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With more Blue Flag beaches than either Suffolk or Norfolk, Essex really is the king county of the east coast. Here is our guide to its best beaches...
Essex Seaside Guide
Southend on Sea
Beach Guide Just ten minutes walk from Southend Central Railway Station and adjacent to Adventure Island, one of Southends largest attractions, the Three Shells Beach is a small and friendly beach that is valeted daily. Jubilee Beach, a sand and shingle beach that stretches from Southend Pier to Thorpe Bay is another popular spot with pleasure boat trips available to provide a great way to see the beauty of the Essex coast. In Thorpe Bay youll find a more peaceful day out, with its clean, secluded beach lined with beach huts for those looking to enjoy the natural elements of the coast.
Where to park Central parking is available in the Sea-Life Adventure centre car park, while free parking can be found down the side road just opposite.
Why visit Southend has a wealth of attractions for all the family including the worlds longest pier and Adventure Island, one of the UKs best free admission theme parks. Along the seafront you will also find arcades, mini golf, the Sea-Life Adventure centre and the historic Kursaal function hall.
Beach Guide Shoeburyness is just three miles east of Southend, but offers a calmer coastal day out around its award-winning sandy beaches and a grassy headland. Popular with families, Shoeburyness High Street is just a short walk from the beach. There is also a shallow paddling pool cornered off in the sea.
Where to park Parking is available at the beach car park.
Why visit A secluded area of the beach is cordoned off for water sports, so this is a great place to try something new.
Westcliff on Sea
Beach Guide Chalkwall Beach is one of Westcliffs most popular beaches and from here you can also reach Southend and Leigh beach too. Ten minutes walk from Westcliff Station is Westcliff Beach, a long, sandy beach that is perfect for families. Westcliffs charming gardens, which are set within the cliffs, are a popular place for picnics and Westcliff on Sea itself provides spectacular cliff-top views over the Thames Estuary.
Where to park Parking is available along the promenade.
Why visit If the weather is poor and you need to head inside, visit the Cliffs Pavilion for a touch of theatre.
Leigh on Sea
Beach Guide A clean beach with good access to facilities, Bell Wharf Beach lies at the end of Old Leigh. Just ten minutes from Leigh Railway Station, Old Leigh town still has the air of a traditional fishing village and is renown for its cobble streets, cafes and cockleboats.
Where to park Parking is available in Old Leigh town.
Why visit Take your pick of the charming cockle sheds to taste some fresh seafood.
Beach Guide For the quieter side of Clacton, Martello Bay is a child-friendly sand and shingle beach with good facilities. West Beach is more lively and closer to the pier which is packed with rides and amusements. Clacton also offers a large shopping village, two theatres and stunning gardens around the promenade.
Where to park You can park for free for one hour along the promenade.
Why visit The Clacton Air Show is a must-see event and takes place on Thursday, August 25 and Friday, August 26 this year.
Frinton on Sea
Beach Guide Frintons golden beaches provide a quieter day beside the seaside thanks to its untouched coastline, immaculately clean beaches and Victorian beach huts. Within Frinton youll find boutiques, antiques shops and historic buildings, plus the newly refurbished Connaught Avenue.
Where to park Parking is free along the promenade.
Why visit The greensward above the beach is ideal for picnicking if you hate sand in your sandwiches.
Walton on the Naze
Beach Guide Naze Beach is a sandy beach backed by the cliffs or Albion Beach is a gently sloping beach just five minutes walk from the town centre. The town centre is home to regular farmers markets and there is an indoor swimming pool and Marine Museum.
Where to park Pay and Display parking is available at Church Road car park or there is free parking along the promenade.
Why visit Cliff-top gardens, the Naze Tower and fabulous coastline views make this a great place for a sea walk.
Beach Guide Bathing Beach, a shingle/sandy beach to the west of Mersea Island, is perhaps the most popular beach with good facilities, shops and restaurants, but there are many other more secluded beaches around the island for those prepared to explore. But if you are feeling adventurous, dont forget the time as the only road to and from the island does get submerged at high tide.
Where to park Bathing Beach has a few free car parks to look out for.
Why visit Mersea Island is home to some of the best oysters in the world.
Beach Guide Dovercourt seafront features a sandy beach that runs for two miles from Earlams Beach to Beacon Hill. The bay and estuary provide excellent windsurfing and dinghy sailing and there are zoned areas for water sports.
Where to park There is free parking along the promenade.
Why visit The swimming pool and boating lake in Low Road add an extra dimension to this resort.
Beach Guide Brightlingsea has a pleasant sandy beach backed by beach huts and a shallow paddling pool. There is a boating lake too and great places to picnic.
Where to park Free parking is available along the promenade.
Why visit Two large outdoor swimming pools that face the sea offer something a little different.
Did you know?
In 2011, Essex has been awarded more Blue Flag beaches than either of its East Anglian coastal neighbours of Suffolk and Norfolk. The Blue Flag essex beaches are:
Chalkwell Beach, Southend
East Beach, Shoeburyness
Jubilee Beach, Southend
Three Shells Beach, Southend
Shoebury Common Beach, Shoeburyness
Martello Bay, Clacton on Sea