When it comes to recharging your batteries and creating fond memories with loved ones, camping near the beach is an excellent choice. Perhaps you’re imagining a fun family holiday full of paddling and ice creams or an activity-packed surfing or seaside hiking break; either one is a great idea.
Many campsites near the beach have direct or easy access to scenic coves and coastal paths, so campers have the freedom to decide between activities like picnicking on the clifftops, paddleboarding or poking through rockpools. The small details matter too, like waking up to sea views and a salty sea breeze, barbecues overlooking the waves and unlimited opportunities for swimming and cliff top hikes.
Coastal camping doesn’t have to be exclusive to the drier, warmer summer months, although these conditions are a bonus. Equipped with a wetsuit, watersports are exhilarating all year round and many seaside resorts have a cluster of all-weather attractions such as amusement arcades, piers and steam railways. By booking one of the following best-reviewed campsites near the beach, you’ll be nicely set up for a break by the beach that will go down in the memory books.
Based on Pembrokeshire clifftops, guests at Eco Caerhys Camping won’t need any help to check the tide times and water conditions. The wild meadow pitches at this dog-friendly pop-up site have views over Abereiddy Bay, so as soon as the surf’s just right, campers can reach the bay below with a five-minute drive. The clifftop site is also five minutes’ drive from the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, which runs for 186 miles between St Dogmaels and Amroth. And with simple facilities on site such as outdoor toilets, washing-up facilities and showers in private wooden cubicles, you should feel refreshed and ready to tackle as many miles as you like. This is a particularly scenic stretch, even by Pembrokeshire’s high standards, with the Blue Lagoon and its popular coasteering route within 20 minutes’ walk of the site. After a day of surfing, coasteering or hiking, head back to your meadow pitch for a barbecue and a sunset over the sea.
Whether you’re dreaming of a surfing break, lazy days on the sand or hikes between Cornwall’s many coves, Porthtowan Tourist Park is well placed for the whole lot. Small, family-run and thoroughly friendly, this park is in a rural setting just 25 minutes’ walk from the sandy Porthtowan Beach. Surrounded by peaceful country lanes and farm fields, there’s also easy access to the A30 for visits to other coastal locations such as Portreath Beach or Chapel Porth Beach. Since the site is within walking distance of the South West Coast Path too, guests will be pleased to find that there’s a food shop open daily on the site to fuel their hikes, along with permission to set up a barbecue. If the kids need to let off more steam, there’s a games room and an adventure playground. As with other dog-friendly campsites in Cornwall, no canine companions need to miss out on the sublime sunsets, barbecues and core memories that happen here.
With direct access to the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, St Davids Farm Camping is exactly what you’d expect from a break on the Welsh coast. There are clear views of the sunsets over St Brides Bay (good news for any holidaymakers who appreciate a scenic barbecue), and guests have access to steps that descend down to Caerfai Bay beach. When you’re not heading out along the coastal path or paddling out into the bay, the site has plenty of green spaces for ball games or picnics. Any campers who come back from the beach plastered in sand can head straight for the site’s facilities, which include showers and well-maintained gents’ and ladies’ toilets. As a dog-friendly site, it’s very handy that Caerfai Bay beach is canine-friendly too; dogs can go for as many paddles as they like with their humans.
Six miles from Aberystwyth and backed by its very own pebble beach for pastimes such as rockpooling, surfing, fishing and boating, it’s easy to see why Morfa Bychan Holiday Park has come out as one of the best-reviewed campsites in Wales. The site gets plenty of fresh sea breezes thanks to its location on a clifftop overlooking Cardigan Bay. While the dog-friendly spot is rural and surrounded by farm pastures, it’s still only 15 minutes’ drive from Aberystwyth, a livelier seaside resort with a cliff railway, long promenade and two beaches, including Aberystwyth North Beach and Aberystwyth South Beach. The location of this site is a big bonus, but the facilities at Morfa Bychan Holiday Park also go down a treat. These include a heated outdoor summer pool, a social space with pool tables and air hockey, and a play area with its very own pirate ship.
Half a mile from the South West Coast Path, Lower Pennycrocker Farm has a reputation for excellent sea views, laidback holidays and a great location for the four-mile hike to the grand Tintagel Castle. When you’re not out hiking or taking in the King Arthur and Merlin tales associated with this local clifftop castle, the beach awaits: this farm site is also a few minutes’ drive from Crackington Haven Beach, a rocky cove with surf hire facilities. Whether you’re looking for a surfing break, a hiking holiday on Cornwall’s north coast or simply somewhere to rustle up a barbecue in front of the big blue, this dog-friendly farm site is a very fitting option. Conveniently, the site also has hot showers and there is a farm shop five minutes’ drive away for those looking to grab some fresh farm produce for the grill. Other popular beaches within driving distance include Boscastle Village and Harbour Beach and Port Isaac Beach.
Pencarnan Farm Caravan and Camping Site has been welcoming guests to the Pembrokeshire coast since the 1950s. The 96-acre site is one of the longest-standing campsites in Pembrokeshire, having been passed through several generations of the same farming family. It’s as much a labour of love as it is an excellent seaside base; there’s direct access to the small and sandy Porthsele beach. As it’s on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path too, there’s plenty of scope for guests to venture further along the cliffs to visit the surfers’ favourite Whitesands Beach; another option is to kayak there directly from Porthsele. With camping and food supplies, wetsuits and logs available from the site’s shop in high season, and pizzas and a bar available at peak times, there’s also scope for alfresco dinner and drinks with views over the waves of St George’s Channel.
Camping by the beach isn’t all about having easy access to the sand, the surf and the cliffs. Part of the experience is taking your morning brew with a view, or having the choice of a picnic on the cliffs, beach or local harbourside. You might decide to base yourself right across from a surfing beach, a short drive from a seaside resort or at a peaceful rural spot near a quiet cove. Whichever you choose, expect to have plenty of watersports on tap, more than a few spectacular sea sunsets in store and lots of opportunities for adventures with the important people in your life.