With summer just around the corner, it’s time to pack your bucket and spade and head down to the beach. We’re excited to share our top picks from the 2018 Blue Flag beaches list so you can start planning your next day out. From golden surfers’ paradises to hidden shingle coves, stunning dog walking spots and traditional seaside towns, there’s something for everyone on this year’s Blue Flag beaches list.
What is a Blue Flag Beach?
Although we are used to seeing the sign at our beautiful beaches across the country, you may not know what it actually means to be a Blue Flag beach. In order to qualify for the prestigious Blue Flag award, beaches must meet the highest standards of safety and cleanliness as well as several educational and informative criteria. The prestigious mark given by this global programme guarantees the cleanest and safest beaches in the world.
Ingoldmells South, Skegness
The first beach on our Blue Flag beach list sits just a few miles north of one of the UK’s most famous holiday destinations. Not to be overshadowed by Skegness, Ingoldmells South is a beautiful sandy beach that’s popular with holidaymakers due to its proximity to the resort’s facilities.
Visitors to Southview Holiday Park will be delighted to hear Ingoldmells is only a ten minute drive away. With all the benefits of its famous neighbour, Ingoldmells is surrounded by cafés and restaurants. Dogs are allowed all year round on Ingoldmells, which is great news for your four-legged friend!
Where to park at Ingoldmells South
There’s plenty of parking at Ingoldmells. For best access to the beach, park at the large multi-storey car park on Sea Lane, which sits only 50 metres from the main entrance to the beach.
Central Beach, Skegness
The next beach on our list needs no introduction. The popular seaside holiday destination is buzzing with activities for the whole family, from amusement arcades to delicious fish and chips by the sea, you’ll need more than one day to make the most of what Skegness has to offer.
Thrill-seekers will love Pleasure Beach Fairground, which is home to rides for all ages including the Rockin’ Rollercoaster, Flying Elephants and the Giant Wheel. If you’re not an adrenaline junkie then don’t worry, there’s a massive amusement arcade, adventure golf and even 10-pin bowing so you can show your competitive side!
Holidaymakers visiting Southview can pop to Skegness in less than ten minutes by car, making the Central Beach a fantastic day out you’ll want to relive time and time again.
Due to the beach’s popularity with tourists, dogs are not allowed on the beach during the summer months and must be kept on the lead in adjacent areas.
Where to park at Central Beach
There’s plenty of parking nearby to Central Beach in Skegness, including in the town centre and by the promenade.
A sunny weekend in Skegness - Video courtesy of Kevin Williamson
Tynemouth Long Sands & King Edward’s Bay, North Tyneside
Moving up north to the award-winning North East coastline, the next Blue Flag beaches on our list are just 10 minutes’ drive from Whitley Bay Holiday Park. Tynemouth Longsands and King Edward’s Bay are two very different beaches just a stone’s throw apart.
Popular surfing spot, Longsands is a stunning expanse of golden sands that attract tourists and locals all year round. Home to on-beach cafés and walking distance from the Blue Reef Aquarium, Longsands is ideal for a family day out whatever the weather. With ramps on either side of the beach, Longsands has great access facilities making it the perfect spot for a summer day trip.
King Edward’s Bay sits a short distance south of Longsands. The stunning 300-metre bay is overlooked by Tynemouth Priory and Castle, which boasts over 2,000 years of history. Explore the spot that stood the test of time, from an Anglo-Saxon settlement to an Anglican monastery, a royal castle and even a coastal defence – the priory at Tynemouth carries with it an abundance of history.
Fans of seafood will also love Riley’s Fish Shack, which sits within the bay specialising in locally caught fish in a street-food style. With great public transport access via bus and Tyne and Wear Metro, grown-ups will love a drink in one of the many bars and restaurants on Tynemouth Front Street, accessible from the bay.
Where to park at Tynemouth
There’s plenty of parking around the Tynemouth area, however sunny weekend days can get very busy in the town centre. We recommend parking in front of or behind the Blue Reef Aquarium and making the most of the views as you walk along the clifftops to either beach that suits your tastes.
Timelapse of King Edwards Bay in Tynemouth – Video courtesy of Jack Tait
Hayling Island Beachlands, Hampshire
We’re taking a break from traditional English seaside towns for the next stop on our journey around the UK’s Blue Flag beaches. Within walking distance of Hayling Island Holiday Park, this isn’t your typical island retreat. Eight kilometres of pebble beach, the beachlands on Hayling Island is great for fishing and also popular for watersports, including water skiing and wind surfing.
The beach has a café on site, with toilets and disabled facilities. Swimmers should be careful as there is no lifeguard service on the beach. Dogs are banned on the beach during the summer months, but dog bins are provided for those walking out of season.
Where to park at Hayling Island Beachlands
We’d recommend the lovely walk from Hayling Island Holiday Park. There are also car parks much closer to the beach, including on Chichester Avenue and Central Beachlands, making this beach greatly accessible and popular with families.
Great Western, Cornwall
Discover one of the quieter spots in Cornwall with the next stop on our journey. Named after the railway, Great Western beach is steeped in history. Despite the railway only running between 1876 and 1960, the station still overlooks the beach from the cliffs. Sunbathers be warned – the awe-inspiring cliffs will cast a shadow over the beach in the afternoon, so we recommend visiting in the morning if you’re looking to catch some rays. Kids will love the rockpools that appear at low tide, which are home to all sorts of marine life.
Complete with lifeguard service in the summer months, Great Western is ideal for swimmers and surfers as well as other water sports. There’s even a place to hire surfboards and deckchairs – what more could you want from a peaceful Cornish beach this summer?
Where to park at Great Western
There are two car parks overlooking Great Western on either side of the railway station.
A beautiful day on Great Western Beach - Video courtesy of Glynne Hather
Challaborough Bay, Devon
We may be biased but the next spot on our list of Blue Flag beaches is one of our favourites. Home to the eponymous holiday park, Challaborough Bay is a gorgeous horseshoe-shaped bay overlooked by the rolling green hills of the South Hams countryside. The hidden sandy cove, which is directly accessible from the holiday park, overlooks the iconic Burgh Island on a sunny day. Another great spot for surfing, we truly believe there’s no better place for your next staycation.
Why not explore the fantastic accommodation on offer, just a stone’s throw away from the award-winning beach? Brand new for 2018, Challaborough has welcomed several luxury caravans including the Osprey model, which is pet friendly and complete with fab facilities, and the wheelchair friendly Petral model, which has two bedrooms and a large open plan living space.
Where to park at Challaborough Bay
The stunning sandy cove is just five minutes’ walk from Challaborough Bay Holiday Park.
The view across Burgh Island from Challaborough Bay
Westward Ho!, Devon
The quirkily named Devon seaside town is next on our list of Blue Flag beaches. Backed by a pebbled ridge, the vast sandy beach stretches two miles north of the town of the same name. Popular with tourists, Westward Ho! beach has great facilities including toilets and nearby cafes. Visitors to Bideford Bay Holiday Park can reach Westward Ho! in just 15 minutes.
Due to the size of the beach, Westward Ho! rarely feels crowded. Perfect for a weekend stroll, the beach boasts epic views and great people-watching opportunities as surfers and other water sports enthusiasts take to the waves. Dog restrictions apply at different areas – we recommend checking the signage before taking your furry friend for a paddle.
Where to park at Westward Ho!
There is parking along the beach, including the main Westward Ho! beach car park, which sits only a couple of minutes’ from the beach.
Home to the second longest pier in the UK, Walton-on-the-Naze is a glorious stretch of golden sand perfect for building sandcastles and paddling in the summer months. It’s no wonder how this Essex beach has made the blue Flag list this year. A mile north of the main beach, you’ll find ‘the Naze’ itself, which is a slice of serenity on the bustling Essex coastline. Overlooked by an unspoilt headland, which is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Nature lovers and ramblers will love Walton-on-the-Naze beach, although dogs are banned from some areas of the beach so be sure to check the signage before heading to the sands with your pet.
Where to park at Walton-on-the-Naze
The nearest car park is the High Street Car Park, which is walking distance to the beach as well as nearby shops and cafes.
Drone footage of Walton-on-the-Naze – Video courtesy of Guy Powers
Unspoilt and wild… Kessingland is a long sandy and shingle beach that rarely feels overcrowded. Visitors to Kessingland Holiday Park are in for a treat, with this Blue Flag beach right on the doorstep. Whether it’s water sports or wildlife spotting you’re after, then Kessingland is perfect for you. You’ll often see beachgoers surfing, windsurfing and kayaking at Kessingland. Meanwhile the Benacre Nature Reserve sits at the southern edge of the beach, so be aware of the wildlife when visiting the beach.
Why not treat the family to a luxury beachside lodge at Kessingland? We’ve got the Eagle Lodge, which sleep four and has two bathrooms among other great facilities, along with the Kingfisher Lodge, which sleeps six and offers comfort with open plan living area and ensuite to the master bedroom. Not to mention the brand new caravans we’ve welcomed for 2018, including the Parrot, which is extra wide and sleeps eight people. Beach lovers would be mad to miss this beautiful spot this summer!
Where to park at Kessingland
This beautiful beach is directly accessible from Kessingland Beach Holiday Park.
Morecombe North & South, Lancashire
If an old school seaside holiday is what you’re after, then the next spot on our list is for you. The traditional resort is around ten minutes from both Regent Bay and Ocean Edge holiday parks. We probably don’t have to tell you how awesome Morecambe’s famous beach is, but just in case… the town boasts a promenade with a magnificent view across the bay, activities for kids are always abundant and bars and restaurants are bustling all year round.
Where to park at Morecambe
There’s a great selection of parking all over Morecambe, including on Marine Road and Back Brighton Terrace.
Video courtesy of George Abernethy
Trecco Bay, Wales
We’re delighted to share that another Parkdean Resorts favourite has made the Blue Flag beach list in 2018. Nestled in the seaside town of Porthcawl, South Wales, Trecco is the perfect spot from which to explore the low limestone headland and sandy beach. Ideal for families, Trecco has lifeguard service in the summer months, meaning you can rest easy and let the kids make the most of the incredible welsh coastline.
Trecco Bay Holiday Park sits on the award-winning beach, so you don’t have far to travel for a fun family day out. There’s so much more than just a stunning beach at Trecco, we’ve also got an epic adventure playground, the Splashland indoor pool complex with flume, an outdoor SplashZone and so much more. This year’s Blue Flag award is a cherry on top of this spectacular bay, which has to be seen to be fully appreciated.
Where to park at Trecco Bay
The beach is directly accessible from Trecco Bay Holiday Park.
Epic sunset at Trecco Bay