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This way to the beach: 18 seaside trips from Surrey

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside... from splashing in the sea to ice-creams on the beach, we've rounded up the best beaches in driving distance of Surrey.

We have rivers and lakes aplenty in Surrey, but a beach? A big fat zero. a one-day jaunt to the seaside is still doable if you get an early start. All of the suggestions below are 1-3 hours in the car, depending of course which part of the county you live in. So grab the wind-breaker and sandwiches and let’s go!

West Wittering, West Sussex

With its wide, gently shelving golden sands, Blue Flag rating and ample parking, West Wittering is perfect for a family day out – even Kevin the Teenager couldn’t find fault with this one. Bring a picnic or BBQ, and loll on the grassy area behind the beach to take in views across to Chichester harbour. Top tip: book a car park space before you go.

West Beach, Littlehampton, West Sussex

Known for its laid-back vibe, West Beach is a great spot for families. There’s a wide beach, and sand dunes which are great for some hide-and-seek. Fun fact: the sand dune system is one of only three in West Sussex. There’s a café here, a small car park and toilets.

Rustington, near Littlehampton

Just along from Littlehampton’s East Beach is Rustington, a sand and pebble beach. It’s smaller and quieter than the Littlehampton beaches. There’s parking on the road and

Viking Bay, Broadstairs, Kent

There are several beaches in Broadstairs, but the main beach is Viking Bay – a quintessentially British beach with children’s rides, beach huts and shops where you can pick up buckets and spades and other seaside essentials. Parking is easy, and there are toilets nearby.

Goring Beach, West Sussex

This is your classic West Sussex beach – long stretches of pebbles and shingles separated by timber groynes. There’s a large grassy area behind the beach. There are car parks at either end of the beach, on Marine Crescent and Sea Lane, and a café and toilets at Sea Lane. Beach huts are also available to hire.

Brighton, East Sussex

You probably don’t need me to tell you about Brighton but don’t dismiss it as too far for a day trip – I can make it in two hours if I hammer it round the M25. It’s a pebbly beach of course but I don’t mind that when there’s so much else to do. All the cool kids live in Hove now, so head west for a slightly quieter beach and amazing pizza at Fatto A Mano on Church Street.

Worthing Beach, West Sussex

Based around the historic pier, Worthing’s seafront stretches for five miles along a palm tree-lined promenade. There’s a splash point and lido, and a gently sloping sand and shingle beach, although most of the sandier parts are covered as the tide moves in.

Pagham Beach, West Sussex

Apparently this stretch of coastline is one of the sunniest in Britain, so a good place to start for a beach day! Not far from Bognor Regis, it’s a shingle beach, popular with swimmers and windsurfers. There’s also a yacht club nearby. There’s parking, a beach shop and café, and loos.

Whitstable Beach, Kent

For quirkiness and charm, head to Whitstable where you’ll find West Beach – a long stretch of shingle beach broken up by wooden groynes. There are beach huts and timber cottages along the beachfront, as well as some great places to grab a bit to eat (especially oysters and fish and chips). The beach is a popular spot for windsurfing and sailing.

Herne Bay Beach, Kent

Another typical British seaside resort, with everything from rainbow coloured beach huts to a good selection of fish and chip shops and ice cream parlours . The beach is good for families – pack your deck chair – it’s shingle, not sand, and there’s a sheltered bathing area behind the breakwater.

Camber Sands, near Rye, East Sussex

A beautiful wide sandy beach with sand dunes, that very much reminds me of the Aussie beaches near to where I grew up in Victoria. The sand is fine and golden, and the beach is wide and largely unspoilt. It can get windy – it’s a popular windsurfing spot – so pack a windbreak. There are three car parks.

Barton-on-Sea, New Forest, Hampshire

Barton on sea beach sand sea and painted beach huts
Image: Visit Hampshire

I get so distracted by the gorgeous greenery and cute ponies in the New Forest, I forget it does beaches too. It can be windy in Barton – it’s a prime paragliding spot – so don’t forget to pack your kite. Above the safe, sandy beach, you can stroll along the clifftops and stop off at The Beachcomber Cafe (its grassy garden is open, serving a limited menu).

Lepe Beach, Hants

Southampton has more going for it that its port (thank goodness). Head to Lepe, a coastal country park in the New Forest and enjoy its long stretch of shingle beach. It’s a popular spot with windsurfers, kitesurfers and families, with views of the Isle of Wight. 

Calshot Beach, Hants

Another New Forest National Park beach and one that’s very close to Lepe. Calshot Spit is the epitome of pretty – brightly coloured beach huts, views across to the Isle of Wight and on good days Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower and a castle built by Henry VII.

Sandbanks, Poole, Dorset

Sandbanks‘ huge swathes of golden sand make this a great one for the whole family. Make sure you visit the fab Sandbanks Beach Cafe, plus there’s a BBQ facility on the beach and watersports nearby.

Bournemouth, Dorset

An obvious choice but you can’t beat Bournemouth. Miles of golden sands, a massive Harry Ramsden’s with views out across the water, tacky arcades to wow the kids, and a little train that runs around the tropical gardens and up to Boscombe beach. Boom!

Mudeford Quay, Dorset

Pristine white sands, enclosed by rocks and backed by candy-coloured beach huts – this is a Muddy favourite. The Beach House is a fantastic café, across the sandspit (you can get a little ferry there), which does takeaway, and a Noddy train to keep little ones amused.

Studland, Dorset

Fun fact to whip out if you get stuck in traffic: Coldplay’s famous one-take video for Yellow, where Chris Martin walks/sings along a beach was filmed at Studland. There are four miles of sandy beaches here – I like Middle Beach which is an easy stroll from boutique hotel/restaurant The Pig, aka the perfect spot for a chichi G&T at the end of a hard day’s sunbathing. Alternatively there’s plenty of watersports on offer at Knoll Beach, plus a 1km stretch for naturists, should you fancy letting it all hang out.

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