Top 10 Dog-Friendly Beaches in the UK

Woman and dog on beach

Do you dream of going on a beach holiday but without having to worry about your dog? Travelling abroad is often difficult if you don’t want to leave your pooch at a dog hotel or with a dog sitter.  Do not worry, the UK has a gorgeous and versatile selection of dog-friendly beaches where you can relax and enjoy the scenery with your dog.

After all, a beach is the perfect playground for dogs. Where else do they have the opportunity to roll around in soft sand, play in refreshing turquoise waters and have enough space to play fetch? And all that within beautiful and calming nature.

We have selected a list of the top 10 dog-friendly beaches on the UK coastline to make sure both owner and dog will have the best time.

Sandymouth Beach

1. Sandymouth, Cornwall

Sandymouth lies between Bude and Morwenstow and offers a stunning backdrop of cliffs and a pebble ridge at the top of the beach. When the tide recedes, it reveals soft sands. Popular amongst surfers and rock-poolers, this expansive sandy beach is a haven for dogs all year round. It is easily accessible and offers good facilities. This is a great spot for a long and leisurely walk or an activity-filled day at the beach.

Sandymouth is a National Trust beach and when the tide is low, you can take in the spectacular coastline between Bude and Sandymouth by walking the two miles along the beach which both you and your canine companion will enjoy.

  • Facilities: Seasonal café, toilets, free car park for national trust members (otherwise fees apply), surf-hire
  • Please note: The 200 parking spaces are at the top of a cliff and the walk down to the shore can be challenging for those who are less mobile.
  • Dogs: Welcome all year, must be kept under control
  • Lifeguards: May to September between 10am-6pm
Porthmeor Beach

2. Porthmeor Beach, Cornwall

Sitting by the iconic Tate St Ives building, Porthmeor is a sandy beach with beautiful waters. It’s close to the centre of St Ives where you can find an eclectic mix of historic pubs, trendy cafes and art galleries. This beach won the prestigious Blue Flag Award 2019, given for its water quality, safety, environmental management and education. This beautiful Cornish beach, the largest in St. Ives, offers a lot of  space for active dogs even through the winter months. With artist’s studios in the background and the Tate St. Ives gallery, this beach, with its different coloured huts, is perfect for capturing many photos of lasting memories with your dog.

Cuddle up with your canine companion and relax listening to the waves crashing against the rocks in the occasionally strong Atlantic sea winds. Just bear in mind that you may spend the rest of the day brushing sand out of the coat of a long-haired dog. Worth it, we think. A functional dog coat might help solve this problem.

  • Facilities: Café, bar, shop, surf hire, chalets, toilets, surf school
  • Things to do with your dog: Walking routes
  • Dogs: Welcome, except between the Sunday before Easter and 30 September (2018)
  • Lifeguards: May – September

3. Luskentyre, Isle of Harris, Scotland

Luskentyre is one of the largest and most spectacular beaches on Harris. With its white sands and turquoise waters, it’s a strong competitor for tropical beaches in terms of scenery. Green rounded hills adorned with colourful rocks meet pale sands stretching out to sparkling aquamarine seas. An inviting wide-open space is perfect for your dog to jump about.

In comparison to many other beaches, Luskentyre gives you a sense of calm, as it is hidden from the crowds. Take refuge in the sand dunes where you can spot birds to photograph, including long-tailed ducks, red breasted mergansers and oystercatchers – your dog will be kept busy with their nose down one or two of the many rabbit holes. Wild ponies are frequently spotted along the dunes. Make sure to watch your dog carefully when you come across these beautiful animals.

  • Facilities: Small car park, toilets at the car park
  • Dogs: Welcome all year
  • Lifeguards: None
Rhossili Bay Beach

4. Rhossili Bay Beach, Swansea, Wales

This bay lies at the western end of the stunning Gower peninsula. Iconic and historic lands such as the Worms Head and Rhossili Down are paralleled by three miles of the golden sands. It has been amongst the top 10 beaches in the UK for the last 6 years and was even nominated as “The UK’s No.1 dog-friendly beach” by The Times.

Here, dogs get masses of space to paddle and chase each other on the main beach but do keep them on a lead on the way to the beach as there are grazing sheep on the way down. Clifftop walking is a great way to get some exercise and take in the scenery.  Please note that there are steps on the way down to the beach and no wheelchair access.

  • Facilities: Showers, Parking, cafes, toilets
  • Dogs: Welcome all year round
  • Lifeguards: None

5. Kingsgate Bay, Kent

Kingsgate Bay is a sheltered sandy cove backed by imposing white chalk cliffs with sea caves and perforated stack formations surrounded by golden sands. It's little caves and rock pools are indicators of a rich history of smuggling that is fun to explore.

Great for quiet walks, access can be limiting because of its natural paths but there is a more formal path as well. Walking through the gap in the chalk cliffs leads you to Botany Bay when the tide is out – bear in mind that the beach is cut off at both ends when the tide is in. For dog owners who do not like touristy destinations, this beach is perfect, also thanks to its lack of facilities.

  • Facilities: None
  • Dogs: Welcome all year
  • Lifeguards: None
dog runs in sea

6. Westward Ho!, Devon

Westward Ho! in North Devon is a heaven for dogs, offering miles of sand with a pebble ridge, shallow water to swim in and plenty of dog bins. Even when restrictions are in place during the summer months, there is still a huge area of beach and grassland for dogs to enjoy, known locally as ‘The Burrows’. Here, ponies and sheep roam freely so dogs must be on their best behaviour or on a lead.

In Westward Ho! you can visit many dog-friendly pubs and cafes or you can head to the cliffs to find the South West Coast Path for a trek.

  • Facilities: Food bars, shops, toilets, car park, rock pools
  • Dogs: Welcome October to April on the whole beach and all year at the Northam Burrows end
  • Lifeguards: May to September between 10am-6pm

7. Berrow Sands, Somerset

Part of a 7-mile stretch of sand running from Burnham-on-Sea to Brean Down, Berrow Beach is one of Somerset’s most picturesque beaches. Its flat, wide sands, backed by sand dunes, make it a very pleasant place for walking. Avoid the shoreline at low tide where a dangerous area of soft sand and mud is exposed. Dogs are allowed at all times but must be kept under control.

The west-facing beach offers spectacular sunsets – so make sure you are not late. At low tide, you might spot the wreck of MV Nornen, a Norwegian Barque which ran aground here in 1897.

Swimming is only allowed when no red flags are visible. Due to the sea being consistently muddy, it is not the most inviting, but there are numerous paths for long walks with your dog.

  • Facilities: Toilets, Drinking water, pub/restaurant, camp sites, holiday parks, parking
  • Dogs: Allowed all year but must be kept under control
  • Lifeguards: During summer
Woolacombe Beach

8. Woolacombe Beach, Devon

This beautiful beach has a strong focus on families and has won numerous awards. It’s not hard to see why! Whilst you watch the Atlantic waves hitting the shores of the North Devon coast, you won’t have to worry about people who are not as dog-friendly. The beach is separated into three sections: one for visitors with no dogs, one for dogs on leads and one for free-running dogs. The gorgeous 3-mile stretch of sandy beach offers lots of room for your dog to run around and to splash about. The beach shop also has items for dogs which can come in handy.

Popular with surfers, you may witness a dog or two on a board in shallow waters. Maybe your dog will feel inspired?

  • Facilities: Beach shop, restaurants, toilets, car park with 2,000 spaces (fees apply)
  • Dogs: Welcome all year with some restrictions between 1st April/Good Friday to 1st November (You can ask for a dog information pack for further details at the Tourist Information Centre)
  • Lifeguards: From Easter to September and October half-term between 10am-6pm

9. Holkham Bay, Norfolk

Part of the Holkham Estate, this is one Norfolk's most unspoilt and beautiful beaches. Four miles of light golden sand, offering you and your pooch the chance to go on a small adventure. At low tide, the sea pulls back revealing the untouched sands with the water often almost half a mile away, which makes a great short stroll if your pooch likes to paddle. When the tides are high, the basin near the shoreline rapidly fills up to form a spectacular shallow lagoon. You may have seen Gwyneth Paltrow walking across this beach in ‘Shakespeare in Love’.

Nearby, you will find the stunning Holkham National Nature Reserve, one of the largest in the UK which features many rare species of animals and plants.

This is a very dog-friendly beach, featuring lots of dog poo bins and info on where you can let your dog run free.

  • Facilities: Car park (although a bit further away), restaurant, toilets
  • Dogs: Welcome, however, be careful during nesting season and when walking through the National Nature Reserve
  • Lifeguards: None

10. Formby, Lancashire

One of the only beaches on the Sefton Coast without seasonal restrictions on access with dogs, Formby has three self-filling water bowls, dog bags on request and woodland picnic areas to stop for a tasty meal. You can let your dog off the lead, but because Formby hosts many rare species it is advised to keep dogs on the leash.

Here, you can skip over the dunes down onto the expanse of sand – in the evening, the sunset is spectacular and you can walk for miles when the tide is out. It is surrounded by beautiful coastal pinewoods, just be aware of wildlife including rare red squirrels and livestock, so keep the pooch under control. You will get a beautiful view across the Irish Sea.

  • Facilities: Large car park, picnic area, marked paths to the beach, dunes and woods
  • Dogs: Welcome all year
  • Lifeguards: During holidays and from end of June until beginning of September
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