Find out what the best beaches in the United Kingdom are as awarded by millions of real travelers.
Bournemouth, United Kingdom
Bournemouth’s seven miles of beach and exceptionally warm microclimate make it a favorite of U.K. travelers. There’s something for everyone here, whether you’re a watersports fanatic (try surfing lessons!) or just want to let your kids splash around in the calm waters. For a traditional Bournemouth vacation, rent a classic beach hut.
St. Brelade, United Kingdom
St. Brelade, in the Jersey Islands, is home to several beautiful bays with golden sands. St. Brelade Bay is a great place for an active beach day—beachgoers enjoy canoeing, banana boat rides, trampolines and kayaking. Visit the Fisherman’s Chapel to see the perquage, a path from the chapel to the sea. Ancient law allowed a criminal to seek sanctuary in the chapel for eight days. On the ninth, he had to surrender or walk down the path to board a boat, which would carry him into permanent exile from the island.
Woolacombe, United Kingdom
Woolacombe’s three-mile long beach is one of the best family beaches in the U.K. Build a castle in the clean sand, learn to surf, or go horseback riding on the beach. Boat operators offer fishing trips and tours—keep your eyes open for seals!
St Ives, United Kingdom
St. Ives boasts a quartet of golden-sand beaches. Sheltered coves draw swimmers and sun-worshippers, but water-sports aficionados visit St. Ives for great surfing, windsurfing and water-skiing conditions. And on your way there, keep your eyes peeled for a dude with seven wives. You never know when nursery rhymes might come true.
Tenby, United Kingdom
Tenby is lovingly protected from the outside world by an embrace of 13th-century stone walls, which, ironically, attract—not repel—visitors from all over the world. The town is simply adorable, teeming with the archetypes of pubs and shops one would expect to find in a U.K. city. Adding further appeal are the miles of gorgeous beaches and the gently lapping waves of a blue-grey sea.
Newquay, United Kingdom
Catch a wave in Cornwall! Beach, surfing, and scenery draw the crowds to Newquay every summer. Perfect your tan on the beach, paddle in the shallows, or join the surfers out at sea. Just out of town, the Holywell Bay Fun Park, Newquay Zoo, and Blue Reef Aquarium provide family fun, and dedicated cycling tracks offer an alternate way to tour nearby towns of Bodmin, Padstow, and Truro.
Bude, United Kingdom
Bude, in Cornwall, offers pebble and sand beaches and tiny coves against majestic backdrop of rugged cliffs. Crooklets and Summerleaze are among the most popular beaches. Picturesque Summerleaze Beach features the Bude Sea Pool, a leisurely pool set between the rocks, and provides safe swimming. Bude is known for great surfing, but there are many more water amusements to enjoy. Bude is an active traveler’s dream-come-true, with recreation opportunities from rock climbing and abseiling to horseback riding and archery.
Weymouth, United Kingdom
Hit the beautiful beaches of Weymouth to soak up the surprisingly powerful U.K. sun—there are plenty of waterfront options to pick from. Check them out before the 2012 Summer Olympics introduces the rest of the world to the glory of the Dorset coast, and the already-popular tourist town simply explodes with commerce. The quaint harbor of Weymouth bobs merrily with fishing boats, and, downtown, Hope Square and Brewers Quay bustle with shoppers and merrymakers.
Swanage, United Kingdom
Swanage was a popular seaside resort in Victorian times, and families today continue to enjoy its shallow, calm beach. The recently restored Swanage Pier is a popular spot for fishing. Diving trips and boat tours also depart from here. Don’t miss a trip through the local countryside on the Swanage Steam Railway.
Padstow, United Kingdom
Walking is a way of life in the picturesque Cornwall town of Padstow. The South West Coast Path—which, at 630 miles, is Britain’s longest footpath—stretches along the coast and, via ferry, across the River Carmel. The former fishing port is today a hub of fine wining and dining. Lose yourself in the Lost Gardens of Heligan, a fairyland of heirloom flowers, or go back to the future at the Eden Project, a horticultural wonderland housed inside dramatic biodomes.