Is there anything more joyful than a day at the beach with your dog? It’s where memories are made, zoomies are expended, and good times had by all. Whether it’s a day trip or an extended holiday, bringing your dog along to the beach means the whole family can join in the fun, and it takes out the stress of separation, as well as the cost and hassle of dog minding.
Why Consider Dog-Friendly Beaches?
Each beach in the UK has its own rules when it comes to four-legged visitors. Some beaches ban dogs outright, while others restrict access to certain areas during peak season, or require dogs to be kept on-leash. For the sake of your own enjoyment and safety, and that of other beachgoers, it’s important to be aware of these restrictions before you plan your visit to the coast.
Choosing a dog-friendly beach for your next seaside visit will ensure that a good time is had by all! And the great news is that there are many dog-friendly locations to choose from, right across the UK. Wherever your next holiday takes you, you should have no trouble finding a beach that caters to your pet-friendly needs.
Dog Restrictions on UK Beaches
While there are plenty of dog-friendly beaches in the UK, there are also many that either don’t allow dogs, or request that dogs and their owners adhere to certain restrictions. The most common restrictions are seasonal dog-free zones that limit dogs’ access to portions of the beach during the busiest summer months. Some beaches only permit dogs if they are kept on a leash.
The best way to ensure you’re adhering to local guidelines is a quick internet search ahead of time. Most local councils have a website detailing their dog-friendly policies. You can usually also find a forum of friendly dog lovers willing to point you in the right direction. Once you arrive at the beach, keep an eye out for signs and make sure you’re following any advice they provide, as it will tend to be the most up-to-date information.
Features of a Great Dog-Friendly Beach
The non-negotiable for a dog-friendly beach is, of course, a dog-friendly policy. As we’ve discussed, some beaches have seasonal restrictions, with dog-free zoning at peak times of the year, but many others are dog-friendly year-round. This information can usually be found online with a bit of searching, but always pay attention to signage on the beach.
Other things to look for when choosing a dog-friendly beach are the nearby amenities. There are some fantastic dog-friendly resorts and villages along the UK coastline, so if you’re planning a beach trip with your pooch, it’s well worth checking out what other dog-friendly attractions you can build into your day.
The last thing to consider is how popular the beach is. If your pooch gets overwhelmed in crowds, you might choose to avoid the tourist hot-spots and opt for somewhere a little more isolated. Keep in mind that the quieter beaches usually come with less parking and fewer amenities.
The Most Dog-Friendly Beaches in the UK
Seacliff, East Lothian
If you’re looking for a dog-friendly outing in Scotland’s gorgeous East Lothian, you can’t go past Seacliff Beach. This small, tranquil beach was proudly rated one of the top 10 most dog-friendly beaches in the UK – and for good reason! Parking is cheap, crowds minimal, and the views to Tantallon Castle are some of the best around. Dogs are granted unrestricted access, year-round.
Mellon Udrigle Beach, Highlands and Islands
Dogs can access the beach year-round at Mellon Udrigle. This picturesque location is well-loved for its white sand, clear blue water, and stunning mountain views. While there are no restrictions on dogs, you should be aware that local sheep graze along the shoreline, so you’ll need to ensure your dog is under control and not a risk to them.
St. Combs Beach, North East Scotland
This dog-friendly beach is as quintessentially Scottish as they come, with sandy dunes backing onto rolling green hills. While far from cosmopolitan, the small fishing village of St. Combs provides your seaside staples of fish, chips, and ice cream – what more could you ask for? Dogs have unrestricted access year-round.
Saltcoats Beach, South Scotland
If you’re after an expansive, sandy beach with stunning mountain views, look no further than Saltcoats. This dog-friendly beach is conveniently located between Ardrossan and Saltcoats, giving you plenty of access to cafes, pubs, and amenities. There are no restrictions on dogs, so you’re free to visit year-round.
Balnakeil Beach, Scottish Highlands
Balnakeil Beach is a wide, sandy white beach that backs onto stunning sandy dunes, situated in the far north of Scotland. If you’re looking for a beach in the Scottish Highlands that’s dog-friendly year-round, it doesn’t get better than this! You and your four-legged friend can enjoy this unique and iconic location with no restrictions.
Rossglass, County Down
This Northern Ireland beach is dog-friendly year-round! Known for the rocky formations that punctuate its sandy shore, Rossglass Beach has plenty of space for you and your four-legged friend to roam and explore. You also get to enjoy unparalleled views of the Mourne Mountains in the distance.
Conwy Morfa Beach, Flintshire, Wales
Conwy Morfa Beach has long been a popular North Wales destination for holiday-goers and locals alike – and for good reason! This wide, sandy bay is a paradise for both dogs and owners. The beach is dog-friendly year-round, with no off-leash restrictions. Read more in our dog-friendly guide to North Wales.
Three Cliffs Bay, Gower Peninsula, Glamorgan
Three Cliffs Bay is a local favourite for dog lovers looking for pet-friendly beaches in South Wales. It’s a perfect spot for adventure-seekers, with favourable conditions for both kayaking and surfing. There’s a luxurious five-star holiday park right on the shoreline that’s dog-friendly too – what’s not to love?
Marloes Sands, Pembrokeshire
Dogs are welcome year-round at Marloes Sands, known for its wide sandy beach, soaring cliffs, and dramatic rock formations. Marloes Village is located nearby, with plenty of dog-friendly options – perfect for a coffee or pub stop after a tiring day in the sun.
Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire
Freshwater West is a popular beach for surfers looking to catch the best wave. Keep in mind that the great waves come with strong currents, so it’s a swimming destination for strong swimmers only. But that won’t get in the way of a good frolic on the sand! This dog-friendly beach is open to pooches year-round.
Rhossili Bay, Swansea
Rhossili Bay, Swansea was voted the UK’s most dog-friendly beach by The Times! While many other beaches in the Gower area restrict access during peak season, Rhossili Bay welcomes four-legged companions year-round. With stunning views, a large sandy beach and plenty of parking, it’s the perfect weekend destination for dogs and humans alike.
West Angle Bay, Pembrokeshire
Dogs are welcome at West Angle Bay year-round with no restrictions. This sheltered bay is right at the mouth of the Milford Haven estuary, with a sandy beach that changes dramatically with the tides over the course of the day. With plenty of parking, plus local pubs and cafes to explore, it’s a guaranteed fun day out for the whole family.
Pink Bay, Bridgend
Named for its distinctive rose-hued pebbles, Pink Bay is a laidback, tranquil favourite with the Bridgend locals. Dog-friendly year-round, the beach is perfect for lengthy walkies. Keep an eye out for wildlife, as well as the shipwreck monument that’s visible at low tide. This tucked-away location is some distance from amenities, so it’s important to BYO snacks and treats.
Discover more pet-friendly beaches in our dog friendly guide to South Wales.
North East England & Yorkshire
Bamburgh Beach, Northumberland
If you’re searching for a dog-friendly beach to explore in Northumberland, you can’t go past Bamburgh Castle Beach. This spacious, sandy destination welcomes dogs year-round with no restrictions, so it’s perfect for off-leash roaming. The main event is, of course, the majestic Bamburgh Castle that still stands on the headlands, and the views are pretty spectacular.
Cayton Bay, Yorkshire
Dogs are welcome at Cayton Bay all year long, with no restrictions. The bay is wide, sandy, and sheltered, so it’s perfect for zoomies, fetch, and long, off-leash strolls with your four-legged friend. With a holiday park and plenty of cafes nearby, you can easily stay for a night or a week.
Embleton Bay, Northumberland
Embleton Bay is another stunning Northumberland location to visit with your pooch – this beach is dog-friendly year-round, with no restrictions. It’s a fan-favourite among locals and holidaymakers alike, and for good reason: the sandy bay offers dramatic views of the Dunstanburgh Castle ruins, and the tranquil Embleton town centre is just a short stroll away.
Runswick Bay, Yorkshire
Runswick Bay is a gorgeous, dog-friendly North Yorkshire beach destination, without any restrictions for our furry friends, year-round. One of its main drawcards is the quaint village of the same name, perched at the western end of the beach. If you’re after a picturesque, quintessentially British beach experience, Runswick Bay comes highly recommended!
Robin Hood’s Bay, Yorkshire
Robin Hood’s Bay is famous for its rock pools and ancient fossils, as well as its colourful history as a smuggler’s port! The great news is that your four-legged friends are free to discover this exciting and historic beach destination alongside you, with the beach open to dogs year-round.
North West England
Bispham Beach, Lancashire
If you’re looking for a dog-friendly destination in Lancashire, locals recommend Bispham Beach. Easily accessible via the Lancashire Coast highway, and with plenty of cafes and pubs to explore, Bispham Beach makes the perfect day trip. And the best part: it’s restriction-free year-round for doggy visitors.
South East England
West Wittering, West Sussex
West Wittering beach in West Sussex has the stamp of approval from generations of holiday-goers! This gorgeous sandy beach, along with the village of the same name, has long been an English summertime favourite. There are some restricted areas along the beach where dogs are not allowed during peak season, between May and September. These are sign-posted, and you’re free to enjoy the rest of the beach year-round.
Whitstable West Beach, Whitstable, Kent
Locals refer to Whitstable West Beach as one of the most dog-friendly locations in the area. Dogs are free to roam at this picturesque location year-round, and the adjoining Whitstable township is equally welcoming to dogs, with many local cafes and restaurants happy for your pup to attend with you.
Cuckmere Haven, East Sussex
Cuckmere Haven – aptly named – is a welcoming escape for both you and your pooch. There are no restrictions on dogs at this year-round dog-friendly beach, and since it’s tucked away from any roads it’s perfect for off-leash adventures. Once you’ve gotten all the sillies out on the sand, pay a visit to one of the local dog-friendly pubs or cafés, like The Cuckmere Inn!
Camber Sands, East Sussex
Camber Sands is a gloriously expansive sandy beach, just a stone’s throw from East Sussex – perfect for summertime adventures. While the beach is generally dog-friendly, there are marked zones where dogs are banned during the peak season, from May to September. These are well-signposted, and you won’t lack plenty of space to frolic outside of the restricted areas!
Palm Bay Beach, Cliftonville, Kent
If you’re after a quieter beach to explore with your pooch in Kent, Palm Bay Beach is worth a mention! The beach is well-loved for its wide sandy expanses and clear water, but it tends to attract less of a crowd than some of its more popular neighbours. Dogs are welcome year-round with no restrictions.
South West England
Hengistbury West Beach, Dorset
Hengistbury West Beach is a stunning pebble beach in Dorset, and is well-known by locals as a year-round dog-friendly location. It tends to be quieter than some of the more popular beaches, partly because it has no lifeguards – but this makes it the perfect place to frolic and stroll with your pooch.
Milford-on-Sea Beach, Hampshire
If you’re planning a pet-friendly holiday in Hampshire, you can’t go past Milford-on-Sea Beach, which holds the coveted title of most dog-friendly beach in the area, according to Vets Now! There are no restrictions on doggy visitors, even during summer, so you’re free to frolic, explore, and enjoy the stunning Isle of Wight views.
Durdle Door Beach, Dorset
Dogs are welcome year-round with no restrictions at Durdle Door Beach. The location is popular among walkers, who recommend the short, easy, dog-friendly walking track that runs to the beach from Lulworth Cove. While your dog enjoys the fresh sea air, you’ll be wowed by the famous views.
Man O’ War Beach, Dorset
This sand and fine pebble beach is one of Dorset’s most famous, nestled within dramatic cliff walls and forming part of the stunning Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. Dogs are welcome year-round at Man O’ War Beach, with no restrictions on access.
Porth Joke, Cornwall
Porth Joke is a go-to for local Cornwall dog walkers, and for good reason! It’s dog-friendly, with no seasonal restrictions, and its popularity with dog owners makes it a great chance for your pooch (and you!) to interact with other dogs. Nestled into the headlands, this beach provides plenty of protection from the weather, making it a great choice year-round.
Sand Bay Beach, Somerset
This sand and shingle beach is a popular destination for local dog walkers. Sandy Bay Beach is open to dogs year-round with no restrictions. While swimming can be dangerous at times, it’s the perfect coastal getaway if you’re after tranquil views and a fresh sea breeze.
Prussia Cove, Cornwall
Idyllic and secluded, Prussia Cove is dog-friendly all year long, with no restrictions. While high tide swallows most of the sand, there are exciting rock pools and caves to discover at low tide. Parking is limited, but it tends to be quiet outside of the peak summer season; you and your pooch might even have the beach to yourself if you’re lucky!
Woolacombe Beach, Devon
The famous Woolacombe has long been a popular holiday destination for families and surfers alike! As a tourist hot spot, there are plenty of local amenities and accommodation options if you’re after a longer getaway. While the beach is dog-friendly year-round, there are some areas where access is restricted during the peak season, so keep an eye out for signs.
Lulworth Cove, Dorset
Lulworth Cove boasts some of the most spectacular and unusual landforms in Dorset, and the good news is that your pooch is welcome to join you there year-round – just be sure to keep left of the slipway. Make the most of the views from one of the many short and accessible walking tracks that line the coast.
Fistral Beach, Cornwall
Fistral Beach is one of Cornwall’s finest, with lifeguards during the peak seasons making it the perfect place to take a dip. Dogs are welcome to join you year-round with no restrictions, and there are plenty of dog-friendly cafes nearby, so you can refuel after a good frolic on the sand!
Saunton Sands, Devon
If you’re craving a dose of breathtaking natural beauty in the North Devon area, look no further than Saunton Sands. This dog-friendly sand beach is open to pooches year-round with no restrictions. A popular destination for holidaymakers, there are even dog-friendly accommodation options on-site!
Southwold Pier, Suffolk
A summer trip to Suffolk isn’t complete without a visit to Southwold Pier! The 623-foot-long pier is lined with shops, eateries, and even an arcade! Right next door you’ll find a clean, expansive, sandy beach – perfect for a family day out. The beach itself is dog-friendly year-round without restrictions, and the pier welcomes dogs to join in the fun, so long as they are kept on a leash.
Covehithe Beach, Suffolk
If you’re looking for a more tranquil beach that’s off the beaten track in Suffolk, Covehithe is well worth a visit. This pristine beach is celebrated by locals and visitors alike as an untouched stretch of coastal wilderness. Your dog is welcome to attend year-round without any restrictions – just be sure to respect the pristine environment and pick up any deposits.
Hunstanton Beach, Norfolk
Hunstanton Beach is a uniquely sheltered destination along the East Anglia coast, ideally situated for long strolls and watching the sunset. Dogs are generally welcome to attend but be aware that there may be access restrictions during the peak summer months. You should also pay attention to tidal changes throughout the day – the beach can rapidly change between low and high tide!
Holkham Beach, Norfolk
Another picturesque location for those wanting to escape the crowds, Holkham Beach is a stunning, expansive, sandy beach. While dogs are welcome to join you year-round, the council has introduced some very important on-leash-only zones during nesting season, from April to August, to help protect local birds. Read more on the Holkham website, where you’ll also find tips on dog-friendly local attractions!
Tips for a Fun and Safe Beach Visit with Your Dog
Preparing for the Beach Trip
If you’re visiting the beach with your pooch for the first time, you’ll want to get prepared. Do some research ahead of time to ensure that there are no seasonal restrictions at the beach you’re planning to visit, scope out the parking situation and how much walking is required, and check out where your nearest dog-friendly café is for post-beach refreshments.
While you’re packing your own picnic, put together some refreshments for your dog. They’ll need plenty of drinking water, especially if it’s warm, so bring along a large bottle of water and a bowl. If your dog tries to drink the seawater at the beach, it can be a sign of dehydration. You should quickly dissuade them and offer them fresh water instead, or they could get sick. With all the excitement and running around that goes on at the beach, you’ll also need to pack a meal and some treats to keep your pooch fuelled throughout the day.
It’s a good idea to have a plan for dealing with your wet and sandy dog before jumping back into the car. Where possible, give them a rinse off with fresh water before you leave the beach, to avoid saltwater irritating their sensitive skin, then dry them off with a soft towel. Bring along a second dry towel for them to sit on for the drive home too.
Lastly, you’ll need to make sure your dog is well-socialised and knows how to behave around other dogs and humans before heading to any busy, dog-friendly location – more on that below!
Safety Precautions and Etiquette
A day at the beach with your pooch is an exciting time for all, but it does require some sensible safety precautions. We all know that beaches can be hazardous places, and so it’s important to be on the lookout for risks to prevent any mishaps before they occur.
A key concern is water safety. Not all dogs can swim! This is largely breed-dependent, so do some research and keep a very close eye on your dog if they’re entering the water for the first time. You can also consider investing in a doggy life jacket if you’re not sure how strong of a swimmer your pooch is.
It’s very important to pay attention to water conditions – your dog can’t read signs, so it’s up to you to check for danger and ensure that swimming conditions are safe before allowing your dog to enter the water. Never allow your dog to swim unattended at the beach, as there is always a risk of getting caught in riptides.
You’ll also need to consider sun safety. Dogs can be sunburnt just like humans, and some breeds are particularly susceptible. You can find dog sunscreen online, but you can also keep them safe by bringing a shade umbrella, avoiding exposure in the middle of the day, and capping the time you spend at the beach. Avoiding excessive time in the sun can also reduce the risk of heat stroke and fatigue, especially during summer.
Keep in mind that dog-friendly beaches will naturally attract other dog families – sometimes lots of them! So, ensure your dog is well-versed in doggy etiquette and can socialise with a range of other dogs and people, including young children, in a safe and respectful way.
Lastly, all the usual rules of responsible dog ownership apply. A few excited barks are fine, but excessive barking is a nuisance to other beachgoers, and should be discouraged! Always bring your own bags and pick up any deposits. If you’re allowing your dog to roam off-leash, be sure that they’re always kept under control, and never let them approach other dogs or people uninvited. If it’s very crowded, consider keeping your dog on a leash.
Whether you’re enjoying a quintessential summer holiday or breaking up the winter blues with a brisk day trip, heading to the beach with your dog can be a magical experience for all. A bit of research and planning is all it takes to get the most out of your trip – with so many dog-friendly beaches to choose from, there’s so much UK coastline for you and your loyal companion to explore!