50 best beaches in the UK named ahead of summer staycation season- full list

Simon Calder outlines five tips for booking a staycation online

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With airport chaos across the country and flight cancellations threatening holidaymakers’ travel plans everywhere, a staycation may be a great alternative this summer. The best UK beach to visit has been named by The Sunday Times.

Sandhaven in South Shields has been crowned as best beach of the year in 2022.

The beautiful spot is a mile long and sits on the edge of a post-industrial community.

But what makes it the best in the UK?

The idyllic space hasn’t been taken up by those who have purchased a second home.

It is also not widely known by tourists, making it a tranquil spot.

The South Shields beach was proclaimed the best the UK has to offer for its natural beauty and sustainability.

Its management have also made conscious efforts to maintain the sands as a community asset.

Tracey Dixon, leader of South Tyneside council, expressed her delight that Sandhaven was named the top UK beach.

She referred to the beach as a real asset to the community, in conversation with The Sunday Times.

The success of the beach is a result of the collective effort of the council, local businesses, residents and visitors.

Nick Jones, who runs the not-for-profit South Shields Surf School on the beach, praised the beach’s remoteness.

He stated that while not many people beyond South Shields are familiar with Southhaven, those local to it are “passionate” about preserving it.

Sandhaven beat almost 800 beaches for this year’s top spot, as one of 791 beaches visited by The Times’ chief travel writer Chris Haslam.

Some of the characteristics that helped Sandhaven claim the top honour were its cheap and plentiful parking, hygienic toilets, and its well-kept appearance, with the sand raked and sieved daily.

It is also committed to the Motion for the Ocean environmental protection scheme.

Other environmentally forward-thinking projects include the elimination of single-use plastics, installation of smart bins and the use of seagrass beds to reduce erosion.

To further enrich the community for generations to come, Sandhaven also encourages beach education schemes.

Dymchurch was found to be the best regional beach in the South East this year, and in Wales Three Cliffs Bay took the crown.

As for the South West, Perranporth and Watergate Bay stood out.

In Scotland, the regional winnr was Big Sand, Highland.

Despite scoring highly, several well-managed beaches were dropped off the list due to an ongoing risk of raw sewage being found in their waters. These included Newquay’s Fistral Beach, Bournemouth Pier beach, Southend’s Westcliff Beach and North Beach in Scarborough.

UK’s best beaches


1. Regional winner: Big Sand, Highland

2. Yellowcraig, East Lothian

3. Sanna, Highland

4. Rockcliffe, Dumfries and Galloway

5. Vestey’s, Highland

6. Farr Bay, Highland

7. Embo, Highland

8. Roseisle, Moray

9. Lunan Bay, Angus

North of England

1. Beach of the year: Sandhaven, South Shields

2. Howdiemont Sands, Northumberland

3. Newton Steads and Football Hole, Northumberland

4. St Aidan’s Dunes, Northumberland

5. Whitby West, North Yorkshire

6. Cornelian Bay, North Yorkshire

7. Redcar Coatham, North Yorkshire

8. Blackpool Central, Lancashire


1. Regional winner: Three Cliffs Bay, Gower

2. Traeth Penllech, Gwynedd

3. Llanbedrog, Gwynedd

4. Barmouth, Gwynedd

5. Cwmtydu, Ceredigion

6. Llangrannog, Ceredigion

7. Penbryn, Ceredigion

8. Newgale, Pembrokeshire

9. Skrinkle Haven, Pembrokeshire

South West of England

1. Regional winner: Perranporth, Cornwall

2. Watergate Bay, Cornwall

3. Sandymouth, Cornwall

4. Godrevy Rocks, Cornwall

5. Kennack Sands, Cornwall

6. Bigbury-on-Sea, Devon

7. Beer, Devon

8. West Bay, Dorset

9. Weymouth, Dorset

South East of England

1. Regional winner: Dymchurch, Kent

2. Stone Bay, Kent

3. Mudeford Sandbank, Dorset

4. Pagham, West Sussex

5. Tide Mills, East Sussex

6. Birling Gap, East Sussex

7. Camber Sands, East Sussex

East of England

1. Regional winner: Old Hunstanton, Norfolk

2. Dunwich, Suffolk

3. Mablethorpe, Lincolnshire

4. Brancaster, Norfolk

5. Happisburgh, Norfolk

6. Sea Palling, Norfolk

7. Southwold Denes, Suffolk

8. Felixstowe North, Suffolk

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