11 Kent Beaches to visit this summer 2020

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If you want to plan a staycation with a sandy beach, blue skies and some great, hidden spots. Heading to one of the gorgeous Kent beaches should be top of your list. I was super surprised by how many sandy beaches in Kent there were to choose from, but even the shingle beaches, wild nature reserves and seaside towns have plenty to offer a family or friends on a trip to the coast. There are some beautiful places along the coast, some famous spots and some lesser known hideaways – find out which one is best for you in our guide to the 11 best beaches in Kent for 2020.

Our pick of the best Kent Beaches to visit in 2020

Cover image: :Salihan/Flickr

Stone Bay

Where to find it:
A quiet spot in the seaside town of Broadstairs, found between the popular Kent beaches of Margate and Ramsgate.

Getting to Stone Bay:
Fast trains from St Pancras (85 mins). For driving navigation, use postcode: CT10 1DU

Stone Bay is one of our favourite Kent beaches!

stone bay sandy beaches in kent
Pretty views from Stone Bay (Image: Katharine Hunter)

Watch out Cornwall! This sandy cove is not only one of the best beaches in Kent, it was also voted as one of the top 40 beaches in the UK by The Sunday Times. This lovely little bay is hugged by towering white cliffs, which are said to reflect the sun and project light across the sands, creating an ‘Algarve-like climate’. Who needs airport stress when there’s a tropical hideaway on your doorstep?

Historic Broadstairs has drawn crowds since Charles Dickens bought a summer house here and wrote one of his most famous works, David Copperfield. You can visit ‘Bleak House’ (renamed from its original name, Fort House) and even get married there. There is also a Dickens House Museum, which is worth a visit (also very handy if it rains!).

Viking Bay is the most popular sandy beach in Kent, but Stone Bay is just a few minutes’ walk along the promenade and perfect for families. The water at this blue star beach is super clean for swimming and families can enjoy paddling safely on the flat sand and rock pools. There are beach huts, a beach cafe and toilets and even FREE parking on the cliff if you get lucky. Plus, I was also very impressed to see that there is wheelchair access to the beach, making it exclusive for all.

Greatstone Beach

Where to find it:
Greatstone village is on the east coast of Romney Marsh, between Folkestone and Rye.

Getting to Greatstone Beach:
There are no direct trains from London and the closest mainline station is Ashford. For driving navigation, use postcode: TN28 8RP

best beaches in kent beaches
Greatstone Beach is a natural beauty (Image: Jenny Wood)

Our pick of sandy Kent beaches without the crowds

This wild beauty is a real find, and slightly further off the tourist trail than the likes of Margate and Broadstairs. Of all the Kent beaches, this reminded me the beautiful coastline along some of the east coast of America, with thick sand, wild flowers and simple picket fences.

The sweeping beach is naturally stunning, with little in the way of tourist tat shops and commercial elements. There are decent toilets along the beach and disabled parking at the entrance. This is perfect for a day of picnicking, swimming, reading in the dunes and building sandcastles. Whether you want to indulge or just watch from the sidelines, watersports are a top activity here because the long beach is ideal for kite surfing, land yachting and kite boarding. Directly behind the beach is Romney Marsh, and the Dungeness National Nature Reserve – a popular spot for nature walks, wildlife and bird watching. Pack food, drink, plenty of water and sunscreen and you’ll have all you need for the perfect summer day in the South East.

Dymchurch Beach

Where to find it:
Dymchurch Beach is within the Romney Marsh area of Kent.

Getting to Dymchurch Beach:
There are no direct trains, but you can travel from London to Folkstone and take a bus (30 mins). For driving navigation, use postcode: TN29 0TG

uncrowded beaches in kent
Dymchurch is a calm spot (Image: Augerb)

Just along from Greatstone, you will find the wholly different Dymchurch Beach, which is the ultimate family sandy beach. Sandcastle-suitable sand, donkey rides, donut huts and ice cream vans surround the bay and the beach is wide enough for everyone to have a little bit to themselves.

Wide, concrete steps line the whole beach. This is a great place to base yourself if you’re not overly keen on sand (like me), or if you haven’t brought your own chairs, but need something to lean against throughout the day. The massive blue flag awarded beach is a mixture of sand and shingle and there is plenty to keep kids of all ages entertained, including a large arcade and amusement park. No need to BYO food as there are fish’n’chip beach cafes and restaurants along the whole stretch.

Pegwell Bay

Where to find it:
Pegwell Bay is a group of beaches set within an estuary in the Sandwich & Pegwell Bay National Nature Reserve in the district of Thanet.

Getting to Pegwell Bay:
The nearest station is Minster. For driving navigation, use postcode: CT12 5JB

uncrowded beaches in kent
The beautiful Pegwell Bay Country Park (Image: Funk Dooby)

For a completely different experience, Pegwell Bay is perfect for those who love outdoor adventures. Part of a national nature reserve, Pegwell Bay Country Park forms part of the Sandwich and Pegwell Bay National Nature Reserve. The lush green landscape is a beautiful way to stretch your legs and get some fresh air. On a clear day, you are also treated to views of Sandwich, Deal and Ramsgate.

Bring bikes for the whole family and ride along the coastal path to Ramsgate (three miles). The grassy route looks over a sandy beach and has a choice of hidden picnic spots if you fancy the place to yourself. Social distancing indeed.

Viking Bay

Where to find it:
The main beach in sunny Broadstairs, found between the popular Kent beaches of Margate and Ramsgate.

Getting to Viking Bay:
Fast trains from St Pancras (85 mins) and the beach is a five minute walk from the station. For driving navigation, use postcode: CT10 1DU

beaches in kent beaches
Viking Bay is Broadstairs’ most popular beach (Image: John Blower)

Kent may be nicknamed ‘the garden of England’ but clearly Kent beaches aren’t too shabby either! This hot spot, Viking Bay, is the main beach in the town of Broadstairs and is often celebrated as one of the best beaches in Kent and the South East. A short walk from our favourite, Stone Bay, what Viking Bay lacks in remoteness, it makes up for in atmosphere. Beach attractions like trampolines and swings are available for an extra fee. There are boat excursions, deckchair hire, chip shops, souvenir vendors and accessible facilities along the promenade. The impressive horseshoe bay is lined with beach huts and wild flowers and is a popular vista year-round.

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Margate Main Sands – the most famous of the Kent beaches!

Where to find it:
Margate, on the north east coast, is one of the best beaches in Kent for family fun.

Getting to Margate Beach:
High-speed trains from London St Pancras (1hr 30mins). For driving navigation, use postcode: CT9 1XJ

best beaches in kent beaches
Margate Main Sands are popular but fun Image: Clare Swatman)

To me, nothing says ‘UK seaside’ as much as Margate. We used to go there frequently when I was a kid and I only have fond memories of our time. Golden sand, donkey rides, sticks of rock, penny arcades and one of the UKs oldest theme parks – what’s not to like?! It gets crowded, but that’s not surprising since it’s the ultimate day trip from London – offering a sandy beach, quirky shops, a good foodie scene and a station that is basically on the seafront. Some trains have a slightly longer journey than to the other Kent beaches (2hr 5 mins average) but at least you can gaze out of the window or have a snooze without missing your stop. Do your research and aim to catch one of the high speed services from London St Pancras to get from city to sand in as little as 1hr 28mins.

Over the last few years, Margate has had a renaissance, with hipsters escaping the big city and setting up by the beach. As a result, there are galleries, independent shops and restaurants, craft breweries and trendy street-food stalls. Classic Margate settlers might be huffy about the change, but the regeneration is no bad thing with a bit of something for everyone. If you can find a good spot on the beach (TOP TIP: get there before 10am), Margate Main Sands are lovely. The patch is very family friendly with a warm tidal pool for little ones and plenty of facilities.

Kent beaches: the 11 best beaches in Kent to plan a day trip or staycation

Sheerness beach, Isle of Sheppey

Where to find it:
Sheerness beach on the Isle of Sheppey, an island off the north coast of Kent.

Getting to Sheerness Beach:
The nearest mainline station is Sittingbourne. Then you will need to take a bus or taxi to the Isle of Sheppey for Sheerness. For driving navigation, use postcode: ME12 1RE

best beaches in kent beaches sunset
Sunset on point (Image: Kent Wang)

Sheerness is a casual mix of grassy country park and chilled-out seaside spot. The laid-back, shingle beach is fun for groups and families seeking a bit of space and coastal air. Between the town and the beach, there is a large lawn decorated with pretty gardens and colourful beach huts. This basic beach town is simple but doesn’t lack in food and drink options, with a choice of pubs, cafes and family-friendly restaurants.

Fun Fact: On a clear day, you can see Southend-on-sea in Essex and in the high season, you can actually take a ferry between the two coastal communities (Taking around 1hr 30mins).

Castle Beach, Deal

Where to find it:
Deal is almost exactly eight miles north of Dover and eight miles south of Ramsgate, and is one of the quieter Kent beaches to visit.

Getting to Castle Beach:
Trains from St Pancras to Deal take 1hr 45 mins. Deal Castle beach is less than a 10 minute walk from the station. For driving navigation, use postcode: CT14 6HY

best beaches in kent beaches
Laid-back beach vibes Image: Carl Ottersen)

Deal is an underrated beach town in Kent and there is a choice of quiet, uncrowded beaches. There is not a lot to do other than wander around the town and play on the sand and shingle, but it’s peaceful with beautiful views and colourful boats moored along the coastline.

Deal Castle was built by Henry VIII to protect the land from European invaders and is a historic look at the imposing Tudor dominance. The castle overlooks a stoney dog-friendly beach, which is ideal for a picnic or a sunset walk. The more active among us make use of the water for windsurfing, wake boarding and kite surfing. Deal’s Old Town is a picture postcard of candy coloured houses set on cobbled streets and is oddly bouji with spendy delis, boutiques and antique stores.

Joss Bay

Where to find it:
Joss Bay is in Broadstairs (again)

Getting to Joss Bay:
Fast trains from St Pancras to Broadstairs (85 mins). For driving navigation, use postcode: CT10 3PG

kent beaches joss bay
Joss Bay is a Surfer’s paradise (Image: Ted & Jen)

Another Broadstairs beach gets our vote, making this area officially home to the best of the Kent beaches, especially when it comes to sandy beaches in Kent. This pretty cove is where locals come to surf – a surfer dude haven since the hippy 1960s. Wind swell from different directions keeps it interesting and waves break over sandbars and chalk reefs. You can rent boards or take lesson from the famous Joss Bay Surf School, right on the beach.

This blue flag beach is a peak people-watching spot. Book a table at The Captain Digby. Built in 1768, it’s one of the oldest pubs in the area with a pub garden overlooking the beach and a great menu, including fresh seafood caught daily in the water right outside.

Minnis Bay, Birchington

Where to find it:
Birchington is a pleasant area on the north Kent coast.

Getting to Minnis Bay:
The beach is a five minute walk from Birchington Station. For driving navigation, use postcode: CT7 9QP

minnis bay kent beaches
Seafood by sunset in Minnis Bay (Image: Garry Knight)

Minnis has practically everything you need for a family holiday at the UK seaside. From horseriding, kayaking, paddleboarding and wakeboarding, to the warm and shallow tidal pool for toddlers to play in, it’s a favourite for everyone.

If you are there for a few days, rent bikes and follow the bike path to Margate for the afternoon. The leisurely, mostly flat path makes up part of the Viking Coastal Trail, a circular cycle route in Kent, covering 32 miles. Social distancing isn’t a problem, since there is always a lot of space and the vibe is chilled out and relaxed. After a day on the golden sand at Minnis Bay, pack some snacks (or, better, buy some freshly caught oysters from the beach stand) with a bottle of fizz and enjoy the best sunset in Kent.

Kingsgate Bay

Where to find it:
Another vote for Broadstairs, although this beach is a lot further north than the other options.

Getting to Kingsgate Bay:
The nearest station is Broadstairs and Kingsgate bay is a 40 mintes walk or an eight minute cab ride. Parking is limited near the beach. For driving navigation, use postcode: CT10 3QH

beaches in kent beaches kingsgate
Kingsgate is strong and striking (Image: Kate Russell)

The striking white cliffs here are about as Kent as they come and this sheltered, sandy cove is famous for having the most impressive sea caves in the UK. You can explore the caves at low tide and children can hunt for sea fossils in the fallen chalk (don’t carve any chalk from the cliff face). The beach is patrolled by lifeguards, but they do cover other beaches along the coast so it is not watched over all day. The cove closes off on both sides when the tide comes in but visitors are given plenty of warning to leave.

The Guardian named Kingsgate Bay one of the best beaches in the UK in 2019. Personally, I’m not sure that’s really the case, but it’s definitely one of the more quiet, serene options of all the Kent beaches. This is largely due to the lack of parking or a station close to the beach, with most day-trippers sticking with Viking or Botany Bay. The 250-year-old Kingsgate Castle towers over the southern end of the beach, giving the whole bay a regal, Game of Thrones feel.

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