Best beaches to visit in Kent
With 350 miles of coastline, Kent’s beautiful, varied beaches are one of its biggest attractions. From Dover’s white cliffs to Margate’s timeless golden sands and Romney Marsh’s rich wildlife, there’s always more to do and discover.
With a tidal pool (a bathing pool on the beach), children’s rides and amusement arcades, Margate Main Sands is the epitome of the traditional British seaside – a wide, golden expanse of sand just waiting for you to start building a sandcastle. Just off the beach are the Dreamland amusement park and Turner Contemporary modern art gallery, and you’ll find plenty of shops, restaurants, cafes and bars in the quaint old town.
Also popular with families is safe, secluded Minnis Bay, which has a well-equipped children’s area and separate zones for swimming and watersports – it’s popular with windsurfers and kitesurfers. And if you want to go off exploring, there are coastal cycling and walking routes clearly marked at the entrance to the beach. You can even get the open-topped bus there and back in summer.
If Margate is family fun and frolics, Broadstairs is Victorian grandeur and sweeping coastal landscapes, with beautiful beaches sheltered by dramatic chalk cliffs. Botany Bay, the northernmost of the town’s seven beaches, is a secluded Blue Flag beach with imposing chalk stacks, safe swimming and plenty of rock pools and fossils.
Kingsgate Bay is a sheltered sandy cove famous for its sea caves, considered some of the best in the UK; the southern end is overlooked by the eighteenth-century Kingsgate Castle, now a block of flats but still an impressive building. Horseshoe-shaped Viking Bay, meanwhile, is the town’s most popular beach, a golden crescent of sand with a promenade, a small pier, a tidal pool, children’s rides and plenty of beachside shops and cafes. At the northern end is a small harbour full of fishing boats; overlooking it is Bleak House, where Charles Dickens wrote David Copperfield.
Hythe beach is different again: a genteel, sloping expanse of pebbles, overlooked by the town’s charming seafront and a promenade two miles long where runners, walkers and cyclists take in the views and the sea air. The beach tends not to get overcrowded and is as unspoiled as the town, whose shops and restaurants are a pleasure to potter in. It’s popular for fishing too, and there are plenty of places to get fish and chips, ice creams and other meals and drinks.
Overlooking the beach is the Hythe Imperial Hotel, a grand Victorian edifice built by the railway company in the 1880s; it’s a great spot to enjoy a traditional afternoon tea in Hythe, cocktails in the bar, or of course, a night or two in one of the rooms. As luxury seaside hotels go, it’s one of the quintessential British favourites.
Having been recently regenerated, Folkestone is a delightful place to spend a day with the family. Its harbour has recently been regenerated and now bustles with activity; food and drink stalls keep you refreshed while dancing and music acts take place in the summer. Sunnysands beach is a sandy stretch backed by green cliffs and graced by shallow water that’s ideal for kids to splash about in. If you want to celebrate a special occasion at a Champagne bar, Folkestone can accommodate you there too: there are plenty of places where you can enjoy a glass of bubbly and a good meal near the town.