Best UK beaches that look like they’re abroad

When we think of holidays, many people instantly think of flying abroad to find tropical beaches, historic cities or countryside retreats.

While many Brits look to foreign climes for their taste of sun, sand, sea or city break, the UK is blessed with an enviable number of picturesque destinations, whether you’re looking to explore a new town, take a stroll in a National Park or spend a day by the seaside.

And, with the cost of living crisis having closely followed the “end” of the Covid-19 pandemic, plenty of travellers are reconsidering their holiday habits and looking within the UK for their next trip.

In fact, Visit Britain recently reported that 6.5 million UK residents planned to go on a domestic break over the Easter weekend.

If you’re one of millions of Brits planning a holiday closer to home this spring or summer, take a look at our list of UK beaches so idyllic they look like they belong on the Med.

In 2001, the Jurassic Coast became the UK’s first Unesco World Heritage site. The 96-mile section of coastline stretches from Exmouth to Studland Bay in Dorset, and Durdle Door is the jewel in the coastal crown.

The famous limestone arch (pictured) was forged through waves eroding a hole in the rock and is one of the UK’s most iconic landmarks, as well as being one of the most popular beaches on this list (and a dog-friendly one too).

Located in the north-west of Scotland, Achmelvich Beach offers the kind of white sand usually reserved for tropical beaches – but just three miles away from Lochinver.

The beach is a great place for wildlife spotting, with a range of birds, porpoises, dolphins and even minke whales sometimes visible from the shore. It’s also popular for those in search of water sports such as fishing, windsurfing, kayaking and water skiing.

Visit Cornwall reckons that Kynance Cove is “probably the most photographed and painted location in Cornwall”, and for good reason.

Famous for the dark red and green serpentinite rock that makes up its cliffs – and that, in the past, tempted Queen Victoria to install a fireplace made of it – the beach sits on part of the Lizard coastal walk. Nevertheless, it’s the white sand and turquoise sea that really attract thousands of visitors per year.

Pentle Bay’s sub-tropical climate admittedly gives it the edge on other entries.

Found on the island of Tresco within the Isles of Scilly, Pentle Bay has previously been cited as one of the best beaches in the UK and has even made it onto a Wall Street Journal list of “Under-the-Radar Beaches”.

Praised by the publication for “bone-white beaches” and “turquiose if chilly sea”, Pentle Bay is one of numerous excellent beaches on the Isles but shines due to its wild, untouched appearance and the fact that it can often be found empty, even in high season.

Staying within the temperate Isles of Scilly, the island of St Martin’s is home to another superb UK beach that could have any visitor thinking they were in the Azores.

Kynance Cove Beach

With green hills and rugged, rocky coastline, Great Bay’s untouched appearance gives the impression of an Atlantic destination only reachable by multiple hours of flying rather than just a short distance from the Cornish coast.

Great Bay has been widely praised as one of the Isles’ best beaches, but the islands offer plenty of choice, as well as laying claim to being the UK’s warmest location.

Billed (on its own website, admittedly) as “the UK’s most prestigious surfing destination”, Fistral Beach has become famous within the UK as a popular beach for surfers. The Cribbar – a nearby reef – can generate waves up to 12m high and attracts experienced surfers from all over the world.

However, due to its sporting popularity, few have given this famous beach the credit that its aesthetics deserve. The high cliffs, headlands and sand dunes provide a dramatic backdrop, while long stretches of golden sand and blue sea await both surfers and onlookers. Who said you need to go to Sydney to see Bondi Beach?

A hidden beach near Achmelvich

The white sands of Pentle Bay

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