The best UK beach holidays without the crowds
We’ve all seen the photos of England’s packed south coast beaches when the sun came out after lockdown. Thankfully, with more than 750 beaches around Britain, you can find brilliant places for a quiet UK beach holiday – even in peak sunshine. Our team know just the spots. And with our Vacay Weather app, you can check out what the UK weather will be like wherever you’re enjoying some quiet time by the coast – download it today on the iOS App Store or Google Play.
From a wide sandy beach in Cornwall’s ‘forgotten corner’ to a hidden cove in North Wales, here’s our pick of where to go for the best UK beach holidays without the crowds.
Whitepark Bay, Antrim
How can you tell that a beach doesn’t get many visitors? When a herd of cows is happy to hang out on the sands. True story – sunbathing cows are a regular sight at this peaceful three-mile beach that’s tucked into the Giant’s Causeway landscape in Northern Ireland. If cows aren’t quite the animals you were hoping to see, cast your eyes offshore where you might spot pods of dolphins leaping through the waves.
Barricane Beach, Devon
Devon is home to many of the UK’s best beaches so this isn’t the quietest beach on our list, but it’s quiet by Devon standards. It also comes with a few surprises. At this pretty little cove near Woolacombe, thousands of perfectly-formed cowrie shells have found their way from the Caribbean to line the shore. Plus, at certain times of year and if the weather’s good, we’ve got the inside scoop that a local café serves up the best authentic Sri Lankan curry on the beach.
Porth Iago, Gwynedd
At this gorgeous Welsh gem it’s the steep walk down (and back up) a dune that keeps the masses away. To reach the hidden cove of Porth Iago you’ll need to drive along the bumpy tracks of a private farm to park up before skating down the huge sand dune. In return for your efforts you’ll be rewarded with powder-soft sands and sheltered clear blue waters that are ideal for swimming.
Winterton Beach, Norfolk
This vast and unspoilt sandy beach is an away-from-it-all seaside escape. The sand dunes here have been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the beach is a haven for wildlife – you can spot various birds including terns, as well as a grey seal colony. It’s accessible, too, with a large grassy carpark at the top end of the beach.
Luskentyre Beach, Isle of Harris
It’s tough to single out just one of the beaches on the Isle of Harris – this small Outer Hebridean island is spoilt with fine white sands and glistening blue-green seas. The beaches here are spectacular even on a dull day, but visit in summer and you’ll see the sands backed by a blanket of wild flowers. With its vast swathe of pale, shell-rich sands and clear turquoise waters, Luskentyre Beach wouldn’t look out of place in Australia’s Whitsunday Islands.
Roanhead Beach, Cumbria
North of Barrow-in-Furness, the rugged wilderness of Roanhead Beach is a wildlife-rich dune habitat. It’s part of the Sandscale Haws National Nature Reserve and birds can be spotted here year-round – visit in spring to see skylarks and in winter to spot waders. The reserve is also home to around 15% of the UK’s rare natterjack toads. The views from the beach are impressive, too, looking out over the Duddon Estuary to the Lake Fells beyond.
Whitsand Bay, Cornwall
Cornwall has some of the most popular beaches in the UK, but this wide stretch of windswept beach remains lesser-visited thanks to its location in the county’s ‘forgotten corner’. When the sun shines on Whitsand Bay it’s magical; the sky is reflected in the shallow waters and it creates the illusion of walking on mirrored glass. The distant view towards Rame Head, with its 14th-century hilltop chapel, is the icing on the cake.