15 Sandy British Beaches You Must Visit

When we think about sandy beaches, people often start dreaming of hot climates, but there are some great beaches closer to home that shouldn’t be overlooked, and if you get good weather can often beat those in other continents.

Our tour of UK sandy beaches will start in Northumberland and travel clockwise around the British coastline, listing what we see as some amazing sandy beaches you must think about visiting. Just one word of caution in that we started by wanting to write a top 10 best sandy beach list but couldn’t narrow it down below 15 and had some very hot debates.

The best sandy beaches in the UK

Bamburgh Castle Beach, Northumberland

Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland
Bamburgh Castle Beach, Northumberland

We will start at the beach at Bamburgh Castle, a great expanse of unspoilt sand backed by dunes and sitting on a grassy hill overlooking the sands of Bamburgh, one of the country’s most iconic castles.

The coastal setting is in Northumberland’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and has great views out to the Farne Islands.

Runswick Bay, North Yorkshire

Runswick Bay, North Yorkshire
Runswick Bay, North Yorkshire

Runswick Sands is a large sheltered sandy beach with rock pools on either side of the bay, Runswick Bay is also known for its great beachcombing.

The beach is unspoilt and often overlooked, with most people heading to Whitby.

Holkham Bay Beach, Norfolk

Holkham Bay Beach, Norfolk
Holkham Bay Beach, Norfolk

Holkham Bay Beach is one of the most unspoilt and beautiful stretches of sand you will find in the UK. When the tide is low you get a beach that is 6 km long and 1 km wide, backed by a salt marsh, dunes, and pine woodland that altogether make up Holkham National Nature Reserve.

Southwold Beach, Suffolk

Southwold Beach Photo by Catherine Sharman

Unlike other remote beaches on this list, Southwold Beach is a great sandy beach with beach huts and dunes that sits alongside a great British seaside town on the Suffolk coast.

Botany Bay, Kent

Botany Bay, Broadstairs, Kent
Botany Bay, Broadstairs, Kent

Botany Bay is one of the 7 bays at Broadstairs in Kent and as well as the sandy beach, you also get chalk stacks, cliffs and rock pools. When the tide goes out you have a chalk reef which is thought to be one of the best in Britain.

Greatstone, Kent

Greatstone Beach, Kent
Greatstone Beach, Kent

Greatstone beach boasts over two miles of great sand that are backed by sand dunes. The sand is soft, the water is safe, and there are plenty of watersport opportunities, including windsurfing and kitesurfing – an overall great family beach. 

Camber Sands, East Sussex

Camber Sands, East Sussex
Camber Sands, East Sussex

Camber Sands is home to the only sand dunes in East Sussex but this then makes the beach one of the most popular beaches on the south-east coast and can be very busy on a hot summer day.

The dunes are formed from the sand that is blown inland which builds up around plants, debris and fences. A large section of the western end sits within the Camber Sands and Rye Saltings Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), while the rest is designated a Site of Nature Conservation Importance.

St Ives Bay, Cornwall

Hayle, near St Ives, Cornwall
Hayle Beach, St Ives Bay, Cornwall

We are cheating a bit here in that St Ives bay is a large area and although you have sandy beaches on the northern side in St Ives itself here we actually mean the 3 miles of continuous beach at Hayle.

The sandy beach backed by sand dunes (“Towans”) and cliffs, stretches from St Ives estuary up to Godrevy point marked by the Godrevy lighthouse.

Watergate Bay, Newquay

Watergate Bay Beach
Watergate Bay, Newquay, Cornwall

Watergate Bay is a surfers’ and kitesurfers’ paradise, located a few km north of Newquay on the north Cornwall coast.

The bay is popular as the large open bay attracts great Atlantic rollers and consistent surf.

Woolacombe Beach, Devon

Woolacombe Beach, Devon
Woolacombe Beach, Devon

Woolacombe beach is a long stretch of golden sand on the North Devon coastline. The North coast location means this beach has consistent Atlantic surf making it a popular surfing beach.

Dogs are welcome on the beach year-round, with some restrictions in the summer months.

Rhossili Bay, Gower Peninsula

Rhossili Bay Photo by Nigel Swales

Rhossili Bay is situated on the western tip of the Gower Peninsula near Swansea, South Wales. In almost any UK or Worldwide “best beach list”, Rhossili Bay is always present.

The coastal walk down to the beach from Rhossili village is stunning, with panoramic views over miles of golden sand within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Formby Beach, Merseyside

Formby Beach Photo by Elin B

Formby Beach is just North of Liverpool, with a network of ever-moving dunes and woodlands that back the beach. You might be lucky enough to see some rare red squirrels.

Blackpool Beach, Lancashire

Blackpool Beach
Blackpool, Lancashire

Blackpool might not have a reputation for being a place to find a sandy beach, but its sandy beach, known as the Golden Mile, is one that diserves to be on this list.

The seaside town is also the only place in the UK that can boast three piers.

Scarista Beach, Isle of Harris

Scarista Beach, Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides
Scarista Beach, Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides

Scarista Beach is on the west coast of the Isle of Harris and is one of the most impressive beaches in the Hebrides. Lovely golden sand stretches for over 3 miles in a quiet, secluded bay. 

Oldshoremore Beach, The Scottish Highlands

Oldshoremore Beach Photo by Steve

Oldshoremore Beach is often said to be one of the most stunning beaches on the Scottish mainland.

Oldshoremore beach has golden sand with rocky cliffs at one end and grass-covered dunes at the other. If you want a remote sandy beach, then this Scottish Highlands beach is for you.

These are just a few examples of the many beautiful sandy beaches in Britain that are worth visiting. No matter where you go, you will find a beautiful beach with plenty of things to see and do.