Best beaches in North Yorkshire
If you’re planning a trip to the seaside in 2023 and you’re looking for the best beaches in North Yorkshire, then you’ve come to the right place. Having grown up in Scarborough, you may say I’m a little biased, but I honestly do think we have one of the best stretches of coastline in the country. From picturesque Robin Hood’s Bay to historic Whitby, each of the beaches has something different to offer.
So whether you’re looking for a day out with kids, the best place to walk your dog or where to hunt for fossils, here’s my round up of the best beaches in North Yorkshire:
Of course, I have to start with the one closest to my heart. I grew up in Scarborough and actually think it is not valued highly enough as a holiday destination. In fact, in my day job as a journalist, I actually wrote this piece about why the North is underrated.
Scarborough has two beaches, the North Bay and the South Bay. They are connected by The Marine Drive, a long, curved promenade, so it is possible to walk or drive between the two.
Both beaches are long and sandy, with plenty of space to spread out.
The beaches differ in that the North Bay has a slightly wilder feel to it. It is popular with surfers and has a couple of good cafes, including The Watermark Cafe, which has sea views and outdoor seating. It’s also where you’ll find the town’s colourful beach huts, many of which can be hired out for the week by visitors. The North Bay is the quieter of the two beaches and dogs are allowed on some areas of it.
Scarborough’s South Bay offers what many people think of as the more ‘traditional’ seaside beach. It’s the perfect choice for families, as it has lots of amenities nearby. There are plenty of cafes, fish and chip shops and ice cream vendors – a visit to The Harbour Bar for ice cream is a must! This is also where you’ll find the town’s amusement arcades and a Big Wheel. Dogs are not allowed on this beach.
If you want to learn about one of our town’s quirky traditions, check out my post about Skipping Day in Scarborough.
Filey is a good option if you are looking for somewhere a quieter beach in North Yorkshire. It is a five-mile stretch of beach and has lots of good rock pooling areas, so is a good choice if you have little ones who like to keep busy and explore. Dogs are restricted to certain areas on this beach from May 1 to September 30.
Whitby also has the option of two beaches. Overlooked by Whitby Abbey, is the smaller Tate Hill, a sheltered sandy beach, that allows dogs all year round.
On the other side of the River Esk is West Cliff, a large sandy beach, which has lots of amenities like beach huts, deckchair hire and a children’s paddling pool. Dogs are not allowed on the south end of the beach.
The beaches are close to the town and it’s a nice place to explore. There are lots of quaint teashops and cafes, as well as places to buy gothic mementos due to Whitby’s association with Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The narrow streets do get quite busy and crowded in summer.
Staithes is everything you would imagine from a picturesque fishing village. So much so, that it was actually used as the setting for the CBBC series Old Jack’s Boat. It has a small sandy beach, which is overlooked by the towering cliffs. This area is popular with fossil hunters. Dogs are allowed on the beach, however swimming is not recommended.
Robin Hood’s Bay
One of my favourite beaches is Robin Hood’s Bay, probably because I have lots of lovely childhood memories of being here.
This beach is quite small and is a mixture of sand and rocks. With the cliffs soaring above it, it looks quite dramatic and is a good place to go rock pooling.
Something to be aware of is that the tide does come in quite quickly and submerges pretty much the whole beach, so visitors have been known to be cut off. Make sure you check tide times before you visit and always keep children nearby. This beach is not suitable for swimming and is dog-friendly.
It’s also worth noting that there is no parking near the seafront. Visitors can park in the carpark at the top of the village, but there is then a steep climb down through the village to the beach. It also gets very busy during the holidays and weekends.
Another option to get to Robin Hood’s Bay, which we used to love when we were little, is to walk along the clifftops from Boggle Hole along the Cleveland Way National Trail.
Boggle Hole is a former smuggling cove. It has a good youth hostel and a tiny beach. The walk to Robin Hood’s Bay takes about an hour, with steep steps at either end of it.
The village of Robin Hood’s Bay itself is lovely, with lots of narrow, pebbled streets with independent shops, cafes and pubs. It is also home to one of my favourite fish and chip shops: Maid Marion’s Fisheries on Albion Road.
Runswick Bay is a part of the coast, which attracts a variety of visitors due to its sandy beach and rock pools. When the tide is out visitors can go fossil hunting in the exposed rocks. The beach is also popular with surfers, canoeists and anglers. The village itself is pretty quiet and no cars are allowed. There are two car parks on the way down to the beach, which is dog-friendly.
So that’s my guide to the best beaches in North Yorkshire. I hope whichever one you choose to visit you’ll agree with me, that when it comes to beaches we’re pretty lucky!
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