Nothing is quite as therapeutic – or just plain fun – as a beach getaway. Especially when you have kids. But if you’re thinking a beach holiday with the kids is going to involve the stress, hassle and expense of air travel, we’ve got good news. Some of the cleanest and most glorious beaches around are here in good ol’ Blighty. And they’re just a little over an hour away from London by high speed train: look no further than the Kent coast.
The Blue Flag award stands for safety, cleanliness, water quality and adherence to environmental regulations and Kent has more Blue Flag beaches than any other English county. Kent’s beaches also happen to have all the amenities (including summer lifeguards), not to mention stunning views, sands or shingle and an array of water activities – from surfing to sailing – sure to tempt any family member. And let’s not forget the fish and chips, long strolls on the boardwalk, wildlife-spotting, fossil-hunting, quirky local shops and quaint little towns to explore while you’re there.
Check out these family-friendly beaches that will have you booking your next beach break and hopping on a train in no time…
Flickr CC-BY Funk Dooby
This horseshoe-shaped bay was Charles Dickens’ beloved holiday spot, and we can see why: a rugged coastline, soft, golden sands, rock pools and a picturesque waterfront path leading to Ramsgate (a two-mile walk away). Modern beachcombers can also enjoy an added treat: retro gelato parlour Morelli’s
, for when kids (and parents) need some lip-licking refreshments.
Flickr CC-BY Randomfotos
Escape to this tranquil shingle-and-pebble beach for a spot of relaxation and a swim – the water quality is excellent and the Promenade backing onto the beach is ideal for a scenic stroll or cycle ride (Folkestone is 1.5 miles east; Hythe is 3 miles west). There are plenty of food and drinks spots for a quick bite, and the Lower Leas Coastal Park adventure playground (which boasts a zigzag path and tube slide among other exciting features) is less than a 10-minute walk away.
Flickr CC-BY a-terracini
This pebbled beach offers up one of the great wonders of the UK: a stunning view of the White Cliffs of Dover, with Dover Castle above. Little ones will get excited about the constant stream of ferries sailing in and out of the marina. Keep looking and see if you can spot France one afternoon.
Keith Marshall via Getty Images
Charming, multi-coloured beach huts, grassy slopes and even a skate park are all on the menu at Tankerton Beach in Whitstable. This long stretch of pebble beach leads onto ‘The Street,’ a natural spit you can walk along at low tide. Don’t miss the cannons at the top of Tankerton Slopes for some imaginative role-playing for the kids (and a brief history lesson; the area once served as a coastal defence spot). The beach is well-equipped with nearby cafés and toilet facilities.
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A pebble beach with a long promenade that’s perfect for strolls, the kids will enjoy exploring the local artillery fort castles constructed by Henry VIII: Sandown, Walmer and Deal, all a short-ish walk away. This is a good spot for fishing (or fishing-boat spotting). The pier dates back to the 1950s.
Andrew Aitchison via Getty Images
A small, sandy beach that’s a family favourite, Sunny Sands has been a popular watering spot since the Victorian days. With good facilities and fab street food stalls (Bob’s Seafood on The Stade is heaven for shellfish-lovers), you’ll also find watersports aplenty, including kayaking, dinghy sailing and stand-up paddle-boarding.
Flickr CC-BY Neil MacWilliams
This quiet shingle beach is popular with families and is the go-to spot to escape the hustle and bustle - and enjoy some of Whitstable’s famed oysters. Take in the views across the way of the Isle of Sheppey, peek at wading birds and send the kids on an oyster shell hunt. And you don’t want to miss those epic sunsets.
Ulrich Mueller via Getty Images
Your Instagram page will be the envy of all your friends after a trip to the stunning sandy beach of Botany Bay, Broadstairs, thanks to striking natural features like the beach’s chalk stacks. Kids will love hunting for fossils and exploring the rock pools. Botany Bay and nearby Joss Bay are also havens for stand-up paddle-boarding, or, when the conditions are right, surfing.
Travel to the Kent coast in speed and style with Southeastern, with the UK’s first and only domestic high speed service. You can get to the seaside in just over an hour from St Pancras International, and with the Kids For a £1 Off-Peak offer, you can take up to four children with you for £1 each, all year round. Book your train tickets now.