A guide to Whitby's beaches

Beaches, Coastal, Days out

Posted by Courtney Kelly on 9th August 2023

An aerial view of West Cliff, Tate Hill, East Pier and West Pier in Whitby

Whitby is a lovely seaside town located in North Yorkshire. As you walk the cobbled streets, you may see old cafes and antique stores, as well as waterside establishments selling the fish and chips that the area is renowned for.

The most impressive thing about Whitby though is its varied and beautiful beaches. Whitby is divided by the River Esk which flows from the coast towards the town. You might also be split when trying to decide which beach to visit, most of which are sandy with a smattering of rocky areas.

Whitby beaches offer something for everyone, including pleasant dog walking areas and plenty of space for making winning sandcastles. Scroll on to read more about beaches in Whitby or tap the button to find a cottage to call home during your holiday in Yorkshire.

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Tate Hill Beach on a clear day with Whitby Abbey on the hill


Whitby has numerous nice beaches. They are mostly sandy so you can bring your bucket and spade for family sandcastle competitions.

Most of the beaches look out towards the North Sea but one is a sheltered harbour beach. All are perfect for picnics and promise an enjoyable time at the beach.

There are four main beaches in Whitby, but many more bays and coves exist in the surrounding area. West Cliff, Tate Hill, Upgang and Sandsend are the most notable beaches with Sandsend Ness and Saltwick Bay also offering up less crowded places to visit.

Swimming at the east end of the coast that stretches from Sandsend to Whitby is considered relatively safe. This is by West Cliff and Tate Hill, with the former having RNLI lifeguards during the peak season.

However, swimming at Sandsend and Sandsend Ness is not recommended due to the proximity to the ness and the tidal rip in this area.

In its most recent inspection of water quality (2023), the Environment Agency gave Whitby beaches three out of three stars, deeming its waters to be 'excellent'.

The average summer sea temperature for Whitby beaches is just under 14 degrees Celsius. Comfortable sea temperatures for swimming tend to start at 15 degrees Celcius. Time to wetsuit up!

It is certainly not recommended to walk along the beach from Whitby to Robin Hood's Bay due to tides cutting you off.

However, it makes for a delightful walk along the Cleveland Way coastal trail, taking in the magnificent views of the North York Moors National Park along the way.

Yes, absolutely you can. It can be hard to identify as there may be many other black stones on the beach too. One simple test you can do is to rub the stone rapidly against your hair: the jet should always produce some static electricity.

With so many rocky areas peppering the beaches, there are rock pools aplenty. It is often said that the Whitby area has some of the best rock pooling opportunities in the country.

Head to Upgang Beach at low tide for rock pooling with fewer crowds than the other beaches. Or visit Sandsend where you're likely to find starfish amongst other treasures.

Tate Hill Beach and Upgang Beach are dog friendly all year round, whilst West Cliff Beach and Sandsend have restrictions from May to September.

There are plenty of short-stay car parks (up to 6 hours) and long-stay car parks (up to 24 hours) to choose from when visiting a sandy beach in Whitby. The three main ones near West Cliff Beach are Pavilion Drive car park, Pavilion Top car park and West Cliff car park.

West Cliff Beach in the sunshine. Pictures of West Pier and the colourful beach huts

Whitby West Cliff Beach (Whitby Sands Beach)

There's nothing like sea air in your lungs and the feeling of waves lapping around your toes to help you unwind from the stresses of modern life.

Whitby West Cliff Beach, an imposing sandy beach with rocks, runs from Upgang Beach toward the mouth of the River Esk on the Yorkshire coast.

It is one the most sought-after beach destinations in the region (perhaps considered the main beach in Whitby) and is situated on the northern edge of Whitby town, just a short walking distance from the centre.

This fantastic beach is accessible from the Cleveland Way, and once you get there, you can spread out on a hired deck chair and marvel at the wonderful colourful beach huts before taking a dip in the North Sea or having a stroll along West Pier.

  • Beach type: Sand
  • Lifeguards: Yes, from May to September
  • Dog friendly: Dogs are not permitted from May to September
  • Facilities: First aid centre, car parks, outdoor paddling pool, skateboard area, public WCs (including accessible WCs), crazy golf, pitch and putt, trampolines and bumper boats

A bird's eye view of Tate Hill Beach plus some other views of the beach from a distance with beachgoers on the sands

Whitby Tate Hill Beach

Tate Hill is a small, sand and shingle beach located just inside the entrance to the harbour. The beach is a popular place for relaxing as it is more sheltered than West Cliff (the sandy beach on the other side of the estuary), because it is protected from the North Sea by West Pier and East Pier.

Tate Hill is dog friendly all year round so it's a great sandy beach to visit if you've brought the pup on holiday.

Reach the beach by walking down popular Church Street; there are lots of independent shops to browse on the way and take note of the 199 steps, which you can climb to Whitby Abbey later if you and the hound still have the energy.

This beach is likely to be less crowded than West Cliff but it is smaller too, so you'll have to weigh up where you think you're likely to be afforded the most space to relax.

  • Beach type: Sand and shingle
  • Lifeguards: No
  • Dog friendly: Dogs are welcome all year
  • Facilities: WCs, cafes and shops

A man with a surfboard runs along the beach with his dog

Upgang Beach

Situated in an attractive spot halfway between West Cliff and Sandsend, this dog-friendly beach has a different vibe to the hustle and bustle of the sands closer to town.

With a more remote feel to it, Upgang Beach is less crowded and allows you to bring your four-legged friends along all year round.

The beach is backed by Whitby Golf Club so you could always play a quick round before heading to the biggest bunker of all! If you're into sea fishing, this is a very popular fishing spot – just be sure to keep Rover out of the bait box.

And if surfing is your thing, wax your board and duck dive those waves as the swell here draws surfers from far afield. West Cliff and Sandsend also has a strong surfing community but you'll find fewer crowds here.

  • Beach type: Sand and shingle
  • Lifeguards: No
  • Dog friendly: Dogs are welcome all year
  • Facilities: You'll need to go to either Whitby or Sandsend for facilities

Rockpools at Sandsend plus an aerial view and Sandsend at sunrise

Sandsend Beach

Continue west along the sand, moving away from Whitby and you’ll come to Sandsend Beach. This delightful spot on the North Yorkshire coast is another top surfing beach but we recommend that you only go out if you're experienced due to the tidal rips present here.

Similarly, we advise against swimming in these waters.

However, this large sandy beach has glistening golden sand and is considered to be one of the best beaches in North Yorkshire.

There are many reasons for this: it's great if you want to build sandcastles and there are lots of scattered rocks if you want to explore rock pools; it's not as busy as West Cliff but is still only a few minutes' walk to some handy facilities; and it's great for long dog walks out of season! For even more inspiration, take a look at our guide to Whitby walks.

  • Beach type: Sand and shingle
  • Lifeguards: Yes, from May to September
  • Dog friendly: Dogs are not permitted from May to September
  • Facilities: Cafe, restaurant, WCs, car park

Saltwick Bay at sunrise plus a wreckage of a ship with Black Nab Rock

Saltwick Bay Beach

Whilst it's not a main beach in Whitby, Saltwick Bay Beach is worth visiting whilst in the area. It's more of an off-the-beaten-track beach that is accessed via a steep erosion-damaged path that has steps that can be slippery when wet.

For this reason, we advise you to take care when descending to the beach. Don't let this put you off though as it's a great place to search for fossils such as ammonites and belemnites.

Even Whitby Jet can be found here if you keep an eagle eye out, and your pooch is welcome to play on the sands, so long as they avoid the nesting seabirds.

  • Beach type: Sand and rocks
  • Lifeguard: No
  • Dog friendly: Dogs are welcome all year
  • Facilities: You'll need to go into Whitby for facilities

A woman plays happily with her dog in the lapping waves

Dog-friendly Whitby beaches

Whitby is a fabulous place to bring your four-legged furry pal and there aren’t many things that dogs like more than frolicking upon golden sands as the waves wash over their paws.

Be mindful to check if there are any restrictions on the beaches at the time of year you are visiting so that you don’t get caught out.

Whitby’s main beach, West Cliff, starts at the west of the pier and has restrictions that mean that no dog is permitted on its sands from May to September. Out of season, it’s a wonderful and wide expanse to run along.

The harbour beach of Tate Hill welcomes dogs all year round and its sheltered nature makes it a great place for a doggy dip.

Further along to the west is Upgang Beach where there are no restrictions at all. It’s one of the best dog-friendly Whitby Beaches as it’s so close to West Cliff and Sandsend and allows dogs all year round.

Furthest west is Sandsend Beach which has East Row Beck running through it – your pups will love splashing around in the beck. You’ll have to visit out of season though as no dogs are permitted on the beach from May to September. If you do visit in late spring or summer, fear not as you’ll still be able to sample the local cuisine in the dog-friendly cafes just off the sand.

As mentioned previously, Saltwick Bay Beach is dog-friendly all year round as these sands are less popular with families.

Self-catering stays in Whitby

Now that you're well-informed about the beaches in Whitby, you can start looking for a cosy property to base yourself in when you visit the magnificent North Yorkshire coastline.

For even more holiday inspiration take a look at our guide to things to do in Whitby and to find your perfect holiday cottage in Whitby, tap the button below.

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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.