7 Of The Best Beaches In Kent



With several of its seaside towns within about 90 minutes by train from London, Kent, in the south east of England, is a convenient destination for both last-minute weekends away and longer pre-planned stays.

The beaches here have something for everybody – from watersports to seafront dining, and from striking contemporary art to even more striking rock formations. What will be the focus of your seaside holiday? Decisions, decisions… But arguably the biggest decision of all is: are you after a sandy beach or a peaceful patch of pebbles?

Whatever you choose, we can help you find a campsite or holiday park to suit your needs. Or for something a bit more bespoke, see our selection of unusual places to stay in Kent.

Check out Pitchup’s top seven beaches in Kent.

The pebble beach at Tankerton (Scott Chambers on Unsplash)

Tankerton Beach, Whitstable

Beach huts, watersports and oysters

Talk about Instagrammable spots. If your first glimpse of this peaceful shingle beach is from the top of the green Tankerton Slopes dotted with colourful beach huts, you will instinctively reach for your smartphone. Ramps and steps lead down to the pebbles and clear swimming waters.

The wooden groynes segmenting the beach make for excellent windbreaks on breezy days, which is also when kitesurfers take to the waves. At low tide you can watch their acrobatic displays from a spit of sand known as The Street, which stretches far into the sea. For the chance to practise watersports, the local sailing club runs ‘have-a-go’ afternoons.

Follow the beachfront promenade towards town and take a pitstop at the leafy garden café up on the slopes, where you can have an ice cream with views over the water. It would be a crime to be this close to Whitstable and not sample the renowned local oysters, so it’s a fine idea to take the short walk to the harbour, where skilled shuckers work fast to meet demand.

Colourful beach huts at Tankerton (Arthur Knoepflin on Unsplash)

Go camping near Whitstable.

Margate Sands

Traditional English seaside with a trendy update

Margate’s sandy beach offers plenty to keep the kids entertained – from huge inflatable structures to swings and small rides, not to mention enough sand to build the Versailles of sandcastles. A gentle slope makes the water at Margate Sands safe for even the most nervous swimmer.

While the kids splash around the large tidal pool, grownups can hit the Sun Deck, a loungey space on the promenade with food stalls, a tiki bar and occasional live music or DJs. For extra dining options, grab some fish and chips to eat on the Margate Steps, or check out the many bars and restaurants along the Harbour Arm.

And that’s before you’ve even got to the arcades, the kiosk selling ice cream and hot doughnuts, the vintage rides at Dreamland, or the art at Turner Contemporary… Whatever you do at this busy Kent beach, aim to stay until sunset, when you’ll see just what the artist JMW Turner was on about when he claimed the skies above Thanet were ‘the loveliest in all Europe’.

 Deckchair hire at Margate Sands (Max Letek on Unsplash)

Search for campsites around Margate or click here for more ideas on what to do in Kent with the kids.

Botany Bay, Broadstairs

Sandy beach with chalk stacks and smugglers’ caves

Renowned for its free-standing chalk formations, this secluded sandy beach near the seaside town of Broadstairs demands nothing of you but complete relaxation. Just unfurl your towel (or hire a deckchair), don your shades and sink your toes deep into the sand. And exhale…

Of course, if you have kids in tow, they might feel differently. But then, with old smugglers’ caves carved into the chalk cliffs and seaweed-lined rockpools to explore, this is just the sort of place that will fire up their imagination and keep them busy while you top up your tan.

A walk across the chalk cliffs leads to neighbouring Kingsgate Bay, a year-round dog-friendly spot accessed by a set of steps. The sandy beach here is anchored by a striking sea arch, but beware: it’s a case of ‘look, don’t touch’ (and ‘don’t walk under’), since the arch is considered fragile.Chalk cliffs at Botany Bay (Magda V on Unsplash)

Book a campsite near Broadstairs.

Walmer Beach, Deal

Pebble beach with deep water and a cycle lane

Dotted with wildflowers and fragrant fennel, this stretch of coast (a pebble beach, like that of neighbouring Deal) feels peaceful even on the hottest of days. This is likely due to its humongous size but possibly also to the fact that the water is neck-deep within a few steps – less-than-confident swimmers might want to stay close to the shore here. Your dog (welcome year-round) will love jumping in the water, though, trying to fetch the stones you skim.

Grab some fish and chips from one of two shops along the Strand and eat them on the beach while gazing at leggy Deal Pier or, on a really clear day, the French coast across the Channel. 

Then hit the bike-hire station, in a beach hut near the paddling pool, and cycle along the promenade all the way to 16th-century Walmer Castle. Got a little more in the tank? Continue on to Kingsdown, where you can reward your efforts with a seafront pint at the Zetland Arms and views of white chalk cliffs.

See our suggestions for camping near Walmer and Deal.


Pebble beach beneath the White Cliffs of Dover, with sea safaris

With easy train links from London and a revitalised harbour area, this pebble beach overlooked by Dover Castle is becoming increasingly popular. 

Calm, sheltered waters invite both swimmers and watersports enthusiasts, and a sailing school runs taster sessions and paddleboard classes. This is also the starting point for boat trips to the notorious Goodwin Sands, home to a colony of seals and the graveyard of ships that have been grounded there over the centuries. 

On the other side of the port, a walk across the top of the iconic White Cliffs takes you to the historic South Foreland Lighthouse and on to St Margaret’s Bay, where you can stop for a pint at the beachfront pub.

Chalk cliffs at St Margaret’s Bay, near Dover (Dan Senior on Unsplash)

Look for campsites around Dover.

Folkestone Beach

Sand and pebble beaches, artworks and clifftop views

Less than an hour from London on the high-speed train, Folkestone has both sand and pebble beaches. 

The golden stretch at Sunny Sands might seem like the obvious choice here (especially for sandcastle fans), but a Folkestone recommendation for those in the know is for the quiet shingle beach on the other side of the harbour. Not only is it bigger and quieter than its sandy counterpart, it’s also dotted with artworks installed as part of the Folkestone Triennial exhibition. 

A path built with railway sleepers winds its way through the deep shingle, where you can relax on a towel, gazing at paddleboarders, or head in for a dip. The beach is backed by lush gardens, with zigzagging trails climbing up to The Leas clifftop promenade for far-reaching coastal views.

Stay at a campsite near Folkestone.


An expanse of shingle with a lighthouse and a unique cottage garden

In the shadow of a no-longer-operational nuclear power station, the shingle beach of Dungeness has a stark, desolate beauty that calls to mind old black-and-white B-movies. (Speaking of harking back to the past: lots of free parking and cheap car parks, too.) 

This is a landscape that is more suited to an invigorating walk with the dogs (welcome all year) and some exploration of what the sea has dragged in than to sunbathing and swimming, though. By the way, those with canine pals should also have a look at Pitchup’s selection of the best dog walks in Kent.

Check out the quiet, meditative garden surrounding Prospect Cottage, which once belonged to arthouse film-maker Derek Jarman. Or climb the 169 steps to the top of the lighthouse for views of the English Channel and Romney Marsh.

Look out, also, for the small-gauge rail tracks. If you’re lucky, you might see the Romney Hythe & Dymchurch Railway train chug past.

On a windy day here, there’s little to protect you as the gusts rush across this vast open headland, so seek shelter at The Pilot Inn for fish and chips and a pint of ale.

Find campsite accommodation near Dungeness.

Now that you’ve worked your way around the Kentish coast, continue your seaside pilgrimage into the next county and check out the 8 best beaches in East Sussex. Or cast your net a little wider still and browse our South East England Camping Guide.