Rhona and Raasay. Camping here is very civilized with washing machines and freezers and lots of hot showers. The Flower Tunnel Café serves delicious breakfasts or visit the Potting Shed Café and Walled Garden for fresh shellfish and candlelit dinners. There are pebbles and low tide sand in the bay below or the white sand dune beach of Sand Bay three miles further on.
- Strathcarron, Ross-Shire IV54 8ND
- For more information, visit: visitapplecross.com