Here in the UK, we pride ourselves on having some of the cleanest beaches and whenever there is a hot sunny day, we put on our sunscreen and head over to the nearest beach for a perfect day out.
When it comes to the cleanliness of our beaches, being awarded a Blue Flag is widely regarded as the gold standard. This indicates to visitors that the beach they’re visiting meets the highest environmental standards. But the UK is continually battling to keep its beaches clean, particularly with the rise of rubbish washing up on our shorelines.
Previously, when the Blue Flag scheme first began in 1987, just 12 UK beaches were awarded this accolade. Now, over three decades later, that number has risen to 65 beaches having been awarded Blue Flag status and are deemed to be safe to bathe in.
A further 125 UK beaches have received the Seaside Award, which recognises the cleanliness of beaches but also measures water quality to a European standard, under the Bathing Water Directive. This gives us Brits plenty of beaches to choose from.
So, if you fancy a spot of swimming this summer, we have put together the top eight cleanest UK beaches to bathe in.
1. Skegness Beach, Lincolnshire
This is an award-winning, soft golden, sandy beach and the central beach has been granted the coveted Blue Flag award. As part of the continuing work to keep the beach clean, the Skegness Aquarium and other local businesses hold a regular ‘beach clean day’, inviting volunteers to join together for 2 hours and help pick up any litter.
Volunteers help to collect any rubbish along a 100 metre stretch of the beach, often finding items such as small pieces of plastic, discarded food packets and cigarettes stubs amongst various other types of rubbish washing up along the shoreline. Year after year, the locals come together to keep the Skegness beach clean and they work hard to help provide an enjoyable day out for those visiting the beach.
2. Shanklin Beach, Isle of Wight
It is certainly worth the trip over the Solent to the Isle of Wight as the island has recently scooped up the Seaside Award for three of its beaches in May 2018. Shanklin Beach, Seagrove Bay and Springvale Bay are three of only 21 beaches in the South East to receive this award and be recognised for high standards of cleanliness. These beaches are safe, clean and the water quality is deemed to be excellent, so it’s no wonder that it is a perfect beach holiday destination.
You could enjoy a glamping weekend near the shore at the Isle of Wight’s Away Resorts Holiday Park or choose from a variety of different holiday cottages to spend a week in the summer. With its great location and some great beaches on the island, there’s no need to fly abroad for a summer swim.
3. Sandy Bay, Exmouth
The name may give it away but Sandy Bay is indeed a very sandy beach! It is a beautiful half-mile long beach set in a secluded bay and backed by the high cliffs. When the tide is particularly low, the beach becomes a continuous stretch of sand reaching almost two miles.
The water quality at this beach has been deemed excellent (the highest classification) meaning the water is very clean according to the Marine Conservation Society. Water pollution is a key concern at beaches as high levels of bacteria in the water can indicate pollution from sewage waste which can mean the water is unsafe to swim in. But at Sandy Bay, you can rest assured that the water is free of any nasties.
4. Weymouth Beach, Dorset
This lovely sand and shingle beach was crowned the best beach in Britain where it came in at ninth place in the top ten European beaches in 2017. So if you are looking for a great seaside trip, you don’t have to go far. Weymouth beach in Dorset has also been awarded the prestigious Blue Flag award with many locals working together to remove litter pollution keeping the beach clean all year round.
5. Trevone Bay, Cornwall
Located near Padstow, Trevone Bay is a popular beach with sloping golden sands to enjoy lovely coastal walks. It has been awarded the Blue Flag Award in 2018, one of only eight in Cornwall beaches that have received the award. The water quality here is deemed excellent and beach clean-up events are organised regularly to maintain high standards for visitors and locals alike.
6. Blackpool South Beach, Blackpool
Blackpool has seen the number of visitors rise year-on-year and it even achieved over 18 million visitors in one year alone. But it’s no wonder so many come to visit this seaside town which is known for its sandy beaches and many seaside attractions. The town boasts three piers full of fun activities and Blackpool’s South Beach offers a wide expanse of soft sand to explore, a great destination for a beach getaway. However, it wasn’t always the cleanest of beaches in the past.
Back in 1990, the beach was covered in raw sewage and rubbish dominated many areas of the sandy foreshore. It took an extensive clean-up throughout the last two decades until, in 2016, it was awarded its first Blue Flag Award and since then the beach has maintained a high quality standard of cleanliness.
7. Whitby Beach, North Yorkshire
There are two fantastic beaches in Whitby on either side of the River Esk. These are sandy and rocky beaches backed by high cliffs and have been known to be some of the cleanest beaches in the UK which are kept clean by the locals. Recently, a Spring Beach Sweep, in association with Surfers Against Sewage, had been conducted, which brought the local community together to help collect and remove all the rubbish which had built up along the edges of the beach, in preparation for the summer visitors.
8. Blackpool Sands, Devon
Blackpool Sands beach is often regarded as Devon’s best beach, and with good reason. Simply seeing the beach makes you feel like you are in the Mediterranean with its crystal clear water and crescent-shaped, golden, sandy beach.
Eight beaches in Devon have been awarded the Blue Flag Award, with Blackpool Sands being one of these. This can reassure visitors that they can look forward to enjoying some time at one of Devon’s best beaches which has high standards of cleanliness and water quality.