When the pandemic erupted at the beginning of last year, we knew there was no hope of travelling abroad. What we didn’t know was how long the restrictions on our lives and movement would last.
In summer, usual holiday plans were turned upside down. Travel corridors enabled quarantine-free holidays for a time but with Covid-19 cases spiralling, governments had no choice but to re-impose border closures and mandatory quarantine.
With a desire to travel but no hassle-free way of doing so, would be holidaymakers instead explored their own countries. So called ‘staycations’, at least in the UK, experienced a bookings boom and we rounded up some of the best.
Fast-forward six months and staycation bookings for this summer are on the rise once more after news of British residents having to legally quarantine in hotels upon return home from high-risk countries.
Demand has skyrocketed with Independent Cottages, a website listing almost 2,000 accommodations, saying inquiries during the current lockdown in England are 300% up on the March to July period of 2020.
The independent booking platform has also revealed that many inquiries are from large groups, as friends and families yearn to make up for lost time together.
With bookings surging for the summer months, we thought now would be the perfect time to list our favourite coastal retreats across the country. Giving you enough time to book in advance and ensure you, and all the family, at least get some time in the sun.
Cornwall is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the UK and university town Falmouth has some of the best.
Gyllyngvase Beach is one of the most popular and has been awarded with Blue Flag status, with a wide arc of golden sands and open sea. There is also no shortage of great amenities with top-notch bistros and restaurants, all within a 15-minute walk from Falmouth town centre.
Castle Beach meanwhile, with its rocky sections, provides the perfect environment for rockpooling, diving, and snorkelling.
A stay in the luxury St Michael’s Resort is highly recommended. The hotel, just opposite Gyllyngvase, has been certified AA Covid-confident and Covid-secure ‘Good to Go’ by Visit England. You’ll be enchanted by the incredible views over the bay while you can also relax in the first Cornish sea salt steam room in the world.
Woolacombe Beach has won numerous awards over the years for everything from its water quality, the sand and the views. It’s also gained a place on the Mail on Sunday’s list of Best British Beaches.
Stretching over three miles, the golden sands are backed by towering sand dunes and spectacular views across the ocean to Lundy Island; home to Devon’s puffin population and often visited by seals, small sharks, and dolphins.
This picturesque part of North Devon also has plenty of fun activities for families to get involved in. A visit to Woolacombe Riding Stables for example will allow you or the kids to experience a unique journey across the sands.
Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire
Barafundle Bay is a place to enjoy the simple pleasures in life: sandcastles, picnics, reading a book in the sun, dips in the shallows.
This gorgeous beach is somewhat out of the way and only accessible by those who deem the half-mile hike over cliffy terrain worth the effort. And by gosh, is it worth it.
The silky sands of Baranfundle Bay has earned lots of plaudits over the years and way back in 2004 it was named in the top twelve beaches in the world and the best beach in Britain by the Good Holiday Guide.
Local pub The Stackpole Inn provides the perfect accommodation with a handful of beautifully appointed bedrooms within a five-minute walk of the beach car park.
Just remember, you have that brief walk to complete from the car park before you encounter this little haven.
Brighton draws crowds year after year and we predict a large influx of visitors once again.
A certain charm lends this seaside city a small-town feel and a youthful atmosphere. The seafront is lined with excellent restaurants and cafes, a historic pier and a broad promenade above the beaches. It’s a great spot to grab some photos for Instagram.
Should nightlife resume in some capacity by summer, Brighton has plenty of options for those wanting to let their hair down.
Down the narrow lanes of this seaside resort, you’ll also find up-market boutiques, cool alternative shops and traditional English tearooms. It’s this eclectic mix that makes Brighton perfect for students and their parents or grandparents too.
St Ives, Cornwall
Back to Cornwall now and the beautiful award-winning St Ives resort.
Blessed with an unusually mild-climate, this haven could be the perfect destination for sun seekers who still don’t want to venture abroad this year.
The beaches here are also spectacular with fine golden sands, natural vegetation and bright light, which provides the best sunsets.
Its no wonder St Ives has attracted the world’s greatest painters for decades, we’re just surprised they were able to complete any work at all. We’d be too busy sunbathing.
This charming seaside town on the English North Sea coast is surrounded by scenic countryside, perfect for long walks when the sun is shining.
Southwold has a sort of admiration with the past and there are plenty of ways for visitors to connect with these simpler times – you can take an 1879 arrow-gauge train to the over 100 year old and still operating lighthouse, enjoy a beer from a brewery that opened in 1872, and wander the 1900s Southwold Pier.
There’s also the Electric Picture Palace Cinema, opened by Michael Palin, in the style of a traditional 1912 town cinema.
St Andrews West Sands, Fife
Have you seen Oscar-winning film Chariots of Fire? Then you’ve also seen St Andrews West Sands in Fife, as this beautiful beach is the one in that famous opening sequence.
Mountainous dunes and the world-renowned St Andrews golf course back almost two miles of uninterrupted golden sand.
West Sands is a beach of two halves with the southern end, sheltered by the golf course, a haven for sandcastle perfectionists. The northern end, with its more blustery conditions, is perfect for kite surfers and it’s position close to the Eden Estuary Nature Reserve means lots of wildlife can be spotted.
Weymouth is a holiday hit and has been for generations; attracting families and friends from all corners of the UK and further afield.
It’s not hard to understand why with soft sands, clean water and ice cream vans dotted around every corner.
It may not be a hidden gem, but there’s no way we’d say no to some fish and chips suppers on this beach.
Or any of the above beaches for that matter.
Will you be enjoying a staycation this summer? Remember you can make your journey as hassle-free as possible by shipping your belongings in advance.
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Other relevant blogs:
Cheapest Places to eat in London for Students
Best Staycations in the USA
Best Day Trips from London