Beach-appropriate weather occurs all too infrequently in the UK. So, when the mercury hits 29C (which it’s forecast to do today), there is nothing left for it but to grab the SPF and head to one of the country’s most beautiful sandy stretches of coastline.
From southern favourites in Dorset and Cornwall to picturesque spots in Merseyside and Norfolk, this is your guide to the best beaches in the UK.
Kynance Cove, Cornwall
There’s a reason Kynance Cove is one of Cornwall’s most revered beaches: its white sands, turquoise water and serpentine rocks will trick you into thinking you’re in the Med.
Where to eat: Ann’s Pasties do the best pasties this side of Penzance.
Where to stay: for killer views, it’s got to be Atlantic House.
Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire
Unspoilt and remote, Barafundle Bay in the south-west corner of Wales is regularly voted one of the best in the UK, thanks to its postcard-worthy golden sands and twinkling sea.
Where to eat: for locally sourced fare, check out The Boathouse Tearoom.
Where to stay: The Stackpole Inn is an excellent posh pub with rooms.
Climping, West Sussex
Wedged between Littlehampton and Bognor Regis, Climping’s shingle and pebble beach is much quieter than its neighbours, so there will be no wrestling for the perfect place to plonk.
Where to eat: enjoy a sundowner at The Oystercatcher Inn.
Where to stay: Bailiffscourt Hotel & Spa is a hidden gem just back from the beach.
Blackpool Sands, Devon
With the appearance of golden sand (actually very small pebbles) and shimmering azure waters, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were lying on a beach on the Algarve.
Where to eat: wander to The Venus Cafe for vegan fish and chips.
Where to stay: swap the sea for the country at the wisteria-lined Watermill Cottages.
Botany Bay, Kent
Wedged between Margate and Broadstairs, Botany Bay is studded with Kent’s famous chalk towers and you can try your hand at fossil hunting, too.
Where to eat: a breakfast sandwich at The Kitchen is perfect beachside fuel.
Achmelvich Bay, Scotland
Summer brings porpoises off the coast at the gleaming white sand Achmelvich Bay — it’s also home to Hermit’s Castle, the smallest in Europe.
Where to eat: The Seafood Shack serves the freshest fish in the UK.
Where to stay: let the lapping waves lull you to sleep at the North Coast 500 Pods.
Durdle Door, Dorset
While you may not be able to avoid the crowds, Durdle Door’s impressive limestone arch marks the finest beach on the Jurassic Coast — the waters here are superbly clear, but also superbly cold.
Where to eat: for fresh seafood with stellar views, it’s got to be The Boat Shed Cafe.
Where to stay: roll-top tubs and sea views are plentiful at Lulworth Cove Inn.
Pastel-hued beach huts dot the shoreline of this northern Norfolk gem — the sand dunes and pine woods that fall behind are particularly beautiful.
Where to eat: The Crab Hut serves baps filled with seafood straight out of Brancaster Staithe.
Where to stay: discover quirky Georgian maritime charm at The Globe Inn.
Just three miles shy of Land’s End, Porthcurno is blessed with soft white sand and turquoise water.
Where to eat: sip on a Cornish ale at The Logan Rock Inn.
Where to stay: a lover’s bolthole, Driftwood cottage has spectacular sea views.
Three Cliffs Bay, Gower Peninsula
The limestone crags that flank Three Cliffs just add to its beauty. It’s only accessible by foot but the golden beach that awaits is worth the walk.
Where to eat: treat yourself to the tasting menu at the Michelin-starred Beach House Restaurant.
Where to stay: the ultra-modern secret garden pods at nearby Oxwich Bay Hotel.
Formby Beach, Liverpool
Dramatic dunes make way for stunning views across the Irish Sea. The mountains of Cumbria can be seen on a clear day.
Where to eat: you’ll find the finest fish and chips in town at The Good Catch.
Where to stay: after a day sunning, indulge yourself at Formby Hall Golf Resort & Spa.
Charming Southwold, with its Instagrammable pastel beach huts, might just be the most quintessentially English resort town going.
Where to eat: head to Two Magpies Bakery for freshly baked sourdough.
Where to stay: The Swan Southwold is a Scandi-cool seaside stay.
Berneray Sands Beach, Outer Hebrides
The tiny Isle of Berneray is home to just 138 people, so it’s likely you’ll find a stretch of the impossibly white sand at Berneray Sands Beach to yourself.
Where to eat: pick up a rose and pistachio meringue or walnut sourdough at The Scandinavian Bakery.
Where to stay: cosy up to the island’s famous seal colony at Seal View B&B.
A mix of shingle and sand and dotted with rock pools, Polzeath is a popular surfing spot — just watch out for the riptide.
Where to eat: the breakfast tacos at Taco Boys are worth walking over the headland for.
Where to stay: with brilliant views over the beach, book the cottage at The Oystercatcher.
Rhossili Bay, Gower Peninsular
Sprawling languorously along the Gower Peninsula in Wales, Rhossili Bay features a winning combination of rugged coves and golden sand.
Where to eat: don’t miss the artisan pastries and locally made ice cream at The Lookout.
Where to stay: look across the Bristol Channel to Devon from your window at Broad Park.
Pentle Bay, Tresco
Break off from the Cornish pack and head to the Isles of Scilly. Pentle Bay, with its gleaming white sand, lies 30 miles south of Land’s End.
Where to eat: The New Inn is pub grub at its finest.
Where to stay: skip over to Hell Bay Hotel in Bryher for an indulgent spa stay.
Luskentyre, Isle of Harris
Named the 13th best beach in the world by Tripadvisor for 2020, there’s never been a better time to discover the pristine Scottish isles.
Where to eat: whether you’re craving crab or cake, Croft36 will sort you out.
Where to stay: the charming Atlantic Cottage is the epitome of Hebridean hospitality.
West Wittering, Chichester
With views of Chichester Harbour and the South Downs, West Wittering is soul-soothing. This year you’ll need to book a car park space before you go.
Where to eat: try tasty local fare at the newly opened Three Veg Deli.
Where to stay: Landseer House is an excellent country pile on four acres of meadows.
Saunton Sands, Devon
This three-mile stretch of golden sand on the north Devon coast is popular among keen surfers — you just need to clamber over the largest sand dunes in the UK to get there.
Where to eat: tuck into an aubergine katsu curry at Biffen’s Kitchen.
Where to stay: perched above the beach, the Saunton Sands Hotel is a luxury retreat.
Mawgan Porth, Cornwall
Flanked by lush headlands, head to Mawgan Porth first thing to watch the surfers before taking a dip in the crystalline water yourself.
Where to eat: don’t fancy leaving the beach? Beach Box will deliver your smoothie bowl directly to you.