The best days out beside the seaside for a dose of vitamin sea

Enjoy a trip to one of the UK’s many breathtaking coastal hotspots.

Northern coast of County Antrim

by Emily Thorpe |

If you’re looking for an excuse to plan a trip to the seaside, how about... it’s good for your health! There’s a reason people jokingly refer to ‘vitamin sea’ – studies have shown that people living by the sea tend to have better physical and mental health than those who don’t, but even a brief trip can offer a welcome lift. Here are some of the cheeriest spots to visit if you fancy a day (or more!) by the coast.

Lizard Point and Kynance Cove, Cornwall


When you think of Cornwall, you think of beaches and what better place to spend time as a family than this dramatic and historic stretch of the Cornish coast. Lizard Point, the most southerly part of the British mainland, is a great place to admire some spectacular views and to take a treasured family photograph.

Kynance Cove is a hidden gem of the Cornish coast and is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. This beach is a must for all sun-lovers and sea-paddlers where you can experience incredible scenery, white sand and clear turquoise waters.

At low tide you can descend the steps down to the sand and picnic on the shore. It's also a great place for the young ones to check out the creatures of the rock pools, jump over waves, go on a barefoot walk and catch a crab.

Woolacombe beach, Devon


This beautiful three mile stretch of coastline has plenty of things to see and do. Rolling hills provide a wonderful backdrop to a beach where the crowds flock to swim and surf on sunny days.

In the summer holidays you'll find National Trust beach rangers on hand to show little ones how to go on rock pool safaris and build the best sandcastles for miles around. Baggy Point and Morte Point – also known as the 'stegosaurus back' - are both perfect for rock scrambling.

If it's a walk that you prefer, the South West coastal path will take you on a journey around the enticing coves and distinctive slate cliffs that the area is so well known for

Brancaster and Blakeney, Norfolk


With four miles of golden sand, Brancaster beach is the perfect place for a family day out. Famous for its mussels, the fishing village of Brancaster Staithe lies on the shores of the beautiful north Norfolk coast.

The Staithe offers a great place to start exploring the coast, and you can launch a boat and sail in the sheltered waters of Scolt Head Island.

If you continue a little further along the coast you can enjoy miles of golden sand for long or short walks, find great places for building sandcastles and designated areas for power kiting sports.

There's so many things to see and explore at Blakeney; crabbing is a must for all ages or you can take time out and relax with a view at Blakeney Point. The area is home to a colony of common and grey seals that can be seen most of the year from any of the seal boat trips that leave from Morston Quay

Sheringham, Norfolk

West Runton from Beeston Bump,

Travel back to simpler times with a trip to charming Sheringham, on the North Norfolk coast. It’s a small town that’s rich in tearooms, ice-cream shops (Ellie’s Sweet Shop is our favourite), and welcoming pubs. Have a day out on a steam train (daily steam and diesel services from April-October), test your luck on the penny slot machines, or take in a show at the intimate and aptly-named Sheringham Little Theatre.

There’s a short clifftop walk (known as the Beeston Bump) offering views across a sparkling sea, while the beach has a combination of shingle and golden sand – don’t forget your bucket and spade! Have a drink, meal and stay at the Lobster Inn, which is a stone’s throw from the beach and offers B&B or self-catering rooms.

Studland beach, Dorset


Studland's scenic four mile stretch of golden sand has something for everyone to enjoy. In the summer the beach comes truly alive, with lots of families taking to the seas in the boats available to hire. This safe and friendly beach is perfect for picnics and for building sandcastles, and the heathland that lies behind it has a treasure trove of wildlife for kids to explore.

With gently shelving bathing waters and views of Old Harry Rocks and the Isle of Wight, the beach is an ideal place for water sports and to watch the world go by. It's also a great place to skim stones, catch fish in a net, go swimming in the sea and hunt for fossils and bones.

Dunwich Heath and Beach, Suffolk


Tucked away on the Suffolk coast, the peaceful, colourful heath-land of the Dunwich Heath Nature Reserve, with its shingle and sand beach, is teeming with wildlife and ideal for birdwatchers, nature lovers, walkers, and families looking for a great day out.

Head to the shingle beach for a walk along the shoreline where you can witness the constantly changing coastline. Late summer sees a patchwork of purple and yellow heather come into full bloom too, making for a stunning view.

There's plenty of activities to get involved with as well, especially for families wanting to keep the kids entertained, including geocache trails, scavenger hunts and flying kites in the summer sunshine.

Birling Gap, East Sussex


Birling Gap is part of the world famous Seven Sisters chalk cliffs, one of the longest stretches of undeveloped coastline on the south coast. One minute you can be walking on ancient downland, the next you could be rock pooling below towering cliffs of chalk.

Spectacular, unspoilt views of the sea can be seen for miles and the beach below is ideal for seaside picnics and exploring the craggy rocks. The whole family can hunt for fossils on the beach and this is a great time of year to uncover hidden treasures.

With a south-west-facing beach, Birling Gap is also one of the best spots to surf in the South East. If you're feeling a bit peckish after a day on the sands, head to the relaxed cliff top cafe where there's delicious lunches, outdoor seating and uninterrupted sea views.

Isle of Wight, Hampshire


Compton Bay is a spectacular spot along the Isle of Wight coastline showcasing some of the best beach side scenery around. It has a firm sandy beach – perfect for sandcastle building, and the tide doesn't go out too far so it's great for swimming. It isn't too crowded either, and there are excellent views towards the Needles and Dorset beyond.

This family friendly beach also has a section open for dog walkers all year round, making it a great trip out for a walk, whilst also offering a brilliant space for surfing and swimming.

The bay is also one of the best places to follow in the footsteps of dinosaurs. Look carefully and you can find many dinosaur footsteps on the sandy beach.

Nodes Point near St Helens Duver is an excellent place for exploring the hidden wildlife in rock pools and if you look carefully see what you can discover in the pools once the tide's gone out.

Stackpole, Pembrokeshire


Stackpole has two fabulous beaches, Barafundle and Broadhaven South. This summer, get up close and personal with the Pembrokeshire coast with an adrenaline-fuelled session. Barafundle is regularly voted among the top beaches in the world and is a great place to go rock pooling, paddling and building sandcastles.

Freshwater West, six miles west of the estate, is a great surf beach and Stackpole Quay is the perfect place to launch your kayak or to try some coasteering along the rocky coastline.

Murlough, National Nature Reserve, County Down


Four miles of magnificent strand set against the backdrop of the Mourne Mountains at Murlough Beach. Out to sea, stretching from the Mournes to St. John's Point lighthouse is Dundrum Bay; even the Isle of Man can be seen on a clear day.

For families with young children looking for fun things to do, Murlough National Nature Reserve is a must. There's a network of paths and boardwalks through the dunes, woodland and heath from where you'll see lots of butterflies and wild flowers.

If you look across the beach to Ballykinler at low tide you are almost guaranteed a view of common and grey seals during the summer months. You may even be lucky enough to see a seal pup!

Ballycastle, County Antrim, Northern Ireland

Landscape around Fair head trail in Northern Ireland

Ballycastle, County Antrim, is a seaside town surrounded by gorgeous glens and forests. Famed for its annual Ould Lammas Fair in August, it warrants a visit year-round for its listed buildings, golf course and dramatic cliffs (600ft above sea level, the Fair Head cliffs are the tallest in Ireland). The beach itself offers views of Rathlin Island (take a ferry for a visit) and the Mull of Kintyre, as well as being popular with swimmers.

Brave drivers might enjoy the challenge of the pretty but narrow Torr Head scenic route, running along the coast from Ballycastle to Cushendun, which can take a day with regular stops.

Ravenscar, Yorkshire Coast


Ravenscar can be found high on the cliffs of the North Yorkshire coast between Scarborough and Whitby. Sitting looking out over Robin Hoods Bay, you might also spot a porpoise or dolphin pods hunting fish close to the shore line.

Go on a really long bike ride with coastal views, get back in touch with nature and discover some unexpected hidden history too. The Yorkshire Coast is also famous for its fossils

Robin Hood’s Bay, North Yorkshire

Robin Hood’s Bay

A trip to Robin Hood’s Bay, North Yorkshire, is sure to fire up your imagination. In the 18th Century it was one of Britain’s busiest smuggling communities so try a guided smugglers walk around the town, where you’ll learn the area’s secret history.

This small fishing village has a dog-friendly sandy beach and lots of twisting, cobbled streets to explore. Stay right on the water’s edge at the Bay Hotel, which boasts some of the prettiest views in town.

The Bay is part of a community project to protect native species, so lookout for new wildflower meadows popping up in the coming months. The North Yorkshire waters are also a haven for wildlife, with resident grey and common seals, and the odd sighting of a porpoise or minke whale, so pack your binoculars.

Rhossili and South Gower Coast, Swansea


With some of the most splendid views on the Welsh coast, you won't want to miss this magnificent three mile long beach. If you stand at Rhossili Down, you'll see not only the peninsula, but also the coast of west Wales and the north Devon coast on the horizon.

With its breathtaking clifftops and bay it's a perfect place to spend summer days with all your friends and family. To stretch your legs, you can take the level walk from the National Trust shop and Visitor Centre along the cliff top to the Old Coastguard Lookout where they would have kept watch for ships in trouble on the high seas.

Explore the dramatic Bracelet Bay beach, ideal for rock pooling. There are also local points of interest, including Oystermouth Castle, a Victorian pier and a lighthouse dating back to 1794. Finish with lunch at Langland’s Brasserie on the beachfront with great views.

Embleton and Newton Links, Northumberland Coast


Embleton Bay is a magnificent stretch of sand and dunes between Low Newton and the majestic ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle, perfect for an easy wander with the family. The fourteenth-century ruins dominate the horizon, but you'll also find a whole variety of wildflowers living amongst the dunes.

With the backdrop of the Castle, this fine sandy beach is one of the most spectacular in England. It's popular for paddling, building sandcastles and has some great surf conditions as well.

Low Newton by the sea has a natural rock harbour and golden beach sheltered from the tides by an offshore reef – making it an excellent place for marine wildlife and spotting birds.

Formby, Liverpool

Formby Beach

With plenty of space for everyone, families can run and play to their hearts content on Formby Beach. Spectacular sky-scapes can be seen at sunset and if you stand on top of the sand dunes where the beach stretches as far as the eye can see.

The glorious sandy beaches are also perfect for family picnics, coastal walks, wave jumping, kite flying or just lazy days at the beach.

A closer look reveals thickets of pine woodland which are home to cherished local celebrities, the red squirrels. Check out the signage to find out about the surprising history of the beach from prehistoric footprints to asparagus farming

Central Beach, Nairn, Scotland

Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) calf breaching in the sunshine in the Moray Firth, Scotland.

For sweeping sands and dramatic skies, try Central Beach in Nairn, east of Inverness. Take in views over the Moray Firth towards Cromarty, where you can sometimes see the Northern Lights shimmering overhead on dark winter nights.

Despite being just a few minutes away from the High Street, there’s an otherworldly feel to these sandy shores. Keep your eyes peeled for the resident bottlenose dolphins hunting for Atlantic salmon in the Firth, or take a summer boat trip from Nairn Habour with Phoenix Sea Adventures where you might spot porpoises, seals and even the occasional minke whale!

The beach has a marina that opens onto the River Nairn, where you can find lots of places to eat, and there are also various walks to explore, such as Culbin Forest. The temperature here is surprisingly mild so it’s ideal for a break anytime.

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