The best family beaches close to London
London is closer to many beautiful beaches as you might expect. Year-round the coast has its own beauty, and if you know me you know how much I love the seaside. For me, it's the sound of the waves crashing against the cliffs, the wind, fresh salty air and the incredible smell of the sea.
Camber Sands, close to the little sea-town Rye in Sussex. There are not many sandy beaches in Sussex but this one has beautiful fine sand and dunes. It is easily reachable from London by a combination of train and bus or you hop in the car if you leave early its about 1,5 hours. If you travel on a bank holiday weekend, don't make the mistake and leave the house too late, or you get stuck in traffic and arrive after lunch.
The beach is loved by kitesurfers, windsurfers and families alike. Photographing families is easy and there is always a quiet spot, even on a busy day. Meeting early or late is essential, not only for soft light but for a relaxed and stress-free session with not too many Photobombers around. Dogs are welcome between May and September but must be kept on a lead in certain areas.
Another beach in Sussex is Birling Gap. The view is spectacular with the blue sea closing against the foot of the white Seven Sisters chalk cliffs. It is easily reachable from London by a combination of train and bus or you hop in the car if you leave early its about 90 minutes. Again, if you travel on a bank holiday weekend, don't make the mistake and leave the house too late, or you get stuck in traffic and arrive after lunch.
The beach is pebbles and depending on the tide it can be quite close to the cliffs. Photographing families is beautiful if we hike a bit on the cliffs, enjoying the view and spectacular backdrop. Meeting early or late is essential, not only for soft light but for a quiet and stress-free session with no hikers in the background. At low tide, a great opportunity to photograph children while they are shell & crab hunting, wading through little water puddles. There is a National Trust café perched high on the cliff where you can have a little meal or ice cream.
West Wittering near Chichester is definitely one of the most beautiful beaches. It can be quite crowded, but if you wander around you can definitely find a quiet paradise of silver dunes with the typical wild grass. There is a good café that sells delicious fish and chips, and little seafood restaurants close by. Make sure to head close to the National Trust 'East Head' part, far away from the busy camping site.
The little beach huts are utterly charming and offer a beautiful backdrop for nautical-inspired family photographs.
The drive from London is a bit on the longer side with 120 minutes.
Ok, Knoll Beach is by far the furthest and it might be even better to make a long weekend out of it and sleep at the absolutely amazing THE PIG -on the beach hotel, but this is by far my favourite beach. We usually leave the house at 6 (kids are at that time of the day wide awake anyway) and leave in the evening after we changed the kids into pyjamas and brushed their teeth so that they can already sleep in the car on the way back. Bedtime sorted!
The drive from London is a stretch. If you leave from Kensington it takes about three hours. And you take a little ferry from Poole to the other side, adventures ahoy!
Trust me on this one, National Trust never disappoints and with a pass you park free.
Perfect for Family Pictures and a fun day out alike.
I am booking on a limited basis. If you would like to document your family this summer at the beach, now is a good time. You can contact me here if you’re interested in a family session from a light and airy photographer based in London. I offer beach sessions in all locations mentioned.
Don’t forget to check out Vanessa's great tips on how to prepare for your beach photo session.