There’s no better place to be than beside the sea when the sun is shining, and in Essex there are over 350 miles of coastline to visit. Along the way you can discover hidden creeks and backwaters, try island life, or visit the bright lights of famous seaside towns like Southend or Clacton.
We’ve put together a list of Essex resorts that you might like to visit. They all have their own atmosphere, some appeal to families, whilst others may attract walkers, bird watchers and those looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Brightlingsea is a small sailing town on the Essex Sunshine Coast. On the waterside you can explore the area known as the “town hard” where you can watch the sailing boats, or join in with the crabbing – which has been popular with very many generations of visitors to Brightlingea. From the hard you can walk along the promenade past the rows of colourful beach huts. Try to take a swim in the open air swimming pool, one of just a few left in the country. There is a children’s playground, and the town beach has a tidal filled paddling pool. Next to the pool is the Bateman Tower café.
Clacton on Sea is one of the biggest seaside towns in Essex. It has every thing you need for a day out at the seaside. There are award winning, family friendly beaches including West Beach which has the Blue Flag Award, a pier with rides and amusements, lots of places to eat, plus gardens to sit in and the Westcliff and Princes theatres if you are planning on staying in the town for the evening. The Clacton Air Show is one of the biggest events to happen in East Anglia, with thousands of people visiting the town for the event (more details). If you want a bit of a quieter time, head south from the pier, taking in the lovely murals on the seafront, and head for Jaywick, which has some wonderful beaches.
Frinton on Sea is a much quieter resort than its neighbours on the Essex Sunshine Coast. There are no amusements, and with only one fish and chip shop and pub, it has an atmosphere all of its own. The pub is a Wetherspoons called the Lock and Barrel, and it made history as the first ever pub in Frinton when it opened in 2000. Frinton is good for families with young children, with its long sandy beach, and the famous greensward, which is a great place for picnics and games. From Frinton you can walk or cycle along the coast to nearby Walton on the Naze.
Leigh on Sea An old fishing village on the Thames just along the coast from the bigger brasher Southend on Sea. It’s still full of “old worlde charm” with weather boarded houses, lots of pubs, and a fishing fleet that brings in seafood to sell fresh from the cockle-sheds on the shoreline. There are a number of small beaches, and all these things put together make it a really popular destination for day-trippers. Each year the popular Leigh Folk Festival takes place, which we have been to several times.
Harwich is an incredibly historic town. Its known to most as an international port, but the old town of Harwich is full of secret alleyways, and historic buildings with a tale to tell. The Harwich Society is responsible for caring for and promoting many of the heritage sites in the town, including the Napoleonic Redoubt, the Electric Palace Cinema and the Ha’Penny Pier. They have produced a self-led Maritime Trail to help you discover the towns history. The town beach is at Dovercourt. It is a particularly family friendly beach, as it shelves gently towards the sea, and there is a variety of activities nearby including a boating lake and crazy golf.
Mersea Island Set in the Blackwater Estuary, there are two distinct communities on Mersea Island, West Mersea is a small town, whilst East Mersea is a hamlet. Mersea isn’t a bright lights and loud entertainment sort of place. It’s where you go for walking, bike rides, playing on the beach, swimming, fishing and sailing. Not to forget the famous Mersea Oysters, grown in the River Blackwater and sold at the world-famous Company Shed, or sent up to London to very posh restaurants. For walking try Cudmore Grove Country park, for cycling the route from the park to West Mersea is not too strenuous, and the beach at West Mersea has a playground for children, the Sugar Loaf Cafe and soft sand to dig in. more details about West Mersea
Southend on Sea is one of the most famous seaside resorts in the country. It’s a really lively and buzzing town, with all the traditional seaside pleasures. You can catch a train to the end of the longest pier in the world, ride the rollercoasters at Adventure Island, or if fish are your thing visit the Sealife Adventure Aquarium. We visited Southend one cold and blustery March day a few years ago and had great fun walking along the pier.
more details about Southend
Walton on the Naze has over the years been one of our favourite places to visit in Essex. It isn’t one of the most fashionable resorts in the country, but there is something for everyone in the family. We like to park at The Naze and walk along the coast as far as the pier. And when we get to the pier the tradition is that we have fish and chips followed by freshly cooked doughnuts, to give us the energy to walk back to the Naze! At the Naze is a cafe, and you can also visit The Naze Tower, which is now an art gallery with great views of the coastline. The beaches are great for building sandcastles, and paddling in the sea. The town has also developed 4 themed trails that you can follow; a World War 2 trail, a History Trail, a Wildlife Trail and a Little Explorer Trail.