The best sandy beaches in the UK (that aren’t in Cornwall)
If you want to enjoy a coastal holiday, without the crowds and traffic, then we’ve got some ideas for you to try this year. Take a look through our list of the best beaches in the UK that aren’t in Cornwall.
1. Newborough Beach
Best for: Natural and man-made beauty
Explore Newborough Beach on the southern tip of North Wales’ Anglesey. It boasts mountain views and a pretty white lighthouse standing high on a small peninsula. Behind the beach is a Corsican pine tree forest and Newborough National Nature Reserve.
Place to stay: Cysgod y Bugail is a quirky shepherd’s hut in a rural location with sea views from the decking.
2. Saunton Sands
Best for: Wildlife enthusiasts
In the heart of the North Devon Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty is Saunton Sands. When you see it for yourself, you’ll understand why this beach in Devon has been the filming location for many blockbusters since 1946. Behind the beach is the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Braunton Burrows, one of the largest sand dune systems in the British Isles.
Place to stay: Log Cabin in North Devon boasts a hot tub, sun loungers, and underfloor heating.
3. Portstewart Strand
Location: Northern Ireland
Best for: Safe shallow waters
A lovely shallow beach with lifeguards and very few near-shore currents — Portstewart Strand, in Northern Ireland, is the ideal place to bring your kids for a seaside day out.
Place to stay: Foyle Cottage is a homely single-storey property with a garden and a spacious kitchen.
4. Reef Beach
Location: Outer Hebrides
Best for: Porcelain white sand
Although the sand is as white as a Caribbean beach, Reef Beach is on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. If you can brave the cool Scottish temperatures, take a dip in the crystal clear, turquoise water. Or, head into the hills for a walk with incredible views of the beach and its surrounding shores.
Place to stay: Seasmhach agus Dileas is a stylish and spacious property with large windows and a fire pit that is surrounded by the sea.
5. Blackpool Sands
Best for: Wildlife and beautiful surroundings
Located in the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Blackpool Sands is your typical pristine beach in Devon. It’s well maintained, surrounded by wildlife and has beautiful clear blue water.
Place to stay: Apartment in North Devon is on the seafront with a beautiful Juliet balcony.
6. Rhossili Bay
Location: Gower Peninsula
Best for: Hikers and naturists
Some of the best beaches in Wales are in the Gower Peninsula, and we think Rhossili Bay is at the top of the list. In addition to its vast stretch of sand, which isn’t dissimilar to Watergate Bay, it’s also an excellent place to head off on a long coastal hike. There are lots of dramatic viewpoints that overlook Rhossili Bay too.
Place to stay: Relax on your private balcony with far-reaching sea views at Devon Place.
7. Joss Bay
Best for: A day out with young children
Bring your kids to Joss Bay in Kent for a day of surfing, building sandcastles and relaxing on the deckchairs. This beach has a cafe and beach shop to make your life a little easier. During the summer months, lifeguards are on patrol between 10 am – 6 pm.
Place to stay: Beachside Hideaway is a vibrant and spacious family-friendly apartment on the seafront.
8. Woolacombe Beach
Best for: Surfing and sandcastles
With over two miles of golden sand, there’s plenty of space for sunbathers and sandcastles on the National Trust’s Woolacombe Beach, even at high tide. It’s got great surf, a large car park and a beautiful backdrop of towering cliffs and sand dunes.
Place to stay: Admire the sea views from your very own hot tub with a glass of bubbly at Bungalow in North Devon.
9. Seilbost Beach
Location: Outer Hibrides
Best for: Glistening white sand and mountains
Seilbost Beach is a remote beach on the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. At low tide, shallows and long strips of white sand appear out of the Atlantic Sea. The addition of mountains in the distance adds to Seilbost’s incredible natural beauty.
Place to stay: Gaze across the white sands from your open-plan living area that’s surrounded by large panels of glass at Taigh Rona.
10. Burnham Overy Staithe Beach
Best for: Peace and tranquillity
With powdery sand dunes, salt marshes and sailing boats, you’ll struggle to keep your eyes open while lying on the peaceful shore of Burnham Overy Staithe Beach in Norfolk. It’s dog friendly and close to the seaside town of Burnham Market if you fancy a spot of boutique shopping.
Place to stay: Enjoy a romantic retreat with a hot tub in the intimate Saltmarsh Hut.
11. Camusdarach Beach
Location: Scottish Highlands
Best for: It’s remote location
Hidden away in the Scottish Highlands, Camusdarach Beach is an arched bay with white sands and rockpools, with views of the rugged Cullin Mountains on the Isle of Skye. It’s a peaceful locaiton with excellent hikes along the cliffs.
Place to stay: Dine alfresco on the decking with views of the wild Scottish countryside at Fdoail.
12. Wells-next-the-Sea Beach
Best for: An idyllic place that kids will love
Stroll along the postcard-perfect sandy beach lined with pretty beach huts. Breathe in the scent of the surrounding pinewoods and spot the wildlife on Wells-next-the-Sea Beach. If you’ve got children, they’ll love the nearby miniature railway.
Place to stay: Newgate Boathouse is a pretty, converted old boathouse with a sheltered courtyard, in the heart of Wells-next-the-Sea.
13. Aberffraw Bay
Best for: A rural beach that welcomes dogs
An all-year-round dog-friendly beach with views of the distant mountains across the long stretches of golden sands. Aberffraw Bay is an unspoilt and quiet location on the edge of a tidal river.
Place to stay: Enjoy a romantic retreat in the wooden Apartment in North Wales with a hot tub.
14. Barafundle Bay
Best for: Pembrokshire’s finest
A remote bay surrounded by sand dunes, pine trees and rugged cliffs, often referred to as the ‘Jewel in the Crown’ of Pembrokeshire, Barafundle Bay is a peaceful, east-facing cove. It doesn’t have facilities so make sure you bring everything you might need.
Place to stay: Admire the sweeping views of the Pembrokeshire Coast from View at the Peak.
15. Bamburgh Castle Beach
Best for: Surfing and history
What’s most unique about Bamburgh Castle Beach is its name. In addition to the lovely white sand and sea which has excellent surf at this beach in Northumberland, there’s a grand 547 AD castle that blesses the landscape.
Place to stay: The Both is a cosy cottage on a working farm surrounded by the countryside.
16. West Wittering
Best for: Watersports and pretty beach huts
An expansive beach with pale sand and pastel-hued beach huts in Sussex, West Wittering is an excellent spot for kitesurfers and there are also lots of nice grassy picnic areas too.
Place to stay: Stay in a quirky property on wheels at Elsies Hut.
17. Pentle Bay
Location: Isle of Scilly
Best for: Being away from the crowd
Although this one is technically Cornwall, we’re letting this one slip because Pentle Bay is on its own tiny island, Tresco, in the Isles of Scilly. This quiet beach never has as many people as mainland Cornwall but its bone-white sand and clear water make it just as impressive.
Place to stay: Experience a one-of-a-kind stay in the sixteenth-century Star Castle Hotel.
18. Ballycastle Beach
Location: Country Antrim
Best for: Dog walks and fishing
A sandy, dog-friendly beach dotted with pretty shells in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Near Ballycastle Beach there’s a popular fishing spot, a peaceful marina and a golf course.
Place to stay: The Hayloft at Bay Cottage offers a balcony with sea views.
19. Durdle Door
Best for: A bucket list beach
Situated on the Jurassic Coast, in Dorset, this sandy and shingle beach is on everyone’s list of places to visit once in their life because of its magnificent limestone arch. Bring your camera to snap a photo of the famous and impressive structure at Durdle Door.
Place to stay: Wing in Dorset is a charming couple’s bolthole with countryside views.