The best beaches in the UK for every type of family
With kids in tow, beach trips are less about sun-loungers and more about keeping the brood busy.
So, while gorgeous stretches of sand will be appreciated by all members of the family, having another attraction too, such as fossils to find or dunes to explore, will keep everyone smiling for longer.
And, despite the weather keeping us on our toes, we have a fantastic selection of beaches in the UK to choose between. To help you have a memorable day out by the sea, here we round-up the UK’s best beaches for every type of family, from an arty spot in Merseyside to a birdwatching haven in Yorkshire.
Best for art: Crosby Beach, Merseyside
Crosby Beach is home to Antony Gormley’s Another Place sculptures – 100 life-size cast-iron men (casts of Gormley’s body) who stare out to sea. Local residents often dress the sculptures up so your little ones will love spotting the men decked out in football shirts, scarves, hats and other colourful accessories. And, as they are exposed to the elements, they are sometimes partially submerged in sand or covered in barnacles.
Crosby isn’t a beach for swimming, though, and there are areas of soft sand, so it’s wise to stick to looking at the figures closest to the promenade.
Best for sandcastles: Weymouth, Dorset
There’s plenty happening on Weymouth Beach to keep the little ones entertained, from Punch & Judy shows and children’s rides to pedalo hire. Plus, its golden sands are ideal sandcastle-making territory.
But, what makes this beach stand out is the nearby SandWorld (http://www.sandworld.co.uk/) attraction, where enormous and imaginative sand sculptures will inspire your little ones to get creative. The attraction says that Weymouth’s sand is ideal for sculpting as it has a slight angle to it and a grain size of 0.15mm – there’s a fun fact to tell the kids before your trip.
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Best for rockpools: Caswell Bay, Wales
One of the best things about rockpooling is that it doesn’t need to be sunny for the kids to enjoy it. And Caswell Bay on the Gower Peninsula in Wales is the perfect place for little ones to look for marine life as its pools can contain starfish, sea slugs, crabs and anemones. For added excitement, you could tell the kids that a small shark was even spotted trapped in a pool on the beach in 2020.
The bay is also a great spot to try surfing due to its gentle waves.
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Best for nature: Bempton Cliffs, Yorkshire
Between March and October, around half a million seabirds gather on Bempton Cliffs. Puffins can be spotted until mid-July and the kids will be fascinated while watching guillemots who look like mini penguins.
There are self-guided trails for children at the Bempton Cliffs nature reserve and you can hire discovery backpacks which contain binoculars, spotter sheets, a bird book and a magnifying bug pot. For your family’s fix of sand, head to nearby Filey Beach where you can also go rockpooling.
Best for fossil hunting: Compton Bay, Isle of Wight
What could be cooler than finding dinosaur remains on the beach with your brood? This is entirely possible at Compton Bay where the remains of more than 20 different species have been found. Start your trip by looking for the three-toed stone footcasts of Iguanodon at the base of the cliffs at Hanover Point. Then keep your eyes peeled for everything from dinosaur teeth to fossilised bones.
The best time to look for fossils is at low tide but remember that rocks can fall from the sandstone cliffs so don’t let your little ones climb on them or sit too close.
Best city beach: Aberdeen Beach, Scotland
If you’re a family that enjoys a packed itinerary on holiday, combine beach time and a city break in Aberdeen. You could spend the morning building sandcastles on its golden sands or spotting dolphins from Torry Battery. Then head to the city for some culture, perhaps in Aberdeen Art Gallery or (restrictions allowing) Aberdeen Maritime Museum.
And, for a holiday treat, make sure you allow time to enjoy an ice-cream in Mackie’s 19.2 ice cream parlour in the city centre. Its name shows the distance it is from the family farm. The kids will be impressed by its chocolate taps that pour out sauces on to ice-cream creations.
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Best for surfing: Sennen Cove, Cornwall
Surfing in the UK is synonymous with Cornwall. And one of the best spots in Cornwall for families to try mastering the waves is Sennen Cove, where its pretty white-sand beach is an idyllic backdrop to a surfing lesson with Sennen Surfing Centre.
After your surf session, there’s a flagged area for safe swimming, rockpools and a small harbour with a lifeboat station.
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Best for a nature walk: Murlough Beach, Northern Ireland
The kids will love running down a network of boardwalks towards this beautiful sand and shingle beach. Backed by a nature reserve and 6,000-year-old sand dunes, there are numerous birds, plants and other wildlife to spot on a family walk.
To help structure a stroll, the National Trust has activity packs for Murlough Nature Reserve, such as a bird spotter sheet and an activity sheet with items to spot on the beach as you explore. You can find them here.