Best secret UK beaches to visit in 2024 for peace and quiet

As the weather warms up, we’ve rounded up the best beaches to visit and avoid the crowds

Helen Wilson-Beevers
Friday 05 April 2024 15:28 BST
Discover hidden coastal spots, such as secluded Lantic Bay, Cornwall
Discover hidden coastal spots, such as secluded Lantic Bay, Cornwall (Unsplash / James Shaw)

Summer is in sight, with light nights and sunny days tantalisingly close. It’s a good time of year to start making a list of beaches you want to visit, especially if you want to avoid fighting for space on the shores with hundreds of others.

Even though the UK weather is notoriously unpredictable, Brits love nothing more than a beach day. Whether you live in the city or countryside, there’s blissful escapism to be found in feeling the sand between your toes and taking a dip in beautiful, bracing waters.

The summer months are the most attractive time to visit the British coastline, but also the busiest. With that in mind, we’ve found some UK beaches a little further off the beaten coast path. If you fancy venturing to a hidden beach on your next trip to the seaside, we’ve rounded up the best secret spots to visit. From a cove in Dorset and a secluded beach in Cornwall to sandy shores overlooked by castle ruins in Northumberland, look no further for some coastal travel inspiration.

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Man O’War Beach, Dorset

The beach is 15 minutes from the nearest car park and features both sand and pebbles (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

This picturesque Dorset cove is located on the Jurassic Coast, a Unesco World Heritage Site. Visitors can access the hidden beach by climbing down a flight of 150 hillside steps and following a steep path – which is 15 minutes from the nearest car park. Man O’War Beach features both sand and pebbles2, while the cherry on the cake is its stunning clear waters for taking a dip.

Where to stay

The King’s Arms in Dorchester features chic interior details and there’s private parking, a restaurant, 24-hour reception desk and an outdoor terrace too.

Runswick Bay, Yorkshire

This secluded spot is a quaint village hidden behind the peak of a hill (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A secluded spot situated five miles north of popular tourist town Whitby, Runswick Bay is a quaint village hidden behind the peak of a hill. Its rounded coastline is dotted with holiday cottages and whitewashed houses, with immediate access to a sandy beach. Plus, there are water sports to enjoy, as well as nearby caves to explore. Keep an eye on the tide times though, as the beach can disappear when the sea comes in.

Where to stay

The Resolution Hotel has recently been redecorated with a traditional flair, and it makes a brilliant base for exploring North Yorkshire.

Embleton Beach, Northumberland

Embleton Bay is overlooked by the ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Northumberland is famed for its fantastic sweeping coastline, and Embleton village is a lesser-known spot located between Craster and Low Newton by the Sea. The beach is overlooked by the magnificent ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle and it can be accessed by walking through Dunstanburgh Castle Golf Course. Embleton Beach’s white sands meet a crystal-clear turquoise sea, and it makes an ideal dog walking spot.

Where to stay

The Joiners Arms in Newton By The Sea serves up hearty pub grub, beautifully decorated bedrooms and a quaint village setting.

Church Doors Cove, Pembrokeshire

This secret Welsh beach is framed by dramatic cliffs (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

This hidden Pembrokeshire beach is framed by dramatic cliffs that mimic a door. You’ll see a combination of sand and rocks when climbing down the steep steps leading to Church Doors Cove, and the fact access is only possible at low tide further adds to its intrigue. It’s a five-minute walk from the car park, while popular seaside town Tenby is a 15-minute drive away.

Where to stay

Heywood Spa Hotel near Tenby offers four-star luxury with a garden, hot tub, pool and balcony views.

Lantic Bay, Cornwall

Come prepared for a hike down some uneven steps and a slope to reach this secret beach (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

If you’re looking for a hidden spot on the Cornish coastline, Lantic Bay is a shingle beach at the bottom of a steep path. Come prepared for an uneven walk through farmland, down some steps and a slope – safe in the knowledge the hike is worth it for the secret beach you’ll reach. You’ll find this gem off the South West Coast Path, located between Lansallos and Polruan.

Where to stay

This selection of holiday cottages has garden and barbecue facilities to enjoy summer evenings and family-friendly features including a children’s playground.

Sandwood Bay, Sutherland

It’s a four-mile walk to this remote sandy beach (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Head to Sutherland on the southwest coast of Scotland for this remote sandy beach. You can sink your feet into nearly two miles of golden sand, and lap up the view of the cliffs, dunes and a stunning sea stack. It’s a four-mile walk from the nearest car park at Blairmore, taking you through moorland with a marvellous loch view.

Where to stay

Knockderry Country House Hotel is a grand building with antique furniture boasting gorgeous west coast views.

Porthdinllaen, Gwynedd

Offering sandy, secluded space to play, this Welsh beach is tucked away from the old fishing village by sweeping hills. As the cove is sheltered, the water is usually calm, making it a great spot for swimming. Bring goggles and be sure to look down: the headland is a popular spot with the local grey seals, and one of the largest seagrass meadows in North Wales hides beneath the water, providing a habitat for many different types of fish.

Where to stay

Gwesty Ty Newydd is located right on the beach at Aberdaron, down the coast from Porthdinllaen, with most rooms offering sea views.

Cuckmere Haven Beach, East Sussex

Soak up the views of the white chalk cliffs while walking down to Cuckmere Haven Beach (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Cuckmere Haven Beach is a quiet coastal spot set against the backdrop of the Seven Sisters white chalk cliffs in East Sussex. There’s an expanse of golden sand to enjoy, and glorious turquoise waters. To reach the beach, park at nearby South Hill Barn in Seaford and soak up the gorgeous views during the 40-minute walk.

Where to stay

Tiger Inn is a family-friendly inn which has comfy rooms and a traditional bar complete with wooden beams.

Aberlady Bay, East Lothian

Situated in a nature reserve, this horseshoe-shaped beach is perfect for birdwatching (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

This horseshoe-shaped beach is found within a nature reserve and located between Gullane and Aberlady in East Lothian, Scotland. There are miles of sandy beach to walk across, while the reserve is a perfect birdwatching spot. You can even view the wreckage of two submarines at low tide.

Where to stay

Old Aberlady Inn is just 200 metres from the beach and offers both traditional accommodation and a sun terrace.

White Park Bay, Northern Ireland

The landscape of White Park Bay took shape between 200 million and 50 million years ago (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

White Park Bay is a sandy beach in the shape of an arc, on the North Antrim coast in Northern Ireland. There’s a National Trust-owned car park nearby, and you will follow steep steps to get down to this secluded beach. It’s part of the Causeway Coastal Route, should you fancy planning a longer walk while you’re there.

Where to stay

Expect vibrant interior details and a sea view at the four-star Elephant Rock Hotel, plus a shared lounge, terrace and bar.

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