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The Perfect 10: British Beaches

12/12/2011 13:15 | Updated 22 May 2015

From sand castles to sand dunes, piers to promenades, swimming to surfing, we have picked a selection of beaches rated by the Quality Coast Awards and Blue Flag that are just right for you.

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Perfect 10 UK beaches

Croyde Bay, Devon

With more than half a mile of fine sands, one of the largest sand dune systems in the UK and dramatic surf, this is undisputedly an area of outstanding natural beauty. It's also a UNESCO-designated World Biosphere Reserve for rare flora and fauna. It's a hotspot for surfing, kite surfing and mountain boarding with instruction and equipment are available from the surf school or extreme sports academy.

Perfect 10 UK beaches Eastbourne

As far as calm waters and blue sea go in the UK, the South coast is often a great bet. Don't be put off by the pebbles on the beach as you can bike or rollerblade along the five-mile promenade running alongside the shingle beach. Plus, there's body surfing, sailing and swimming – and the water quality is rated excellent. Watch the Red Arrows at the Airbourne international air show, stroll along the pier, listen to live music at the bandstand and barbecue on the beach.

Perfect 10 UK beaches Sandown, Isle of Wight

As its name suggests, Sandown is full of the golden stuff - the huge, sandy beach and shallow waters making it ideal for playing and paddling. Enjoy thrilling speedboat rides, jet ski-ing and canoeing - and with excellent water quality, you won't mind falling in. Enjoy trampolining, amusement arcades and fun fair or meet life-sized replicas of dinosaurs at Dinosaur Isle. Stroll the promenade and pier or walk the two-mile coastal path between Sandown and Shanklin. For panoramic views of the bay, take the road train to Culver Down.

Perfect 10 UK beaches

Rhossili, Gower Peninsular

Rhossili beach is one of the most stunning on this beautiful three mile stretch of coastline. With the most consistent surf on the Gower, this is the place to ride the waves – you'll find the biggest curlers at the north end at Llangennith. It's great for teenagers but the big swells and steep climb back from the beach are not ideal for the very young or elderly. The view from the village of Rhossili is magnificent and reputedly the eighth most photographed in the world.

Perfect 10 UK beaches Scarborough South Bay, North Yorkshire

The clean shallow water is perfect for children wanting to paddle and its impressive golden sands are ideal for building sandcastles. There's all the usual amenities of a traditional seaside resort to keep the kids amused - donkey rides, amusement arcades and a modern leisure centre among them. Scarborough Castle which lies majestically at the cliff-top gives stunning views of the beautiful bay.

Perfect 10 UK beaches Tunnels Beaches, Ilfracombe, Devon

Splash around in inflatables and snorkel in safety in the large tidal swimming pool, or have fun rock pooling, surfing and body boarding. Four tunnels provide access to the beach and pretty coves. Enjoy a coastal cruise on the gracious motor boat, MS Oldenburg, or visit the aquarium.

Perfect 10 UK beaches Southwold Denes

Secluded and peaceful, Southwold Denes, adjacent to the estuary of the River Blyth, is an ideal retreat for walkers, nature and wildlife enthusiasts. Visit the landmark lighthouse and the church dedicated to St Edmund, Christian martyr and the last King of East Anglia, with its 100 foot high tower. It also has a picturesque harbour, specialist shops, historical sites, and real ale from the town's own brewery.

Perfect 10 UK beaches West Sands, St Andrews, Fife, Scotland

North of Edinburgh, the West Sands of this University town first became famous when they were used in the film Chariots of Fire. One of the top rated beaches in Scotland, it's perfect for a bracing walk, beach cricket or simply to watch the sunset from the dunes. For sport enthusiasts, don't forget to take your clubs and enjoy round of golf.

Perfect 10 UK beaches Porthmeor Beach, St Ives

At the north end of the town, this stunning beach enjoys the year round Atlantic swell. On a calm day the sea is resembles the meditteranean and is often blessed with the great West Country weather. Overlooking the vista is Tate St Ives which enjoys exhibitions from prominent contemporary artists. Wander around the picture postcard town and explore the other beaches and galleries featuring local artists.

Perfect 10 UK beaches Lytham St Anne's, Lancashire

The kids will love riding the donkeys along the sandy beach next to the Victorian pier. It's also the place to build sandcastles, fly kites, play games and explore the nature reserve and sand dunes. Royal Lytham & St Anne's Golf Club is a home of golf having hosted 10 Open Championships and two Ryder Cups.

Perfect 10 UK beaches

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