Beaches possess a universal charm, attracting individuals from all walks of life with their irresistible blend of natural beauty, relaxation, and recreational opportunities. Firstly, the sheer splendour of beaches captivates the senses, from the soft sand underfoot to the expansive vista of shimmering water extending to the horizon. The rhythmic crash of waves against the shore and the briny scent of sea air evoke a sense of tranquillity and peace, offering a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Whether it’s the vibrant sunsets painting the sky with hues of orange and pink or the mesmerising play of sunlight on the water, beaches provide a sensory experience that nourishes the spirit.

Furthermore, beaches serve as playgrounds for adventure and discovery, presenting a wealth of activities to suit every taste and preference. From swimming and surfing to beach volleyball and snorkelling, there’s an abundance of ways to relish the water and soak in the warmth of the sun. Families can construct sandcastles and paddle in the shallows, while thrill-seekers can partake in more daring pursuits such as parasailing or jet skiing. The expansive coastline offers ample space for leisurely walks and contemplative strolls, affording visitors the opportunity to reconnect with nature and themselves in a tranquil environment.

Beyond their natural allure and recreational appeal, beaches act as focal points where communities congregate to unwind, socialise, and revel in life’s simple pleasures. Whether it’s a bustling seaside promenade dotted with cafes and ice cream parlours or a secluded bay accessible only by boat, beaches provide venues for people to forge connections and craft lasting memories. From spontaneous picnics and beachside barbecues to bonfire gatherings beneath the stars, beaches serve as vital cultural and social hubs where bonds are formed and friendships are cemented. In this way, beaches not only offer physical rejuvenation but also serve as significant markers of community spirit and togetherness.

This attraction is the same the world over.

Every year, the BeachAtlas publishes the top 100. This year, four beaches from the UK have been featured. Two are in Sussex, one in Dorset, and the other is in Scotland.

How the beaches were chosen

No. 25 Brighton Beach

Brighton Beach, an emblematic stretch of coastline extending for approximately 5 kilometres along the southern shores of England, is renowned for its scenic beauty and vibrant atmosphere. The beach offers panoramic views of the English Channel, with its sparkling waters stretching out towards the horizon. Visitors can stroll along the promenade, breathing in the salty sea air and enjoying the sight of colourful beach huts lining the shore. The gentle sound of waves breaking against the pebbled beach creates a soothing ambiance, inviting both locals and tourists to relax and unwind by the seaside.

Beyond its natural allure, Brighton Beach holds a special place in the cultural fabric of the UK. Situated in the heart of Brighton’s bustling seafront, the beach serves as a beloved destination for day-trippers and holidaymakers alike, especially those seeking refuge from the hustle and bustle of nearby London. Families gather to build sandcastles, sunbathe, and paddle in the shallows, while thrill-seekers might try their hand at water sports such as windsurfing or kayaking. The beachfront is alive with activity, with vendors selling ice cream, fish and chips, and souvenirs, adding to the lively atmosphere.

Moreover, Brighton Beach is celebrated for its inclusive and diverse community. It stands as a beacon of acceptance and tolerance, particularly renowned for its vibrant LGBT community. Often referred to as the “gay capital” of the UK, Brighton has a long history of embracing diversity, dating back to the early 19th century. Today, visitors can explore the city’s vibrant LGBT scene, with its numerous bars, clubs, and events celebrating diversity and inclusivity. This welcoming atmosphere contributes to Brighton’s reputation as not only a scenic seaside destination but also a progressive and forward-thinking city.

No. 47 West Sands Beach

West Sands Beach, nestled along the picturesque coastline of St Andrews in Scotland, is a breathtaking expanse of golden sand stretching for miles beside the North Sea. As one of the most iconic beaches in Scotland, West Sands offers visitors a serene escape surrounded by natural beauty. The wide-open stretch of sand, bordered by dunes and framed by the rolling hills of Fife, presents a stunning vista that captivates the senses. Whether one seeks solitude for a contemplative walk or thrills from adventurous activities, West Sands caters to all with its tranquil ambiance and scenic allure.

Apart from its natural splendour, West Sands Beach holds historical significance, most notably as the filming location for the famous beach-running scene in the movie “Chariots of Fire.” This cinematic legacy adds to the charm of the beach, drawing film enthusiasts and history buffs alike to experience the iconic setting firsthand. Visitors can retrace the footsteps of the film’s characters as they run along the expansive shoreline, immersing themselves in a piece of cinematic history against the backdrop of the North Sea’s ever-changing tides.

Moreover, West Sands Beach offers a variety of recreational opportunities for visitors of all ages. From sunbathing and picnicking to kite flying and beach volleyball, there’s no shortage of activities to enjoy amidst the coastal splendour. The shallow waters of the North Sea provide a safe environment for swimming and paddling, while the surrounding dunes offer a tranquil retreat for those seeking a moment of solitude. Whether basking in the warmth of the sun or braving the brisk sea breeze, West Sands invites visitors to embrace the simple pleasures of beachside relaxation in a setting of unparalleled natural beauty.

No. 56 Durdle Door

Durdle Door Beach, nestled along the stunning Jurassic Coast in Dorset, England, is a captivating natural wonder that enchants visitors with its unique beauty. The beach takes its name from the iconic limestone arch that stands majestically in the sea, carved over centuries by the relentless forces of wind and water. Framed by towering cliffs and a rugged coastline, Durdle Door Beach offers a dramatic backdrop that evokes a sense of awe and wonder. As part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, this beach is not only a testament to the earth’s geological history but also a sanctuary for those seeking solace amidst nature’s grandeur.

Accessed via a scenic coastal path, Durdle Door Beach rewards adventurers with panoramic views of the sparkling waters of the English Channel. Descending down to the shore, visitors are greeted by a pristine stretch of pebble beach flanked by towering cliffs of vibrant hues. The crystal-clear waters invite swimmers and snorkelers to explore the marine life thriving beneath the surface, while sunbathers bask in the warmth of the sun against the backdrop of the iconic arch. Durdle Door Beach offers an immersive experience in the wonders of the natural world, where visitors can marvel at the beauty of the coastline and revel in the tranquility of the surroundings.

Furthermore, Durdle Door Beach is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a wealth of recreational activities amidst its breathtaking scenery. Adventurers can embark on coastal hikes along the South West Coast Path, which meanders through rolling hills and coastal cliffs, providing spectacular views of the Jurassic Coastline. Kayakers and paddleboarders can navigate the pristine waters and explore hidden coves and sea caves, while photographers capture the ever-changing light playing upon the rugged landscape. Whether seeking adventure or relaxation, Durdle Door Beach promises an unforgettable experience in one of England’s most iconic coastal destinations.

No. 80 Birling Gap Beach

Birling Gap Beach, nestled along the dramatic coastline of East Sussex in England, is a captivating blend of natural beauty and historical intrigue. Set against the backdrop of towering chalk cliffs, the beach boasts panoramic views of the English Channel, with its azure waters stretching out to the horizon. The rugged landscape is punctuated by the famous Seven Sisters chalk cliffs, creating a dramatic setting that has long inspired artists, writers, and nature enthusiasts alike. Birling Gap Beach serves as a gateway to the South Downs National Park, offering visitors a tranquil retreat where they can reconnect with nature and explore the rich heritage of the surrounding area.

Accessed via a series of wooden steps leading down from the clifftop, Birling Gap Beach welcomes visitors with its pebbled shoreline and expansive vistas. The beach is a haven for wildlife, with seabirds soaring overhead and rock pools teeming with marine life at low tide. Nature lovers can embark on coastal walks along the South Downs Way, which winds its way along the cliffs, providing breathtaking views of the coastline and the surrounding countryside. The beach also offers opportunities for fossil hunting, with the eroding cliffs revealing a treasure trove of ancient relics from millions of years ago.

Moreover, Birling Gap Beach holds historical significance as a site of coastal erosion and conservation efforts. The constant battle between land and sea has shaped the landscape over centuries, resulting in the gradual erosion of the cliffs and the formation of unique geological features. The National Trust, which manages the area, works tirelessly to protect the fragile ecosystem and preserve the natural beauty of Birling Gap Beach for future generations to enjoy. Visitors can learn about the ongoing conservation efforts at the Visitor Centre, which offers interactive exhibits and guided walks that highlight the importance of protecting this precious coastal habitat.

For a full list of the top 100

How many of the top 100 have you visited?

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