Norfolk's east coast beaches
There are so many great, family-friendly beaches along the east coast between Gorleston-on-Sea, where we start, and Cromer. Get ready for fabulous unspoilt sand, often backed with marram-tufted dunes.
A traditional seaside town, perfect for families with a wide curving sandy beach that’s not affected by the tide, children's paddling pool, yacht pond and lifeguards from April-September. Behind the beach the cliffs offer stunning panoramic views over the bay and are a hive of activity for a range of sporting pursuits, with a trim trail, pitch & putt, tennis court and bowling greens… or just take a gentle stroll and take in the scenery.
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Great Yarmouth has three distinct beaches.
North Beach is a glorious sandy beach to the north of the seafront and Britannia Pier. Wide sand dunes, perfect for dog walking at any time of year, leading to a quiet, wide sandy beach facing towards Scroby Sands Wind Farm. Waterways, tennis courts and bowling greens are nearby with a range of beachside cafe's. Every May around 300 pairs of little terns arrive to nest and raise their chicks returning to Africa again in the autumn. Protective fences are raised around the colony to protect them.
Central Beach is a glorious sandy beach between Britannia and Wellington Piers adjacent to Marine Parade. Full of activities for the kids and with the promenade running alongside with its range of shops, cafe's and ice-cream vendors it makes the ideal place for the family. Deck chairs are available for hire and boat trips out to Scroby Sands to see the seals leave Central Beach alongside Britannia Pier. Lifeguards are in operation between April and September.
South Beach is to the south of Wellington Pier and the Pleasure Beach. The wide sandy dog-friendly beach with its grassy sand dunes is ideal for families who want a quieter stretch of beach while still being close to all of the attractions and amenities provided on Marine Parade.
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Caister on Sea's beach has a long concrete esplanade and sand dunes leading to a wide sandy, golden beach. Ideal for dog walkers who can enjoy a pleasant stroll along the beach and dunes going up and along the sand cliffs to California. There are also good opportunities for surfing, particularly during the quieter winter months, best when the offshore winds are west southwesterly.
Easily confused with the Golden State in America! California beach is a lovely, wide, sand and shingle beach at the bottom of low sandy cliffs, merging with Scratby beach. Peaceful and picturesque part of the coastline accessed via steep steps down the side of the sandy cliff or can be pleasantly walked to from Caister along the beach.
Scratby Beach is a wide curving, ochre-coloured, quiet sand and shingle beach found at the base of low sand cliffs. A row of large boulders are positioned towards the back of the beach to prevent erosion of the high sand dunes which have virtually become cliffs at this point. Perfect for long walks with the dog. Walk northwards along the cliff top and enjoy wonderful panoramic views across the sea coming back to the beach via one of the several pathways. Scratby beach also offers some good surfing opportunities which are better during the winter months.
Hemsby Beach is a lively village resort with shops, amusements, attractions and cafes. The stunning golden, wide sandy beach with its grassy sand dunes makes this a popular choice with visitors.
Winterton-on-Sea has mile upon mile of pale, sandy beach stretching into the distance. Overlooked by the graceful white blades of the Bloodhills Wind Farm to one side and low sand dunes to the other, this is a great beach where you can escape from it all, with not an amusement arcade in sight.
Alongside the beach is the Winterton Dunes National Nature Reserve with a wide range of both breeding and overwintering birds and just north of Winterton a colony of grey seals live and can be regularly seen basking on the beach or popping their heads above the water.
The closest beach to the Broads, Horsey Dunes is almost always deserted and is a major wildlife site. From November to January the Grey Seal colony heads on to the beach to give birth to seal pups creating a beautiful local attraction for many wildlife enthusiasts. Access to the beach is through a gap in the sea defences. At the staithe by the mere is a magnificent windpump, owned by the National Trust.
Off the beaten track, Waxham has a wide, sandy beach, where seals can be seen close inshore and later in the season with their pups on the beach. With no formal car park or facilities, it remains wonderfully undiscovered. Waxham village is also home to one of the largest tithe barns in the country (built in the sixteenth century) where you can get refreshments in a historical setting.
Impressive artificial flood defence reefs have created wide sandy bays and water sports ranging from swimming to jet skiing are a part of Sea Palling life. Once known simply as Pawling or Pauling, the village was renamed with its prefix after Edwardian holidaymakers discovered its delights as a beach resort. Facilities include a beachside amusement arcade and cafes.
You’ll know when you’re at Happisburgh because you can’t miss the red and white candy striped lighthouse, the only independently operated lighthouse in Great Britain and sometimes open to the public on summer Sundays. The sandy beach extends for miles in both directions, but is dominated by the cliff protection barrier, helping to slow the rate of cliff erosion. Happisburgh beach is famous for being the site of the oldest-known footprints found outside Africa’s Great Rift Valley.
Deep History Coast
Coastal erosion and the nearby gas terminal might deter people from going to Bacton beach but it’s a quiet, secluded place and you’re likely to have it to yourself – well, you’ll probably have a few seals for company. You can enjoy a nice walk in the woods too.
Mundesley’s sandy beach is reached by walkways which descend down from the cliffs whilst the beautiful cliff top gardens offer an alternative quiet area to sit and relax. From the clifftop are spectacular views across the whole of the village and right across to Happisburgh lighthouse.
Overstrand has a fine sandy beach backed by grassy cliffs where there’s a path to Cromer about one and a half miles away – the views are fantastic. It's an ideal beach for swimming and for families with children. When the tide retreats there are shallow sandy pools for paddling and playing in. Overstrand’s nickname is the ‘village of millionaires’, so-called because from Victorian times the rich and famous built large holiday homes here – as a result you’ll see some very unusual properties.
Cromer has enormous beaches with pristine sands and a Victorian pier that is home to the last end-of-pier theatre in the country. Low tide leaves lots of rock pools to explore. The beaches are backed by luscious green cliffs and tailored gardens by the promenade. The town, situated at the top of the cliffs, has a handsome church and is surrounded by good walks. Cromer is famous for the quality of the crabs which have been fished in the area for centuries.
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