There are over 350 miles of coastline in Essex. There are salt marshes, oyster beds, sandy beaches and more. There’s a line of fortifications stretching from Harwich in the far north to the mouth of the Thames. And there are an amazing range of places to visit and things to do on the coast of Essex. It doesn’t get it’s fair share of recognition, and hopefully this page will give you some ideas for getting some fresh air and sunshine close to home in places that you might not have been familiar with.
You can discover hidden creeks and backwaters, try island life, or visit the bright lights of famous seaside towns like Southend or Clacton. We’re going to start at the north of the county and work our way down.
Overlooking the wide River Stour, a town with an infamous past – smuggling and Witchfinder Matthew Hopkins. Charming High Street and the Manningtree Ox.
Adjoining Manningtree, Mistley is famous for it’s towers, it’s swans, and has a lot of industrial heritage to admire. And Old Knobbley! And a restaurant with a great reputation.
A small, secluded village with a beach that is good for fossil hunting, and with great views over the River Stour to Suffolk and Felixstowe. The Essex Way goes through Wrabness, and it has atrain station, so a good place for walking/cycling. And now home to the iconic ‘Julie’s House’.
Known to most as an international port, the old town of Harwich is full of secret alleyways, historic buildings with a tale to tell, small museums, and a replica of the Mayflower. Watch out for their Sea Festival, their Festival of Arts, and their Sea Shanty festival.
Walking distance to the south of Harwich. It has a particularly family friendly beach, as it shelves gently towards the sea, and there are a variety of activities nearby including a boating lake and crazy golf, and there are the photogenic lighthouses.
Walton on the Naze
Walton has something for everyone in the family. There’s the Naze and the nature reserve to the north, with a view to Harwich. And there are the beaches, sectioned off by groynes, the pier, and plenty of places for fish and chips (or pie and mash!).
Frinton on Sea
Frinton is a much quieter resort than its neighbours, with no amusements, but a spectacular long greensward overlooking the beach and the sea – perfect if you don’t want to get sand in your picnic! You can walk from Frinton to Walton and back again if you want to stretch your legs.
Clacton on Sea
Clacton is one of the biggest seaside towns in Essex, with award winning, family friendly beaches including West Beach which has the Blue Flag Award, and their pier. Watch out for the Clacton Air Show. And why not try a refreshing walk on the front off-season?
Walkable to the south of Clacton, Jaywick is an interesting slice of Essex social history, and it’s beaches are renowned. Nowadays its Martello Tower is open to the public (not in the winter), one of the few on the coast you can get inside.
A small sailing town on the inlet of the Colne estuary, with East Mersea on the opposite bank. Plenty to explore on the waterside, and there are beaches, a sea-water paddling pool, and an open air swimming pool. Watch out for their Regatte and free music festival.
Close to the University of Essex, a lovely small village, with a few small shops and restaurants, and a pub and waterfront to watch the world sail by
A lovely church and gastro pub but most notable for being opposite Wivenhoe, and the location from which many of the photographs of Wivenhoe are taken!
Situated on the opposite bank of the River Colne to Wivenhoe. It has a greensward on which to relax, and two pubs which are worth a visit. You will see boats tied up, and sailing by.
The Hythe is as far as you can navigate up the River Colne. Less busy than in it was its halcyon days as a bustling little port, but being regenerated due to the proximity of the University of Essex.
The less populated half of Mersea Island. Home to Cudmore Grove Country Park, and a vineyard/brewery! Take you bike there and cycle to West Mersea for a great day out.
Overlooking the Blackwater Estuary, great for sea food, watching the nautical types and their boats, and small beaches to keep the children happy!
A small village with it’s own Marina and sailing clubs. There’s a small salt-water lido, and there’s Essex Wildlife Trust’s Tollesbury Wick Nature Reserve for the twitchers amongst you.
One of the hidden coastal gems of Essex. Just north of Maldon (you can walk there), you have great views of the estuary, there’s a lock, a couple of pubs, a Wilkin & Son cafe, and much more.
There’s the lovely Promenade Park, two great museums (a town museum and a military museum), lots of shopping, some great pubs, and one of our first Essex Days Out (in 1983!!)
On the Dengie peninsula, and good for fossils and yachting.
Overlooking the Blackwater Estuary and home to a holiday camp and watersports and sailing enthusiasts.
There’s Bradwell Marina for the nautical types and for lovers of history the absolutely amazing St. Peter’s Chapel. And a nuclear power station!
Burnham on Crouch
On the north bank of the River Crouch another haven for the yachting community, but lots for the landlubbers to enjoy. There’s a nice circular walk talking in the riverfront and the High Street, and watch out for Burnham Week.
To the east of Southend, with two big beaches. Painted by Turner, mentioned in song by Ian Dury, Billy Bragg, and as for Douglas Adams…
Southend on Sea
One of the most famous seaside resorts in the country. It’s a really lively and buzzing town, with all the traditional seaside pleasures, and you can catch a train to the end of the longest pier in the world. There are museums, gardens, planetariums, and much more.
Leigh on Sea
An old fishing village just down the coast from the bigger brasher Southend on Sea. It’s still full of “old worlde charm” with weather boarded houses, great pubs, and a fishing fleet that brings in seafood to sell fresh from the cockle-sheds on the shoreline. Watch out for their annual Folk Festival.
Home to Essex rockers Dr. Feelgood. There’s a shingly beach overlooking the Thames, art-deco cafe Lulworth Cove, the RSPB’s West Canvey Marsh .
Strategically placed overlooking the Thames, and The Coalhouse Fort the main attraction on this part of the Essex coast.
As with nearby East Tilbury, strategically placed overlooking the Thames and well worth a trip to the marvellous Tilbury Fort where Queen Elizabeth I reputedly stirred the hearts of English soldiers when faced with marauding Spaniards.
On the banks of the Thames – pop down to the wharf to get a photo of the derelict lightship, or go to their inland beach if you have little kiddies..
This listing finishes at the south of the county, at the extensive, medieval, Rainham Marshes, in the shadow of the QEII bridge. To the west you leave Essex and enter the badlands of Barking and Dagenham…
If we’ve missed anything, do get in touch!