There’s nothing better that us Brits love than the beach, particularly when the sun is shining. But it seems everyone else on Earth has the idea when the weather goes above 20 degrees, so how do you avoid the crowds? Well luckily for your dear reader, we’ve got the answer. Here’s our rundown of ten of the best hidden beaches near London, many of which you’ll likely be able to enjoy on your own!
1. West Wittering, West Sussex
For a perfect day out from the hustle and bustle of London, why not drive on down to West Sussex and head to West Wittering – one of the most unspoilt beaches on the entire south coast. A Blue Flag beach due to its excellent water quality and plethora of facilities, it’s a wonderful picnic spot that affords panoramic views of Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight.
It’s rumoured to be the first spot in which the Saxons invaded, and the nearby sand dune spit of East Head is a Site of Specific Scientific Interest if you fancy putting your explorer hat on. Keep your eyes peeled for various different species of birds which call the area home, including ringed plovers, little egrets and oystercatchers. Just remember, you’ll have to pre-book your spot at West Wittering beach car park!
📍Pound Road, West Wittering, Chichester, West Sussex, PO20 8AJ.
2. Botany Bay, Kent
Backed by some dramatic white cliffs and towering chalk stalks, this tranquil beach in Kent is an absolute bloomin’ gem. Just down the road from the hipster haven of Margate, it’s perfect for fossil hunting, rock pooling and generally just enjoying the sea air – a real winner in our books.
If you’re looking for something a bit more active to do, they’ve got plenty of watersports on offer here, and you can also amble on down to Broadstairs where you can grab a pint and a bite to eat at the ever-popular Jetty Broadstairs.
📍Marine Drive, Cliftonville, Broadstairs, CT10 3LG.
3. Abbot’s Cliff Beach, Kent
Another one of the best hidden beaches near London here, Abbotscliffe is a remote, shingle beach situated in between Dover and Folkestone that remains fairly off the radar. It’s a popular naturist beach – so bear that in mind if you’re easily offended – or better yet, why not join them!
There are plenty of rock pools here at low tide which you can explore, and it’s a lovely place for a dip. It should be noted that there are regular rock falls here from the towering chalk cliffs above, so make sure you’re careful and avoid sitting directly under them! The beach itself is best accessed from Samphire Hoe – a 30-hectare protected site and nature site which is home to over 220 species of birds and is set right by the Euro Tunnel.
📍Samphire Road, Dover, Kent, CT17 9FL.
4. Dungeness, Kent
Also in Kent and just a stone’s throw away from Camber Sands, you’ll find this remote place, which stands out amongst our beaches near London for its stark beauty. The largest expanse of shingle in the whole of Europe, Dungeness isn’t exactly the bathing costume and ice cream kind of beach.
The attraction here is a bleak, striking kind of sort, as the vista is littered with ramshackle fisherman’s huts, a nuclear power station, and a set of concrete towers used to listen for incoming aircraft in the 1930s. Elegantly eerie. There’s an incredible variety of wildlife found here – including some found nowhere else in Britain – and you can also pay a visit to Prospect House, which was owned by the acclaimed artist and director Derek Jarman until his death in 1994.
📍Romney Marsh, Kent, TN29 9NB.
5. Mersea Island, Essex
You’ll need to plan carefully to reach this one, as Mersea Island gets cut off from the mainland during high tide. Located just ten or so miles to the South of Colchester at the confluence of where the River Blackwater joins the River Colne, it’s a lovely spot to while away a few hours.
The sunny South Beach is perhaps the best place to visit for a beachy day out, with the beach huts along Victoria Esplanade adding a splash of colour to proceedings. The island even has a vineyard, so you know where to head if you get thirsty! They also specialise in oysters here – head to the The Company Shed or West Mersea Oyster Bar in West Mersea to get your lips around these tasty morsels!
📍West Mersea Beach, Essex, CO5 8DE.
6. Winterton Beach, Norfolk
One of Norfolk’s best-kept secrets, Winterton Beach boasts an absolutely huge expanse of soft sand, backed by the rolling, grassy dunes of the Martham Broad National Nature Reserve. The sheer size of it means this beach never feels crowded – even during the Summer months – and if you ever get bored of lazing about on the sand you can always wander through the picturesque village of Winterton-on-Sea and get yourself some fish and chips.
Top tip: head north to Horsey Gap and you’ll likely find yourself stumble upon hundreds and hundreds of grey seals, who pup here every Winter. It’s an amazing sight seeing them from atop the dunes, and if you’re here during the Summer months, you can watch them bobbing up and down in waters of the North Sea just offshore.
📍Beach Road, Winterton on Sea, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, NR29 4DD.
7. Birling Gap, East Sussex
Our penultimate entry to this hidden beaches near London roundup is Birling Gap – a peaceful, enclosed pebble beach set below the dramatic backdrop of the mighty Seven Sisters cliffs – one of the longest stretches of undeveloped coastline on the south coast. Accessed via the cute little village of East Dean, it’s a great spot to visit during low tide, when the sea leaves behind traces of the plants and creatures that call the English Channel home, such as cuttlefish bones, shells and seaweed.
If you’re lucky, you may even be able to unearth the fossils of ancient sea creatures – who knows what you’ll find! Post-beach visit, why not get your walking boots on and head up to Beachy Head – Britain’s highest chalk sea cliff – where you’ll be able to view its landmark red and white striped lighthouse.
📍Beachy Head Road, Eastbourne, East Sussex, BN20 0AD.
8. Cuckmere Haven Beach, East Sussex
Rounding off this list of the best hidden beaches near London is one that is actually right next to Birling Gap. Cuckmere Haven is perhaps most famous for its beach and cottage view, which has featured in blockbusters such as Robin Hood and Atonement – and many a postcard too!
Nestled at the feet of the towering Seven Sister cliffs, the actual beach is an isolated idyll – perfect for keen walkers, watersport enthusiasts and dedicated sunbathers alike. It’s also dog-friendly and there are some fantastic country walks in the surrounding nature reserves, wildflower meadows and grasslands.
📍Cuckmere Haven, Seaford, East Sussex, BN25 4AR.
So there you have it – a roundup of eight of the best hidden beaches near London. So if you want to visit any one of these lovely secluded seaside spots, pack your swimmers and suncream, hit the road and head to the beach!