With over 90 miles of stunning coastline stretching from ¨Sunny Hunny” Hunstanton in the north to the traditional resort of Great Yarmouth in the south of the “Big Sky” county, Norfolk is home to award-winning beaches located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Rockpools, fossil hunting, sunbathing, sandcastles, and watersports are among the seaside activities to enjoy in Norfolk.
Clean, family-friendly and safe, Norfolk beaches are among the finest in the UK. What makes Norfolk beaches exceptional are the miles of unspoilt, sandy beach and no crowds, making for the perfect getaway.
Read on to discover some of our favourite beaches in Norfolk!
The two-mile Blue Flag beach at “Sunny Hunny”, the picturesque, Victorian seaside town of Hunstanton, faces west, so holidaymakers enjoy more sunbathing hours and spectacular sunsets.
The beach is sheltered by the unique, fascinating striped sandstone and chalk cliffs. The main pebble beach closest to the resort has large rocks leading down into the sea, great for fossil hunting and exploring the rockpools.
Bring the fishing nets!
In contrast, the superb beach at Old Hunstanton is a vast expanse of golden sands ideal for sunbathing and sandcastles. The calm, shallow waters at Hunstanton are popular with water sports enthusiasts, including windsurfing, paddleboarding, power kiting and kitesurfing.
There’s also sea kayaking, with tuition for beginners. Seal-spotting is another favourite attraction. Searles Sea Tours operates WW2 amphibian vessels, “the Wash Monsters,” from the south pier for safe, close-up views of the largest colony of seals in the UK.
Donkey rides, the promenade, crazy golf, candy floss and the Rainbow Park Funfair are among the traditional seaside holiday activities the family can enjoy at Hunstanton. The land train runs along the seafront during the summer.
Holkham is known as one of the most beautiful beaches on the Norfolk coast, with pine woodlands and dunes sloping down to the white sands of the breath-taking horseshoe-shaped bay. The pristine sands stretch as far as the eye can see at low tide.
Situated in the Holkham National Nature Reserve, one of the most important nature reserves globally, Holkham Beach is home to rare wildlife and popular with nature enthusiasts.
There are spectacular views over the beach and the nature reserve from the Lookout café and visitor centre.
A distinctive feature about Holkham Beach is that it is horse friendly with an equine access path to the west of the pedestrian boardwalk and steps down to the beach. The Household Cavalry can often be seen exercising the horses on the vast sands.
With twenty million square feet of pristine sand at low tide, it’s no surprise that Holkham Beach has been the location for several films such as “Shakespeare in Love” and “The Eagle Has Landed.
Wells Next the Sea
Along the coast from Holkham, Wells enjoys miles of unspoilt, award-winning fine sand, perfect for paddling, sandcastles, and dog walking. In fact, you can walk the two miles to Holkham beach through the pines on Peddars Way and the Norfolk coastal path.
Wells is also situated within the coastal nature reserve and is a haven for nature lovers and birdwatching.
Known for the brightly coloured beach huts sheltered by the pine woods, this is one of Norfolk’s loveliest beaches, from the picturesque town of Wells-next-the-Sea.
At low tide, the children will love splashing and exploring the pools in The Run, where you can walk a mile or so out to the shore. Listen for the hooter warning of the incoming tide.
You can also reach the beach from the town on the 10.25-inch railway from Wells Harbour at Wells Next the Sea Beach swimming, sailing, windsurfing and water skiing are popular here.
There is a beach warden from May to September, and although the tide returns notoriously fast, there is an alarm that sounds in plenty of time to shift the kids to safety.
If you want to get away from the crowds, head for the wild, remote beach at Horsey, where the Broads meet the North Sea.
Sheltered by large banks of dunes, made for sandcastles and picnics and is accessed on foot from Horsey Village about a mile and a half away, or there’s a track from the car park at Horsey Gap.
Apart from JTs Café in the car park, there are no facilities at Horsey. However, the abundance of grey seals is the main attraction. You’ll see them swimming offshore all year round, and between November and January, they come up onto the sands to give birth to their pups.
Horsey Windpump, the National Trust windmill, is located in the waterways just behind the beach and is worth a visit.
Brancaster Beach is located on the Brancaster Estate, an area of outstanding natural beauty owned by the National Trust.
The vast, flat, sandy beach attracts visitors all year round for bracing winter walks and summer picnics.
Like most Norfolk beaches, there’s plenty of space. When the tide is out, it leaves shallow pools where children can safely paddle and play. The flat sands are popular for windsurfing, kitesurfing, dune buggies and sailing.
From the tidal salt marshes at nearby Scolt Head, you can see the 1940s wreck of the SS Vina when the tide is out. Wildlife is abundant, including oystercatchers, terns, and avocets.
Brancaster is also an excellent spot for dog walkers.
There’s ample parking space and a Beach Kiosk for refreshments.
Located five miles west of Cromer, Sheringham is a picturesque, traditional seaside resort with an award-winning Blue Flag beach.
The local fishing industry is famous for lobsters, whelks and crabs and the annual Crab and Lobster Festival takes place in May.
Scenic woodlands surround the cliffs with spectacular views out to sea. Sheringham Beach is made up of sand, shingle, and larger boulders, and when the tide goes out, there are stretches of sand and rock pools ready to explore.
The beach, which RNLI lifeguards oversee during the summer, is popular with families. You can walk down the ramp to the beach from Beach Road or through West Cliff Garden.
A promenade with restaurants, cafes and pubs run across the top of the sea wall for coastal walks, and there are public toilets, showers, and beach huts for hire.
The dog-friendly zone is operational between May and September.
Cromer is an enchanting, traditional seaside resort, popular with holidaymakers since Victorian times. Originally a fishing community, Cromer is still famous for crabs and lobsters, and you can relax and watch the fishing boats catching the famous Cromer crab from the vast sand and shingle beach.
With its Pavilion Theatre, the Victorian pier is a wonderful place for amateur crabbing and popular for sea angling for bass and cod.
Besides sandcastles and sunbathing, Cromer beach is famous for various activities, including surfing, being close to the pier, swimming, snorkelling, and paddle gliding.
The crabs feed on the reef on the 20-mile-long Cromer Shoals Chalk Bed, which dates to the dinosaurs and is perfect for snorkellers.
The Cromer lighthouse is situated on top of the 70m green cliffs, which house fossils from Pleistocene times.
There are good facilities including shops, refreshments, and toilets, all you need for a day at the beach.
West Runton and East Runton
A fossil hunter’s paradise, West Runton beach is best known for the Ice Age Steppe Mammoth, or “The Elephant,” discovered in 1990.
West Runton beach is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and forms part of Europe’s most extensive chalk reef.
At low tide, the Blue Flag sand and shingle beach sheltered by the historic cliffs is known as one of the best places in Norfolk for rock pools. The lifeguards during the summer ensure that children can play happily and safely for hours. This is also an excellent beach for dog walking. There’s a café and a car park on the cliffs.
The beach at East Runton, protected by lifeguards, is three minutes away and has Blue Flag status. It’s closer to the campsites and caravan parks at the top of the cliffs.
The award-winning sandy beach at the quiet village of Sea Palling enjoys calm waters due to the artificial reefs, making the waters safer for smaller children.
Located in an area of unspoilt natural beauty on the North Norfolk coast, Sea Palling is rich in maritime history, shipwrecks, and heroic rescues.
Clifftop gardens and the world’s smallest maritime museum overlook the long expanse of golden sand. Nowadays, besides being a popular family beach with visitors and locals, Sea Palling is great for water sports, including swimming and jet skiing.
Access to the beach is down the steps from the cliffs, and dogs are restricted to the dog-friendly zone during the summer.
The promenade at Sea Palling is ideal for long walks with fantastic views.