After living two years in the Hamptons in the US, one thing we’ve desperately missed since we returned to the UK is wide open beaches with golden sands. We were pretty spoilt as the Atlantic beaches in Long Island are considered some of the top in the world. Well we found a perfect English beach not too far from us – Camber Sands. Actually it was even better for my kids as there were no big waves to worry about. It’s also considered one of Britain’s best beaches
Camber Sands stretches for seven miles just east of the ancient and historic town of Rye in East Sussex. In 2015 alone it was included in The Sunday Times Travel magazine as one of the “World’s 50 Best Beaches” as well as described as one of the “10 best UK beaches” in June by Time Out.
I personally discovered it in my book Wild Swimming Hidden Beaches which tipped me off that the western end of Camber was the place to go. This area has become stylishly chic due to The Gallivant hotel just minutes from the beach. Indeed the former motel reminded me of some of the relaxed but exclusive beach hideaways in the Hamptons.
We were on the way to a staycation on the Kent coast so Camber Sands was easy to reach on the scenic route I’d chosen from our home in West Sussex eastwards along the coast. When we crossed the sand dunes and a path lined with sea buckthorn covered in golden berries, the sea and sands shimmered in the sun in a warm welcome. Here the sand dunes are a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and the area nearby is a Site of Nature Conservation Importance (SNCI). Over 250 different species of plant and wildlife are found in the dunes’ habitat.
The western end was ideal for us. On the mid-week September day we visited it was very peaceful.
In contrast the eastern end near Camber village and its shops, restaurants and holiday camps seemed to have attracted most of the crowds. Further out to the east at Broomhill Sands an area has been zoned for extreme sports including wind surfing, kite surfing, kite boarding, and kite buggying.
We were so lucky when we arrived as the sun had come out in full force despite it already being early September. As it was low tide the beach was beautifully wide with pools of warm water on the flats.
To use a well-worn phrase the look of joy on my twin’s faces was priceless. Theo couldn’t decide whether to build a sand castle or play at the water’s edge where soft waves lapped. So he ran back and forth between them.
Luce exclaimed this was the best day of the summer as she jumped and leapt in the water. Soon their clothes were soaked as they refused to go back to the car to change into swimsuits. They simply didn’t want to miss a minute on the sandy beach in the sun.
They were wise as by lunchtime dark clouds approached, the tide changed and then the rain began. We were in England after all.
I know there are some beautiful beaches in other places in Britain but Camber Sands is simply gorgeous. I’m not surprised it’s being hailed as one of the best beaches in the UK. Another plus for me was that it then only took 15 minutes for us to drive from there to the remarkable and other-worldly area of Dungeness. I know now where we’ll be heading next summer on sunny days!
Tips on Camber Sands, East Sussex
To visit the western end of Camber Sands beach I drove to The Gallivant on new Lydd Road, Camber, East Sussex and entered the beach car park opposite.
Sara | mumturnedmom says
Beautiful beach! I just love open stretches of beach like that seem to go on forever with such a huge sky. Good for the soul. Looks like a wonderful morning x
Kriss MacDonald says
So do I Sara! I missed that open feeling after the Hamptons so was so happy to find Camber Sands.
Emma T says
Beautiful photos. I’ve only been to Camber Sands for dance weekenders at Pontins, so have walked at the other end of the beach. But it really is a lovely beach, even though we’ve only ever been outside peak season.
Kriss MacDonald says
I wasn’t expecting such a wide sandy beach Emma but definitely will be going back and back.
Coombe Mill says
I didn’t realize East Sussex had sandy beaches, I’ve just checked and it looks a little too far from Lewes where we visit Family but what a beautiful beach with all that golden sand and good facilities, no wonder it has a blue flag status, I’m sure you will be back. Thank you for sharing with me on Country Kids.
Kriss MacDonald says
I was determined that Luce and Theo would have a day out on a sandy beach so was thrilled to find such an amazing one right in Sussex. And yes we’ll definitely be back next summer 🙂
Elizabeth (Wander Mum) says
This is really funny because I’ve just linked my trip to Camber Sands to #countrykids It is a beautiful beach! We went to the Gallivant for lunch – it was excellent! Glad you had a great time! X
Sarah MumofThree World says
What a beautiful beach! It’s incredible that there are so many species of plants and wildlife there. It is a neck of the woods we’ve never visited, as it’s always easier to just get on the M5 and head south.
Louise (Little Hearts, Big Love) says
That is such a beautiful beach and what a gorgeous morning you had. Good tip about the western end being the place to visit – it looks so much quieter, with plenty of space for your twins to run around. They look like they are having a wonderful time 🙂 #countrykids
We were looking at here for next year over May half term. Reading this has sold it for me, we’ll be booking it up. This beach is our kind of spot 🙂 Lovely photo’s x
Kriss MacDonald says
It’s so lovely Iona you’ll love it.
Dean of Little Steps says
It does look lovely. Then again the beaches here in the UK are also beautiful. The only problem is the water is always to cold! 🙂 #countrykids.
The Reading Residence says
Oh wow, it does look so beautiful. Lovely to have it so near to you, and glad that you found it after your gorgeous US beaches x
Mary @ Over 40 and a Mum to One says
We never got to Camber Sands when we were in that part of the world last year, looks like we missed a real treat. Glad you made the most of a typical English day! #CountryKids
Camber Sands has never really been on my radar before despite regularly visiting East Sussex as a child (my aunt and uncle lived in Eastbourne) and I went to Sussex University and lived in Brighton. It looks really lovely. X #countrykids
It’s good to know about this end of the beach. I’ve been to the other end (near Pontins) on a grey winter day and wasn’t that inspired. I prefer less developed beaches so this sounds exactly my kind of place.
A good beach can make so much difference to a trip to the seaside. I remember my mom took her honeymoon at Camber Sands.
Izzie Anderton says
Camber Sands looks so very beautiful. My twins can’t go on the beach without getting soaked either and they’re old enough to know better!