I feel very lucky living in Tunbridge Wells. If you head south in the car (or indeed on the train) for about an hour, you reach the best beaches the Kent and East Sussex coast has to offer with their mixture of sandy, shingle and rocky playgrounds.
In no particular order, I’ve listed my favourite seaside day trips; some of them that I have made again and again since childhood.
Birling Gap offers a slightly different beach experience to the normal buckets and spades trip. The chalk cliffs of the Seven Sisters reach from Seaford to Eastbourne and between them lies Birling Gap. The beach lies at the bottom of the chalk cliffs accessed via a metal staircase. Once on the beach, there is ample opportunity for rock pooling and fossil hunting whilst enjoying your picnic.
NOTES: not great for buggies. Take beach shoes.
My great grandparents retired to Bexhill, so it was a place I visited regularly in my childhood. The seaside there holds lovely memories for me. When the tide is in, plenty of shingle beach is available to set up your picnic and play games. However, when the tide is out, the wet sandy beach is revealed in all its’ glory for soft, barefoot walks and great sandcastle building opportunities. If your kids tire of the beach, in the middle of town is the fabulous Egerton Park which has a great playground to provide a change of scene if needed.
NOTES: Park on West Parade along the main beach front, or further up the beach on South Cliff road opposite the end of Pages Avenue.
Sand, sand and more glorious sand! Camber is a 2 mile stretch of golden sand. In the winter, it is a desert of wide open space, great for walks, kite surfing and fresh air. On a sunny, summer weekend, crowds pile down to the seaside and yet still there is still plenty of space. If the tide is in, there is very little beach in some areas, however, when the tide is out, it is FAR OUT! The beach stretches away for around 100 meters.
NOTES: In summer traffic and car parking can be a NIGHTMARE. Park in the Broomhill Car Park. At time of publication, this car park is free. Camber can be VERY windy – bring a kite and a windbreak. Check the tide times in advance.
Dymchurch offers 4 miles of seawall seafront. This is great for walking with buggies or cycling/scooting with small children. The beach itself is wet sand providing great sand castle building opportunities. In the center of the village, you will find the Amusement Park which offers a distraction for the young ones if the weather isn’t great. There are also a number of cafes and bars and a small Tescos, if you don’t feel like catering yourself.
NOTES: when visiting the amusement park, buy tokens from the central kiosk to go on the rides.
Cuckmere Haven is one of the best beaches for rock pooling. It’s quite a hike from the Seven Sisters car park on the A259 to the beach, but the walk is fairly buggy friendly as it is a flat and picturesque walk along the banks of the Cuckmere river. Beach shoes are a must and the shingle will make it hard to navigate with buggies, but there is a wealth of interest to keep kids happy. Walks up onto the headland are steep, but worth it for the view.
NOTES: shingle beach so not great for buggies. Lovely walks on the headland with great views.
Not strictly one of the ‘best beaches’, but Eastbourne Airshow is a great day out for the family none-the-less! It takes place in August each year and if you sit up on the headland at Beachy Head, there are great views over the seafront as well as excellent views of the planes. We parked at the main Beachy Head car park, crossed over the road and walked down the hill to set up our picnic on the grass and enjoyed an amazing afternoon of aerial acrobatics.
NOTES: not great for families with crawling or toddling children.
I’d love to hear which are your best beaches to visit with your family around the Kent and East Sussex coast.