Pentle Bay, Tresco, Scilly Isles
This swathe of alabaster sand is actually British soil. With its glassy blue waters, Pentle Bay on Tresco, the second largest of the Scilly Isles off the coast of Cornwall, looks almost Caribbean. It’s perfectly swim-able too, thanks to the unusually warm temperatures. Although if you don’t fancy a swim, sit atop the water in one of the dinghies or kayaks that bob around off Tresco’s beaches and explore the coastline this way. The island’s microclimate has also made it home to exotic flora that cannot be found anywhere else in the UK – find it in the stunning Tresco Abbey Garden.
Cathedral Cove, New Zealand
You’ll have to travel a fair distance to find this vivid stretch of beach, complete with turquoise waters and a fertile habitat along the surrounding rocks. Cathedral Cove is part of Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve, on the northern coast of New Zealand’s North Island. The name comes from the yawning cave that links this sheltered bay to other beaches in the reserve. Make the trip here and you’ll be rewarded with impressive landscapes and vibrant marine life, which is always a hit with divers and snorkelers.
Bolonia Beach, Andalucia
You might have thought you knew Spain’s beaches, the sun lounge-littered stretches of golden sand on the Med-facing Costas, but the shores on the country’s Atlantic coast are a different story. West of Gibraltar in Spain’s Cadiz province, Bolonia beach is topped with sand dunes sprouting tufts of wispy green grass, so it doesn’t look so different from the more picturesque corners of Cornwall. While the crowds flock to neighbouring Tarifa, tranquil Bolonia remains one of the region’s best kept secrets. Aside from the stunning panoramas, there are authentic beach facing eateries serving up the day’s catch, as well as Spain’s largest Roman ruins nearby.
Rhossili Bay, nr Swansea, Wales
Sand that pure and water that blue couldn’t be found in the UK, could it? Step up Rhossili Bay, a three-mile arc of soft shore backed by sand dunes and limestone cliffs on the Gower Peninsula in South Wales. It holds the accolade of Best Beach in the UK and the ninth best in the world, according to TripAdvisor. It’s a haven for surfers, swimmers, hikers, dog walkers and picnickers visiting the area. At low tide, you can see the wrecks of 19th century ships and if you’re lucky, you might spot seals catching some rays on the beach, or dolphins playing in the surf.
Sandwood Bay, Scotland
As inviting as the water at this untouched, cliff-flanked beach might look, it’s not for the faint-hearted; Sandwood Bay is on the north coast of Scotland, so any brave soul willing to take a dip in the Atlantic this far north would do well to wear a wetsuit. Don’t let the temperature put you off a visit to this magnificent beach though. Its remote location (it can only be reached by a four-mile hike from the footpath at the teeny village of Blairmore) has helped to make it one of the most unspoilt spots in Britain. Perhaps that’s why the place is so steeped in mystery, too. There is the legend of a mermaid sighting on the rocks at Sandwood, and locals have it that the ghosts of sailors shipwrecked here can be heard knocking on doors on stormy nights.
Montauk, NY, USA
New York isn’t famous for its beaches, but leave the Big Apple behind and head upstate on Long Island and you’ll find the sleepy fishing town of Montauk, which comes alive every summer with city folk escaping to the sandy coastline. Its position at the tip of Long Island has given it the nickname “The End”, meaning you’ll find beaches on both sides. The Atlantic swell at Montauk’s Ditch Plains beach has made it a popular surf spot, bringing laid back lodges and guest houses to the town. There’s also plenty of casual seafood restaurants where you can sample the fruits of the nearby sea as well.
Nature’s Valley Beach, South Africa
This beach is a wilderness fan’s paradise. Found along South Africa’s Garden Route, Nature’s Valley marks the end of the 46km Otter Trail hiking route and the start of the 60km Tsitsikamma Mountain Trail. Nature’s Valley Beach is enveloped by yellow-wood forest and back from its shoreline is a smattering of houses and bungalows, making this the only residential area in any national park in South Africa. The beach itself, pounded by white Indian Ocean surf, is considered one of South Africa’s best.
Studland Bay, Dorset
The name Jurassic Coast lends a sense of grandeur to the 96-mile stretch along England’s south, which is richly deserved. The Unesco World Heritage region is home to beautiful sandy beaches and rugged white cliffs. The eastern most point of the route is at Studland Bay in Dorset, four miles of quintessentially British beach with ideal-castle-making sand, chocolate box beach huts and rich green shrubbery falling into farmland behind. The Bay is sheltered on both sides, protecting it from onshore winds and keeping its microclimate perfect for beach fun.
Inspired to take a staycation by the sea? Book your British beach getaway today!