Looking for sea, sand and fingers crossed sun? Then look no further than our collection of the best beaches along the North Yorkshire Coast.
Synonymous with quintessentially British seaside holidays, the North Yorkshire and Cleveland Heritage Coast is 36 miles long and stretches from Saltburn, just north of the National Park, down to Scalby Mills and includes some of the best beaches in the UK. Showcasing sweeping swathes of pale sand, thrill-factor waves, secluded coves, dramatic cliffs, quaint fishing villages and hypnotic views.
When the sun shines it can feel more like The Seychelles than Scarborough and with four of Yorkshire’s beaches achieving the Blue Flag Award (North Bay, Whitby West Cliff, Bridlington North Beach and Hornsea) you can be sure of the highest standards for your coastal day out.
It’s the mix of jolly seaside towns with their bucket-and-spade beaches, ice cream parlours, amusement arcades, picture-perfect towns with cobbled-street charm and quaint teashops that make the north-east shoreline a winner and with clifftop walks, surfing waves, beach games and rock-pooling aplenty, there’s a something to suit all tastes.
Here’s 7 our favourite beaches on our doorsteps(s) and dotted along the North Yorkshire coastline.
If you block out the cars, you could imagine yourself in a Victorian seaside town. Pin-neat public gardens are overlooked by a sweeping terrace of traditional buildings, while below a poker-straight pier with a small amusement arcade strikes out to sea. Linking upper and lower promenades is Britain’s oldest surviving water-balanced funicular (built in 1884) while stretching the five miles to Redcar, a broad stretch of sand, nestled below jolly-coloured beach-huts is a playground for sunbathers to surfers. Facing the full force of the North Sea, Saltburn is one of the UK’s top surf spots. Yet the beach is protected from winds by the bulk of Huntcliffe at the eastern end.
Possibly North Yorkshire’s most charming seaside village, red roofed fisherman’s cottages tumble down Staithes’ steep ravine to a sheltered curve of sand cupped by cliffs, while fishing boats are hauled up in the harbour. You can see why it has long attracted artists. For the active there are rock pools and cliff walks, wildlife-watching and fishing trips, while the happily idle can browse the boutiques or linger on the small promenade with an ice cream. The Cod & Lobster overlooking the harbour serves up a smorgasbord of seafood and Dotty’s Tearoom offer up a vintage affair with homemade cakes and eye-poppingly sizey scones.
If you’re looking for a long stretch of sand in a pretty setting but without any seaside razzamatazz, Runswick Bay is for you. This tiny former fishing village – a stack of red pantile-roofed cottages that cling to the cliffs – gazes over a sand and shingle beach that stretches a mile and a half east to Kettleness headland. Here you make your own entertainment, whether that’s building sandcastles, paddle-boarding, investigating rock pools or taking a walk along the sands or cliffs. Sandside Café (Cleveland Way) sits directly above the slipway and boasts a small terrace where you can enjoy a simple selection of sandwiches, salads and cakes. As well as pick up buckets, spades and fishing-nets – and that’s about it. Bliss.
Robin Hood’s Bay
This popular and picturesque village totters steeply down the cliff-side to its eponymous bay and is a magnet for fossil-hunters and rock-poolers. The stretch of shore is part of Yorkshire’s Jurassic Coast and boasts cliffs yielding belemnites and ammonites that gradually work their way onto the beach. At low tide, the exposed rocks are perfect for examining with nets and buckets (all creatures to be returned to the water, of course) and are ideal for getting wet and messy rather than to sit with a book and picnic hamper. The Bay Hotel sits above the dock and serves up traditional pub grub and cracking views. Or try The Cove for lighter snacks and a sheltered terrace.
The best approach to this beach is from the north, where the road drops and twists steeply through woodland and pops out above the coast and a glorious stretch of sand and shingle spreads out all the way to Whitby Abbey on the horizon. This flat beach has some of the cleanest waters on the coast and is popular with walkers who make the five-mile circuit from Whitby – though high tide means a detour to the cliff-path. Refuel to a backdrop of mesmerising views at the popular Sandside Café: a wooden chalet perched above the beach and famed for its Sandsend Smokey (smoked haddock in a cheese and egg sauce), Whitby crab sandwiches and colossal cakes.
Scarborough South Bay
Scarborough is an archetypal British seaside resort. Think donkey rides, amusement arcades, novelty rock and bingo. It’s also blessed with a huge sweep of pancake-flat sand that accommodates everyone from bucket-and-spade enthusiasts to dog-walkers. There are deckchairs, windbreaks and beach chalets to hire, fishing trips and pirate boat adventures, fairground rides and bowling alleys and, in the summer season, the Spa Orchestra take to Scarborough Spa’s open-air Suncourt Enclosure. The only other things you need for a nostalgia packed trip to the seaside: fish and chips at the Golden Grid and a knickerbocker glory at the Fifties diner-style Harbour Bar.
It’s easy to miss – even though it’s only a couple of minutes from the main road, as there’s no sign to show you the way. But if you’re a surf-junkie, you’ll want to find it. The wide, sandy beach at the bottom of a steep path is wave heaven and, as the site of the Scarborough Surf School it’s perfect for beginners. It’s also popular with swimmers and wind surfers and as the clifftop paths form part of the Cleveland Way, it makes a scenic stopping point for walkers. There are some basic changing huts at the surf shop, plus lifeguards and snack-bar, Lucy’s Beach Shack serving up bacon butties and Horlick’s to warm the cockles in the in the winter months.