Best beaches: Where to go in Southeast England
The Southeast may have fewer Blue Flag beaches than the Southwest, but it does have plenty of variety. Whether you want to escape to a windswept beach or enjoy a traditional English day out at the seaside, there are options to suit you.
Bournemouth (pictured above)
This area includes seven miles of Blue Flag beaches that fill up with 100,000 visitors on sunny weekends. (The Blue Flag is a symbol of high environmental standards as well as good sanitary and safety facilities and is awarded to beaches and marinas across Europe and South Africa.) Car parks run along the seafront (£4 for four hours). The town has invested heavily and now vies with Blackpool as England's most popular seaside resort. In recent years, the stretch between the main beaches and flower gardens has been pedestrianised, which makes it a very family friendly place to visit.
Bournemouth enjoys a short tidal range - meaning the sea does not ebb out for miles at low tide. The water is remarkably warm, usually above 20 degrees C through summer, and people swim here all year round. Bournemouth has every sort of attraction associated with a trip to the seaside. Little ones just love the pier and promenade. The section called Alum Chine Beach has an award-winning playground and paddling pool just off the promenade, good clean facilities next to the beach, ice cream kiosks, restaurant, beach office with beach inspector and First Aid.
Don't miss: Bringing your blades and skate board. Bladers and boarders welcome along the promenade after 7pm
Owned locally and managed by a conservation company whose brief is to prevent it turning into a Butlins, the family resort people love to hate. There is easy access from adjacent car parks (£7 before 3pm; £5 between 3pm and 5pm), which can be full by lunchtime. West Wittering is the best managed beach (joint winner with Bournemouth), according to the Blue Flag Awards. HM Coastguard Sea Smart identity bands for children are handed out free at the car parks. It has a host of natural assets, the best of which are the lagoons left in the sand at low tide. These huge paddling pools warm up and are perfect for children to play in. Sand dunes provide areas for picnics and barbecues, and walks across the grassy headland to the east have great views across the Solent to Chichester. Locals call it God's Pocket because the coast is sheltered by the Isle of Wight and can be warm and sunny when rainy elsewhere.
Don't miss: West Wittering Surf Club - for beginners through to experienced surfters. Just don't expect the kids to humour you. Shane, aged 7, said of his father, 'My daddy tried surfing and he said he was the best but he wasn't.'
Further information: www.westwitteringbeach.co.uk