The Suffolk Coast is a diverse and breath-taking stretch of coastline, comprising sand and shingle beaches. It runs from the beach gardens of Felixstowe, through the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that encompasses both wild and manicured beaches, sand dunes and beach huts, piers and promenades, to the Sunrise Coast of Lowestoft and Southwold. Further North you will find even more stretches of golden, blue-flag beaches, backed by grassy cliffs, all the way up to Great Yarmouth in Norfolk.
The English love of the beach dates back to the 19th century, when people began to seek the healthy benefits of sea air. Nowadays, whether it be for crabbing, wind surfing, sun bathing, dog walking, or swimming, Suffolk’s coastline continues to attract innumerable visitors every year seeking the beautiful views and pretty seaside towns.
With award-winning fish and chips, clean water and traditional seaside amusements, towns such as Southwold and Aldeburgh make for a lovely day out, whilst the wild beaches of Orford and Covehithe, quiet gems on the Suffolk coast, are perfect for dog walking.
And the still crisp air in Winter means that the beach isn’t just a place to visit in the summer sun. There’s nothing more refreshing than a stroll along Dunwich’s shingle or Kessingland’s marshland, wrapped up in your winter woolies.
Here we give you a run-through of some of the wonderful beaches the Suffolk coast has to offer close to Southwold.
See here for the full article, which covers the whole of Suffolk’s coast, including southern Norfolk.
There’s something for everyone!
Once a large city and trading port, home to 4000 residents, Dunwich is now a peaceful sand and shingle beach, dotted with fishermen huts and backed by marshland. (Read more about the Lost City of Dunwich here). It is bordered by the River Blyth to the south and by Southwold to the north.
This is a long, quiet beach, perfect for stretching your legs. The café serves good fish and chips, which can be worked off later on the coastal walk. The nearby Dingle marshes are home to varied wildlife.
There are no restrictions on dog walking
Distance: 8.7 miles Southwold; 11.4 miles Aldeburgh; 16.7 miles Bungay; 18.1 miles Orford
How to get there:
Take the A12 north from Ipswich towards Lowestoft. Turn off after Saxmundham and shortly (1/2 mile) after Yoxford. following signs to Westleton and then Dunwich.
For more information, see here.
On the orange-tinted, slightly coarse sands of Walberswick, crabbing is a must.
The long sand and shingle beach is backed by grassy dunes, and surrounded by marsh and heathland. Every August, it hosts the British Open Crabbing Championship; a family event that raises funds for various charities and good causes, both local and national.
When you’re getting peckish, set down your bucket and spade and head into the Georgian village of Walberswick for a pub lunch or a cream tea.
Walberswick is wider, wilder and less streamlined than the neighbouring town of Southwold, which is visible to the north. Southwold can be reached by walking along the river bank and across the Bailey bridge.
Alternatively, a foot ferry operates during the summer months.
Distance: 8.3 miles Southwold; 15.2 miles Aldeburgh; 17.2 miles Bungay
Southwold consists of two beaches:
The Pier Beach is a Blue Flag beach, with clean water and sands. It comprises a mixture of sand and shingle, and is backed by a neat promenade, complete with colourful beach huts and wooden chalets. The beach here holds both a Quality Coast Award, and is Marine Conservation Society Recommended.
Lifeguards monitor the waters, making this a safe place to swim. There is also a traditional pier complete with amusements, a restaurant and an excellent café. Further inland you will find a boating pond and putting green.
As well as for fishing, people come to the Pier to make use of the water sports facilities, which include windsurfing and jet skiing.
Suzie’s Beach Cafe provides cake and ice creams right on the beach front.
The beach is cleaned regularly and dogs are banned from certain areas during the summer season.
Southwold has remained pleasingly resistant to modernity. There are numerous pubs within the town, as well as several great shops along the high street. The large, white lighthouse stands proudly above the promenade, and adds to the lovely traditional feel of the unspoilt, coastal town.
Things to do nearby:
- Take the Adnams Brewery Tour. Southwold is home to the famous Adnams Brewery. Meet the brewery team and see it all for yourself. The tour explaind the beer-making process, and shows you parts of the brewery that are not normally open to the public. Free alcohol involved!
- The Coastal Voyager offers a range of trips including short local fun rides, trips to the seal and wind farm at Scroby Sands, and a one way ticket to Dunwich beach. ‘Sea Blast’ is particularly popular: the 400hp boat is put through its formidable paces in a 30 min tour of Solebay.
The further south you head, the quieter the beach gets. Soon, the concrete promenade and beach huts are replaced by grassy dunes. This part of the beach is much wider, and generally much quieter.
It’s still a nice spot for swimming, but note that there are no life guards further down the beach.
The most southern beach is known as The Denes; a quieter, more secluded shingle stretch next to the River Blyth. It’s good for walking, with grassy dunes and views across the estuary and, like its northern neighbour, received a Quality Coast Award
Visitors use the beach for Surfing, Windsurfing and Fishing. There is a coast path with walks north to Southwold and beyond or south along the banks of the river.
There are also no restrictions on dogs here!
Distance: 9.1 miles Halesworth; 11 miles to Ellough; 14.4 miles Beccles; 17.6 miles Bungay; 17.9 miles Aldeburgh.
How to get there:
For the North beach:
Signposted off the A12 between Ipswich and Lowestoft.
For more information, see here.
For the Denes/southern beaches:
Accessed from the A12 North of Ipswich and Saxmundham and south of Lowestoft. Turn off along the A1095. Signposted Southwold. Once in Southwold. go through the town and the road leads out to Southwold Denes.
For a list of self-catered holiday properties in the area, see here.
In stark contrast to Southwold, the wild beach of Covehithe is well off the beaten track – quite literally; the coastal path that leads to it is a bit of a tricky one.
But the soft, white sandy shores and marram grass dunes are a well-kept secret for those who really want to get away from it all.,
Backed by crumbling cliffs, this eroding peace of coast is a great spot for sea swimming, and just behind the beach you will find several freshwater lagoons.
It’s darker, and wilder than the more popular destinations on the Suffolk coast. Read Blake Morisson’s article on why Covehithe beach is his ‘Perfect Place’ here. (The descriptions are terrific!)
Distance: 5 miles from Southwold; 8 miles from Ellough; 10.5 miles from Lowestoft; 14.2 miles from Beccles; 17.5 miles from Bungay
Kessingland and Pakefield
These two unspoilt and spacious beaches, close to Lowestoft, are little-known gems on the Suffolk Coast.
Comprising marshland, shingle and sand, Kessingland is a peaceful and quiet dog-friendly beach, in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The area is popular with wildlife, and Seals can sometimes be seen lying on the sandbanks.
Distance: 5.8 miles to Lowestoft; 7.3 miles to Ellough; 8.7 miles to Southwold; 10.3 miles to Beccles; 14.1 miles to Bungay.
How to get there:
Kessingland Village is accessed from the A12 via the B1437.
Lowestoft is the most easterly point of the United Kingdom. The Edwardian seafront is a popular destination for beach-goers, and the town is at the forefront of the UK’s wind generation industry.
With everything you’d expect from a traditional seaside resort – including a pier with amusements, colourful beach huts (many are availble for weekly and daily hire – telephone 01502 588444 ), beachside cafes, a lighthouse and soft golden sand – the Blue Flag beaches either side of Claremont Pier are perfectly inviting.
Things to see nearby:
How to get there:
See here for the full article, which covers the whole of Suffolk’s coast, including south Norfolk.