At coast, we’re dreaming of white-sand beaches and crystal-clear seas. Here’s our pick of sandy escapes as inspiration for your bucket list of British breaks
WORDS Alex Reece
1. FOR… WHITE SAND & SHELLS
Shell Beach, Herm, Channel Islands
One of the most beautiful beaches in the Channel Islands, Shell Beach on Herm is so named because of the millions of tiny shell fragments washed ashore by the Gulf Stream that can be found mixed in among the pale white sand. Rarely crowded, this stretch of coast is great for paddle-boarding and kayaking, and there are also plenty of rockpools for little ones to explore. A kiosk is normally open to provide refreshments.
For a future stay: The four-star White House Hotel on Herm has sea views, with double rooms starting from around £145 for B&B (01481 750000, herm.com/where-to-stay/white-house-hotel).
For the latest travel info: Check herm.com and visitguernsey.com. Located three miles from Guernsey, the traffic-free island is a 20-minute ferry ride from St Peter Port (traveltrident.com). Guernsey can be reached either by sea (condorferries.co.uk) or by air (aurigny.com).
2. FOR… A PARADISE ISLAND
St Martin’s, Isles of Scilly
The beaches on St Martin’s are regularly ranked among the best in the UK and, as the island is only two miles long, you could visit all of them on a holiday here. Great Bay – a curve of sparkling white sand – and Par Beach are recommended for swimming in the azure Atlantic. From the latter, you can also snorkel with seals.
For a future stay: Karma St Martin’s offers a slice of luxury, with 30 rooms and suites in a coastal manor at the water’s edge. Prices start from around £220 for a Deluxe double room (01720 422368, karmagroup.com).
For the latest travel info: Check visitislesofscilly.com. Regular boats depart from St Mary’s, the largest island, for St Martin’s. Travel to St Mary’s by air or ferry (penzancehelicopters.co.uk; islesofscilly-travel.co.uk).
3. FOR… A WORLD-CLASS BEACH
Luskentyre, Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides
This celebrated shoreline in the Outer Hebrides has much in common with the Caribbean on a sunny day with its miles of cream sand and aquamarine seawater. Along with hills and mountains encircling the bay, you can see other islands, such as Taransay, in the distance. Look out for golden eagles and dolphins, and disconnect from mainland concerns completely.
For a future stay: Just 10 minutes from Luskentyre, Fir Chlis is a smart holiday let close to Seilebost Beach. Accommodating 6-8 people, prices start from £around 495 for a short break (078 0809 8860, fir-chlis.co.uk).
For the latest travel info: Check visitscotland.com. Ferries usually depart for Harris from Skye and Berneray (calmac.co.uk). There are ferries and flights to Stornoway on neighbouring Lewis, too (loganair.co.uk; britishairways.com).
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4. FOR… A HIDDEN GEM
White Beach, Niarbyl, Isle of Man
From Niarbyl Bay on the west coast of the island, follow the coastal path south down to the tucked-away strand of White Beach. Made of tiny quartz pebbles, this secluded shore has views as far as the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland on a clear day. Find details on guided walks at go-mannadventures.com.
For a future stay: Ballagreyney Holiday Cottages are two traditional self-catering buildings close to the south coast. Sleeping 4, prices start from around £385 per week (01624 836594, visitisleofman.net). For more holidays and short breaks, see: iomevents.com.
For the latest travel info: Check visitiom.co.uk. EasyJet, British Airways and Loganair fly here. Ferries depart from Heysham, Lancashire (steam-packet.com), or there’s a SeaCat service from Liverpool and Belfast.
Looking for the perfect holiday right at the water’s edge? Discover our collection of exclusive cruise trips around the British Isles here.
5. FOR… TURQUOISE WAVES
Pentle Bay, Tresco, Isles of Scilly
Just 28 miles from the coast of Cornwall, this small, car-free island is edged by white-sand beaches, the longest of which is Pentle Bay. An undeveloped arc of shore, backed by dunes, it’s ideal for simple pleasures such as seeking out shells and wild swimming in the turquoise waves. Beautiful Tresco Abbey Garden – famous for its subtropical plants – is only a short walk from the bay.
For a future stay: There is a range of accommodation on Tresco. B&B at The New Inn starts from around £120 per night. See tresco.co.uk for details.
For the latest travel info: The fastest way to reach Tresco is the new helicopter service direct to Tresco from Penzance (penzancehelicopters.co.uk), which also flies to St Mary’s, for a boat transfer to Tresco.
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6. FOR… PALM TREES & SUNSHINE
St Brelade’s Bay, Jersey, Channel Islands
This south-facing beach surrounded by palm trees is well-loved by locals and visitors, for its safe swimming and watersports. Voted into TripAdvisor’s 2019 top three UK beaches, St Brelade’s Bay is worth exploring further on foot. Stroll to the medieval Fisherman’s Chapel at low tide, and on to the next beach, Ouaisne.
For a future stay: Right on the seafront is the nostalgic St Brelade’s Bay Hotel, which has five acres of gardens along with spa facilities. To book, call 01534 746141, or go online to stbreladesbayhotel.com.
7. FOR… A WILD ENCLAVE
Keem Bay, Achill Island, Co. Mayo
Off the coast of County Mayo, Achill is Ireland’s biggest island and the ancient, rugged setting has inspired writers such as Graham Greene and Heinrich Böll, who both spent time here. To the west of the island, Keem is a horseshoe-shaped bay that retains a wild, undiscovered feel.
For a future stay: The Old Beach Cottage is a 200-year-old traditional dwelling sleeping 4, which is close to Dugort Beach (from around €135 per night, theoldbeachcottage.com).
For the latest travel info: Check achilltourism.com and ireland.com. Achill is accessible by road from the Irish mainland, via the Michael Davitt Bridge. Ireland West Airport Knock is the nearest hub for flights (ryanair.com; aerlingus.com).
8. FOR… FOSSIL HUNTING
Yaverland Beach, Isle of Wight
To the east of the island, the flat, sandy swathe of Yaverland Beach is framed by orange sandstone cliffs, which blend into the chalk face of Culver Down. It’s a wonderful spot for swimming and surfing, or to watch the wind- and kite-surfers on the water. Look closely at the rocks near Culver cliff and you might be lucky enough to find some fossil remains.
For a future stay: Check into Ocean Blue Coastal Retreats, which has four newly refurbished holiday cottages near Monks Bay on the south coast of the island. Weekly prices start from around £490 for
The Hideaway, sleeping 2 (07980 986232, oceanbluecoastalretreats.co.uk).
9. FOR… A SURFING SPOT
Balephetrish Bay, Tiree, Inner Hebrides
This compact island – just 12 miles long and 3 miles wide – is a popular surfing spot that catches the swell of the North Atlantic. What’s more, the crescent-shaped beaches around its perimeter, such as Balephetrish Bay on the north coast, are made up of powdery white sand, and are seldom, if ever, busy. If you can tear yourself away from the shore, venture inland to explore the wildlife-rich machair.
For a future stay: Set on a family croft at Ruaig are two timber glamping pods, Curlew and Oystercatcher, with en-suite facilities. Sleeping up to 4, they have marine views of nearby islands. From around £85 per night (07770 873667, soacabins.com).
10. FOR… SEASHORE & FOREST
Newborough Beach, Anglesey
The vast sands at Newborough on the south-western coast of Anglesey are washed by shallow waters, making them ideal for paddling and swimming. Fringing the beach are hills, dunes and a pine forest, providing a haven for red squirrels. The beach is joined at low tide to the island of Ynys Llandwyn. Steeped in history, it’s home to the ruins of the church of St Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers.
For a future stay: Plas Cadnant at Menai Bridge has five rustic, restorative holiday cottages, with slate floors, oak beams and four-poster beds. Prices from around £320 per week (01248 717007, plascadnant.co.uk).
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