With its stunning coastline and wide horizons you’re spoilt for choice for family friendly beaches when you visit or holiday in fabulous Norfolk. Welcome to ‘big sky country’.
The northern edge of East Anglia’s outcrop into the North Sea, from Hunstanton in the west to Great Yarmouth in the east, has some of the most awe-inspiring vistas in the country. To stand on Holkham Beach at low tide is humbling, as the sea and sky roll away and merge into blue-grey vastness, with just the sound of rushing tides and the odd plaintive cry of seagulls.
Here we feature just some of our favourite beaches in Norfolk, by no means a conclusive list, more a guide to beaches we know and love, many we visit often with our Westie dog.
Wells is a fab bucket-and-spade beach, a mile from the lively town, with a lifeboat house at its eastern edge and sand which merges into the beach at Holkham. Characterised by its collection of brightly coloured beach-huts, backed by pine woods, it has low dunes and a beach café and is very family friendly.
The character of the beach is dependent on the tide so its worthwhile checking the times. At low tide you can see acres and acres of golden sandy beach as the water retreats so far; at high tide it laps just a few yards from the beach huts.
Locally known as “sunny Hunny”, is a two-mile blue-flag beach of gently sloping sand which can be very popular on hot summers days. There’s lots to do in this resort including walks along the cliffs, boat trips, pitch and putt and a Sea Life centre. The town is fringed along its western edge by a stretch of dramatic colour contrasting cliffs of orange, red and white.
Hunstanton is an east coast town but faces west and is one of the few places on the east coast in England where the sun can be seen to set over the sea. We visit here often, just to watch the sun go down, fabulous! At low tide you can see acres and acres of golden sandy beach as the water retreats so far; at high tide it laps just a few yards from the beach huts.
Holkham beach is said to be one of the most beautiful beaches on the North Norfolk Coast and indeed the British Isles. Horseshoe-shaped the pale sand beach sheltered by pine forest and is popular with families, walkers, horse-riders and perfect for kite-flying and enjoying the wide open space.
The yellow sands here are fabulously vast and when the tide is out, the elements merge together creating a bewildering, two-dimensional sense of space. Access to the beach is via Lady Anne’s Drive at Holkham village, or along the coast road west of Wells-next-the-Sea.
Bancaster beach has strong tides however the sand is perfect for picnics, sandcastle-building and walking your dog. The water at Brancaster recedes to leave shallow lagoons where young children can safely paddle and play. At low tide you can also see the 1940s shipwreck of the SS Vina half submerged in the sand.
Designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and made up of salt marsh, intertidal mud and sandflats, miles of sandy beach stretching as far as the eye can see. Rich in wildlife, you can spot avocets, oyster catchers, terns to name but a few.
Beach – #5
Sheringham Beach is a stony beach with sand and rock pools at low tide. The beach is a little rocky when the tide is in however when the tide is out, a lovely sandy beach opens up and you can enjoy all the traditional beach activities.
Sheringham still retains the feel of an old-fashioned seaside town. Colourful beach huts, toilets and parking on the clifftop with cafes, amusement arcades and steam train rides in the pretty town which was once a tiny fishing village. The North Norfolk Steam Railway is just a ten-minute walk through the town from the beach.
Beach – #6
Cley isn’t a place for spades or picnics however if you want to see crashing waves and great sunsets, it’s worth a visit. Cley’s beach is a long stretch of smooth stones and shingle, backed by a marshland that’s rich in birdlife is accessed by a short walk or drive from the village with its distinctive windmill.
The relatively steep slope of the shore line makes it a good option for careful swimming however there are few facilities so most visit for the peace and quiet.
We love Cley for its crashing waves ‘real sea’ we call it, it’s often quiet in the evening and we love walks here with our dog.
Cromer is a classic North Norfolk seaside town, like its neighbour Sheringham is a blue-flag family friendly beach. With so many attractions, it’s no surprise that this Norfolk coastal town is the first choice of holiday destination for many families.
The beach is well-managed, long and sandy. This large seaside town has a traditional pier, zoning for watersports like surfing, and lifeguards on patrol during summer.
Crab boats unload their catches onto the sand, Cromer Crabs are world famous for their quality and taste. Cromer, the ‘Gem of the North Norfolk Coast’ and well worth a visit.
Mundesley beach is a small family holiday place and is considered one of Norfolk’s finest beaches and best kept secrets, long and sandy with safe swimming at low tide and all the amenities and charm of a small, popular seaside resort. Mundesley sits in a dip in the cliffs and from the clifftops there are spectacular views, you can even see Happisburgh lighthouse in the distance.
The beach is backed by a promenade lined with colourful beach huts. The lovely cliff top gardens offer an alternative quiet area to sit and relax.
Beach – #9
Sea Palling beach is one of those Norfolk beaches which is popular, but not too over crowded. A blue-flag stretch of yellow sand backed by dunes and with occasional outcrops of large grey boulders and fine shingle. The excellent sandy beach is the result of nine offshore reefs created as part of a flood defense scheme this helps calm the water making it good for swimming (the area is zoned in summer) but also attracting jet skiers, canoeists and windsurfers.
There are plenty of facilities for such a small resort, including a pub, cafe, shop and small amusement arcade.
The wide, clean, sandy beaches are some of the most beautiful stretches of beach in East Anglia. With miles of soft sand even at high tide and perfect for lazing the days away in summer, and just as ideal for walking at any time of the year. The focal points on Great Yarmouth seafront are its two piers.
The Britannia Pier stands proudly above the beach, while donkey rides take place below, the Wellington Pier is located further down towards the southern end of the strip. A fab and fun family holiday destination and worth a visit any time of year with tons of amusements and thing to occupy the kids and young at heart.