The British Isles don’t always get a good rep, thanks to our typically unreliable weather, and many opt to leave the UK behind in search of sunnier climes instead. While cruise holidays can take you to the furthest corners of the world, it’s important not to overlook some of the beauty that sits on our doorstep. After all, there’s something special about the great British seaside. While the paella might not taste the same and the sun might not be anywhere near as hot, we challenge anyone not to fall in love with pretty harbour towns, antiquated amusement arcades and cracking fish ‘n’ chips. With Fred Olsen and Princess Cruises amongst those operating British Isles cruise itineraries, there has never been a better time to see more of what our homeland has to offer.
After Lonely Planet featured two British beaches in their round up of the best beaches in Europe, we decided to scope out more beaches that are so good, you wouldn’t believe they were British. Now, pack a picnic and lace up your walking boots; we’re going on a beach hunt!
Sitting three miles east of Land’s End is the pretty Cornish village of Porthcurno. With its gorgeous turquoise waters and hidden caves, you could be forgiven for mistaking this charming beach for one of those that sits amidst the Greek islands. Adding to the Grecian appeal is the Minack Theatre, an impressive cliff top venue carved into the granite cliffs overlooking Porthcurno Beach. With its spectacular backdrop, the theatre feels as if it has sat undiscovered for centuries and stages musicals and operas throughout the summer season.
Reef Beach, Isle of Lewis
The Isle of Lewis, and the neighbouring Isle of Harris, is famous for being home to some of Britain’s most beautiful beaches. Located in Uig, Reef Beach is a sweeping crescent of white sand, edged with hilly sand dunes and surrounded by a carpet of multi-coloured wildflowers. The beach’s sheltered blue waters glow under the sun, making for a stunning scene to enjoy with a picnic on the cliff tops that overlook the sparkling waters.
Kynance Cove, Cornwall
Two miles from Lizard Point sits the secluded beach of Kynance Cove. Scenery more befitting of a Caribbean Island or the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie plays host to rugged cliffs, towering rock stacks and powdery white sands. Explore caves known as The Parlour and The Drawing Room, or hunt for sea life in the endless rock pools that form around the cave entrances. Kynance Cove is home to much flora and fauna, including seals, basking sharks and dolphins, causing much excitement when one if spotted just off shore.
Sandwood Bay, Sutherland
When Lonely Planet researched the best beaches in Europe, Sandwood Bay in Sutherland ranked 7th. While the freezing cold waters of the North Atlantic might not entice you for a swim, the pink sands could have come straight from the Caribbean. Part of Sandwood Bay’s appeal is its remote location and you’ll find no road access, only a four mile walk which ends when the beach suddenly and somewhat magically appears in front of you. The beach is also home to the instantly recognisable AM Buachaille sea stack.
West Wittering, West Sussex
West Wittering beach sits at the entrance to Chichester Harbour, near Emsworth in West Sussex. The Blue Flag beach is widely recognised as one of the best in Britain and it is a popular spot for families and water sports enthusiasts alike. The short grasses that edge the beach are ideal for picnics and the pretty pastel beach huts add to the quintessentially British beach scene.
Durdle Door, Jurassic Coast
The Jurassic Coast is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which stretches 95 miles along the coastline between St Oswald’s Bay and Man O’War Cove. As rugged and prehistoric in appearance as its name suggests, Jurassic Coast is home to the natural limestone arch of Durdle Door. This spectacular archway will eventually collapse onto the shingle beach below, but in the meantime it offers photo opportunities aplenty, along with pretty beaches either side.
Scarista Beach, Isle of Harris
Scarista Beach sits on the west coast of the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides. If you’re seeking solitary surroundings, this is your place; your only companions are likely to be the sea otters that play in the shallows and the seals that sit on the rocks. Atlantic Ocean swells attract surfers, though their numbers are extremely small thanks to the strong undercurrent of the emerald waters.