When it comes to days out at the seaside, those of us in Somerset have a serious head start.
Throw a bag of flip flops, a bucket and spade and some egg sandwiches into the back of your car and you can be paddling in salty waters in less than an hour, no matter where you live in the county.
There are beaches to cater for every taste, be they wide sandy ones, pebbly beauties or rocky outcrops studded with rock pools begging to be explored.
READ MORE: Best secret beaches in Somerset and Dorset
From Burnham to Weston and Lyme Regis to Minehead, you are really are spoiled for choice in this part of the world.
Here is our pick of 13 stunning beaches in or near Somerset.
1. Sand Bay
Sand Bay is a long expanse of sand and shingle, lying just two miles north of Weston-super-Mare. Often referred to as ‘Weston’s hidden gem’, it’s a large and relatively wild beach with good views across the Bristol Channel to South Wales.
The Old Weston Pier at Sand Bay
(Image: Neil Woodman)
This relatively quiet beach is popular with walkers taking the sea air. You can enjoy a cuppa and cake at The Sand Bay Tea Rooms at the end of the day.
2. Burnham, Brean and Berrow
There are eight beaches in the Burnham area, all of which are within 15 minutes of junction 22 of the M5 motorway. Burnham Main Beach is an award-winning one. Patrolled by lifeguards in the summer months, the beach is mainly sandy and is great swimming and paddling as well as enjoying donkey rides and kids entertainment in the summer. The famous pier is just a few short steps away and there
Brean is a seven mile stretch of sand running to Burnham-on-Sea. It has extensive tidal flats favoured by walkers and beach sports enthusiasts. You can park by the café, or on the beach, but watch out for the tide – many a visitor’s vehicle has met a watery end.
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Between Burnham and Brean lies Berrow beach, which has a section protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest because of its rare sand dune habitat. Part of this area is a Local Nature Reserve. The beach is home to the shipwreck of the Norwegian barque SS Nornen, which ran aground in 1897.
Parking on Berrow beach or in an adjacent carpark is permitted, but again watch out for the tide.
3. Kilve Beach
The beach of Kilve lies about half way between Minehead and Bridgwater in the heart of the Quantocks. The shoreline is mostly rocky with plenty of rockpools for the kids to explore towards low tide.
Kilve beach looking its best
(Image: Malcolm Lewis)
After you’ve made your discoveries and had fun on the beach, you can enjoy a picnic on the large grassy area behind the beach.
One of the longest naturally occurring beaches in the UK, the golden sands of Weston-super-Mare is a great place to relax, play, walk or enjoy one of the many events taking place throughout the year.
The beach at Weston-super-Mare bathed in sun
(Image: Christine Lillington)
And you can’t go to the beach without paying a visit to the iconic Grand Pier. Here you’ll find everything from arcade machines and thrilling rides to a relaxing traditional afternoon tea in the Edwardian-style tea rooms.The pier charges a £1 entrance fee per person. Children in pushchairs are free of charge.
Watchet is another one of those rocky beaches along the Somerset coast. It can be a bit tricky to navigate but is great for rock pools and exploring.
Watchet harbour, a great place to explore
Watchet is a lovely little town too and worth a visit, and sits on the West Somerset Railway, a steam and diesel heritage line from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead.
What’s your favourite beach? Tell us about you best beach experiences and check out other readers’ ideas in the discussion thread for this article.
Minehead’s Strand is a large sandy beach that stretches along the coast.
The town centre runs right up to the beach and there’s plenty to see and do in the town if the British summer is as unpredictable as usual.
7. West Bay
West Bay near Bridport in Dorset has become well known as the location for the TV series Broadchurch.
A long sweeping shingle beach runs down to the sea and swimming can be a bit dangerous in the Channel swell.
It has one other major attraction, the splendid Anchor Inn which is a must visit – and their ploughman’s lunch for two is one of the finest in the country.
8. Lyme Regis
Lyme Regis’ picturesque harbour dates back to the fourteenth century. Known as The Cobb, it contains a small, sandy beach sheltered by a curving harbour wall, famously used in the opening shot of the film ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’. Access is between the new RNLI station and the new slipway.
Beachgoers enjoying the sun in Lyme Regis
(Image: Fran Stothard)
The sandy beach at the Cobb is a big draw, as re the traditional beach huts and the stunning views along the Jurassic Coast to Golden Cap.
9. St Gabriel’s Mouth
This remote stretch of sand is deep in Jurassic Coast fossil country. St Gabriel’s Mouth can be found below beneath Golden Cap, the highest cliff on the south coast of England.
The beach is accessed via steep wooden steps and takes around half an hour to walk to from the car park at Golden Cap.
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As with much of this part of the coast there is the potential of cliff slides and falling rocks, so be aware of this when you throw your towel down. There are no facilities at this spot.
The name of the beach comes from the ruins of St Gabriel’s church nearby.
There is a National Trust car park but actually getting to the beach does involve a short walk.
Charmouth has two beaches, of which the most popular is East Beach.
It has a little more sand than West Beach, and is is a good place to find small Ammonite and Belemnite fossils.
Stunning Charmouth beach near Bridport in Dorset
(Image: Martin Hesp)
Access is either over a footbridge, or by wading through the river at low tide. There is safe swimming but there are frequent landslides, so avoid sitting directly under the cliffs.
11. Budleigh Salterton
This is a pebble/shingle beach that slopes quite steeply – at high tide swimmers are out of their depth within a few yards of the water’s edge.
Swimming may not be safe when the sea is rough.
The beach has a nudist section which is clearly marked.
Like Budleigh Salterton this beach is a pebble/shigle beach. It slopes steeply down into the sea and the water can get very deep very quickly with a strong swell.
It backs onto the town centre, which itself is well worth a visit. It is sidmouth Foklk week starting on July 29, so be prepared for Morris Dancers and Melodeon Players on the promenade.
Sidmouth beach in Devon
Jacob’s Ladder is the sandy, western end of Sidmouth’s town beach, which is mostly pebble. Excellent for young children, there is a large expanse of sand and plenty of rock pools at low tide. Access is via a level path from the main beach or from Connaught Gardens, using the series of wooden steps that give the beach its name.
The picture-postcard village of Beer, nestles in Lyme Bay, on the 95-mile long Jurassic Coast , England’s first natural World Heritage Site and forms part of the South West Coastal Path.
Fishermen still work the sea at Beer
(Image: Paul Prestidge)
The shingle beach still boasts a small fleet of working fishing boats and the surrounding picturesque white chalk cliffs provide a natural suntrap sheltering the cove from prevailing westerly winds.
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