A family having fun on the beach. Dad and one daughter building castles in the sand and mum with another running to the sea.

It's bucket and spade time

The Essex coastline is the perfect destination for days out the whole family will love, from the bucket-and-spade fun of resorts like Southend, Clacton and Walton with their award-winning beaches and piers crammed with amusements, to free museums, boat adventures and a range of outdoor coastal activities that will stay on in their memories long after the sun has set.

There’s so much more than just buckets and spades. Bring the family and find out for yourselves - it’s a new adventure every day.

The Essex coastline is the perfect destination for days out the whole family will love, from the bucket-and-spade fun of resorts like Southend, Clacton and Walton with their award-winning beaches.There’s so much more than just buckets and spades. Bring the family and find out for yourselves - it’s a new adventure every day..

A boy is holding up a crab.

Mersea Island is perfect for crabbing.

Beachcombing, fossil hunting or just making a splash?

Little girl eating ice cream.

Hitch a ride in Southend on the restored Cliff Lift or take a stroll along the world's longest pier at Southend-on-Sea like Charlie Chaplin at the beginning of the 20th century. For something more adventurous, scour the cliffs at Walton for sharks’ teeth, where erosion has revealed all kinds of prehistoric flotsam and jetsam on the foreshore. Or board a boat in search of seals. Enjoy cliff top walks along the Tendring coast and panoramic views of the Walton backwaters and National Nature Reserve. Fish for crabs off West Mersea pier or run off some steam at Cudmore Grove Country Park. Clamber aboard an old Thames Sailing Barge at Maldon or let the kids lose at the riverside Promenade Park; it's a splendid family attraction. Here, the ornamental and boating lakes, sand pits, skateboard and BMX ramps, pirate galleon, splash park and aerial runway draw youngsters in their droves. There’s also a popular family orienteering trail. For simple outdoor fun, East Mersea’s Cudmore Grove Country Park is brilliant for kite-flying and picnics. You can also while away many happy hours crabbing at jetties along the coast, from Old Leigh to West Mersea to Harwich. Brightlingsea, which is famed for its beach huts, is a big hit with families too. The town boasts a 1930s open-air lido, large tidal wading pool, playground and boating lake, all clustered together near the waterfront. Take to the water and learn to sail or let them try their hand at a watersport.

Bring your bikes and sail past colourful beach huts on a family adventure along the many seaside paths along the Discovery Coast. There’s so much more than just buckets and spades. Bring the family and find out for yourselves - it’s a new adventure every day.

Hitch a ride in Southend on the restored Cliff Lift or ride the historic train along the longest pleasure pier in the world. For something more adventurous, scour the cliffs at Walton for sharks’ teeth, where erosion has revealed all kinds of prehistoric flotsam and jetsam on the foreshore. Or board a boat in search of seals. There’s so much more than just buckets and spades. Bring the family and find out for yourselves - it’s a new adventure every day.

It's play time...

What beach?

Picture of a bucket and a spade and an upside down tower of sand next to them.

Among Essex’s many award-winning beaches, six hold the prestigious Blue Flag. One even features in the ‘Top 10 UK Beaches’ in the UK Beaches Guide. Blue Flag Beaches: Brightlingsea Beach; Dovercourt Bay; Martello Bay, near Clacton; Shoebury East Beach; Shoebury Common Beach; Three Shells Beach in Southend.

Make a splash

Two girls hanging over a sailing boat learning to sail.

Learn to sail at Brightlingsea Sailing Club or try out powerboating, keelboating and sailing at Essex Outdoors Bradwell. Alternatively, head for Southend where you can join a course run by Southend Kitsesurfing or try sailing, canoeing, windsurfing, paddlesports, jet skiing and more at Southend Marine Activities Centre.

Coastal cycle rides

Picture of a mum and daughter on their bike and dad pushing the little girl along.

Flat, traffic-free cycling with good sea air and fabulous views to boot! Our coastal trails are great for family bike rides. Try the five cycle routes around Tendring, the riverside track from Colchester to Wivenhoe Quay, head out from Leigh-on-Sea through Hadleigh Park to Benfleet or just ride along the seven mile beach front in Southend.

Check out these beaches

Dovercourt Beach is one of the best in Essex. It's a peaceful family resort with gentle shelving sand and shingle beaches. Awarded Blue-Flag status and possesses two beautiful, cast iron lighthouses.

Mersea Isand

Mersea Island's beaches will delight everyone. West Mersea’s beach is a mixture of sand and pebbles and the water quality is excellent. East Mersea's are quieter, sandy and great for sand castle building.

Gently shelving Martello Bay, near Clacton, is the largest beach on the Essex coast and another good family option. Here, they give out wristbands to help prevent children getting lost. Pop into nearby Martello Tower.

A combination of a huge expanse of grass, complete with barbecue stations, and a sandy beach. The area is perfect for those who want to spread out and enjoy a sense of space around them.

Frinton offers a far more serene seaside experience. A gently shelving sandy beach noted for its cleanliness and gentility. Enjoy walks along the extensive greenwards all along the shore.

The closest one to Southend’s iconic pier is Three Shells Beach. Compact but kept scrupulously clean and well-presented. It has a tidal pool and is close to all the delights this famous seaside town has to offer.
Don’t be fooled by its riverside location, Brightlingsea has excellent sandy beaches, colourful beach huts and plenty to do for a family day out. On warmer days, a dip in the art-deco Lido will be a memorable treat.

Though small, Bell Wharf beach is clean with golden, soft sand. You can enjoy a lazy day here, watching the little fishing boats come and go, or the super ships gliding by on the estuary.

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Featured attractions

Southend Pier

Southend-on-Sea

If you walk along Southend-on-Sea's High Street, towards the sea, your eye will be drawn in a straight line towards the longest pleasure Pier in the world.

 
 
 
Clacton Pier

Clacton-on-Sea 01255 421115

Six and a half acres of fun and entertainment, including under cover and outside fairground, amusements, side stalls, cafés and take aways, Seaquarium, public house with children's play area and lots more for all the family.

 
 

Featured attractions

Essex Outdoors - Bradwell

Southminster 0845 200 4220

We offer a range of Royal Yacht Association sailing courses, archery and canoeing. We are recognised as one of the leading providers of sailing courses in the south east.

 
 
 
Essex Outdoors - Mersea

Mersea Island 0845 200 4220

Essex Outdoors provides high quality outdoor learning opportunities to the young people of Essex, and the wider community.