Exploring Essex coast – Where to get a tan in England

Colourful beach huts at Frinton-on-Sea with the clear blue sky behind them

The sun is out and it’s the Bank Holiday weekend. You can’t get it better than this when living in England. With the sunshine returning to this rainy island, I think it’s the right time to write a bit about the coast of one of the sunniest parts of UK.

Did you know Essex has the second longest coast in the UK? It is over 350 miles (cca 563 km) long. There are some spots that are well known all over UK (and maybe further) and there are places you can go to avoid the crowds. There is something to do on the coast year round as long as you know where to look.

Here are some places we visited:

Southend-on-Sea

Only half an hour by train from the centre of London is Southend-on-Sea. I visited Southend for the first time back in 2009. To be perfectly frank, I didn’t find it that interesting or that pretty.

There is a small amusement park on the beach called Adventure Island. Maybe a bit more for the teenagers than for the adults. It has some good rides and a roller coaster but it missed the thrill you expect.

Right next to the park is the Southend Pier, the longest pleasure pier IN THE WORLD! It is 1.33 miles (2.14 km) long and goes deep into Thames estuary. It’s a nice long walk, but you can always take the little train that runs along its length.

Long beach is great for tanning but if you want to avoid big crowds on the coast, avoid Southend.

Frinton-on-Sea

Frinton was rated one of the best 40 beaches in the UK in 2021 by The Times.

It sits a bit further north which makes the sea look a tad cleaner than when by the Thames estuary – it was awarded the Blue Flag for the cleanliness. Its long sandy beach lined with colourful huts can take you all the way to Walton-on-the-Naze and its own pleasure pier (second longest in Britain). Are you getting the hint that Brits love piers?

We really enjoyed Frinton even if it did feel a bit like UK’s Florida – not because of the heat but because of the “god’s waiting room” feeling of the town itself. The beach was full of families with kids picnicking and playing on the sand.

There are no shops on the beach itself, just a small ice cream hut closer to the Walton pier. When we were there in 2020, they still didn’t accept card, only cash. There were loads of people on the beach that day, but it did not seem so crowded.

All in all, this Croatian beach snob would gladly spend a day tanning on Frinton beach 😀

Mersea Island

Mersea Island is the most easterly inhabited island in Britain. It is very popular for staycations and has several holiday parks dotted around it (mostly on the East side)

The island is sort of divided into East and West side, the West side being the one with the main town and the famous beach and the beach huts. I read the other day that the huts on Mersea Island beach are one of the most Instagrammable spots of the UK.

Image from campsites.co.uk – they must have taken the photo during a sunny winter day as it was absolutely full of people when we visited

During high tides, the road connecting it to mainland gets cut off so check tide times before you travel. Mersea Island was also the location of one of the biggest bike rallies in this part of the UK, the Condom Rally (the last rally held in October 2016). So many bikers got stuck on that island because they paid no mind to the tide XD

We visited on one of the hottest weekends in June, with the first UEFA game on. It was quite busy, but to be honest with you, I expected more of them. There was quite a strong wind easing the heat of the day and making it a perfect weather to burn in the sun. There is a long pebbled/sand beach full of oyster shells; the whole area is known for fresh oysters.

Would I go swimming here? Absolutely not! The oysters and prawns, however, were delicious, just keep in mind that it is the coast and there are a lot of greedy seagulls around that won’t think twice to swoop down and help themselves to your plate of seafood.

Considering the beach size, great place to find a spot to tan and you can enjoy some great seafood! But thumbs down for swimming.

Burnham-on-Crouch

Burnham-on-Crouch is a smaller town sitting on the banks of river Crouch. Just like Finchingfield, this too is a hotspot for bikers out for a jaunt during sunny weather. We have visited it twice, and both times it was full of leather clad individuals proudly showing off their petrol fuelled babies.

There is a little coffee stop right by the river bank. You can stop and enjoy a bite to eat or some ice cream/coffee or you can follow the path and go for a miles long walk all along the river. The path is a part of the Saltmarsh Coast Trail. The full trail is a 75 mile long walk around Maldon District, but you don’t have to walk all the way 😀

When it comes to getting a tan, the beach we saw didn’t really have dry spots, it all seemed pretty wet even though it was a super hot day. But you can always just sit on the grass by the coastal path and catch some of those UV rays (like the husband and Jimi on the photo).

Apart from tanning, Burnham is a great place to watch sailboats glide across the river.

There are many other places along the Essex coast (like Harwich and Clacton-on-Sea) but we haven’t visited them by this point. The spring weather just arrived to the UK and it seems we might have to spend another year roaming the roads of the Britain due to Covid so, you never know there might be another Essex coast post in a few months!

Have you visited any other places on the Essex coast? How did you find them? Let us know in the comments section, we’d love to hear your experience.

6 thoughts on “Exploring Essex coast – Where to get a tan in England

  1. This post has made me very homesick! Southend on Sea is my old stomping ground and I used to go with friends as teenagers in the summer.
    I really wouldn’t swim anywhere in Essex now! I think the villages are better and much prettier.

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    1. Oh wow so we’d be really close if you still lived here 😀 Yeah, swimming wise, if I really wanted to it would be further up north, definitely nowhere near Thames. My sea days are usually spent in Croatia when possible

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      1. Well when I eventually get to visit again we would be close ..you would be in Croatia by that time I imagine

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      2. Okay that would be nice, especially if my husband doesn’t want to go, I have to get back and see my mum and dad who are nearly 90. They are in Basildon

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