As far as British beaches go, it’s not all windy walks through the rain and chunky pebbles. The UK’s coastline scenery is diverse and stretches for thousands of miles, meaning you don’t have to leave the isles to find white-sand beaches and sapphire seas.
Check out these unexpectedly tropical spots among the UK’s most exotic beaches.
Greek island or Cornish cove?
Tucked between two rocky cliffs, this small cove of fine sand and teal-blue waves wouldn’t feel out of place on a Greek island. At low tide, you can paddle through shallow waters or walk across the sandbars to discover other small, sandy beaches around the bay. Right above the beach, you’ll find the incredible, open-air Minack Theatre, carved into the granite cliffside and overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Stay at Trereife House in Penzance, a historic manor house dating back to the 16th century, that’s only a 20-minute drive from Porthcurno Beach.
Discover bright white sand, blue seas, and playful porpoises in the Scottish Highlands
This remote spot in the Highlands is an expansive crescent of white sand and resembles a beach you might find in the Philippines. It’s even beautiful on gray, cloudy days thanks to the porpoises popping their heads out of the choppy waters. Mountview Pod is just a 15-minute drive from the beach and offers accommodations in a wooden cabin overlooking Loch Inver with a terrace, hot tub, and grill.
Luskentyre, the Outer Hebrides
Although Luskentyre is a remote beach in the Outer Hebrides, it looks more like a Caribbean destination
Down a winding, rocky road on the wild coast of the Isle of Harris, you might think Luskentyre was a Caribbean island – except for the temperature. Visit at low tide, when gentle, bright blue waters pull back to reveal even more of the white, powder-fine sand. In the distance you’ll find sand dunes and grassy plains rippling in the wind. This spot is so remote that you might not see anyone else around, other than the beach’s two resident white wild horses. Stay right on the coast in the beautiful Harris White Cottage.
Rhossili Beach, Wales
Rhossili Beach’s three-mile stretch of sand and surfers could very well be in Australia
Lying at the tip of the Gower Peninsula, Rhossili makes regular appearances on top-10 beaches in the world lists and has even been hailed the best beach in Europe. Its wide stretch of golden sands, pristine surf, and grassy cliffs look more Australian than Welsh. This romantic bay promises vibrant sunsets, ideal for coastal walks along the cliffs – no wonder it was a favorite of the famous Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. The remains of the Helvetia, which sank in 1887, are visible on the beach at low tide. Stay at the strawberry-colored Western House, only a short drive from Rhossili Bay.
Man O’War Beach, Dorset
Turquoise waters lap this beautiful Dorset beach
The Man O'War beach (named for its striking shape – not deadly jellyfish!) is a calm, Mediterranean-esque bay set between sloping hills and spiky rocks. You’ll often spot people snorkeling around the coastal rocks and under turbulent waves. Walk around the entire bay for sweeping views of turquoise waters in the sandy, horseshoe-shaped cove. Enjoy the sound of the sea from your suite at Lulworth Lodge Hotel, which is only a 6-minute drive or a half-hour walk from Man O’War Beach.
Brancaster Beach, Norfolk
Walk across miles of golden sand along Brancaster Beach
This sprawling beach spans miles of the Norfolk coast. It gets even more expansive when the tide is out, as golden sand stretches as far as the eye can see, reminiscent of a New Zealand beach. It’s also a protected nature reserve, famous for its wildlife like the migratory birds cruising through the clouds above. It’s a great place for long walks to explore its lagoons, rippling creeks, and lush marshland before catching the sunset perched on top of a grassy sand dunes. Stay in a suite with timber beams, antique furniture, and nautical-themed decor at The Ship Hotel, just a 2-minute walk from the beach.
Portrush Whiterocks Beach, Northern Ireland
Explore caves and rock formations at this beautiful Northern Irish beach
This incredible beach is located right off of Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coastal Route, surrounded by white, limestone cliffs that stretch all the way from Curran Strand to Dunluce Castle. The landscape is similar to that of the Canary Islands with its sheer rock faces, crashing waves, and a network of ancient caves and rock formations waiting to be explored. It's also a popular spot for surfing, bodyboarding, and sea kayaking – there’s equipment available to rent on-site. Check into Antrim House B&B for a classic suite facing the sea, and only a 2-minute walk to the beach.