5 of the best beaches for wildlife spotting

From fluffy seal pups, to bottlenose dolphins and soaring sea birds, take a walk on the wild side on a UK seaside break. Here are some of the best seaside towns and beaches in England to see nature at its very best.


Point out puffins in Yorkshire

Bempton Cliffs, Yorkshire

Puffin landing on rocky cliffside lined with flowers

If your kids are fascinated by hordes of pigeons or the squawks of magpies, then a trip to Bempton Cliffs is a must. Home to one of the UK’s best wildlife spectacles, you’ll see thousands of sea birds – from yellow-headed gannets to colourfully beaked puffins – gather on the Yorkshire cliffs to have their babies. 

A treat for the senses, your toddlers will love all the different sights and sounds of the swooping sea birds overhead. You can also visit the Seabird Centre to learn about all the different wildlife found at Bempton, and get stuck into nature-themed arts and crafts.

Things to do nearby:

- Build sandcastles on Bridlington Beach
- Feel like a giant at Bondville Model Village
- Join a seashore safari at The Living Seas Centre

Find out more

Discover dolphins in Cornwall

Porthgwarra Beach, Cornwall

One of the best beaches in England to see wild bottlenose dolphins is in West Cornwall. Shouldered by tall, white cliffs, Porthgwarra Beach is a secluded bay complete with crystal-clear waters. Set out a picnic blanket and enjoy paddling in the sea or rummaging through rock pools.

Though these playful sea mammals can appear at any time of year, you’re more likely to see large pods of dolphins during the summer months – an amazing sight for the whole family. And if you visit between April and September, you may even get a glimpse of a fascinating (and completely harmless) basking shark – the second-largest shark in the world!

Things to do nearby:

- Pay a visit to the animals at Greeb Farm
- Go gold panning at Geevor Tin Mine
- See mainland Britain’s most south-westerly point in Land’s End
- Wander around Wallace & Gromit’s living room at Aardman presents: A Grand Experience

More on Porthgwarra Beach

Spot a seal or five in Norfolk

Blakeney Point, Norfolk

Adult seal popping its head out of the clear, turquoise sea

Basking on the beach at Blakeney Point, the UK’s largest colony of common and grey seals invade the shorelines North Norfolk every year, with thousands of fluffy, white pups being born on its sands.

Your best chance of seeing the seals up close is to hop on a ferry from Morston Quay and head out to sea. Armed with a pair of binoculars, your little ones will love pointing out the babies in the pod, and the big, blubbery grown-ups taking their afternoon naps – you may even be lucky enough to see one pop its head out of the water beside your boat!

Things to do nearby:

- Admire the sea views from the viewing platforms at Sheringham Park
- Go crabbing in Cromer
- Hire out a boat at Wroxham and explore the Norfolk Broads

More on seal spotting in Norfolk

Root around rock pools in Kent

Botany Bay, Kent

Take a family coastal break to Kent and pay a visit to Botany Bay, a famous beach known for its stunning white cliffs and tall, crooked chalk stacks. As well as being photogenic, it’s one of the best beaches in England to introduce the kids to rock pooling. Whip out the buckets and nets and search through the bay’s chalky pools, home to lots of starfish, cuttlefish eggs (they look a bit like purple grapes) and even crabs! Just watch out for those pincers.

Thanet Coast Project also runs a selection of Rock Doc tours and Seashore Safaris to help children learn more about sea life and how to protect it.

Things to do nearby:

- Slide down the helter-skelter at Dreamland, Margate
- Encounter pirates, dinosaurs and snakes at Rascal Bay Adventure Golf
- Paddle around the boating pool in Ramsgate

Learn more about Botany Bay

Find dinosaur fossils in the Isle of Wight

Brightstone, Isle of Wight

A birds-eye view of the iconic Needles on the southern coast of the Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight is said to be the dinosaur capital of Britain, so why not spend a family seaside break digging for dinosaur fossils on its southern coast? From Brook Chine to Atherfield, there are miles of coastal stretches perfect for finding pre-historic bones.

Not sure what to look for? Well, book onto a fossil-hunting tour with Dinosaur Expeditions. The guides will be able to tell you and your youngsters about the different dinosaur fossils you can find (most are around 120 million years old!), and the best places to look for them. It’ll definitely keep your little monsters busy for a few hours!

Things to do nearby:

- Wander through the Underwater Kingdom at Blackgang Chine
- Take a chairlift to see the iconic Needles
- Embark on a Jurassic safari adventure at The Needles Landmark Attraction

Book a fossil-hunting tour
13 May 2021(last updated)

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  • 1

    Bempton Cliffs, Yorkshire

  • 2

    Porthgwarra Beach, Cornwall

  • 3

    Blakeney Point, Norfolk

  • 4

    Botany Bay, Kent

  • 5

    Brightstone, Isle of Wight

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