Top 10 coastal activities to do in East Anglia

Sea the Seals on the north Norfolk coast

See the Seals on Blakeney Point

Norfolk is home to England’s largest seal colony, at Blakeney Point. Boats go from Morston and Blakeney quays at high tide (twice a day in summer) and you can book nearby. This is a real treat for wildlife lovers, with the inquisitive seals swimming over to take a look at you, the lazier ones basking and rolling around on the sand. Guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Go with Beans Boat Trips or Temples.

Where to eat: There are some good seafood shacks on Blakeney Quay and nearby Cookies at Salthouse is great too – take your own alcoholic refreshments.

Where to stay: Push out the boat at Morston Hall which holds a Michelin star for owner Galton Blackiston’s immaculate food.

The Art of Crabbing in Walberswick

The charming and atmospheric town of Walberswick with its long, sandy beach and black beach huts backed by grassy dunes is the perfect spot to whip out your crabbing supplies and hunt down the little critters. Children can compare their catch before returning them to their habitats and grabbing a well-earned ice cream in return. To satisfy the parents or couples alike, grab a quick half in the local cosy, beamed pubs, which once adorned smugglers to these shores.

Where to stay: Catch the rowing boat ferry from Walberswick to Southwold for a place to stay for the night. Choice is endless, from smart, quaint self-catering to luxurious hotels like The Crown or The Swan.

Where to eat: Finally, head to Southwold, where after a tour of the famous Adnams Brewery to see exactly how they create that fabulous taste, you can dine at the two AA Rosette Sutherland House.

We are the birdwatching capital of the UK!

Norfolk is the birdwatching capital of the UK with the best place to see them on the north west coast, with superb reserves at Cley-next-the-Sea, Titchwell, Holmes Dunes and Snettisham. Although there’s good spotting year-round the best time is over the Winter when Norfolk enjoys its Winter Wildlife Safari involving thousands of migrating pink-footed geese, Bewick’s and Whooper swans and waders.

Where to eat: The White Horse at Brancaster is a lovely flint hotel-restaurant with perhaps the best views of any venue in Norfolk.

Where to stay: The Rose & Crown at Snettisham, a charming village pub with contemporary rooms, is ideally placed for the reserves, or if you want to be closer to Cley, how about a windmill!

Adrenaline-fuelled adventure

For the obligatory adrenaline rush head over to Southwold for a thrilling ride with Coastal Voyager. Setting off from the picturesque seaside town of Southwold, you will be taken on a whirlwind tour of Solebay. For something a little calmer, Coastal Voyager can take you to visit the seals living at nearby Scroby Sands. For the truly brave of heart, get behind the wheel of Coastal Voyager and take her for the “Drive of your life”.

Where to stay: A good option is to head into Southwold for a variety of accommodation, from self-catering charm, to the stylish seaside hotels that frequent its high-street, such as The Crown or The Swan.

Where to eat: For a light bite and a coffee, Black Olive Delicatessen is great choice for a bit of modern elegance, or for a true fish experience head to Sole Bay Fish Company. Fish doesn’t get fresher or tastier than this.

Walk in your ancestors footprints...

In December 2013 footprints were found at Happisburgh. British Museum researchers discovered they were 850,000 years old - the earliest evidence of man found outside the Great Rift Valley in Africa. Walk on the beach now and you’ll be walking in the footsteps of the first ever tourists to the UK – and they came from the Netherlands! At that time the UK was joined to the Continent by a land spur and would have looked like African savannah and wildlife would have included mammoths, hyenas, bison… and early man. This is Norfolk’s unique Deep History Coast.

Where to eat: The Hill House has traditional English pub fare, but you go more for the character than the food!

Where to stay: The Sea Marge at Overstrand, an elegant Edwardian mansion where Winston Churchill stayed many times.

Hire a canoe, kayak or paddleboard

Bask in the glory and delights of Snape by hiring a canoe, kayak or paddleboard from the very small and friendly team at Iken Canoe. Snape is a welcoming and thoughtful place of tranquillity, offering breath-taking views of reeds, marshes, sea and vast skies. Venture out on the Alde estuary between Snape and Aldeburgh and discover the creeks, abundance of wildlife and gently glide with the tide and get up close to seals basking on the mud banks.

Where to stay: For convenience, base yourself in one of Snape Maltings many stylish self-catering cottages. Expect great walks, shops, galleries, deli, café and a pub, all onsite.

Where to eat: The Plough and Sail gets top billing and is onsite at Snape Maltings, the Victorian set of buildings dedicated to culture, shopping and eating.

Visit a mammoth in Cromer

The largest and best-preserved mammoth skeleton found in the world came out of the crumbling cliffs at West Runton, between Cromer and Sheringham. The only bones missing were eaten by hyenas. Yes, really! Visit Cromer Museum and you can see some of the bones and learn more about the history of this part of Norfolk, the highest point in East Anglia, and our unique Deep History Coast.

Where to eat: Buy fish and chips in paper wrapping and tuck in on the Promenade as you look out to sea. Or find a café where you can get a Cromer crab salad or sandwich.

Where to stay: The Georgian Grove or Virginia Court Hotel are both excellent.

The Butt and The Oyster

Between the River Orwell and the River Stour is the Shotley Peninsula: a tranquil stretch of land bounded by pretty riverside hamlets like Pin Mill, where this walk begins. Starting at the Butt & Oyster Inn, a pub blessed with spectacular views, this walk will take you in a figure-of-eight passed a cliff-top plantation, through thick woodland, across Woolverstone Park and along the riverside harbours of the River Orwell.

Where to stay: Ever stayed in a Folly? Well now you can. Freston Tower offers unrivalled views from this six-story Tudor building. Not only is it eye-catching, you and yours get to have a floor each!

Where to eat: The Butt & Oyster, located in the hamlet of Pin Mill, prides itself not only on the great Suffolk ales it serves, but also the stunning view of the River Orwell.

The Poppy Line Railway

North Norfolk is home to the wonderful North Norfolk Railway, a heritage steam train that goes from seaside Sheringham to the lovely Georgian market town of Holt, past beautiful coast and countryside – even going through the golf course! Also known as The Poppy Line, it’s easily accessible from the main rail network via Cromer.

Where to eat: Wander the quaint streets of Holt and discover one of the many tea rooms and bistros.

Where to stay: The Victorian Links Country Park Hotel has recently been refurbished and has its own 9-hole golf course.

Couple cycling across Dunwich heath on the Suffolk coast

Cycle the Suffolk Heritage Coast

Explore Suffolk’s beautiful heritage coastline and base yourself in a comfortable, cosy coaching inn in the charming village of Westleton. Two circular day rides will introduce you to Suffolk’s most iconic and inspirational landscapes and hidden gems. From heathland and woodland to smooth rolling countryside, unspoilt coastline and curvaceous creeks, it’s magic lies within the variety of its landscapes.

Where to stay: The Westleton Crown is a firm favourite with locals and visitors alike with crackling fires and cosy bedrooms.

Where to eat: Serving hearty and sophisticated food, you may be tempted to stay put. But The Ship at Dunwich provides a tempting alternative. Once a haunt of smugglers, it now offers tasty pub grub and a good ale.