The hot topic during this part of July is always things to do with the kids to keep them entertained during the Summer Holidays and whilst Mumsnet Greenwich has lots of listings of fun things to do locally, sometimes we want to travel a bit further afield.
My parents didn’t have much money when we were growing up so our summer holidays were filled with free (or at least very cheap) days out. I vividly remember crowding into the back of my uncle’s red Bedford van with my various aunts, uncles and cousins and heading off to the beach. It was quite the adventure and, of course, nobody thought twice about vehicle safety in those days! We would pack picnics, games like rounders, bats, balls, blankets, windbreaks and rattan beach mats and head off to a different beach on the Kent or West Sussex coast each week.
Now that I have children of my own, I still love going to the beach and they do too. My 2-year old daughter and 8-year old boy love nothing more than building sand castles and paddling in the sea. We pack a picnic, buckets, spades and a few ball games and head off for the day.
I thought I’d share with you some family favourites – whether you prefer a pebbly or sandy beach, lots to do in the form of arcades and amusements or if you like a no-frills beach with nothing but miles of sand and sea, I guarantee you will have an amazing day to make memories.
Camber Sands, West Sussex
A beautiful stretch of sandy beach and the only dune system in West Sussex. It’s just outside Rye on the border of the Kent coastline. Whilst it is relatively close to the village of Camber, there really isn’t much at the beach other than some public toilets with showers to wash the sand off before you leave! The dunes are formed of sand blown inland and builds up around the marram grass. They provide the perfect hideout if you want some privacy to sunbathe or shelter from the wind on the beach. Dogs are welcome year-round but only in the specified “Dog Zones”.
This little gem of a sandy beach is just outside the better-known seaside town of Margate and is easily accessible from Westgate-on-Sea Railway Station. It has two main beaches (St Mildred’s Bay and West Bay) and has been a popular tourist attraction since the 1860s. The beaches rarely get overcrowded, even in the height of summer. The beach is quite sheltered and has rock pools for the inquisitive child to do some “crabbing” or look out for whelks, shrimps and other small marine life. There’s a café with a great selection of food and drinks and an easily accessible toilet.
Joss Bay, Broadstairs
With its very own surf school, Joss Bay is a great place to visit with older children and teenagers. You can also take part in a variety of courses from first aid to life saving with the Joss Bay Surf School. Joss Bay is a Blue Flag Beach and has excellent water quality. Activities at the beach include kayaking/canoeing or surfing at this beach. The beach itself is sheltered by steep chalk cliffs and has facilities that include café, car parking, deck chair hire and toilets.
Hastings, West Sussex
A mostly pebbly beach (although there are some small sandy stretches at low-tide), Hastings is our destination of choice when we want a bit more to do than playing in the sand. This beautiful historic town has a fisherman’s museum with a real boat to explore (free entry, although they do ask for donations for upkeep of the museum), a small Sea Life Centre, arcades galore and even a fairground area with rides suitable for big and small adventurers. There’s also a boating lake on the front where you can hire swan-shaped pedalos and a fantastic miniature adventure golf park with a pirate boat battle between the “Lacey-Ann” and the “Sally-Jo” with cannon fire, explosions and splashes! If you wander up the beach towards the Rock-a-Nore car park (or take the miniature railway!) then you can get up close and personal with fishing boats and see the fishing net huts shown in the picture.
Dymchurch Beach, Romney Marsh
This sandy beach is quite flat and stretches for over 3 miles. The beach is very close to the facilities at Dymchurch village including cafés, restaurant, pubs and amusements. There are even nearby holiday camps and caravan parks if you wanted to stay for more than just a day. No visit to Dymchurch would be complete without a trip on the Romney Hythe and Dymchurch which covers just 13.5 miles from Hythe to Dungeoness, making it the World’s smallest public railway.