Heading south this summer, use new free app Beach Check UK to avoid the crowds
Beach Check UK is a new free app that gives live updates to help you beat the crowds when heading to the coast. Users can see how busy a beach is, how many car parking spaces are available and what facilities are available nearby.
The app, launched by Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole council, currently covers much of the south coast and uses a traffic-light system showing beaches as red (crowded), amber (less congested) and green (lots of space), so that users can see at a glance if their chosen spot is busy and if there are any quieter spots nearby. There is a beach for everyone in its guide. Here are some of our favourites:
Known for a combination of charm and space, Minehead’s beaches make an ideal family day trip destination. A mile-long beach curves around to a historic harbour framed by hills. It is great for rock pooling and there are lovely views across to Wales and Weston-super-Mare. You can hire deck chairs and windbreakers at the beach. There are public WCs and plenty of cafés and restaurants nearby, as well as an amusement arcade and a promenade to stroll along.
Westward Ho! Devon
Surfers and swimmers look no further than Westward Ho! Stretching across two miles of golden sandy beach backed by a unique pebble ridge, this popular spot on the North Devon coast is life-guarded and has plenty of space for families to play beach Olympics this summer. The beach has WCs, it is dog-friendly in permitted areas, and BBQs are allowed after 6pm. Parking is available in the town which also has lots to entertain kids, including Northam Country Park nature reserve with its newly-renovated visitor centre, Pebble Ridge Adventure Golf and Go Karts, and the Big Sheep family farm attraction with rides.
Margate, Broadstairs, Ramsgate
This section of the Kent coast is wonderful choice for little explorers. Families visiting these beaches this summer can hire a Coastal Explorer Pack for just £5, plus proof of ID, which include a range of activities from beach games to making a sun dial, naming cloud formations to identifying some of the marine life while rock pooling. Whilst the packs contain information specific to each of the main beaches and bays, most of the activities can be done anywhere along this coastline. Continue the adventure with a trip to the Shell Grotto, a magical cave, decorated with 4.6m shells.
Camber Sands, East Sussex
Wildlife enthusiasts will be drawn to this vast and unspoiled golden sand beach. The two miles of Camber Sands are home to the only sand dune system in East Sussex, a natural habitat for many animals and plants – and an ideal spot for budding young bird and wildlife-watchers. The life-guarded beach has WCs and several cafés An easy 20-minute cycling route connects Camber Sands with Rye via the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, which has a new visitor centre.
Worthing, West Sussex
The sloping sandy and shingle beach at Worthing makes for the quintessential English seaside experience. It is ideal for children keen to explore rock pools at low tide. There are zoned areas for water and paddle sports, and an iconic pier and Splash Point. The spot is great for adults too with beachfront cafés selling freshly-caught seafood and several local arts and crafts studios on East Beach. The local town is also home to one of the oldest independent cinemas in the country, The Dome, which is right on the seafront.
Hayling Island, Hampshire
Windsurfing was first developed on Hayling Island in 1958 and since then the area has become renowned for many water sports. As well as water sports galore, the beautiful coastline is is a haven for a wide range of plants and wildlife and its fine beaches are a long-standing Blue Flag award winner. The island is a well-established and well-loved seaside destination where visitors will find ample parking and WC facilities along the length of the shore.
Another winner of a Blue Flag award for over 30 years, Sandbanks beach is an excellent choice for families. The soft golden sands are ideal for building sandcastles, and the life-guarded bathing waters are ideal for a range of water sports with equipment hire available, including volleyball nets, slackline and table tennis. The leisurely promenade offers cafés, shops, plenty of parking (including a park and ride option), and there are WC facilities along the beach.
Beach Check UK is downloadable from Google Play and the Apple App store with no in-app purchases necessary. The National Coastal Tourism Academy is encouraging resorts nationwide to adopt it. Those who have already downloaded the app will find it updates automatically to the national version.