Hands up if you love being by the coast? Yeah, me too. It’s relaxing, isn’t it? Theraputic.

But also the coast can be a place of stories, history, experiences. Here’s some suggestions from my travels that might help you get inspired for your next coastal experience.

Next time your planning a trip, why not look for…

The Beaches with Memories & Magic…

I grew up close to the coast with plenty of pretty Northeastern seaside towns on my doorstep. And boy, did I take it for granted. When I make a trip back home, a trip to the coast is always on the cards.

I have happy memories of pottering about at St Mary’s Island when I was little, and I love taking my kids to do the same. It’s a tidal island, so the causeway connecting it to the mainland is submerged when the tide comes in.

Things Helen Loves, image of family on rocks in front of lighthouse

I think there’s something a little bit magical about that, even as an adult. As a child, I also genuinely thought it was the lighthouse from Fraggle Rock. If you’re under 35, you might have to google that one.

Explore The Lesser-Known Seaside

Germany is renowned for many things, but beaches generally isn’t one of them. There is actually miles of beautiful German coastline and some stunning beaches. The German seasinde experience is built around nature, history and wellness. It’s a winning combination.

As with most things, the Germans have their coastline well organised. Beaches are often zoned- family beach, dog zone, nudist area. If you want to make a day of it and have an authentic Northern German experience, rent a traditional strandkorb.

Crafted from wicker, wood and fabric, the strandkorb has an awning for shade and a hood for shelter. Although initially designed for day use, the resort of Travemunde in Germany has taken the concept a step further. You can now rent a tent/beach chair hybrid overnight that allows you to camp strandkorb style on the beach by the baltic. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?

Things Helen Loves, image of beach chairs on sand with blue skies and blue sea.

Explore Wild Scottish Islands

If you are seeking a wild coastal experience and a change of pace, the beaches of Mainland, the most accessible of the Orkney Islands is for you. Yes, the main island is called mainland. Not to be confused with the actual mainland. That would be Scotland.

If you want to go a bit wilder, from Mainland you can push on by ferry or flight to the further flung islands. I wrote a cheat sheet of things to think about when planning a trip to Orkney– do have a read when you’ve finished reading this.

Things Helen Loves, rocky sea shore under blue skies
Mainland, Orkney.

We spent a week on Mainland, Orkney and the beaches are amazing. Clean, rugged, undeveloped. From the beaches you can spot the wildlife and remains of shipwrecks poking out of the water.

Getting from one bonny beach to the next might involve driving across the Churchill Barriers. Built in conflict but now a means of linking up Orkney communities, the barriers are a unique feature of this wild Scottish place.

Just make sure you dress for it; the beaches of Orkney can blow you away. Literally. No such thing as the wrong weather?

Find Islands Full of Foodie Treats

Q) Whats better than an island bursting with lovely beaches?

A) One that’s also bursting with plenty of foodie treats.

Terschelling belongs to the Dutch Frisian Islands, sitting in the Wadden sea. This is an island made up of miles of dunes and broad beaches, connected by cycle paths and country lanes. Which you’ll need to use to burn off the calories.

The local delicacy here is a Cranberry tart, usually served with whipped cream.

As well as Cranberry tart, the six villages of the island are also home to traditional Dutch pancake houses, artisan cheese shops and ice cream parlours.

You don’t have to taste it all in one day; but I tell you from experience, it can be done. Long, long walk through the dunes to the shore after, not compulsory but highly recommended.

Visit Historic Seaside Towns

Like North Berwick and Portobello, our go-to beaches when we lived in Edinburgh. These houses in North Berwick with wooden steps straight onto the sand gave me serious property envy.

Things Helen loves, houses with wooden steps to the beach in North Berwick

For superb coastal views, climb the North Berwick Law. The 613ft volcanic crag is a a lovely walk and also home to the remains of a watch tower built in the 1800’s and an arch that is built of replica whale bones. The bones used to be real but were replaced by manufactured replicas.

Interestingly, there’s been a whale bone moneument up on the crag since the 1700’s. Why? Nobody seems too sure. Hike up there and work out your own theory!

Things Helen Loves pathway through the dunes to sandy beach
To the beach, North Berwick.

The Coastal Places with Stories to Tell

Eyemouth. A small Scottish fishing village near the English border. Home to tales of smuggling, disasters at sea and herring queens.

In 1881, the village lost 129 of its men in a fierce storm. Those left behind are commemorated in a bronze sculpture on the seafront. Each tiny figure represents a real widow or child, it’s very touching.

Walk one way along the promenade, meet the resident seals in the harbour and then back along the beach to the rock pools. Perfect.

Things Helen Loves, bronze statue featuring women and children
Widows & Bairns sculpture, Eyemouth.

Find Coastal Memorials on A Massive Scale

As lovely as it is to spend time at the coast, it can also be a place of reflection. The Laboe Memorial Naval memorial stands as a tribute to all sailors of all nationalities who have been lost at sea. The climb to the top is taxing, but the views are worth it.

Things Helen Loves, Laboe naval memorial, Germany

The Unique British Coastal Destination

Dungeness, Kent. Officially classed a desert, Dungeness is distinctly otherworldly.

There are lighthouses, battered fishermens huts and a heritage railway. You can hear the sea, but you can’t always see it; sound carries oddly here. And hulking over it all? A nuclear power plant.

Things Helen Loves view of Dungeness Nuclear power plant
Dungeness Power Station viewed across the nature reserve.

Artists and nature lovers have been drawn here for years, inspired by the wild landscape and sense of escapism. Film maker Derek Jarman lived here and his former home, Prospect Cottage, is now a local landmark.

Dungeness is not the sort of seaside where you might pull up a chair and spend the whole day relaxing, but it is an experience. Everyone should go once and see it. Feel it. It’s just that kind of place.

If you have a favourite beach or coastal destination, please do drop me a picture or link to a blog post in the comments. I’d love to read it and I’m sure others would too.

Helen x

27 thoughts

  1. I grew up at the beach too; on a sailboat in Southern California with many, many weekends spent on Catalina Island. The beach is definitely my happy place. My Dad’s side of the family is German but I haven’t been to Germany . . . some day. Here in CA (the northern part of the state now), they had to close all of our beaches because so many people went when the “shelter in place” order was issued and no one was paying any attention to social distancing. And . . . I LOVE Orkney!

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      Thank you so much. Here in the UK they are trying to close off as many parks, beaches and public areas as they can but the message isn’t really hitting home with some people. Stay safe and healthy, hopefully we’ll all be back to enjoying a full and free life soon ( with the kids back at school, best place for ’em!)

  2. I was brought up on Lancashire’s west coast and always enjoy a stroll beside the sea. We live inland now and are fortunate to have some delightful moorland and riverside walks on our doorstep. We now go up the steep footpath just around the corner from our home each day to take our exercise and I’ll never take its beauty for granted any more.

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      I think we are all finding a new sense of gratitude for, well, everything! We are lucky to live on the edge of Salisbury Plain, so we are getting out daily. I have a new appreciation of my local area, but boy will I enjoy that first trip when we are free to travel again!

  3. Orkney, Shetland, any of the Western Isles – love them all. Funnily enough I’ve just been writing this week about Eyemouth and the other three villages with fishing disaster memorials. It’ll be next month before the post sees the light of day though.

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      I will look forward to that post! We used to enjoy a drive to St Abbs if we were in the area and I’m sure there was a memorial there, I think it also for the ‘Black Friday’ disaster. I’m a believer that these stories from small places should be remembered, especially for the women and children who are often underrepresented in the history books. But I won’t start ranting about that one…well maybe a little!

  4. Okney looks lovely! There was a seaside town south of Whitby that we used to love, years ago, when we lived in Yorkshire. (About 12 years ago–I’m blanking out of the name.) I grew up on the balmy beaches of the Carolinas, in the US, so the North Sea is a shock to my system. But I do love the ruggedness of the shore there. I remember some nice trips to Lindesfarne too. We never made it up to the Scottish Isles, but I hear Mull is lovely. Some day. . .

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      Ha ha, yes the North Sea is bracing, even in the height of Summer. The Northern half of the UK has some amazing coastline. It’s all going to mean so much more when we can get back to enjoying it.

  5. How lovely would it be to spend the day on the beach right now? Those times will soon be back though as long as everyone follows the advice. We love those Scottish beaches and have visited a few Northern Germany ones too which have a real character all of their own. Cold water! Loads of lovely German beaches on the southern lakes too which are wonderful in the summer.

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      Ooh yes I do love a good lake beach, I was going to include one but that felt a bit like cheating!

  6. Wow your beach game is amazing! It really looks like you’ve been to some incredible beaches. I loved your first picture with St. Mary’s, beautiful! It would be so nice to be on a beach right now rather than stuck indoors. Soon we will return to the sand!

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      Thank you! Yes, we will have those days again. With a renewed sense of gratitude, I think.

  7. Beautifully written… during a time like this I would definitely love a relaxation day at the beach

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      And we will have those days again… hopefully fairly soon!

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      Thank you so much !

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      Mine too!

  8. letsgoawandering says:

    Thanks for sharing, I had experiences like that also as a child it was great…I love all your destinations and the Orkneys is hi on my DO list…thanks again for the information…

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      I couldn’t recommend a trip to the Orkney islands enough, it’s a bit of an effort but such a fabulous and friendly place.

  9. Beautiful views and places! There is something about a coastline and the infinite water. Thank you for sharing!

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      Thankyou Josanne, there’s definitely something magical about being by the coast. Good for the soul!

  10. What fun beach adventures! I’m not sure if the night on the beach or all the food intrigues me more

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      Do both- a night on the beach and an evening picnic for supper? Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment, appreciate it!

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