Home to the rare English seahorse, this beatific bay on the Dorset coast has sweeping views across the Isle of Wight and Old Harry’s Rock. There is a little cafe for coffees and ice creams but, if you leave your picnic at home, check out nearby Shell Bay Restaurant, a stunning haven of fresh local seafood with west-facing views that are perfect on evenings with a good sunset.
Camber Sands, East Sussex
If a dramatic beach is what you’re after, Camber Sands has to be one of the biggest on offer. Soft and sandy (so perfect for sandcastles), it spreads along for more than seven miles and, at low tide, is almost half a mile wide. The western end is quieter if you crave some privacy and small boutique hotels are scattered nearby if you want to ditch the car this summer.
Foodies will love Littlehampton beach. It has, not one, but two excellent beach cafes — the West Beach Cafe and East Beach Cafe — both of which were designed by leading architects and both of which serve exceptionally good food. The beach itself is quiet (perfect for a pre-dinner sunset stroll) and the views from both restaurants are memorable.
St. Ives, Cornwall
A favourite amongst surfers, St. Ives is as much a family beach as it is a wave rider’s. Golden sand makes it popular with children and the local waters are home to porpoises, dolphins and basking sharks. Shrimp-catching is a must and the beach is bay-shaped so an idyllic Cornish backdrop frames this picture-perfect spot on the southwest coast.
Rhossili Bay, Wales
Adored by Wales’ best-loved poet Dylan Thomas, Rhossili Bay on the western tip of the Gower Peninsula in south Wales was voted Britain’s best beach in 2010. Three miles long, remote and usually quiet (despite its evident popularity and resident horses), it is also famous as a picnic place. Its views of the Bristol Channel and Carmarthen Bay really seal its "top spot" status.
And our top fashion tip while beaching it in the U.K. this summer? Celtic sheepskin beach boots. Available in every rainbow colour and made in Cornwall near all those top surf spots, this is must-have footwear for any self-respecting "Staycationer." Price: £120. www.celtic-sheepskin.co.uk
Boots image: The Ideas Network