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13 best beaches in Essex for families and groups

Top 13 best beaches in Essex for families and groups

Have you been to any great beaches in Essex? If not, then this list is for you. We’ve picked out 13 beaches in Essex where you can enjoy a family day out, or meet up with a group of friends for a picnic. With so much to do and see in this part of the country, you’re bound to find a beach to suit you and your family.

We all dream of going to an exotic beach during the summer holidays. And we all know that the best beaches in the UK do not come free – they are usually expensive. But if you want a beach that is close to home then there are a few options for you.

If you’re planning a sunny beach holiday with blue skies, good food and plenty of activities, head to one of these great beaches in Essex. You may be surprised to learn that Essex has the longest coastline in the UK (350 miles to be exact), meaning that there is a beach for everyone in Essex. Known as Britain’s Sunshine Coast, Essex is one of the sunniest places in the UK. These sunny Essex beaches range from seaside resorts to secluded country beaches, fishing spots and seaside resorts, making a holiday in Essex a top choice for 2021.

What’s more, thanks to its rich coastline, Essex has a great choice of delicious seafood restaurants (many of which feature on this excellent list of Essex’s favorite restaurants). Whether you want a rustic holiday or a colorful, carefree break, find out which beach in Essex is right for you in our guide to the 13 best beaches in Essex for 2021.

Our selection of the best Essex beaches to visit in 2021

Photo cover: Helen Wright Related posts: 32 Essex days for planning in 2021

CLACTON-ON-SEA

Where to find : The easternmost tip of the Tendring Peninsula on the coast in the upper part of the county. Sunny, sandy Clacton (Image: Alex Liivet)

Clacton-on-Sea: The sunniest beach in Essex

2021 will mark the 150th anniversary of the creation of the European Commission. Anniversary of the establishment of Clacton-on-Sea as an Essex seaside resort. The complex was built in 1871 with a number of historic buildings (now unfortunately demolished). It’s not the prettiest beach in Essex, but what this place lacks in character, it makes up for: A lively and fun waterfront, adorned with colorful souvenirs, rock shops and ice cream parlors, attracts millions of visitors each year. For a family beach holiday in Essex, there’s nothing better than Clacton-on-Sea.

There’s a great pier (Pier 2020!) full of attractions, including the classic Helter Skelter. The beach is sunny and sandy, and friendly prices from local businesses and shops make it affordable for families. Swimming in the sea in Clacton is not recommended as the water quality around the pier is poor, but a short walk along the promenade will take you to areas marked as safe and clean for swimming. In high season, the Dotto train takes tourists from the pier to nearby Holland-on-Sea beach (pictured below).

If you fancy a real trip to the coast with a breeze in your hair, the Clacton Breeze open top bus makes 24 stops along the coast. With bus tickets to get on and off, you can see more of Essex’s best beaches (£4). How to get to Clacton-on-Sea: Trains from Liverpool Street to London take 90 minutes). Use the zip code to navigate by car: CO15 1QX

Thorpe Bay

Where to find : A quiet sand and shingle beach near South-end with spectacular views over the Thames Estuary. Blue huts under a blue sky (Photo: Brian Snelson)

Thorpe Bay is one of the best beaches in Essex for holidays

One of the beaches in Essex where you can swim in the sea is Thorpe Bay. From mid-May to the end of September, the water is awarded the Blue Flag. This pebble beach offers fewer beach activities for families, so it is quieter and less crowded. Think of the beach huts and fishing boats quietly bobbing on the gentle waves. Thorpe Bay is one of the best beaches in Essex, as it also has one of the sunniest beaches in the UK. The favorable climate and calm waters make it a popular spot for swimmers, young families relaxing in the afternoon, elderly people looking for sunshine and people who just want to enjoy the quiet life and sea breeze. How to get to Thorpe Bay: Trains take just over an hour from London Fenchurch Street (1 hour 5 minutes). Use the zip code to navigate by car: SS1 3BA

Holland-on-Sea

Where to find : Holland-on-Sea is a small coastal town in East Essex, just north of Clacton-on-Sea. Essex – sunny coast (Image: Cozy61)

gets local votes for one of the best beaches in Essex

This sandy beach is a short walk from Clacton-on-Sea, but is a much quieter and less crowded beach in Essex. There is a nice picnic area, a large sandy beach and it is surrounded by a nature park. There aren’t many shops or cafes here (but there are toilets), so bring your own food and drink, a bucket and a shovel and relax in front of the rainbow-colored beach huts along the water.

It can often be a bit windy on this Essex beach, so don’t forget to wear sunscreen and bring a windbreaker. However, this makes the sea here ideal for windsurfing if you want to try this sport. How to get to Holland-on-Sea: Trains from London Liverpool Street to Clacton-on-Sea. Then take the Dotto train in five minutes (or you can walk in 10 minutes). Use the zip code to navigate by car: CO15 5TZ

Martello Beach/Jaywick Beach

Where to find : Martello Bay is a popular spot 1.6 km from Clacton-on-Sea and adjacent to West Beach. Sand and desert (Image: Steve Graby) Jay wick Beach is another quieter spot away from the tourist crowds of Clacton, but it is a popular spot and can get very busy in high season. This beautiful sandy beach is one of our favorite beaches in Essex. It overlooks a grove of wild grasses and a row of pretty houses. Martello Bay is easily identified by the epic World War II defense bunker that sits on the beach in the middle of the bay.

The structure is no longer open for tours, but there are small shops and recreational facilities everywhere (boat rentals, beach shops, etc.), so stock up on everything you need before heading north along the coast. Some call Martello the art gallery beach, as local artists sell their creations along the boardwalk. How to get to Jay wick Beach: Again by train from London Liverpool Street to Clacton-on-Sea (1 hour 30 minutes). Use the zip code to navigate by car: CO15 2HJ

Continued below: The 13 best beaches in Essex

Cudmore Grove, Mersea

Where to find : Cudmore Grove Country Park is a 102 acre unspoilt nature reserve on Mersey Island in Essex. Back to nature (Image: 19andy76/Flickr) Cadmore Grove is a truly beautiful place, and if you can bear the small effort of getting there, it is one of the most unique beaches in Essex. The Rural Nature Reserve lies along the coast where the mouth of the River Colne meets the mouth of the River Blackwater on Mersey Island, the estuary south-east of Colchester. Here you will find wild grasses, animal-friendly meadows, sandy beaches and salt marshes. The bustling tourist centre of Mersey is on the other side of the island, home to the annual West Mersea Oyster Festival (see our article on the best places to visit in Essex), but this picturesque spot offers a very different beach experience.

Children can hunt for fossils, swim in the sand pools (affectionately known as Mersey Mud) and explore the remains of a 16th-century fort. Adults looking for a quiet place to relax and enjoy the view will even find a small fish and chip shop. This is how you get to Mercy Island: The train to Colchester from Liverpool Street takes 1 hour and 20 minutes), then you need to take a taxi or bus line 67 to the Mersey. Total travel time 1 hour and 50 minutes. Use the zip code to navigate by car: CO5 8UE

West Mercy

Where to find : An island in the mouth of the river near Colchester, famous (since Roman times) for its delicious local oysters. Beach cottages Rainbow (Image: ultraBobban)

Mercy is one of the best beaches in Essex for families!

West Mercy is very pretty – there are colorful cottages along the coast, quaint shops and restaurants, it’s a dreamy coastal town. But lots of people come here, and West Mersey is certainly one of the most popular beaches in Essex. However, the island is seven miles square. So, if you have a car, you can explore the whole island and choose your favorite spot during the day. Water sports are the most popular activity here: Boating, SUP and kayaking are popular with locals and day trippers.

The beach is a mixture of sand and grass, making it ideal for picnics. How to get to West Mercy: The train to Colchester from Liverpool Street takes 1 hour and 20 minutes), then you need to take a taxi or bus line 67 to the Mersey. Total travel time 1 hour and 50 minutes. Use the zip code to navigate by car: CO5 8AT

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Brightlingsea

Where to find : Across the Isle of Mersey, but on the mainland, a few miles from Colchester. Find your sea legs (Image: Mark Grant-Jones)

One of Essex’s best beaches for swimming in the sea

Brightlingsea is the Essex Blue Flag beach (15 May to 1 September), meaning swimming, water sports and snorkelling are highly recommended. As for the best beaches in Essex, there is a sandy beach and a beautiful view of Mersey Island. Brightlingsea is less commercial than Clacton or Southend and has a local feel, although international sailing regattas are held there every year, attracting many visitors and creating a great atmosphere. It is generally one of the quietest beaches in Essex, the promenade offers a variety of sporting and recreational activities and a nature trail runs along the old railway line to Alresford Creek.

Note the Bateman Tower, a local historic landmark dating back to 1883. If you don’t like the sea, Brightlingsea has an outdoor pool on the promenade. How to get to Brightlingsea: The train to Colchester from Liverpool Street takes 1 hour and 20 minutes, then you need to take a taxi or bus 62 to Brightlingsea. Total travel time 1 hour and 50 minutes. Use the zip code to navigate by car: CO7 0HH

Three Shells Beach, Southend

Where to find : Three Shells Beach is a 10-minute walk from South-end Central Station. It is a small sandy beach with a lagoon and a playground suitable for young children. Less crowded and accessible (Photo: Jakob Hürner) So what? You can swim in the sea in Southend. Three Shells Beach, just west of the pier, is a small sandy beach ideal for swimming and paddling. The beach is open from 15. May to the 30th. September with the blue flag. The sand sinks gently into the water, meaning you can paddle and swim at any time of the tide. It also means Three Shells is one of the most disability-friendly beaches in Essex, making it even safer for disabled beachgoers. Come early to get a seat.

It’s obviously the best beach in Essex for families, and when the sun comes out everyone wants to come and play. How to get to Southend-on-Sea: Fast trains from Fenchurch Street in London run for an hour. Southend also has its own international airport. Use the zip code to navigate by car: SS1 1EE

Southend City Beach

Where to find : Southend is a large coastal town in south east Essex. Fun fact: Southend is home to the world’s longest promenade pier! A sunny day in Southend (Image: Adrian Scottow) For most people, it’s Southend Beach. The rocky beach is always busy with families as amenities such as toilets, cafes, arcades, the Adventure Island funfair and the famous Southend Pier are all nearby. The 1.3-mile Southend Pier is the longest walkable pier in the world. A private train takes tourists to and from the pier. A trip (or walk) to the longest point will give you fantastic views of the Essex coastline, and you may even experience the three (maybe four) beaches on this list if you can see very well!

Ultimately, the city beach next to the pier is what it is; convenient and noisy, but a beach nonetheless. The sea here is not suitable for swimming or paddling, so families with young children are best advised to head further up the coast. For an easy day out or a short break on the coast with all the classic seaside activities, Southend City Beach is the place to be. How to get to Southend-on-Sea: Fast trains from Fenchurch Street in London run for an hour. Southend also has its own international airport. Use the zip code to navigate by car: SS1 2EE

Walton-on-the-Naze

Where to find : Walton-on-the-Naze is a sandy beach near Colchester in Essex. You can find dreamy sunsets here (Photo : Andi North) We often went to Walton-on-the-Naze as kids, so I have many fond memories of it, and not much has changed. This is a very family friendly blue flag beach, one of the most peaceful and tranquil sandy beaches in Essex. There is a seal colony nearby and in late summer / autumn you can go on a seal excursion. The historic 86-foot Naze Tower (built during World War II) is now an art gallery, tea room and museum. The summit offers spectacular panoramic views that can reach as far as 30 miles on a clear day. To the north you can see the Orford Ness lighthouse in Suffolk, and to the south, of course, the Kent coast.

Nature lovers will also get their money’s worth, as the Neuse is an ideal place for birdwatchers, with a wide variety of wildlife and birds often found here. How to get to Walton-on-the-Naze: Walton-on-the-Naze is the furthest beach (from London) from our selection of the best beaches in Essex, and is at the top of the county, off Suffolk. Trains don’t leave London directly. Take the London train from Liverpool Street to Colchester, then change to the Great Anglia Railway to Walton-on-the-Naze. The total travel time is 2 hours and 15 minutes. Use the zip code to navigate by car: CO14 8LG

Frinton-on-Sea

Where to find : Peacefully located on the Essex coast between Walton-on-the-Naze and Holland-on-the-Sea. happy scenes in Frinton (photo: Herri Lawford)

Frinton is one of the best beaches in Essex for a quiet life

Of all the places on our list of the best beaches in Essex, Frinton-on-Sea is unspoilt and uncommercialised, offering the opportunity to enjoy the simple life – and we love it. Free parking on or near the Esplanade is ideal if you’re coming by car, as it allows you to pull over and store unwanted items rather than dragging them around all day. This long sandy beach looks like a lazy, hazy, sunny day. Enjoy fish and chips on the sand and count the beach huts as you stroll along the boardwalk.

Frinton beach used to have a blue flag, but is not currently recommended for swimming, so enjoy the horizon with your toes in the sand. This is how you get to Frinton-on-Sea: Trains don’t leave London directly. London train from Liverpool Street to Colchester, then change to the Great Anglia Railway to Frinton. Total travel time is 2 hours and 10 minutes. Use the zip code to navigate by car: CO13 9DN

Bradwell-on-Sea

Where to find : Secret beach in Essex on the Dengy Peninsula, about 9 km north-east of Southminster and 30 km east of Chelmsford. Mud Flats in Bradwell (Photo : Andreas Photography) Bradwell-on-Sea is a village and civil parish in Essex which also has a beautiful unspoilt beach (which is a local secret). The area was shunned by holidaymakers in the past because of its industrial and military history, and the disused Bradwell nuclear power station is nearby. However, this part of the coastline is popular with walkers who use the Saltmarsh Coastal Path, which covers 75 miles of the beautiful coastline in County Maldon. This underrated beach is actually one of the only sandy beaches in Essex on this part of the coast.

Watch out for St. John’s Day. St. John’s John the Baptist and St. Paul Stone on the Wall, one of the oldest chapels still in use in this country, built in 654 AD. Chr. ! The coastal landscape is a mixture of mudflats, salt pans, farmland and beaches and is well worth a visit if you are looking for something different. How to get to Bradwell-on-Sea: Honestly, it’s a mission to visit the city by train. The journey from London takes 2 hours and 20 minutes and requires a train and two different buses….. Maybe one for the car if you have one. Use the zip code to navigate by car: CM0 7HW

Shoebury Common Strand

Where to find : Three miles from Southend on the East Esplanade. beach for a few days (photo: alwaysmnky) Shoebury Common is a popular family beach in Essex, just three miles from Southend, but it offers a very different experience. You can park right on the beach, so you can easily bring picnics, sunbeds, baby toys, strollers, etc. There’s a cafe on site, a grassy area and places to launch boats and jet skis (but no place to rent electronic water sports equipment. So, you’ll have to bring your own if you’re lucky).

The beach is handicapped accessible and there are good toilets near the promenade. Shoebury is a pebble beach, so water shoes are recommended. You can swim in the sea here and the blue flag season lasts from 15. May to the 30th. September. How to get to Shawbury Common: Trains depart directly from London Fenchurch Street in 1 hour 20 minutes. Use the zip code to navigate by car: SS3 9HG

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