Dog on beach, Essex

Dog friendly beaches in Essex

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We all know that no beach holiday is complete without the family pup in tow and Essex offers a great selection of pooch-friendly shores. Our furry friends love to splash in the waves and bound across the sands, just like us!

Here at Haven, we know that finding dog friendly spots can be one of the greatest challenges of the beach holiday, so we’ve searched them out and composed this little collection of the best dog friendly beaches in Essex.

Irlam’s Beach, Harwich

Irlam’s Beach, Harwich
Irlam's: a hidden hideaway

Dogs allowed: all year round

Just outside of Harwich lies a secluded stretch of shore at Irlam’s Beach. Bordered by rolling sand dunes and wild marshes, this shore is calling out for a visit with your furry family member. Often featured on lists of ‘secret’ beaches in Essex, Irlam’s is a great one if you’re looking to get away from the crowds and let the pooch run wild across the open sands or explore the grassed terrains of the marshland. Watch the ships and trawlers coming into Harwich and Felixstowe ports and the ferries heading out across to Holland whilst your pooch happily splashes in the rocky shallows of this best-kept secret shore.

If you’ve got a patient pooch in tow, Irlam is also a spot for the keen fishers. Keep in mind that there aren’t any amenities at Irlam, so it’s a day for bringing sandwiches, or heading into Harwich for its selection of pubs and restaurants.

Dovercourt Bay Beach, Dovercourt

Dovercourt Bay Beach, Dovercourt
Dovercourt: the cast-iron lighthouse glistens

Dogs allowed: all year round (restrictions in some areas 1 May - 30 Sep)

Marked by two 19th-century cast-iron lighthouses, the shore of Dovercourt Bay is a distinctive and panoramic beach. A bracing dog-walk along the front brings you to Hamford Water National Nature Reserve - a coastal area made up of mudflats, marsh, and sands providing rich and varied scenery. Dovercourt Bay has some areas that allow dogs only from 1st October to 30th April, but the rest of this seaside welcomes your canines all year round, making it one of the best dog friendly beaches in Essex.

There are plenty of other activities to be had at Dovercourt too – a hub for jet-skiing, sailing and windsurfing, you’ll be surprised that the vibe remains quite serene at this sand and shingle beach.

The Naze Beach, Walton-on-the-Naze

The Naze Beach, Walton-on-the-Naze
The Naze: a lovely little spot

Dogs allowed: all year round (on leads May-September)

Not only is The Naze one of Essex’s all-round best beaches, but it also happens to be a haven for the hounds. You’ll definitely be in good company if you take your pooch for a stroll at the Naze and its surrounding nature reserve. Dog walkers are a common sight at this wild and rugged spot, so there’ll be plenty of opportunity for pooches and walkers alike to make new friends. The Naze Beach itself is a sandy shore, great for digging holes and small paws to scamper along sea front.

Walton-on-the-Naze is a real dog-lovers paradise, with many of the cafés offering bowls of water or dog biscuits for sale, to make sure you furry friends feel just as welcome as you do. There are a few areas at the Naze Beach where dogs must be kept on leads during the high season (May-September), so be sure to keep an eye out for the public signage indicating where these are.

Cudmore Grove Beach, Mersea Island

Cudmore Grove Beach, Mersea Island
Cudmore Grove: always an adventure

Dogs allowed: all year round

In East Mersea lies another beautiful - though markedly different - beach at Cudmore Grove. This sand and pebble beach is part of a 102-acre nature reserve that offers a wealth of varied landscapes, from salt marshes to grasslands to meadows, making for a diverse and fun-filled dog-walk. Cudmore Grove Beach has been likened to the Caribbean, with its golden sands backed by tall trees and can often feel like you’re walking on your own private beach due to its little-known status.

As a Site of Special Scientific Interest, there’s plenty of wildlife spotting to be had en-route, and an opportunity for fossil-hunting, whilst the children’s play area makes sure that every member of the family is provided for. Both West Mersea and Cudmore are dog friendly beaches in Essex, though the council asks that dogs be kept on leads during the summer months in some sections of the shoreline.

West Mersea Beach, Mersea Island

West Mersea Beach, Mersea Island
West Mersea: why visitors flock to the island

Dogs allowed: all year round

Mersea is called an island, surrounded by the estuaries of the rivers Blackwater and Colne. However, it is easily accessible by car via ‘The Strood’ – the road, or causeway that keeps it connected to the mainland. Be careful to check the tide times though, as the causeway gets covered periodically for one week each month, making the island true to its name.

West Mersea Beach is a great one for dog walkers – a large stretch of sand and shingle with friendly shallows for the pooch to paddle in. Also known for its crabbing rocks and calm waters that are convenient for paddle-boarding, West Mersea Beach provides for all whims and fancies. If you like seafood, The Company Shed is just a five-minute car journey away and serves locally sourced crab, lobster, fish, mussels, tiger prawns and more.

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