Discover our top 10 family beaches
With more than 500 miles of coastline, the East of England has so many stretches of safe, unspoilt sand with car parking, amenities and easy access to the beach. We’ve chosen our top 10 for the family.
Great Yarmouth, Norfolk
The beach and Golden Mile at Great Yarmouth
Probably the East Coast’s premier resort, Great Yarmouth has been a seaside leviathan since Victorian times. The wide sandy beach is backed by The Golden Mile, which has rides, attractions and amusements galore, including the famous Pleasure Beach with its wooden rollercoaster and a SeaLife Centre. It’s a little quieter to the north, beyond the Britannia Pier, where you’ll discover the newly-refurbished Venetian Waterways.
Once almost hidden at high tide, Gorleston-on-Sea now has an enormous permanent sandy beach, backed by a high promenade that’s lovely to stroll along. In the shadow of neighbour Great Yarmouth, it’s more relaxed and quieter but still has lots of facilities, including cafes, ice cream vendors and restaurants. The star of the 2019 Beatles-inspired hit film Yesterday, written by Richard Curtis and starring Lily James and Himesh Patel, the film’s director Danny Boyle called Gorleston beach, ‘One of Britain’s most remarkable beaches and one of the great secrets of England. It’s beautiful.’
Wells-next-the-Sea beach and The Run
Famous for its 200 higgledy-piggledy multi-coloured beach huts, Wells has a beach that goes out a mile at low tide (perfect for an expansive game of beach cricket or flying a kite), but families tend to stay closer to the high tide mark where there’s great sand and toddlers can play safely by The Run, the channel that goes to Wells harbour.
Sand dunes at Holkham Bay beach
Voted the Best beach in Britain by readers of BBC Countryfile magazine, Holkham is for lovers of a natural beach. Park up on Lady Ann’s Road and walk on the boardwalks through the pine forest and emerge onto a huge expanse of sandy beach. Time it right, as the tide is going out, and you’ll be left to enjoy of shallow bathing pools.
Cliffs and beach at high tide, Old Hunstanton
Hunstanton is the only east coast resort that faces west – so you see amazing sunsets here. The beach by the town has lots of amenities and amusements, and then there’s Old Hunstanton by the multi-coloured cliffs. The water is very shallow here, in the tidal Wash, so is great for windsurfers.
Family walking past beach huts on Southwold Beach, Suffolk
Southwold has got a lovely vibe of having remained largely unchanged since the 1950s. The sandy beach stretches from the harbour’s mouth to the Victorian Pier (look out for the quirky amusements) and is backed by dunes and beach huts at one end, and a promenade and town at the other. The town has lots of places to eat and drink – well, it is the home of Adnams Brewery.
Just across the river Blyth from Southwold is the sleepy seaside hamlet of Walberswick, home for many years of the World Crabbing Championships. The sandy beach is backed by marram-topped dunes and tidal creeks. You can walk to Southwold for some retail therapy if you want in 45 minutes, or take the passenger ferry that runs regularly much of the year.
The most easterly-point in the UK, dubbed The Sunrise Coast, Lowestoft has a fine sandy beach with places to eat and some amusements at Claremont Pier. Facilities include tennis courts, restaurants.
The jewel in the crown of the Essex coast, Clacton has a good stretch of clean sand for families to enjoy. A traditional resort, there’s also a Victorian pier, amusements, cafes and places to eat, with easy parking and lifeguard service.
Nearby is the Martello Beach, named after the 19th century Martello defensive fort, which has beach huts, a campsite and overlooking clifftop gardens.
Frinton has a very unhurried pace of life which is perfect for a relaxing day on the beach. With a Blue Flag award, the sand is very clean and perfect for sandcastle-making or playing beach cricket. Behind it is an old-fashioned row of colourful beach huts and a large grassy area, the Greensward, which is ideal for a sand-free picnic.