The wonderful thing about British beaches is that they look different everywhere you go, from otherworldly rock formations in Devon, to aquamarine waters off Scottish silver sands. Kent has its own distinctive style, with soaring white cliffs lining its shore. Too often, when we think of trips to the seaside, they’re anywhere else in the south – but there are some criminally underappreciated stretches of sand in this stunning part of the country, and we’re going to share our five favourites.
Samphire Hoe is actually a man-made nature reserve created in the nineties, from the excess material cut to make the Channel Tunnel. It was (with great thought) dumped on the coastline, landscaped to be undulating like the rest of the coast, then sown with wildflower seeds. Today, there’s 200 species of plants, 220 birds, 30 butterflies, 380 moths, 13 dragonflies… and well, the list goes on. It’s actually an amazing success story of repurposing waste. But is it worth visiting? A resounding yes. It’s actually a stunning site, with a great view of the cliffs, rock pooling available, and it’s even considered wheelchair friendly! And there’s Nearby Folkstone to grab some refreshments.
If you’re at the Lodge Treehouse, it’s just a 20-minute drive, or an hour and a half cycle!
Secret beaches, like secret bars, are some of the most satisfying things you can find. One perfect example of a secret beach is the one hidden next to Botany Bay. A small, but perfectly formed beach, there’s soft sand, soring white cliffs, a coastal walk on the cliff behind, and even fossils to be found, but the real treasure is located just to the right. Here, when the tide allows it (and please check those times to avoid getting stranded) there’s another stretch of sand hidden behind the rockface.
If you’re staying nearby, either at The Bellwether, The Lodge Treehouse, Hedgehog Hall or Huntingfield Hut – it’s just an hour’s drive, and after a few hours on the beach, you could head to Margate for a little pit stop. But if you’re somewhere around Lodge Treehouse, you might like to cycle, which would be 2.5 hours each way – and you could stop off at the Stodmarsh National Nature Reserve on route for a little more wilderness.
This is a fantastic beach – with an asterisk. It’s a wild and sandy stretch on the east side of the beautiful Isle of Sheppey, backed by the incredible Swale National Nature Reserve, meaning wildlife is absolutely bountiful. It’s also a short drive to Leysdown-on-Sea (and its beach) if you’re looking for somewhere to grab a coffee or some food. What’s the asterisk? Well, one side of it is a nudist beach – though it’s clearly marked, so if you’re of a sensitive disposition, you might want to stick to the other end.
Just round the corner from Botany Bay, there’s another great contender for an underappreciated beach. It’s got every feature you’d hope to see, from a sandy cove to a sea arch, soaring white cliffs to frame it, and even caves to explore (keep checking those tide times). Even better, if you’ve got a hound with you, it’s dog friendly year-round. Instead of having to trudge a long way to the nearest watering hole before, during or after some sandy strolls, you’ve got a local pub at the top of the cliff overlooking the beach.
Another beach backed with a splash of wild, The Warren Beach has fantastic sea views, a sandy strip and fossils dotted about along the coast. Dog-friendly, there’s something for everyone, with a play park further inland for kids and other beaches nearby to visit. One of the best features, however, has to be the foraging! There’s plenty to find, including rock samphire, sorrel, sea beet, sea purslane, sea cabbage, and wild garlic! If you don’t fancy going to grab them yourself, you can always head to one of the local restaurants like Rocksalt or Dr Legumes for something to eat!