10 of the best beaches in Kent

Beaches, Coastal, The Great British Outdoors

Posted by Ed Roberts on 20th May 2022

Kent coast

Kent is known as the Garden of England, and it certainly is a pretty part of the UK. For most visitors to the UK via a ferry across the English Channel, it is the first county that they encounter, so it’s not surprising that it’s home to some fantastic countryside and beaches, many of which make perfect backdrops for a great coastal walk.

Many of Kent’s beaches are simply stunning; from the incredible and wild shingle bank of Dungeness to the oyster beds of Whitstable, the wide sandy arc of Folkestone Bay and the traditional English seaside resorts of Margate and Ramsgate, there is a wide choice of contrasting beaches for you to discover.

We’ve selected 10 of our favourite beaches in Kent, perfect for family days out or quiet strolls with your loved ones. If you have a pet in tow, why not check out our guide to dog-friendly beaches in Kent so you can avoid the ones with seasonal restrictions? And if you are planning a trip here after you’ve read our guide, take some time to browse our collection of self-catering coastal cottages in Kent by clicking the button below. 

Kent coastal cottages

For more ideas on places to visit all over Kent, from the coast to the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, read our Discover Kent guide.


Dungeness

Dungeness

Dungeness is a unique coastal location. A private estate located at the end of Europe’s largest shingle bank, it is characterised by its acres and acres of sparse vegetation, clapboard houses and fishing boat haulouts. This Kent beach stretches from The Pilot pub at Lydd-on-Sea around to the bird hides behind the twin power stations, Dungeness A & B. Voted one of the nation’s favourite remote beaches in Which? Magazine, it’s certainly an acquired taste. 

Thousands of people venture here for the open spaces, the peculiar landscape, the wildlife and the awesome views. Be sure to visit RSPB Dungeness and the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway, where you can catch a 15-inch narrow gauge steam train (weekends only in the autumn and winter). Book a tour of the Dungeness’ Nuclear Reactor (the only one in the UK where the core is visible).

  • Dogs: Welcome all year round (except for inside RSPB Dungeness)
  • Lifeguard: No
  • Local information: Free parking, two pubs, café
  • Stay nearby: Stonihoe | Sleeps: 4 + 1 dog

Dungeness cottages


Beach huts at Greatstone

Greatstone Beach

Greatstone Beach is home to 2 miles of gorgeous sandy Kent beach. At low tide, the sea reveals a beach almost half a mile wide. It’s a quiet spot but it’s also great for swimming and water sports. The beach’s conditions make it an ideal choice for wind sports like land yachting, windsurfing, kitesurfing and kiteboarding. 

The dunes at Greatstone that run along the hem of the beach are a designated SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) because they are home to rare plants and wildlife including adders! It’s close to Romney Marsh and Dungeness for contrast. Local attractions include the concrete acoustic mirrors, Romney Marsh Visitor Centre and Camber Sands. All of these attractions are free to visit; read our guide for even more free days out in Kent.

  • Dogs: Welcome all year round
  • Lifeguard: No
  • Local information: Pay and display parking, public WCs, shops and pub close by
  • Stay at: Old Stone Cottage | Sleeps: 4 guests 

Sunny Sands

Sunny Sands 

Folkestone is home to some of the best beaches in Kent and this is why it is one of Kent’s most popular seaside resorts. Sunny Sands is a cute example of a town beach that still has an olde-worlde feel to it. Located right next to Folkestone Harbour, you can sit and watch the fishing boats come and go. There are plenty of eateries, especially seafood takeaways at the harbour, as well as one or two cafes close to Sunny Sands.

Most of Folkestone’s shops and amenities are up the hill, but the climb is short and relatively easy from the beach. It’s a good spot for sandcastle building and playing. The waters are good for paddling but it does get deep as the beach shelves at low tide, however the waves are gentle and Sunny Sands enjoys a sheltered position. At the rear of the beach is a strip of portico archways which are perfect for taking shade under. Also visit Folkestone Warren to escape from the crowds and experience a contrasting, wilder beach. 

  • Dogs: Dogs welcome from November – April
  • Lifeguard service: Yes (seasonal)
  • Local information: Pay and display parking, WCs, restaurants, cafes, ramp access
  • Stay at: Kings Cottage | Sleeps: 6 guests + 1 dog  

Folkestone cottages


Minster Leas Beach

Minster Leas Beach

Minster Leas Beach is found on the Isle of Sheppey. The Isle of Sheppey is found at the point where the Thames Estuary meets the English Channel and is a lovely place for nature lovers. There is a promenade at Minster Leas which is popular with dog walkers and young families out for a bike ride. Bathers will find the designated swimming zone handy, so bring your wetsuit for a dip. 

The views across the River Swale and the Nore are gorgeous, making Minster Leas a great Kent beach which is slightly off the beaten track. The Elmley National Nature Reserve is well worth seeking out nearby too. Walking by the waterside is so pleasurable; check out our guide to Kent's most scenic river and canalside walks.

  • Dogs: Dogs welcome from October – April
  • Lifeguard service: Yes (seasonal)
  • Local information: Pay and display parking, WCs, bathing area
  • Stay at:  Anchor Light Cottage | Sleeps: 6 guests + 3 dogs

Kingsdown Beach

Kingsdown Beach

Close to the idyllic town of Deal and Walmer Castle is this classic pebble beach. Found at the foot of chalk cliffs, Kingsdown has a quaint pub where you can sink a few drinks and listen to the waves. Take an idle stroll along the shoreline and spot the former WW2 gun placements up in the cliffs. 

On clear days, you can see the coast of France from the beach. The village is linked to Deal by a cycle track, so if you have brought your bikes, this coastal route is a lovely one to try out. We’d choose Kingsdown Beach for a memorable sunset walk; it’s that kind of place.

  • Dogs: Check local information
  • Lifeguard service: No
  • Local information: Pub, parking
  • Stay at: Gore Cottage | Sleeps: 5 guests + 4 dogs

Deal cottages


Dover Harbour Beach

Dover Harbour Beach

Dover Harbour Beach is set very close to the harbour and is recommended by the Marine Conservation Society. It’s an attractive beach overlooked by Dover Castle and the iconic White Cliffs of Dover. One of the top beaches in Kent, you can sit and watch the colossal cross-channel ferries on their way out to sea. 

At the north end of the beach is a swimming zone and it’s locally known as the training spot for channel swimmers. The beach has good facilities and is close to the town’s shops and amenities. 

  • Dogs: Dogs welcome between September – May
  • Lifeguard service: No
  • Local information: Pay & display parking, shops, pubs, cafes, WCs, ramp access
  • Stay at: Oast House Cottage | Sleeps: 4 guests  

Dover cottages


Hythe Beach

Hythe Beach

Approximately midway between Folkestone and Dymchurch is the extremely pleasant Hythe Beach. Nearly 2 miles in length, it’s a good place for a level stroll because this pebble beach is lined by a promenade. 

Locals love to cast off from this beach to catch a few fish for their supper, or they come to buy a bag of fish and chips, or an ice cream. It’s a very laidback place, which offers a nice respite from some of its livelier counterparts like Margate and Ramsgate.

  • Dogs: Check local information
  • Lifeguard service: No
  • Local information: Parking, WCs, shops and eateries, ramp access, promenade
  • Stay at: Wren Cottage | Sleeps: 6 guests

Hythe cottages


Walpole Bay Kent

Walpole Bay

You can find Walpole Bay in the popular seaside resort of Margate. Home to a tidal swimming pool and a long sandy stretch of beach with rockpools galore, there’s something to entertain beach lovers big and small.

There’s a choice of attractions along the shoreline like crazy golf and a bowling green, and the best thing about Walpole Bay is that you don’t have to wander very far for ice cream or fish and chips because the shops are but a short walk away.

  • Dogs: Dogs welcome between September – May
  • Lifeguard service: No
  • Local information: Pay & display parking, takeaways, WCs, ramp access, tidal swimming pool
  • Stay at: Bay View Annexe | Sleeps: 4 guests

Margate cottages


Seasalter Bay

Seasalter Bay

For something a little wild, head to Seasalter Bay, a nice Kent beach just outside Whitstable and the Isle of Sheppey. The beach is fairly quiet and consists of a long shingle stretch. 

It’s enjoyed by water sports fans and there’s a sailing and water ski club in the nearby village of Seasalter. The bay is known for its oysters and the presence of a Michelin-star gastropub, The Sportsman.

  • Dogs: Check local information
  • Lifeguard service: No
  • Local information: Parking, slipway access, WCs
  • Stay at: Salt Water Beach House | Sleeps: 4 guests + 1 dog

Seasalter cottages


Whitstable

Whitstable

Whitstable, just like Seasalter, is world-famous for its oysters; there’s even a festival to celebrate their existence here every year. Swimming is a popular pastime in Whitstable and two hours past high tide is the optimum time to enjoy a dip. 

For kids, crabbing in the shallows is a popular pursuit, as well as paddling at the gently lapping shoreline. Tankerton Beach and West Beach are the main coastal stretches to head to during your stay in Whitstable. There’s so much to see and do in the town, so we wholeheartedly recommend a visit. Whitstable is something of a destination for foodies too - find out where to enjoy the best pubs and restaurants in Kent in our useful guide.

  • Dogs: Dogs are welcome all year round at West Beach, but there are restrictions between May and September at Tankerton Beach.
  • Lifeguard service: No
  • Local information: Parking, WCs, shops, pubs, restaurants, slipway access
  • Stay at: Honeypot Cottage | Sleeps: 4 guests + 1 dog

Whitstable cottages


Kent’s best beaches on a map

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Stay with us in Kent

We hope our guide has given you some lovely ideas for beaches to visit during your holiday to Kent. For even more inspiration, take a look at our UK beach guide which introduces you to coastal beauty spots and resorts all around the UK. Once you have decided where you would like to go, why not browse our range of self-catering holiday cottages in Kent? We have accommodation to meet all your requirements. Book today!

Kent coastal cottages



Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.