As the weather starts to get warmer, it’s only natural to start thinking of your next sunny getaway with your best furry friend. With more people holidaying in the UK than ever before, chances are we’ll all be heading to the beach at some point this year. So, if you’re planning a dog-friendly staycation this spring or summertime, wouldn’t you like to know the best beaches in the UK to take your canine companion for a fun and safe day out? We’ve teamed up with our friends at Vets Now, the UK’s leading provider of emergency pet care, to compile a comprehensive guide to 10 of the best dog-friendly beaches in the country.
What makes a beach safe for dogs?
“Unfortunately, pet emergencies don’t take summer holidays and each summer we witness a significant rise in emergency cases that are related to beaches and the sea,” explains Laura Playforth, professional standards director at Vets Now and one of the authors of the Best Beach Guide.
“We’ve only chosen beaches where water quality is deemed high, dogs are welcome all year round, parking and access are good and a daytime vet is based nearby. All those featured are within an hour’s drive of a Vets Now pet emergency clinic or hospital so, if you’re at the beach in the evening or weekend and suffer a pet emergency, you know you’re never far from expert help.”
And if you do find yourself worried whilst at the beach, or afterwards, Vets Now have launched Video Vets Now where you can arrange a video call with one of their highly experienced emergency vets from theVets Now teamwithin minutes, no matter where you are in the UK. A ten-minute video consult costs £24 and is refundable if Vets Now recommend an in-person follow up within 24 hours.
10 of the Best Dog-friendly Beaches in the UK
1) Hengistbury West Beach, Dorset
Most of the golden beaches dotted along the coast of Dorset have restrictions on dogs, especially during the summer months. But at Hengistbury West, just a short drive from the better-known beaches of Bournemouth, your four-legged friend is welcome to play all year round.
This shingle and pebble beach is unspoilt, south-facing and enclosed by the cliffs of Hengistbury Head – a scenic headland which attracts walkers and nature lovers from around the world, and which separates Poole Bay and Christchurch Bay.
There’s a nature reserve here as well as a popular beach-front café. If you’re coming from Bournemouth, why not jump on the train which runs along the coast – dogs are welcome for a small charge. There are also public toilets and dog bins.
Look no further than the Bournemouth East Cliff Hotel, a delightful pet-friendly hotel that offers spectacular sea views and easy access to the fantastic Bournemouth beachfront. Perfectly located to explore the coastal beauty of Dorset, you and your canine companion will absolutely love it here.
Tucked away at the southernmost tip of the beautiful New Forest National Park is this smashing little pebble beach, highly popular with dog lovers. Your dog is welcome all year round with no summer restrictions. There are brilliant views across to the Isle of Wight and a great family walk from the beach along Hurst Spit to Hurst Castle.
There are also a couple of cafés, an ice cream kiosk and a kids’ play area next to the beach. It’s a quarter of a mile from the beach to the quaint village shops. Locals pride themselves on living in a thriving coastal village that very much has its own distinct identity. There are more famous beaches in Hampshire – but few as chilled-out as Milford-on-Sea.
Where else but The Mayflower Hotel in Lymington, a charming coastal pub and AA Four-Star Gold Inn. With a nautical theme throughout, the spacious rooms boast stunning views over the historic Lymington harbour. With the New Forest right on the doorstep too, it’s the perfect base for a dog-friendly adventure.
At the southernmost tip of Sussex, just below the ancient cathedral city of Chichester, you’ll find the charming village of West Wittering and its lovely sandy beach. This is something of a rarity in an area mainly known for its pebbly beaches — so enjoy.
From May to September, there’s a small area in front of a row of beach huts where dogs aren’t allowed — but don’t let that put you off. There’s still plenty of beach for your dog to play on. In fact, your only problem might be getting him or her back on the lead at the end of the day.
There are excellent views of Chichester harbour and the South Downs to be enjoyed, as well as kite-surfing for the more adventurous. There are also public toilets and dog bins.
Check out the Goodwood Hotel, a gorgeous country house hotel located in the lovely city of Chichester. Surrounded by 12,000 acres of parks and woodland, it’s the ideal spot for a fido-friendly escape in the Sussex countryside. With comfortable rooms, award-winning dining and an array of fabulous facilities (e.g. gym, pool, jacuzzi, sauna and spa treatment rooms), you needn’t look any further!
Whitstable’s mile-long west beach is a stretch of shingle divided up by wooden groynes and offers dogs unrestricted access to the coast in an area where bylaws restricting dogs are common. It runs from just south of the town’s harbour to the neighbouring village of Seasalter.
You’ll love its traditional charms, such as its beach huts, weatherboard cottages and fishing boats pulled up on the beach. While on your walk you can enjoy watching people windsurf. There’s also a yacht club at the northern end.
It’s a west-facing beach so at the end of the day you can watch the sunset. Visitors to this popular beach are well served with cafés, toilets and shops.
For something a little more low-key, The Pebbles is a fabulous semi-detached townhouse perfectly located on the beautiful Whitstable seafront. Ideal for families, this charming pet-friendly property consists of four bedrooms, two spacious living rooms, an open-plan kitchen and dining area.
Southwold is one of Suffolk’s best known resorts — not least because of its 800-foot long pier and distinctive beach huts. The quality of the beach has been recognised over the years by regular Blue Flag awards which demonstrates that it is not only clean but provides an excellent array of amenities.
The shingle and pebble beach at Southwold is backed by a promenade which runs along the front of the town. You’ll find plenty to do including amusement arcades, fishing and swimming. It has all the facilities you would expect of such a popular and stylish resort to take your pick of the cafés and shops nearby. The beach is also provided with a first aid point and lost child centre.
Try the super dog-friendly Hognsorting Villa. Located just 5 miles away from Southwold in the picturesque village of Blythburgh, this beautiful detached cottage is the perfect place to explore the amazing Suffolk coast and countryside.
The property boasts two double bedrooms, two shower rooms, contemporary kitchen, a cosy living room, generous outside space and stunning views across the Blythe estuary.
The village of Bamburgh may be small but it has one very big claim to fame – it was voted the UK’s best seaside destination in 2021. It beat off competition from 100 other hopefuls and when you get on to the beach, you’ll soon see why. Kite flyers and strolling couples, children building sandcastles, plus dog walkers aplenty – your hound will love meeting many new friends while tearing along the fine sands.
Lovely views out to sea to the Farne Islands but even more stunning is Bamburgh Castle, which totally dominates the dunes behind. Walk into the village and there are lovely little shops and a tearoom so traditional and quaint, you expect to see Miss Marple doing some sleuthing.,
A quiet and unspoilt bay just three miles south of Scarborough. It is regarded as one of Yorkshire’s best surfing locations. The sandy beach is formed by a large sweep of fine sand backed by cliffs — you can really lose track of time here. The area is popular with both bird watchers and fossil hunters as the cliffs were formed in the Jurassic period around 150 million years ago and yield many interesting finds.
Be aware though that the northern part of the beach is known as a naturist spot although signs warn “offenders” may be prosecuted. Facilities include cafés, toilets and nearby shops.
The fun and quirky Bike & Boot offers a totally unique hotel experience that you and your pooch will love. Ideally located just a pebble’s throw away from Scarborough seafront, a fabulous selection of North Yorkshire’s finest beaches and bays are well within reach.
The hotel itself absolutely loves dogs; so much so that they offer an amazing dog grooming room with doggy bath, shampoo, a dog grooming table, dryer and towels. There are also beds, bowls, gifts and treats for furry friends to enjoy. You can also dine with your dog in the superb Bareca restaurant, which serves delicious Mediterranean food, whilst boasting stunning sea views.
Little more than half an hour in the car from the hubbub of Bristol is this glorious and windswept expanse of sand. It’s two miles north of Weston-super-Mare, but much quieter and more dog- friendly. Your dog is welcome here all year round and chances are that, except on really hot days, fellow dog walkers are the only other people you’ll come across.
There are brilliant views across the Bristol Channel towards South Wales, which can be seen quite clearly when the weather is good. It’s also got toilets and a free car park but aside from that it’s relatively remote. So it’s just perfect to exercise those doggy legs and get a great run-around in a safe location.
The North Wales coastline isn’t short of breathtaking beaches where you’ll just love to see your dog sprinting in and out of the water. But the rolling sands at Conwy Morfa really are something special. It’s a giant stretch of sand which at low tide forms part of the beaches and mussel banks of Conwy Bay.
It is great for fishing, has a marina and is next to a golf course. But most importantly, dogs are welcome all year round with no restrictions. There are shops, cafés and restaurants galore in the historic walled town of Conwy, which is overlooked by a very impressive castle. But it’s the beach, a popular haunt since the Victorian era, which really steals the show.
Offering the perfect balance of great service, breathtaking location, and the warmth of a local pub, The Groes Inn is hard to beat. Located in Conwy, just outside the magnificent Snowdonia National Park, this traditional British inn offers cosy and comfortable accommodation, as well as spectacular views overlooking the sweeping Conwy Estuary.
With award-winning dining, 14 lovely dog-friendly bedrooms, and amazing walks right on the doorstep, it really is the ideal place to stay if you and your pooch are planning to explore this wonderful part of Wales.
Utterly stunning, this is one of the most photographed beaches in Britain – and understandably so. It also just happens to be Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins’ favourite beach – and a place she always takes guests to when she’s back home. She describes this magical expanse of sand with a freshwater stream running through it as “spectacularly beautiful” … and who could disagree? There are sand dunes to the rear, with the bay’s three iconic cliffs towering over the beach below. The cliffs are very popular with climbers.
Unusually for the best beaches in this area, dogs are allowed all year with no restrictions. Perhaps because it takes a 400-metre walk to get there, the beach is never very busy even on hot days and it’s often empty in the winter. Park at the car park in Parkmill and then take the path down to the beach.
Where to stay nearby?
The Old Dairy, located roughly 20 minutes away from Three Cliffs Bay, is a fantastic choice. Full of character and charm, this detached former dairy, set within an old farm yard, is ideally situated just a short drive away from the stunning beaches and coastline of the Gower Peninsula and rugged heathland of Cefn Bryn. The property boasts two double bedrooms, cosy living space, country-style kitchen, and an enclosed garden which is perfect for summer BBQs. The perfect spot for friends, family and fido!
To find out the nearest dog-friendly beach to you, click here for the full Vets Now downloadable guide for the UK’s best dog-friendly beaches.
After a little more inspo?
Take a sniff around our full collection of dog-friendly beach holidays, hound picked by our team of travel experts…