By Parkdean Resorts on 07/02/2023
Online searches for stargazing have increased astronomically, with “UK stargazing spots” soaring up 50% in the last year, it seems Brits are in search of some help to navigate the stars!
You don’t have to be an astronomer to appreciate the beauty of a starry night sky - one of nature's most beautiful sights - and the UK has some fantastic locations for viewing the cosmos.
If you’re in search of an out-of-this-world date activity, stargazing is a very romantic option. Cuddle up under the stars as the moon watches over you, and what better way to impress your partner than by showing off your knowledge of complicated constellations? Once you have wooed your date under the stars, it may be good to know that online searches for ‘beach engagement proposal ideas’ have shot up by 150%, too!
With this in mind, we at Parkdean Resorts have revealed the best UK beaches for stargazing. The research is based on a number of factors, including light pollution, romantic restaurants nearby, being open 24 hours, and of course, dog friendliness, for a twinkling dog-walking treat.
Prepare for an out-of-this-world evening! These are the best UK beaches for stargazing
We know what makes a good beach, and the starry sky gleaming over the glistening sea makes for an unforgettable evening.
We’ve analysed several factors, from the number of local campsites to the romantic restaurants nearby, where you can complete the evening with an intimate dinner and indulge in a glass of champagne, which Dom Pérignon famously described as “tasting the stars”- what a treat to complete your night of stargazing!
We’ve also looked into the Bortle Scale - a measurement of the quality (brightness) of the night sky for a particular destination. There are nine levels to the Bortle Scale, with Class 1 having excellent visibility and Class 9 having a huge amount of light pollution.
|Rank||Beach||Region||Bortle Scale||Dog Friendly||'Excellent' Reviews||Campsites Nearby||Romantic Restaurants Nearby||Activities Nearby||Open 24 Hrs||Hidden Gem|
|1||Hengitsbury Head Beach||Bournemouth||4||Yes||1,718||0||149||85||Yes||Yes|
|2||Brighton Beach||East Sussex||6||Restrictions||2,012||60||1,319||172||Yes||No|
|9||St Belade's Bay Beach||Jersey||2||Yes||1,857||0||79||59||Yes||No|
1. Hengistbury Head Beach, Dorset
Our research found Hengistbury Head Beach in Bournemouth to be the best beach for stargazing in the UK. With 1,718 “excellent“ reviews and its dark sky measuring at a four on the Bortle Scale, Hengistbury Head Beach is a hidden gem must-see for anyone in search of the stars! The beach in South West England is also popular amongst dog walkers, as it is open and unrestricted to furry friends all year round. So bring your pets along and enjoy the stars from the sand and shingle on Hengistbury Head Beach. Even better, enjoy a stay at Sandford Holiday Park for the ultimate stargazing experience - you can even finish your night under the stars in a relaxing hot tub.
2. Brighton Beach, East Sussex
Brighton Beach in East Sussex is the second-best UK beach for stargazing. This pebbly beach has become a popular staycation destination for Brits, who seem to be impressed with their stays, giving 2,012 “excellent” reviews. Brighton Beach has 172 activities nearby, including its famous Palace Pier which features adrenaline-pumping rides, up on those you’ll find an incredible view of the night sky, perfect for adding a sense of adventure to your stargazing excursion. You’ll also find the highest number of nearby romantic restaurants of all the cities we analysed, with Brighton being home to an impressive 1,319 eateries, so you’ll have plenty of options. If you’d like to explore other amazing beaches during your trip to Brighton - check out Camber Sands Holiday Park for the perfect coastal escape.
3. Weymouth Beach, Dorset
Our study found that Weymouth Beach in Dorset is the third-best UK beach for stargazing. This award-winning sandy beach has accumulated 4,261 “excellent” reviews and the night sky visibility here measures at 5 on the Bortle Scale, clear enough to enjoy the mystery of the night sky in its full glory! This beach is open 24 hours so you can watch the stars for as long as you like before setting up camp at one of the 86 campsites nearby, where you can get cosy around a campfire to complete a night of stargazing. If you’d rather make a holiday out of your stagrazing experience, head to Warmwell Holiday Park for a fantastic getaway within easy reach of the best of Dorset’s Jurassic Coast.
4. Bournemouth Beach, Dorset
Bournemouth Beach is the fourth-best beach for stargazing and is a great date spot even after the sun has set. This beach has accumulated 5,950 “excellent” reviews, the most of all the locations we analysed - showing just how many visitors have enjoyed their time here. Open 24 hours, there’ll be no limit on how long you can stay to admire the stars, meaning you’ll have enough time to stop off for dinner - don’t worry Bournemouth has plenty of options, with 721 restaurants nearby! If you’d like to sleep under the stars, check out our Dorset camping sites for an extra special date addition.
5. Crantock Beach, Cornwall
Rounding off the top five best beaches for stargazing is Crantock Beach in Cornwall, which has a ranking of 4 on the Bortle Scale, perfect for stargazing! At Crantock Beach you’ll find 52 nearby activities, so you’ll be busy all day and night during your visit. Though this beach is not open 24 hours, your stargazing doesn't have to end there, you can finish your night at Crantock Beach Holiday Park which overlooks the sea and is just a 5 minute walk from the beach.
Cornwall is a standout spot for stargazers
Out of the ten best beaches for stargazing, those ranking in positions five to eight were all Cornwall-based: Crantock Beach, Fistral Beach, Watergate Bay and Perranporth Beach. All four of these spectacular Cornwall beaches scored a 4 on the Bortle Scale, which is considered the ideal class for stargazing. Cornwall dominated the ranking and is definitely a standout spot for astronomy fans.
With 8 holiday parks in Cornwall, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to places to stay. From Lizard Point Holiday Park and Looe Bay Holiday Park, to Sea Acres Holiday Park, the parks are all within easy reach of the region’s best beaches - making them an ideal choice for a romantic getaway.
The UK beaches with the darkest skies
Light pollution is the excessive or poor use of artificial outdoor light, and in the context of stargazing, light pollution obscures the stars in the night sky, making them harder to spot. The best stargazing spots are those without light pollution, where you can get the most out of your evening of stargazing and see all of the wonders that the UK’s night sky has to offer, from planets to constellations. And, if you’re lucky you may even get the chance to wish on a shooting star passing by!
According to NASA the locations with a Bortle-class 3 or 4 make an ideal sky for stargazing. While many UK beaches hit this stargazing sweet spot, there is one beach that boasts the best visibility of them all, Luskentyre in Scotland. With an impressively low Bortle score of 1, this hidden gem beach has the best night time visibility of all the beaches we analysed.
Following closely behind is Porthcurno Beach in Cornwall, with a low Bortle score of 2 and Holkham Bay in Norfolk with a rating of 3. Holkham Bay is a bit of a hidden gem, making it an ideal choice if you’re looking for somewhere to stargaze in peace, or feel like popping the question under the stars without an audience.
What can you see in the UK night sky?
Now you know which beach is best for an evening of stargazing, but what can you actually see when you're there?
When it comes to search volumes, Orion is the most popular constellation, with 1,473,830 people searching for it every year. Orion is named after the hunter in Greek mythology and is one of the most recognizable constellations in the sky. Home to two of the ten brightest stars in the sky, Orion is also easy to spot if you’re looking to impress your date with some astronomy.
The Aquarius constellation is a member of the zodiac and is one of the oldest constellations documented. Aquarius follows as the second most searched-for constellation with 201,810 online searches. Rounding off the top three is Canis Major with 149,520 online searches. Canis Major is also home to the brightest star in the sky, Sirius!
You don’t need to have all of the kit to get the most out of your stargazing trip. Even without a telescope, you can see many constellations and planets with the naked eye! Technology is advancing too, so you can easily download apps and use your smartphone camera to get a better view of the stars.
Luckily, you don’t need a telescope either to find a good deal at Parkdean Resorts - browse our range of out-of-this-world deals and turn your stargazing evening into a weekend away to remember!
The following 10 metrics were ranked and then averaged to provide a total ranking for which beaches would be the best in the UK for stargazing:
- Visibility based on Bortle Score
- Whether the beach is dog friendly
- Whether the beach has free parking locally
- The number of ‘excellent’ reviews on TripAdvisor
- The number of campsites nearby
- The number of romantic hotels nearby
- The number of romantic restaurants nearby
- Number of local activities nearby
- Whether the beach is open for 24 hours
- Whether the beach is classed as a ‘Hidden Gem’ on TripAdvisor