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Our Best Beaches

PUBLISHED: 09:42 16 June 2014 | UPDATED: 09:42 16 June 2014

Mersea Island

Mersea Island

Archant

If your trip to the coast is all about buckets and spades and a splash in the sea, here are some details about the county’s best beaches…

Clacton on SeaClacton on Sea

Southend on Sea boasts 10 uninterrupted kilometres of clean, safe and largely sandy strands. The busiest of these, right in the heart of the action, tends to be the small Three Shells Beach, next to the pier. Just a few minutes walk away, Westcliff Beach offers more peace, with a selection of good little eateries under the arches, and at low tide here you may even spot seals on the estuary sandbanks. Things get more active – and more shingly – east of Southend Pier, where Thorpe Bay, Shoebury Common and Shoebury East Beach are the domain of watersports enthusiasts.

To the north, sandy Brightlingsea, where the River Colne meets the sea, is a low-key family choice, with a lido and a tidal paddling pool by the shore.

DovercourtDovercourt

You can gaze across to Mersea Island, accessible by crossing the Strood causeway at low tide or by jumping on the foot ferry. West Mersea is the most popular bathing beach here and a spectacular windsurfing spot, but Cudmore Grove Country Park, in the east of the island, is a treat, fringed by a shell-strewn pebble shore that’s perfect for beachcombing.

Gently shelving Martello Bay, at Clacton, is the largest beach on the Essex coast and another good family option. Things get quieter the further north you head. Frinton on Sea is justly proud of its spotless sands, which, when the tide is out, seem to go on forever, while neighbouring Walton on the Naze sees a little more activity. There is another gloriously sandy stretch here, located at the base of the Naze cliffs, which yields an exciting hoard of fossils.

Rough Guide to the Essex Discovery Coast. Visit EssexRough Guide to the Essex Discovery Coast. Visit Essex

Remote Wrabness, west of Harwich on the Stour Estuary, is a nature-lover’s and fossil-hunter’s dream, while Dovercourt is a delightful seaside resort with a Blue Flag sandy beach just south of Harwich.

If you really like your shorelines secluded, elemental and raw, then make for the Dengie Peninsula – the low-lying plug of land between the Blackwater and Crouch Estuaries. The vast, empty coastline here is fringed with shell-speckled beaches, atmospheric salt marshes, tiny islands, seal colonies and vast cockle spits.

Find out more

You can read more about the huge variety of activities to enjoy up and down the Essex coast in the Rough Guide to the Essex Discovery Coast which has been published by Visit Essex. The guide includes details of family fun activities, wildlife spotting and the best places for food and drink. Go to www.visitessex.com for more details or to download the guide

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