Although some may know England for its foggy mornings and fascinating history, those who have paid a visit to some of the country's beautiful beaches will come to recognize them for their cleanliness and quality of water. Some have even been stated to rival the crystal clear water and golden sand of beachfront in the Caribbean and Southeast Asia, making England a real destination for sun and sand vacations.
Blackpool Sands, South Devon
Blackpool Sands, a sheltered bay surrounded by evergreens, is one of South Devon's most beautiful natural treasures. The white sand and turquoise waters give the beachfront a certain Mediterranean feel to it. Visitors can stay on the sprawling sands of the main beach, but the forests and cliffs to the side hide their own small beaches along the shoreline. Those who go for a quick swim will easily be able to spot and then swim right on up to have a less crowded beach experience. For those who are seeking more activity on their beach holiday, they should be sure to check out the wetsuit and snorkel facilities or surf-ski rentals up by the tree line. Of course, after a day of fun in the sun, visitors can find refreshment at the popular Venus Beach Cafe that is famed for its organic and locally produced food.
Located on Norfolk's east coast, Holkham provides a beach experience like no other. This spectacular little beach is cradled by salt marshes and pine woodlands in what is one of England's largest nature reserves. Just off the butterscotch coloured sand, walking trails lead visitors through the abundance of wild scenery, but the beach needs no trail. At low tide, visitors can spend their time sneaking a peak at marine life in tide pools and walking along the moist sand. At high tide, the ocean creates shallow lagoons that are perfect to splash around in with a nice sandy bottom. As it happens, Holkham Beach is a little famous on the silver screen. It provided the setting for the ending scene of the playful romantic comedy Shakespeare in Love.
Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire
A few steps into the beachfront at Barafundle Bay and visitors are likely to forget they are in England. Barafundle Bay is backed by dunes and pines, accessible only through a kilometre walk from the car park; however, the walk is well worth it. On the other side of that pine forest is swathes of golden sand, crystal clear waters and a bay beach surrounded by emerald cliffs. The beach has been voted time and time again as one of the best beaches in Britain, often likened to a Caribbean beach. There are no facilities at Barafundle, so everything visitors want, they will have to bring with them. However, the lack of development and the short hike it takes to get to the shoreline keeps the crowds that are less dedicated to natural beauty down. Alas, on the nicest of days, the beachfront can still get pretty busy.
Botany Bay, Kent
The calm, sandy stretch of beach lining the shore of Botany Bay is regarded as one of England's best kept secrets. Although the bay area used to be renowned in colonial times as the hang out for smugglers, it turns out they had rather good taste in terms of beaches. The area is now devoid of brigands, but visitors can still find a little escape around the chalk stone rock formations that punctuate the beach. The most popular beach activity is unsurprisingly for visitors to leave their mark on massive chalk stone pillars on the sand. Although many find it enough to simply read the amusing messages left by other visitors, many choose to leave one of their own. However, these massive rock pillars play a major role in separating the beach up for visitors that are seeking a little more privacy. On seasonable days visitors should expect to stroll around a pillar and find secluded sunbathers, intricate sandcastle makers and maybe even some yogis. Since there are so many secluded spots, this lovely little beach often feels emptier than it actually is.
Just a short walk over from the dramatic cliffs at Land's End, Sennen is a charming fishing cove that comes complete with a long, sandy beach. Although the bluffs along the sand are rough and rocky, the beach offers beautiful soft white sand by the shore, excellent swimming and fairly consistent surf. Although at high tide the beach is separated into two, they join at low tide to make over two kilometres of sand. For those not content lounging in the sun or watching amateur surfers trying to make it on the waves, there are two cafes that line the beach as well as the ever popular Old Success Pub. Those who want to try their hands at surfing can also find quick lessons as the local surf shops with ease.