Today I thought we could play a game. It’s called guess where the above picture was taken! (Side note: for this to work, you have to pretend you haven’t read the headline…)
Let’s look for clues: calm, clear water, shingle-sandy beach, endless sky, retro-green beach umbrella, hardly anybody around. Hmm, where could it be? Remote Greek island, perhaps? Somewhere in Sicily. Maybe Croatia? The Amalfi coast in Italy? Give up? OK! I’ll tell you. This lovely little snapshot is of a beach just a 10-minute drive from the centre of Brighton and Hove! It’s my latest seaside hang-out close to home for escaping the crowds, revealed below.
So, if like me you enjoy seeking out places others might not know about, this little guide to secret beaches near Brighton is for you. So grab your panama hat and your bikini and let’s go!
1 Kemp Town Beach is the quietest beach in Brighton and Hove and your best bet if you still want to be in walking distance of the city, but not in the thick of it. Despite its proximity to town, it always amazes me how quiet it is down by the water’s edge. To find Kemp Town Beach, head east from the Palace Pier along Madeira Drive, past the Volks Railway station until you get to this incredible seafront sauna-spa. Here, you’ll see a gate through and over the railway track to the beach! As you walk towards the sea, you’ll start to feel a million miles away from the crazy crowds that build up on Madeira Drive at the weekend and on sunny days. This beach gets bonus points for being close to my ‘secret Brighton beach club’, a permanent pop-up-style beachfront village home to the incredible sauna-spa I talk about above, this cool café-beach-bar for your morning coffee and evening sundowner, volley ball courts and this cafe for healthy salads.
2 Ovingdean Beach. This peaceful shingle beach is a favourite with locals and my recent favourite discovery. Even on the hottest of days, you’ll find only a handful of people enjoying it. This is probably due to its location a few miles east of Brighton. Tourists don’t seem to make it this far, unless they’ve been tipped off or are cycling or walking along the Undercliff Path. Driving here is a little more tricky as you have to park inland, then walk through the foot tunnel under the road to get to it. You’ll know you’ve made it when you spot the row of whitewashed Art Deco beach huts with their wavy roofs, one of which is a classic British cafe by day, serving basic hot drinks, bacon sandwiches, and cakes which get great reviews.
3 Shoreham Beach and boardwalk. Despite how close Shoreham Beach is to the city – a brisk flat 20-minute cycle along the seafront – plenty of long-time local residents overlook it and its boardwalk (which features in this guide) as a tranquil place for a beach day and stroll. With its rare vegetated shingle habitat and modernist beach houses, it feels like you’ve stumbled on a wild part of south-western Australia, parts of Canada or California. It’s also not far from this incredible houseboat AirBnB set within a houseboat community which is fun to explore.
4 Southwick Beach. Close to Shoreham Beach, despite its bizarre industrial setting – it backs onto Shoreham Power Station – this beach is huge, spacious, and sandy at low tide! It’s popular with surfers and close to a proper cafe for sausage sandwiches, mugs of tea etc, and Shoreham Harbour for a walk around the canals to look at the boats.