Best beaches in Kent
Kent’s seaside has been beloved by Londoners escaping the Big Smoke for over two centuries, drawn in by the county’s clean air and sandy beaches. This cliff-lined coastline offers 200km of golden sand. The beaches of Kent are perfect for a visit during a UK holiday, weekend break or a day trip.
The heart of Kent may be full of castles and stately homes, but the county’s coastal areas also stand out; from Dover's towering White Cliffs to the hipster-magnet Margate, the folk-festival haven Broadstairs and the historic Isle of Thanet. These towns are home to a wide variety of beaches that are ideal for proper, old-fashioned bucket and spade holidays. We’ve put together a list of the best beaches in Kent both pebbled and sandy to make the job of planning your day trips that bit easier.
Minnis Bay Beach, Birchington-on-Sea
Minnis Bay is a secluded, sandy beach served by lifeguards that's a favourite of ours at Haven. Situated on the Isle of Thanet, it’s a long stretch of sandy beach that’s popular with both families and young alike. This means that both swimming and water sports are popular here and are separated for the safety of visitors. The Blue Flag beach offers windsurfing, sailing and kayaking for the energetic amongst us as well as paddling, a children’s playground and a picnic area.
Aside from being one of the best beaches in Kent, Minnis Bay is also the start of a cycling route that takes you along the Viking Coastal Trail to Margate with plenty of natural wonders to see on the way. There’s a café and ice cream kiosk on the promenade so don’t forget to grab one before you grab your bucket and spade to the beach for some rockpooling. Other facilities at Minnis Bay include parking, lifeguards, toilets and several cafes.
Margate Main Beach, Margate
This is Margate's number one and original attraction: the beautifully clean sands of the Main Beach. Just yards away from the main town centre, the beach offers wonderful views out to sea, has a tidal pool, kid’s rides and arcade games for families who want traditional seaside fun and entertainment. Even at high tide, there is still plenty of beach to make sandcastles. It’s a glorious spot and is the reason why Margate was, and still is, so popular with summer visitors.
Margate is home to the ever-popular Dreamland, and the modern Turner Contemporary Museum that has turned the fortunes of this seaside town around. There are numerous restaurants, bars and seafood stalls a short walk away in the Old Town, why not try one out before an evening stroll along the beach?
Hythe Beach, Hythe
Hythe is a majority pebble beach; it’s quite steep so do be careful, especially at high tide as it gets surprisingly deep, surprisingly quickly. The area around the beach hasn’t been developed into a seaside town in the same way as others, there are no garish rides or noisy arcades, so it’s an ideal seaside location for those wanting to take in the sea air away from the hubbub of some of the busier resorts.
The beach is actually spilt into three areas: Main Beach, Fisherman’s Beach and Foreshore Beach. Kitesurfers can be seen at Main Beach and if you’re lucky you might get a glimpse of the distant shores of France across the Channel on a very clear day. Hythe is served by the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch railway for those with an interest in steam locomotives and there is a two-mile-long promenade which adds to the general sense of nostalgia. There are usually plenty of parking places to be found along the promenade.
Folkestone Beach, Folkestone
Folkestone is home to a lovely beach with crystal clear waters and paddleboard hire. The pebble beach is covered in rocks and at low tide is perfect for rock pooling and crabbing making it great for family fun.
Built under the walkway is a series of quirky tunnels and our insider tip is to get there early enough to stake your claim to one as they offer the ideal shade from the sun. We also recommend you take the zig-zag path from the Martello tower to the cafe on the edge of the cliff. Stretched along the cliff, there is a park with abundant wildlife, history, and glorious views out over the channel. There’s also another fantastic play area to round off the day for your kids at one of the best beaches in Kent.
Viking Bay, Broadstairs
This magnificent horseshoe-shaped bay is the main attraction in the quaint coastal town of Broadstairs. Viking Bay has all of the time-honoured features you’d expect of a classic UK beach resort including inflatables and rides during the summer months. Less typical is the cliff-side elevator at the southern end of the beach. It's well worth a ride just for the experience, whether or not you’re up to climbing the steps.
Famous for its connections with Charles Dickens, Broadstairs is one of Kent’s most charming seaside towns which still plays an active part in the local fishing industry. At the northern end of the beach there is a small but scenic fishing harbour. Viking Bay also has a large grassy area with a bandstand that hosts regular performances and Morelli’s, an acclaimed ice cream parlour that you’d regret passing by.
Allhallows Beach, Allhallows
Allhallows Beach is a sandy beach that lies on the northern edge of the Hoo Peninsula in Kent overlooking the River Thames estuary. It is possibly the closest ‘proper’ beach to London, but it is one of the beaches in Kent that still feels a world away from the hustle and bustle of the big smoke.
The location offers opportunities for boating, walkers and nature lovers as well as having a good section of sandy beach that makes this a popular spot with families. Allhallows beach is situated right in front of our excellent Kent Coast Holiday Park, making it the perfect destination for your Haven holiday beach day.
Herne Bay Central Beach, Herne Bay
While the East Cliff Beach may be quieter than Herne Bay Central Beach, it lacks the same fine sands that make the Central Beach so fun to play on. The beach is situated in the classic British coastal town and provides sheltered bathing behind the breakwater and all the facilities you need close at hand. The beach is dog friendly and even has an exercise park for teenagers and adults.
If you want traditional seaside sparkle, you’ll find it in Herne Bay. Alongside the excellent beach, the town itself boasts charming Victorian architecture, a promenade that is both pushchair and wheelchair friendly and some well-kept gardens. There's also a bandstand which hosts concerts and plenty of seaside favourites on offer in the shape of ice cream parlours, candyfloss stands, cafes, friendly pubs and world-class fish and chips.
Tankerton Beach, Whitstable
The Blue Flag awarded Tankerton Beach is a perfect choice for those looking for safe swimming and sensational views. Pretty painted beach huts line the gently sloping shingle beach, which is streaked with scenery reminiscent of an English coastal scene from a postcard. At low tide, a natural path leads all the way out to sea and makes for an excellent place for paddling and rock pool exploring. From the attractive Marine Parade promenade to the attractive grassy area that lends itself well to seaside picnics, there are plenty of charms to be found here.
The tranquil setting is one of the safest beaches in Kent and it offers a lovely coastal getaway for those looking for safe bathing and well-maintained facilities. Lifeguards watch over the beach from 10am to 5pm at weekends and on Bank Holidays between June and September, and seven days a week during the school summer holidays.
Leysdown Beach, Isle of Sheppey
Leysdown is a traditional seaside resort beach on the east side of the Isle of Sheppey bound by flood defences and backed by a classic promenade. It's a great place for relaxing and wandering as you let the sea breeze clear your head and refresh your body.
The gently sloping beach is a long stretch of coarse sand with some shell and shingle, and there’s plenty of shallow water available for paddling as the tide retreats. As a winner of the Blue Flag award, visitors can be assured of clean, safe bathing in the Kent waters, however this does also mean that there’s a dog ban in force. As a well-established seaside town, Leysdown has all the facilities you would expect: shops, cafes, amusements and disabled access to the beach.