Top dog-friendly beaches for summer

Everyone loves the seaside, especially dogs. But not all coastlines in the UK are geared up for our four-legged friends during the summer months, so we asked our very own team of canine beach experts for their recommendations…

Harbour Cove, Cornwall

Billy at Harbour Cove

Why Billy loves this beach: “There’s a huge expanse of sand, at low tide almost a mile and a half, plus it is relatively quiet even in summer – so there’s plenty of space for me to run and play ball! The water is great for paddling and swimming and at low tide there are sometimes pools of water on the beach to explore, too.”

Facilities: car parking.

North Beach at Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear

Why Bramble loves this beach: “There are loads of dogs there – always someone to play with – but the beach is so huge that it still manages to look empty. It’s one of my favourite places to be - if you want a good clean dog beach with plenty of nearby facilities and the opportunity to nosey around rock pools next to the lighthouse then you can’t beat it here.”

Facilities/Attractions: cafe/restaurant, toilets, disabled facilities and promenade.

Bramble loves North Beach's Whitley Bay because there's so much sand to play on.

Holkham Beach, North Norfolk

Why Sunny and Annie love this beach: “There is so much space for running here, even on a busy day. The beach is a whole mile deep when the tide is out and the pine woods along its edge are the perfect place for cooling off on hot days, if you don’t fancy a dip in the sea! There’s also plenty of wildlife to spot, including seals and birds – but you’re not allowed to play with them as they’re very special!”

Facilities/Attractions: car parking.

How to keep your dog safe in the sun

  • Like humans, dogs – especially those with pale-coloured fur or a sparse coat – are vulnerable to sunburn and therefore skin cancer
  • The best prevention is to keep your pet indoors when the sun is strongest, between 11.00am and 3.00pm
  • Alternatively, cover vulnerable areas or regularly apply a non-toxic waterproof human sunblock or a product specifically for pets
  • Seek prompt veterinary advice if your dog or cat’s skin looks sore, crusty or scaly

Read our summer safety advice in full here.

Sunny and Annie enjoying a stroll along Holkam Beach in north Norfolk

West Beach, Whitstable, Kent

Why Alfie loves this beach: “I’m not a fan of sand; it gets everywhere, you know. So the pebbles here suit me just fine. There’s lots of space for running and the sea stays very shallow pretty far out, great for dogs with little legs like me! The people are so friendly, too – there’s always a water bowl with fresh water outside the cafes and shops.”

Facilities/Attractions: cafe/restaurant, toilets, beach hut hire, pub.

Alfie loves West Beach at Whitstable

Cuckmere Haven, East Sussex

Why Mary loves this beach: “Boy, is this place spectacular. The beach is where the South Downs meet the English Channel, and I just love the white cliffs in the background (apparently, they’re called the Seven Sisters). We like to take the walk beside the river down to the pebble beach, and there’s even a nature reserve nearby which I love to explore. But the main thing is there’s plenty of water to splash around in!”

Facilities/attractions: cafe/restaurant, toilets, shop.

Fistral Beach, Cornwall

Why Buster loves this beach: “Forget surfing (lots of people seem to do that here), it’s all about running at this beach - as fast as you can. The only trouble I have is remembering to stop, the sand goes on forever! When I’m out of breath, I’ll dip my paws in the sea and watch the waves rolling in, or explore the caves and rock pools with my owners.”

Facilities/attractions: Showers/toilets/car parking/restaurants/cafes

Dogs and beaches

  • Remember! Always clean up after your dog
  • Some areas, including promenades, may ask you to keep your dog on a lead
  • Many beaches in the UK have restrictions on dogs from around Easter time to the end of September. Check the local council’s website for up to date information before you travel
  • Never let your dog drink sea water, it can make them ill.

[Above: Buster making paw prints in the stand at Fistral Beach in Cornwall]

Milford on Sea, Hampshire

Why Oz loves this beach: “I have an absolute blast when I come to this beach, everyone’s so friendly and I can always find another dog to run about with. My owners love it here too, as there’re two dog-friendly cafes on the seafront with brilliant views. If you fancy a change of scenery, there’s also the nearby New Forest to explore too.”

Facilities/attractions: showers, toilets, car parking, cafe/restaurants.

Oz relaxing after a swim in the sea at Milford on Sea

Barmouth in Gwynedd

Oscar having fun at Barmouth Beach.

Why Oscar loves this beach: “I may be nine years old but as soon as my paws touch the sand, I feel like a puppy again and can’t stop rolling around. There’s a small section of the beach where I’m not allowed between April and September, but it’s three miles long so there’s still plenty of space for me to run around without bothering any sunbathers!”

Facilities/attractions: cafe/restaurant, toilets, disabled facilities.

Weston-super-Mare, Somerset

Why Gordon loves this beach: “Blue Cross took me here to cheer me up while I was waiting for a home, and it’s a day I’ll never forget. They think it was the first time I’ve been on sand, as I walked on my tippy toes at first before running around in circles with excitement! Then I paddled in the sea; I didn’t go in very deep, but braver dogs could if they wanted to! Dogs are welcome here all year round, as long as they stay in the bits between the Grand Pier and Knightstone Island and from Royal Sands to Uphill”

Facilities/attractions: Toilets/cafes

[Below: Gordon loving life at Weston-super-Mare]

Travelling with your dog in the car

  • Make sure your dog is secured by a harness or barrier and that there is plenty of ventilation
  • Sun screens on the windows will offer protection from direct sunlight
  • Avoid the midday heat by travelling early or late in the day
  • You can use a misting spray to keep your dog cool, but avoid his face

Clachan Sands, North Uist, Outer Hebrides

Why Stan loves this beach: “My owner tells me this place is about as remote as you can get in the UK and, let me tell you, it’s pretty impressive. The beach has the whitest sand I’ve seen and the sea is crystal clear. There’s plenty of space for me to run free and feel my ears flapping in the wind. It’s a true outdoor holiday full of walks and fun for dogs like me.”

Facilities/attractions: benches, parking.

Stan feeling the wind through his fur at the remote Clachan Sands in North Uist.

— Page last updated 19/05/2017