There’s honestly no need to break the bank and jet off to the tropics for an amazing beach holiday; the shores of our delightful little island are awash with spectacular beaches. Here’s a handful of our favourites.
For families: Hengistbury Head, Dorset
Set on a long, narrow spit that juts out into Christchurch Bay, Hengistbury Head is home to golden sands and an excellent seafood restaurant. Its colourful beach huts are as expensive as houses (a recent one went for £284k) and it’s easy to see why – each gazes out over shimmering seas ahead, bustling Christchurch Harbour behind, and a pretty nature reserve to the side. From the main car park a delightful little train shuttles back and forth to the beach; perfect for little legs. For older children there are beautiful walking trails through a nature reserve – take the longer walk over the headland for astonishing views. Captain’s Club Hotel, on the banks of the River Stour, makes a perfect base for the area.
For watersports: Fistral Beach, Cornwall
Surf’s up! So wax your board, squeeze into your wetsuit and head south to ride the waves at Fistral Beach in Cornwall. Famed as the UK’s surfing mecca – it hosts most of the major competitions – Fistral has a glorious setting among craggy cliffs, golden dunes and grassy headlands. Non-surfers can just laze in the sun and watch the action. An assortment of cafes and restaurants pepper the back of the beach – including Rick Stein’s fish & chips – and will keep you fuelled for a day of action (or inaction). Why not round up the troops and splurge on a stay at Pentire Penthouse, a circular, glass-walled apartment (sleeping 8-10 people) directly overlooking the beach? The views are astounding.
For coastal walks: Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk
Cast out at the entrance to Wells’ harbour, and almost a mile from the town centre, the sweeping, sandy beach at Wells-next-the-Sea is gloriously secluded. The beach is lined with a colourful jumble of mismatched beach huts and backed by pine woods, rippling sand dunes and a nature reserve with coastal trails. Take the mile-long walk along the sea wall to soak up lovely views of the harbour, or rent a boat and potter along the shore. Stuck for a place to stay? Cartshed Cottages, set a few miles from the coast in the quaint hamlet of Sharington, oozes style within its flint walls. Each sleeps 2-4.
For an exotic escape: Pentle Bay, Isles of Scilly
Although just off the coast of Cornwall, the Isles of Scilly feel a world away from home. Tresco, our favourite island, is home to beautiful Pentle Bay, whose balmy climate, powder-white sand and turquoise sea give it a Caribbean feel. Better still, it’s practically deserted. We always stay at Sea Garden Cottages on Tresco, self-catered accommodation for 2-10 with dazzling views and stunning beaches on your doorstep.
For off-the-beaten-track beauty: Kiloran Bay, Isle of Colonsay
Flaunting sheer beauty and complete seclusion, Kiloran Bay, on the Scottish Isle of Colonsay, is a photographer’s dream. This perfect crescent-shaped bay hugs the Atlantic side of the island, where the waves are ideal for surfing. You might spot cows atop the rugged cliffs or eagles soaring over the golden dunes, and at the north end of the beach you can explore hidden caves that carve their way into the cliff. The island’s one and only hotel, The Colonsay Hotel, is a charming retreat complete with crackling log fires and a restaurant specialising in home-grown produce and fresh seafood.