Norfolk; a county in east Anglia that attracts many visitors each year due to its history, nature, beaches, seaside resorts and entertainment. It is a great choice for a family holiday and a brilliant option if you are wanting to stay in the UK but still experience the perks of being near the sea. So this article will cover the best sandy beaches in Norfolk and hopefully make planning your trip that bit easier:
1. Brancaster Beach
First on our list of the best sandy beaches in Norfolk is Brancaster Beach. Located on the northwestern Norfolk coast is this beautiful and peaceful beach, with its natural dunes and sandbanks of land. This iconic stretch of coast is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and at low tide shows a wide expanse of both golden sand and mud, which are important feeding areas for many birds, with much of the landscape actually now being managed by the National Trust. Sailing, fishing and boat trips to see seals are common here and perfect for locals and visitors alike. There is a car park, toilets and refreshments kiosk here and dogs are very much welcome. Click here to read our 10 things to do on the north coast of Norfolk where we talk more about this beach.
2. Waxham Beach
Just 10 minutes from the market town of Stalham and the northern reaches of Norfolk Broads, is Waxham Beach which boasts unique areas of unspoilt natural beauty and miles of sandy shore. This is a rural beach where grey seals can be spotted and in the Winter season, their pups can even be seen on the beach when the females come ashore to give birth! Waxham village itself is home to one of the largest tithe barns in England and inside you can enjoy refreshments. The southern section of the beach is referred to as Waxham Sands and hosts a small holiday park so it is usually busier and offers more facilities. Be aware there is no lifeguard service here however you may be pleased to know the beach is dog friendly.
3. Cromer Beach
Cromer Beach is gorgeous with pristine sands, beautiful green cliffs and dainty Victorian buildings and there is a promenade backing the beach with gardens bordering it. Situated at the top of the cliffs is the lovely town of Cromer which has a museum, church, areas for walking and restaurants and cafés. This beach has got great amenities and is definitely family friendly with beach huts, vast stretches of sand, fish and chip shops, a lifeboat station, independent cafés and shops, and also boasts Cromer Pier where you will find the Pavilion Theatre. Swimming and surfing is also popular here, as is fishing as this town is actually famous for its crabs and lobsters. The facilities here are good with toilets, parking and a lift connecting the town with the promenade and beach.
4. Mundesley Beach
Backed by a raised promenade lined with colourful wooden beach huts and boasting pretty cliff top gardens where visitors can shelter and sit, Mundesley Beach is next on our list of the best sandy beaches in Norfolk. Also in the cliff top gardens you will find the Mundesley Maritime Museum which is said to be the smallest museum in the UK that today is used as a Coastguard Watch manned by volunteers. Considered one of Norfolk’s finest beaches, Mundesley, which is about eight miles southeast of Cromer, consists of long stretches of sand with safe swimming at low tide. Parking (pay and display) is available nearby and the beach is accessed by steps down the cliffs. There are RNLI lifeguards here during the summer and dogs are limited to a dog-friendly zone from May to September.
5. Heacham Beach
Made up of two beaches; Heacham South and Heacham North, and located on the west coast of Norfolk, these beaches differ from each other with Heacham South being known as quite empty and so great for dog walking and fishing, as oppose to Heacham North which is busier with a promenade and holiday chalets. Be aware however, that when the tide goes out, instead of hard sand, you can be left walking on estuary mud so expect some messiness! The sunsets are said to be spectacular at these beaches, as is the wildlife, however you are advised not to swim here but water sports are popular such as jet skiing, kitesurfing and windsurfing. There is parking on both beach areas and toilets, and cafés and shops in the town, and dogs are allowed here all year round.
6. Wells-next-the-Sea Beach
Located approximately one mile from the town of Wells-next-the-Sea, you can walk to this beach along a raised path with fabulous views of the marshes, or you can drive and park at the Beach Road car park. There is a beach café here and a toilet block with a shower, and there are also ramps provided at the east end of the car park and the end of Beach Road, but be aware there is no formal disabled access along the beach itself, however a solid footway runs for about 50 metres westward from the beach access point. This beach is said to be unspoilt, perfect for walking or bird watching and great for taking your bucket and spade and having a play in the sand with your kids. From July to September there are RNLI lifeguards daily.
7. Cart Gap Beach
Next on our list of the best sandy beaches in Norfolk is Cart Gap Beach which is set between Happisburgh and Sea Palling, located at the end of a narrow, single-track lane. This beach boasts a gorgeous stretch of sand around the Norfolk coast and is also the site of the RNLI Happisburgh Lifeboat Station, although funnily enough there isn’t actually a lifeguard service here. Dogs are allowed at Cart Gap, and a little way back up from the car park is a café set in an old flint barn which allows dogs in their garden area. This is a popular place to walk and a great choice if you’ve got an afternoon free and want to soak up the sun with the family but perhaps don’t want to be in too much of a busy area.
8. Holme-next-the-Sea Beach
Just along the coast from Hunstanton is this little gem which has enough sandy beach to never get busy even in the height of the summer season. Also, if wildlife excites you, you might like this beach as it has large areas of salt marsh used by birds for feeding and breeding. Towards the high-tide mark, the sand is softer and mixed with shingle which gently slopes up the low dunes, and as the tide goes out the vastness of the beach is revealed. There are also some excellent walking routes in the area such as The Peddars Way and the North Coast Path, so whether you’re a casual walker or dedicated hiker, there is a path for everyone. This beach was also the site of an intriguing Bronze Age find consisting of an oak tree stump encircled by a further 55 stumps which were dated to around 2000 BC. There is no lifeguard service here and dogs are allowed all year round.
9. Sea Palling Beach
This beach is another stunning, family friendly option and is one of the most popular in Norfolk, yet not over-crowded. If you’re looking for somewhere with amusements and amenities but still tranquil enough to relax and not be too overwhelmed by lots of hustle and bustle, take note of this beach. Awarded the Blue Flag status for several years, this beach is clean and well looked after. Created as part of a flood defence scheme, this beach has a series of shallow bays formed by man-made offshore reefs, and has RNLI lifeguards on duty from 10am to 6pm everyday from May to September.
10. Overstrand Beach
Last but not least on our list of the best sandy beaches in Norfolk is Overstrand Beach. Located to the southeast of the town of Cromer, this beach is wide and sandy during low tide, perfect for relaxing or playing with the family, but be aware that at high tide the water comes all the way back to the sea wall, so check tide tables before visiting. This beach is quieter than Cromer Beach and does not have a lifeguard service, however it is still popular for water sports such as surfing. As Overstrand is located along the Norfolk Coast Path, it is an ideal place to begin a coastal walk and offers spectacular cliff-top scenery. The town of Overstrand itself has cafés, pubs and a village shop so you can do a little exploring too. Be aware dogs are banned along the central promenade section of the beach from May to September.