Our favourite Norfolk beaches
Norfolk's 93-mile coastline is long and full of contrasts, and all the way from the Wash to Great Yarmouth it is home to some of the best beaches in the country. In the north of the county the sea appears almost in retreat, giving rise to sandbanks, spits of shingle and silted harbours. Although once the coastline turns in a more easterly direction the tides fight back – here, the beaches are sandy and there’s evidence of erosion in the soft clay cliffs. Wherever you base your Norfolk cottage holiday, this part of East Anglia makes the ideal setting for a seaside getaway, where a day out means sun, sand, buckets, spades and beach huts, not forgetting enough ice-cream to have even the biggest of appetites licked!
After a long and hot debate, here’s our favourite beaches. Hope you enjoy them!
An awe-inspiring beach with miles of windswept sands backed by sand dunes and pine forests, this idyllic oasis is often quoted as one of the UK’s best beaches. Visit and you could be fooled into thinking you’re on your own dessert island.
No cottage holiday in Norfolk would be complete without a trip to Wells, a timeless little town with a picturesque harbour and, a brisk one-mile walk away or a narrow gauge railway trip, a vast sandy beach. There is space for everyone on the Wells sands which, lined by colourful beach huts and backed by aromatic pine woodlands, are ideal for sunbathing, picnics and kite-flying. Stay in one of our Wells-next-the-Sea cottages and experience this really wonderful beach! For those who love to be busy, Wells is great for windsurfing and as the tide goes out it’s also the perfect foraging ground for a seafood supper, the main channel of water that leads through the sands from the North Sea into the harbour provides a rich harvest of cockles and mussels. But don't get caught out by the notorious Wells tide – there is a danger of being trapped on the wrong side of the channel when the tide turns, so listen out for the siren which is sounded when the waters start to rise. Why not hire yourself a beach hut and enjoy supper whilst watching the sun go down? Bliss.
Here we have another one of our beautiful unspoilt beaches with miles and miles of golden sand for you to enjoy – so even on the busiest summer’s days, you are sure to find your own private spot. Be sure to check the tide timetables before visiting though as the road to the beach can become flooded. This beach is also a great spot for kite surfers and is dog friendly too – although there are some restrictions during the summer months. Don’t forget to see if you can spot the remains of an old shipwreck when the tide is out…
This beach is full of old stuff. We don’t mean dated shops visited by your grandparents… we mean REALLY old stuff like woolly mammoth skeletons and fossils thousands of years old! With its rock formations and cliffs, this is a beach for getting down on your hands and knees and doing things – rock pooling, fossil hunting and the likes.
Once a busy working port, Blakeney is one of the prettiest places in North Norfolk and an absolute must for those with an interest in birds and wildlife. Blakeney's quaint holiday cottages on adorable narrow streets lead to the quay, which is now mainly used for sailing and pleasure craft. The quay is perfect for old-fashioned family fun with buckets and crab lines while the estuary leading to it is a fun, if muddy! place for youngsters to paddle and potter around in rowing boats. But it's Blakeney Point that is the real gem along this part of the Norfolk coastline the three-and-a-half-mile sand and shingle spit is noted for its colonies of breeding terns and migrant birds passing through in summer. It is also an important breeding and haul out site for grey and common seals walk along the spit or take a boat trip out to see them for a truly memorable seaside experience.
At the mouth of The Wash, Hunstanton is known as ‘Sunny Hunny’ because its beach and cliffs face west, which means they capture the best of the sunshine. The golden beach runs for two miles along the coast to Brancaster, while the shallow sea here makes for safe family bathing and is a favourite spot for wind and kite surfing. Book a Hunstanton holiday cottage and enjoy the seafront which is bordered by large Victorian and Edwardian houses and there’s a pleasant walk along the top of the cliffs to the lighthouse… this is very much a traditional resort with something for everyone and plenty to do, whatever the weather.
How could we not include Cromer? A quaint town brimming with old-world charm and Victorian seaside nostalgia, Cromer is a favourite with locals and visitors alike. We simply adore the pier (recent winner of Pier of the Year no less), and its’ Pavilion Theatre showcasing the only summer show of its kind in Europe. Oh, and try your hand at crabbing off the pier too!
Other beaches we could have so easily included too include Sheringham (backed by a steam train and excellent golf course overlooking the sea), Brancaster (create shell mosaics, walk the dog, play cricket or strap yourself to a kite and race across the sands), Hunstanton (stripy cliffs, water sports and newly opened Sea Life Centre), Sea Palling (just like Mundesley with safe sands and close to the seals at Horsey), Cley (pure escapism on this pebbly beach that’s perfect for dog walking), Overstrand……. (we could fill an entire brochure just on beaches!).
Set mid-way between the better known resorts of Cromer and Great Yarmouth, the beach at Sea Palling is one of the most stunning in Norfolk. Miles of golden sand stretch in either direction from the village, and thanks mainly to the nine offshore reefs built as part of a flood prevention scheme, it has retained the coveted Blue Flag award for several years. The water here is safe for swimming and paddling and the Sea Palling dunes are officially designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Seals are sometimes seen in the sea or sunning themselves on the sands to the south of the village, where you can walk along the coastline to the equally beautiful beaches of Waxham and Horsey.
Safe blue-flag sands, calm flat waters and a beachside café and shop, Mundesley is a haven for families. Hire a deckchair and sunbathe, grab an ice-cream or equip yourself with a wetsuit – all of this is happily encouraged at this friendly and inviting destination.
It may have a reputation for kiss-me-quick hats and amusement arcades, but Great Yarmouth is home to a beautiful sandy beach which is a perfect place to sit and watch the world go by. Spotlessly clean sands slope gently to the sea just yards from the fast-paced action of the pier and Pleasure Beach, while on the horizon is the Scroby Sands wind farm and seal colony. This is a beach for buckets and spades, sunbathing and swimming, traditional family fun and lots of it!
There are plenty of beaches in between the tourist hot spots. Following the coast road you can soon find a quiet spot on a beautiful beach to walk along or just sit and unwind to the sounds of the tide. Norfolk’s unusual coastline offers sandy stretches, pebbled beaches, as well as unkempt cliff shores. The ranging shore in Norfolk is a natural attraction of its own; attracting visitors from across the globe, as well as the UK. Without a doubt the best way to explore this coastline is with the freedom that comes from a self-catering holiday on the coast.