It’s well known that the UK is home to some incredible beaches — but which are the best beaches for toddlers?
When it comes to taking young children to the beach, it’s not only incredible views and soft sand we’re looking out for. Ideally we want safer waters with minimal dangerous currents, lifeguards, great amenities and easy access.
Of course, little extras like rockpools and great sandcastle-building sand never go amiss either.
Speaking from experience, there’s nothing worse than a toddler meltdown on a beach miles away from the car or any food outlets! 🤯
Here’s our round-up of the best beaches for toddlers in the UK — let us know which ones are your favourites.
- Best UK Beaches for Toddlers
- Joss Bay, Kent
- Woolacombe Beach, Devon
- Sandbanks Beach, Dorset
- Viking Bay, Kent
- Sennen Cove, Cornwall
- North Berwick West Beach, East Lothian
- Blackpool Beach, Lancashire
- Whitesands Beach, Pembrokeshire
- Holkham Beach, Norfolk
- Filey Beach, Yorkshire
- Blackpool Sands, South Devon
- Watergate Bay, Cornwall
- Alum Chine, Dorset
- Brighton Beach, East Sussex
Best UK Beaches for Toddlers
Joss Bay, Kent
Joss Bay, not far from Margate, is renowned for being a fantastic surfing beach, but it’s also a great spot for families with young children as well.
Sandy with lots of shaded spots available, the Blue Flag beach stretches out for around 200 metres and has a café, large car park, and toilets and showers on site. There are also deck chairs and loungers for hire if you haven’t brought your own.
Kids will love the rockpools which you can explore at low tide and older children can take advantage of the popular surf school. There is a lifeguard station as well.
Woolacombe Beach, Devon
Woolacombe in North Devon has a reputation as being one of the best beaches in the UK and is again very popular with families and surfers, especially in the Summer season.
It’s a wonderfully long beach with plenty of car parking so you should be able to find a spot even at the busiest times. It’s managed with families in mind so you can expect great amenities like various food and beach outlets, lifeguard stations and toilets.
Access is particularly good here, even if you’re using a pushchair. There’s also lots of good sandcastle-building sand and a specific dog-friendly section.
Sandbanks Beach, Dorset
Dorset is home to some incredible beaches, but our favourite for toddlers is definitely Sandbanks. This Blue Flag beach is absolutely beautiful with crystal clear waters and golden sand.
The beach slopes gently downwards and offers excellent paddling opportunities for young kids and new swimmers. There’s also a kids’ play area on site, a mini golf course, sensory area, and plenty of watersports equipment for hire. The sand is also absolutely perfect for sandcastle building!
As far as amenities goes, the Promenade directly adjacent to the beach offers plenty of food and drink outlets and shops, and there’s also the famous land train that can take you back and forth between Sandbanks and busy Bournemouth.
Viking Bay, Kent
Another beautiful Kent beach, Viking Bay in Broadstairs is very popular with families. There’s a bit of history to enjoy here too — it used to be visited by none other than Charles Dickens!
Thanks to the beautiful fine sand and sweeping views, Viking Bay is a real treat and can feel like a resort out of Southern Europe instead of Southern England if you go on a day with good weather. The lifeguard station runs all through the Summer season, and there’s toilets, shops and outlets along the boardwalk too.
Kids absolutely love the tidal pool for swimming and paddling, while older ones will get a kick out of the surf school that operates here.
Sennen Cove, Cornwall
Cornwall is chock-a-block with beaches but Sennen Cove — on the west coast, just north of Land’s End — is one of the best for families with young children.
The seasonal lifeguards mark out the safe swimming and surfing areas every day, but everyone will enjoy the incredible views regardless of whether you’re going in the water or not. It’s a wide beach with fine golden sand that has good access, even if you’re bringing the pushchair.
There’s plenty of car parking and food and drink outlets just outside the beach area. You’re also not far from the village of Sennen, which is very well set up for beach-goers and seasonal tourists.
North Berwick West Beach, East Lothian
Heading north of the border into Scotland for a moment is the beautiful North Berwick West Beach, which has some of the best scenery of any beaches in the UK.
The beach itself is long and sandy, with plenty of space to set up camp for the day. The water is wonderfully clear and great for paddling and swimming with toddlers. One of the major attractions of West Beach is that it’s home to the Scottish Seabird Centre — a must-visit if you’ve got any budding bird-watchers in the family.
You’re right next to the town of North Berwick, which has plenty of tearooms, cafés and shops. There are also playgrounds and boat trip operators if you fancy diverting from the beach for a spell. You’re also within striking distance of the train station, which enjoys regular services to and from nearby Edinburgh.
Blackpool Beach, Lancashire
Back down in England now but staying north, the famous Blackpool Beach is another great option for families. While it might not have the relaxation factor of many of the beaches on this list, it nonetheless is a great day out with plenty to occupy all ages.
Toddlers will love paddling in the water here, as well as sandcastle building and exploring all that the three (!) piers have to offer. The beach itself is a Blue Flag beach so you can be sure of clear waters and clean sand to enjoy.
As you might expect, there are plenty of amenities and distractions in Blackpool so you certainly won’t get bored. If the weather takes a turn for the worse (it is Northern England after all…), you can check out the SEA LIFE Centre or Madame Tussauds with your little ones. On the South Pier, you can even explore the Kiddies Ride Arena for younger kids.
Whitesands Beach, Pembrokeshire
Whitesands is another Blue Flag beach, this time located not far from St David’s in the Southwestern corner of Wales.
Incredibly beautiful thanks to its fine white sand and rocky headland backdrop, Whitesands Beach is very popular with both surfers and families. It’s seasonally patrolled by lifeguards who mark up safe, separate zones for swimming and watersports. There are plenty of opportunities for paddling and sandcastle building while you’re here.
The beach is accessible for both pushchairs and wheelchairs, while there’s a café and shops just behind the beach for amenities. Make sure you keep an eye out for wildlife while you’re here — including seals and porpoises — and the views that stretch out to Ramsey Island.
Holkham Beach, Norfolk
Holkham Beach is the perfect beach for you if you’re looking for something unspoilt and off the normal tourist trail. It’s on the North Norfolk coastline, not far from the Scolt Head Island Nature Reserve.
Unlike the other beaches on this list, it doesn’t have quite the same amenities — you’ll need to bring your own picnic and there aren’t any lifeguards. Plus there is a bit of walk between the car park and the beach, which might be a pain if you don’t have a cooperative toddler!
But we thought it was worth including thanks to its beauty, large size and the fact that it’s completely uncommercialised — something some families value much more than others. There is a café and educational area near the car park so you can find sustenance not too far away.
Filey Beach, Yorkshire
Filey Beach is found not too far from Scarborough and is routinely recommended as one of the best beaches in the UK for toddlers.
5 miles of golden sand means plenty of space for your family to stretch out and enjoy the beach while you’re here. Kids will absolutely love the rockpools to explore at low tide and lifeguards patrol during the Summer for added safety.
If you’re not up for a full day of sunbathing, take the kids on the nearby Sculpture Trail or down the historic promenade which has plenty of amenities and eateries.
Blackpool Sands, South Devon
Another beach with ‘Blackpool’ in the name, but this one’s actually down in Dartmouth instead. It’s another Blue Flag beach and is utterly breathtaking in its beauty thanks to the horseshoe shape and amazing backdrop and views.
Lifeguards are on duty throughout the Summer and there are plenty of opportunities for watersports alongside swimming and paddling. It’s easily accessible with good size car parks, and there are toilets and showers too. The Venus Beach Café serves up organic and locally produced food, and there’s also the Blackpool gardens, full of semi-tropical plants, to explore while you’re here as well.
Unlike the other beaches on this list, Blackpool Sands is actually a shingle beach but this does have some advantages — namely the shoreline doesn’t vary too much so you can closely supervise any swimming paddling, and there’s no sand blowing everywhere.
Watergate Bay, Cornwall
We’re back in Cornwall, this time at Watergate Bay, which can be found about 3 miles from busy Newquay on the north Cornish coast.
It’s an excellent large size with plenty of spots to bed down for the day on its gorgeous golden sand. It’s relatively easily accessible with a number of different routes down to the beach from the two car parks. Sand chairs are available from the nearby Watergate Bay Hotel if you require assistance for a disabled person.
It’s another beach that’s popular with surfers as well as families and, as such, it’s patrolled seasonally by lifeguards who mark out safe zones. There are plenty of good food options here and even some rockpools to explore.
Alum Chine, Dorset
As a Blue Flag beach, Alum Chine is one of the best beaches in Bournemouth for toddlers and younger kids. It’s wide, clean and sandy, but much less crowded and rowdy than the beaches in central Bournemouth.
In addition to baby changing facilities and a lost children centre, Alum Chine is home to a huge adventure playground with a fun pirate theme. There are also tropical gardens to explore nearby and the land train to take you into Bournemouth.
There are plenty of food and drink options to choose from here, and you can rest easy knowing that the lifeguards are regularly patrolling.
Brighton Beach, East Sussex
Brighton Beach is probably the most famous beach in the entirety of the UK. While it does get very busy in good weather, it’s still one of the best toddler beaches for young families.
It’s a pebble beach but is Blue Flag certified thanks to its clean waters that are great for little ones to paddle in. There’s also a brilliant paddling pool for kids that’s free to use. Kids will love the traditional Victorian pier and fairground, where you’ll be able to find plenty of food and drink kiosks and shops. The beach is also adjacent to a 4-mile Promenade which is similarly well stocked.
Brighton does tend to get very busy, especially around the holidays, but there are still a number of car parks and parking options to be found in the town.
What is the best beach in the UK? Let us know your favourites!
Looking for alternatives? Make sure to check out our activities section for more ideas.