For little ones, a day at the seaside spells ice cream, splashing and lots of fun in the sand (or pebbles). So slather on the factor 50, and grab your bucket-toting toddlers, as we’ve rounded up 10 of the best family-friendly beaches around the country.
Set just down the coast from the famous Lizard Point, first-time visitors to Kynance Cove in Cornwall will instantly see why it’s been named an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Despite its isolated feel, the viewpoints are buggy-accessible via surfaced paths, parking is available close by and there’s also a café open from March to October. Surrounding heathlands showcase colourful flowers, and the entire wild west peninsula offers a Med-worthy curve of white sand, complete with turquoise waters. Add the balmy weather to the mix, and you’ll feel like you’ve jetted half way around the world without ever having to dust off your passports.
With multi-coloured beach huts, plenty of sand and a pier packed with amusements, Walton-on-the-Naze ticks every box for a fun-filled day out. Family-friendly facilities include beach huts and deck chairs for hire, as well as buggy-friendly paths, free parking and a lost child centre (just in case). The pier is a Mecca for arcade lovers, and little ones and big kids alike will happily spend hours playing on the games and rides.
Not to be confused with the major seaside resort of the north-west, Blackpool Sands in Dartmouth has a Blue Flag certificate which is given to beaches to signify their high water quality and safety facilities. The postcard-worthy scenery includes a pristine beach sandwiched between scented pines and clear waters. It’s cleaned on a daily basis and has a no-dogs policy, so you’re guaranteed a squeaky-clean canvas for sandcastles. Special sand pits for kids offer safe and supervised play, plus on-duty lifeguards keep a weather eye during the summer months. Toilet facilities and beachside cafés lie just a few sandy steps away.
Children of all ages will love Burntisland near Fife. As well as a sandy beach and rock pools to explore, there’s plenty of entertainment for families including a leisure centre, bouncy castles and a crazy golf course. Parking is free, although the beach is just a 10-minute walk from the station if you’re arriving by train. It also has cafés, a lifeguard service and toilets with baby-change facilities. Little ones will be spoilt for choice at the annual summer fairground filled with traditional rides and stalls, which has opened metres from the Blue Flag beach.
With literally miles of beach and dunes, Camber Sands is the stuff of childhood dreams. There’s plenty of sand to go around, so you’ll always find an uncrowded spot to lay your picnic rug. Situated just east of the ancient town of Rye, and right next to the village of Camber, the beach has cafés, toilets and a lost child centre as well as a slipway for easy buggy access. A number of car parks give direct access to the beach.
Tenby in Pembrokeshire has all the ingredients for the perfect seaside resort. Rows of pretty pastel-coloured houses look out over not one, but four beaches that sprawl north, west and south of the town. While each beach is lovely, the most accessible for families is the popular north beach, which is peppered with rock pools and is overlooked by the town itself. Butts Field is the closest car park to north beach, which is council-run and daily rates are available. There are plenty of facilities including toilets, cafés and a lifeguard during summer.
The quaint town of Whitby is home to a pretty harbour and winding lanes, where the salty smell of fish and chips hangs in the air from shops serving the catch of the day. Just a stone’s throw from the town is West Cliff beach, a Blue Flag seaside spot ideal for families. There are two large car parks and on-street parking available, although the short distance from town to beach is an easy 10-minute stroll. Towering cliffs and beach huts in block primary colours back the fine, gold sand. The huts, windbreaks and deck chairs are available to hire, and there’s a children’s paddling pool and donkey rides, too.
This small but perfectly formed sandy beach is 200m long and nestled in a horseshoe bay on the Antrim Coast. The main carpark is situated just opposite the entrance to the beach with baby-change facilities at one end. These are open all year round and are cleaned daily. The dramatic headlands offer impressive views in both directions, and while the sand contains seaweed and is lined with boulders, it’s the perfect setting for a wholesome day at the beach.
The long sandy stretch forming Ainsdale is backed by a nature reserve of sand dunes, and has been awarded a Blue Flag for its clear swimming waters (the only beach in the north-west to have received that accolade). It has more facilities than its wilder, more southern cousin – Formby beach – just down the coast, including on-site parking and toilets. Slightly older children can enjoy kite-flying (or kite surfing!), while there are donkey rides and classic beach activities for the little ones.
Hunstanton has buckets of character, from the iconic striped cliffs overlooking The Wash nature reserve, to the pretty Victorian promenade, which harks back to its days as a popular purpose-built seaside resort. Much of that same charm lives on today, with classic donkey rides on the beach, alongside other family-friendly activities like crazy golf. It’s a Blue Flag beach, so you can expect a high standard of cleanliness, plus there’s great buggy access. As a west-facing town, Hunstanton is one of the only beaches on the east coast where the sun sets over the water – so expect Instagram-worthy sunsets at the end of the day.