When the sun is out there is no where quite like the beach, and in East Sussex we have some of the most beautiful coastline around. Here’s our round up of the best beaches in East Sussex.
We hope this list helps you to explore some of our lesser-known beaches, and that you consider paying them a visit this summer so that we can all enjoy the coastline safely.
Remember, when visiting East Sussex beaches please respect, protect and enjoy them. Always take your rubbish home with you and park considerately so that emergency services and wheelchair users can pass.
Please also take a moment to read up on how to enjoy our coastline safely. Each year thousands of tonnes of chalk fall from the cliffs, crashing down onto the beaches below without warning. Always stay away from the edges and bases of cliffs and be aware of the tide times.
Best family-friendly beaches (lifeguard service during summer months, plus facilities):
The main stretch of beach by Eastbourne’s Grand Parade offers lots of local facilities and a lifeguard service during the summer. The popular stretch of beach is shingle (no sand here) with a pier that contains take-away food, eateries and shops. A great beach for taking a dip and enjoying the local area.
A shingle beach with sand at low tide and spectacular rock pools, Bexhill beach is great for families and long walks along the coastline. Just be careful of the soft sand and mud at low tide! Retrace your steps and walk back if you stumble across some. There are local facilities and shops just off the seafront. A lifeguard service operates during the summer months.
The main beach in Hastings is a pebble beach with a vast stretch of sand at low tide, perfect for paddling and even making the odd sandcastle. There’s the old Victorian pier to admire, as well as the town’s local facilities on offer. This seaside resort is a great throw-back to times gone by with plenty of opportunities for ice cream! A lifeguard service is here in the summer.
Known for its sandy dunes, Camber Sands is one of our most popular beaches in East Sussex. A lifeguard service runs throughout the summer months. Beware – this beach gets incredibly busy on hot days. The car park is often full by 11am and there’s very limited off-street parking, so please consider visiting another one of our lovely beaches – no one wants to be stuck in a hot car for hours on the one road in and out of Camber!
We also ask all visitors only use the car parks available to avoid being served a penalty charge notice. It’s vital that emergency services can access the beach and residents at camber so be kind and park with others in mind – don’t be a selfish parker.
Rother District Council post warnings on its Facebook page when the beach is likely to be busy or is already packed, so keep an eye out.
You can also download the Beach Check UK app to check how busy the beach is before you set off!
Best beaches in East Sussex (no lifeguards):
Holywell beach is located at the foot of the South Downs, almost beneath St Bedes Preparatory School. Away from the hustle bustle of Eastbourne’s main seafront and beneath the cliffs of the Downs, this is the perfect place to enjoy the sea and pretend you are abroad. There are the Italian gardens nearby to explore and low tide offers rock pools for younger family members to discover sea creatures. It has a popular café and facilities too. Remember, the cliffs along our coast have frequent rock falls and collapses, so never sit too close to the base of the cliff.
Pett Level, Rye
This beach is in between Hastings and Rye. The beach itself is rather unique, with the remains of a sunken forest still visible at low tide. The forest relics at Pett Level is thought to date back 6,000 years. There are no lifeguards or facilities at this beach. There is a toilet off Pett Level Road but it is a bit of a trek.
Seaford Bay (Dane)
Between Newhaven Harbour and Seaford Head sits Seaford Bay. It’s a shingle beach but often provides a quieter seaside experience in comparison to the more obvious go-to places. Why not check it out this summer and enjoy the local cafes?
Winchelsea Beach, Rye
Winchelsea is a smaller rural beach close to Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. The beach is mainly shingle but offers sand at low tide. This is another beach to head to if you’re looking for a quieter day out. There are toilets at this beach, and an ice cream van can be found in the summer. You can easily walk to Rye Nature Reserve (Winchelsea) from here.
Broomhill Sands Beach
Often overshadowed by its neighbour Camber Sands, Broomhill Sands beach is a shingle (and sand at low tide) beach. It has been called one of the best beaches around and a has Kitesurf Centre. Take care in the water, as there are no lifeguards here. There are no local facilities here, but there’s often an ice cream van in the summer.
Newhaven, East Beach
The River Ouse enters the sea at Newhaven. This beach is made up of pebbles and shingle but it’s still a good beach to enjoy – the water quality is top notch too. No facilities or lifeguards are at this beach.
Cuckmere Haven Beach
Take in one of East Sussex’s most famous sights of the Seven Sisters at Cuckmere Haven beach, which sits at the mouth of the Cuckmere river. As with many of our beaches that are surrounded by cliffs, please take care not to sit too close to them as they are eroding and have frequent rock falls without warning. Follow the path alongside the river from the car park before reaching the beach. There are toilets and a visitor centre at Seven Sisters Country Park. There is also the option to try water sports such as stand up paddle boarding and canoeing with the friendly staff at Buzz Active.
Birling Gap Beach
This is another charming pebble beach which reveals rock pools at low tide – perfect for the little ones to explore or take a paddle in. To the far right of the steps, hidden out of a sight, is a little-known nudist beach. At the top of the steps leading down to the beach is a café and toilets maintained by the National Trust. The beach is sometimes closed for safety reasons, so always check the National Trust website before heading off.
Beach Check UK app
Find your perfect spot in the sun!
Download the Beach Check UK app for free and discover the quiet spots, away from the crowds.
We hope this list helps you to visit even more East Sussex beaches very soon. Remember to respect, protect and enjoy our coastline. For more ways that you can help keep our beaches and countryside be litter free, please see keeping East Sussex litter free.
What do you think of our list? Did your favourite beach get a mention? Let us know in the comments section.
Updated July 2022.