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The ultimate guide to Norfolk beaches

Norfolk has some of the best beaches in the country spread across 90 miles of coastline.

These include the traditional seaside resorts of Great Yarmouth, Cromer and Hunstanton. Holkham is regularly voted the best beach in Britain, and nearby Wells-next-the-Sea, with 200 jaunty beach huts, is definitely among the most picturesque.

Tucked away behind marram grass-topped dunes you’ll also find quieter beaches where you’ll be able to escape the crowds.

For ease of use, we’ve split the beaches into those on the north coast of Norfolk, and those on the east coast.

Beach huts at Wells-next-the-Sea


Hunstanton beach


The only west-facing resort on the east coast, so expect spectacular sunsets.

The elegant old Victorian town has its Esplanade Gardens and a sedate air but there’s also the buzzy family centre with sandy beach, pony rides and amusements.

Lots of nearby facilities, including trips to see the Wash seals.


Old Hunstanton cliffs

Old Hunstanton cliffs

Close to the quiet village, a large car park leads to a huge beach backed by the famous striped cliffs.

There are some amenities nearby, but it's the expanse of sand that brings people here. A great place for beach cricket.

Old Hunstanton golf course

Old Hunstanton golf course

A lovely stretch of fine sandy beach backed by dunes, chalets and Hunstanton Golf Club.

You won't find many people here as you have to park in the village and walk through. But it's worth it!

Holme-next-the-Sea beach


Take the Beach Road off the A149, and you’ll have Hunstanton Golf Links to your right. One of the most secluded beaches in Norfolk, this is where the Peddar’s Way joins the Norfolk Coast Route.

Look left to Hunstanton lighthouse and the cliffs, look right for deep, powdery sand backed with grassy dunes.

This is the beach where the famous Seahenge was discovered. Nearby is Holme Dunes National Nature Reserve with three birdwatching hides overlooking grazing marsh and pools.

Titchwell beach

Titchwell Marsh

As well as being one of the RSPB’s most popular reserves for birdwatching, the lagoons and reedbeds are completed by a lovely sandy beach.

Birdwatching in Norfolk

Brancaster beach


Brancaster beach, accessed at the car park by the Royal West Norfolk Golf Club, has miles of golden sand for long or short walks, a great place for building sand castles and also a specific area for power kiting sports.

Why not visit the National Trust Brancaster Millennium Activity Centre at the quay while you’re in the area.

Scolt Head Island

Scolt Head Island

Scolt Head Island is an area some 727 hectares of sand dune, beach and saltmarsh, owned jointly by The National Trust and Norfolk Wildlife Trust and a nature reserve since 1923.

The saltmarshes are considered to be among the finest in the UK and the sandy beach is a hidden gem.

The site is reached by a seasonal high tide ferry from the village of Burnham Overy Staithe. It operates from the Quay in front of the Boathouse. You can also wade across but be aware of the fast-running tides.

Burnham Overy beach

Burnham Overy beach

You have to walk beside the River Burn for around a mile from the staithe to get to the beach but it’s worth the effort – it’s another of those beaches where you’re likely to be on your own. Look to your right and you’ll have uninterrupted views all the way down to Holkham and Wells.

The tidal beach is backed by marram-tufted dunes. This is the beginning of the Holkham National Nature Reserve which stretches to Morston in the east.

Holkham beach


Regularly appearing in lists of the best beaches in Britain, Holkham is accessed by the car park at Lady Ann’s Drive, adjacent to the entrance to Holkham Hall. The miles of sandy tidal beaches are backed by shady pinewoods and popular with horse riders. In summer you’ll often see the Household Cavalry taking their steeds in the water. 

The outgoing tide leaves lovely warm pools of shallow water to swim in or paddle.

Wells-next-the-Sea beach


Drive the mile-long road from Wells town or take the Wells harbour railway to reach Wells beach. Capacious at any time of the day, the beach is vast when the tide is out – you’ll wonder where the sea has gone as you gaze off to the horizon. You’ll just be able to make out the tumbling waves far off in the distance, at the end of The Run, the channel that leads from the sea to the harbour.

This is home to perhaps the most iconic Norfolk images – the row of 200 candy-painted beach huts.



Take the beach road from just outside the quaint village of Cley-next-the-Sea to the car park to reach the shingle and sand spit of Blakeney Point. This isn’t a bucket-and-spade beach, but a national nature reserve - it’s attraction being to walk along the spit to see the seal colony and to see the birds. Alternatively, you can see the seals by boat from either Blakeney or Morston quays.

From here the westward-moving dynamic coast begins to change to traditional seaside.

Birdwatching in Norfolk

Seals in Norfolk



The beach here is shingle and pebbles but marks the beginning of the north Norfolk cliff section that stretches all the way around to Happisburgh.

Look left and you'll see the shingle spit of Blakeney Point, where the seals are.

Sheringham beach


At high tide, the beach is a shallow stretch of pebbles with erosion-resisting groynes that are an effort to get over. Best go for a walk along the promenade or explore the lovely Victorian town. But when the tide’s out, you have a fantastic bucket-and-spade beach of hard sand.
West Runton beach

Beeston Regis, West and East Runton

The last stretch before Cromer has the cliffs at their highest – this is part of the Cromer chalk ridge, the highest point in East Anglia. During low tides beneath the Beeston Bump you can find the curious paramoudras and flint circles. At West Runton children can rockpool for shore crabs, starfish, beadlet anemones and squat lobsters. If you know what you’re looking for, you might even find a mammoth tooth.

Deep History Coast



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.

east coast



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.


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.


As of late Summer 2019 nearly two million cubic metres of sand were brought ashore to create a new 6km-long dune, ostensibly to protect Bacton Gas Terminal and nearby homes from coastal erosion but also producing an entirely new beach!

In the first 'sandscaping' project on this scale to be carried out in the UK, a combination of wind, waves and tides will move the sand into a natural position and protect the shoreline for around 15-20 years.

Just south of Bacton are the sandy beaches of Keswick and Walcott.

Happisburgh beach


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

Eccles beach


The name Eccles comes from the Latin ecclesia meaning church so it’s likely this was an early British Christian site. There’s no longer a church here, just a small community of pre-second world war bungalows called the Bush Estate (an early holiday retreat), but it’s unlikely you’ll encounter many people.
Sea Palling beach

Sea Palling

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.

Waxham beach


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.
Horsey beach


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.


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.

Hemsby beach


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.
Scratby 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.
California beach


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.

Caister-on-Sea beach


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.

Great Yarmouth North beach

Great Yarmouth North Beach

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.
Great Yarmouth Central beach

Great Yarmouth Central Beach

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.
Great Yarmouth South beach

Great Yarmouth South Beach

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.
Gorleston-on-Sea beach


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.

What you'll find on our coast

Beach huts at Wells-next-the-Sea

Stunning beaches

Miles of unspoilt sand to play and walk on such Wells-next-the-Sea, voted the best beach in Britain

Great Yarmouth seafront

Traditional seaside fun

Norfolk has many family-friendly seaside towns, not least Gt Yarmouth with its Golden Mile

Blakeney Point

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

North Norfolk's coast is an AONB, punctuated by a wealth of nature reserves for wildlife watching

Burnham Overy Staithe

Tidal creeks and saltmarshes

Norfolk has picturesque harbours from which fishermen leave to catch stunningly fresh seafood and where shellfish are grown

Cromer Pier

Seaside entertainment

Norfolk's seaside towns provide lots of family-friendly entertainment, including Europe's last end-of-pier theatre at Cromer

Coast path at Mundesley

Norfolk's coastal path

It is now possible to walk the entire coastline of Norfolk - taking in beaches, cliffs, shingle spits, tidal creeks and saltmarshes

Wildlife on the Wash

Brilliant birdwatching

Norfolk's coast has the best birdwatching in the UK, such as the winter migration on The Wash

Windsurfing at Hunstanton

Get out on the water

Sailing is popular in north Norfolk, take a boat to see the seals, or go windsurfing - this is at Hunstanton