The UK really is a special place. Sure, we have our tourist hot spots and bustling city centers. But we also have some gloriously quiet corners and stunning views, especially around our coastline.
I am a bit of a beach-dwelling hippy when I can get away from my city life. There is nothing I love more than sea air and a clear view. I was lucky enough to grow up by a beautiful stretch of the south coast, and I have also stumbled across some amazing little finds on my travels too.
Here are ten of our coastal hidden gems, starting with three in my childhood home of Dorset.
Poole Quay and Sandbanks, Dorset
I grew up in Bournemouth, a well-known tourist hot spot. Full of nightclubs and shops, it is hardly top of my list for a quiet spot to smell the sea air. But take a short bus ride to the next town over and you are in the historic quayside town of Poole, a whole different world.
The old town is rather beautiful, with cobbled streets and museums leading you out to the docks. Here you can enjoy fish and chips and a quiet beer while watching the boats come and go.
Head east via Poole Park, a popular family spot with a cute miniature railway, and you arrive in Sandbanks. This is one of the most affluent areas in the UK and popular with celebrities seeking a second home. It is not hard to see why.
Sandbanks has a prime property with sea views, lovely restaurants, and peace and quiet. All while being a short drive from the resources of Bournemouth town center. The Sandbanks Hotel bar has amazing views and is famous locally as a proposal spot.
From Poole, you can take a ferry, or even ride the local bus on the ferry, over to Swanage in the Purbecks.
You might want to close your eyes as you pass Studland Bay – it is a popular nudist spot. But when you arrive in Swanage you will be instantly at ease in its old-fashioned charm.
There are some lovely camping spots, and almost every other building on the main street is a cute little pub. While you are there I would recommend a day trip to Corfe Castle for a bit of culture.
I discovered the little harbor town of Watchet by accident when my partner and I were lost on a bike packing trip.
Our satnav had totally failed to guide us from the Quantock Hills to pick up our planned route across Exmoor National Park. So we ended up following the coast as a means of navigation. I can’t say I minded, as I would take any excuse to be by the sea.
Watchet has a really pretty little harbor, cute little shops, and you can walk along the beach path into the neighboring towns of Blue Anchor and Minehead.
Heading back the other way along the south of the country, there are some lovely waterways around the Southampton area. Set sail east out of Southampton and you will soon find the waterfront village of Hamble-le-Rice.
Popular with sailors, pilots, and other adventurers, it is a haven from the nearby City of Southampton. Hamble has some lovely waterfront pubs and is genuinely beautiful.
Ramsgate, Broadstairs and Margate, Kent
The whole Thanet coast in east Kent is just beautiful. From Margate to Ramsgate via Broadstairs, there are just the widest sea views. Travel just a little further south to enjoy the peace of Sandwich and Pegwell Bay Nature Reserve.
Margate and Broadstairs both have beautiful beaches that are an absolute must for any sea air junkie like myself. If you are looking for a little history, then the Ramsgate Tunnel tours are a great activity. I am not much of a historian, but the guided tour really brought the World War Two experience to life for me.
As hidden gems go, you can’t get much more hidden than secret tunnels. It is worth booking tour tickets in advance during the summer as it can get very popular.
Abersoch is very popular with those who know it, they often return year after year. But luckily, not many people know about this place. It is a miniature surfer paradise with the prettiest beaches and campsites I have seen for a long time.
The village center has a rather luxurious feel to it as the shops and restaurants are quite modern. But it is still a tiny village – strange but true. My top tip for Abersoch is to get your barbecue meat from the local butcher – they make amazing sausages.
Ballygally, County Antrim
Apart from being fun to say, Ballygally has a beautiful beach, lined with cute little seaside houses and partially protected by the headland. This is locally known as a great fishing spot.
Do check out the allegedly haunted Ballygally Castle Hotel. It is such an inviting place; I would bet that even the local ghosts are friendly.
Have you found any hidden gems on the UK coast? Do let me know in the comments; I am always looking for new beaches to visit.