East Anglia, strangely enough, is the Eastern section of England, comprising the coastal counties of Norfolk, Suffolk and (although excluded by some definitions of the region) Essex, along with the inland county of Cambridgeshire. Growing up just outside of Cambridge meant that the beaches of Norfolk were always the closest destinations for a day out at the seaside for my family.
I would assume that most people think of only Cornwall or Devon when considering a UK beach retreat, but hopefully my musings below will entice you into considering a coastal break ‘in the East’!
Hunstanton was always our preferred seaside day trip location in East Anglia when I was younger and visitors have, in fact, flocked to the town since 1846. Hunstanton’s unique position on the Norfolk coastline means that it is the only west-facing resort on the East coast and is therefore the best place in the region to enjoy the sunset. The beaches at Hunstanton town are surrounded by seaside shops, fairground rides and a Sealife Centre. However, those who head out of the main strip and past Hunstanton’s Esplanade Gardens will be rewarded with a different experience entirely on reaching the area of Old Hunstanton: with a large stretch of sand and views of the striped cliffs, Old Hunstanton is a peaceful haven away from the bustling town centre and makes for a lovely walk at the beginning or end (tide-dependent) of any day trip to ‘Sunny Hunny’.
I had to write a geography paper at school about whether the ‘sea defences at Sheringham were detrimental for tourism’. My conclusion? I didn’t think so. Sure, the sea wall, groynes and rip-rap aren’t the most aesthetically pleasing, but I imagine that international tourists would be quite interested to see the sea defences that the town (and the region in general) has in place, as they certainly differ to any of the sea defences that I’ve seen overseas. It’s fair to say that domestic tourists will always visit the town too – us Brits can’t resist anywhere that has such a vast number of pubs, fish and chip shops and independent coffee houses as Sheringham, East Anglia.
Cromer is another resort which was established in the Victorian era. The town’s Pier has, alongside withstanding the beatings of the North Sea, dodged being blown up by the British government(!), due to fears that the Nazis would use the Pier as a landing strip for an invasion during World War II. These days, the Pier is a great location for a drink in the sun at the Pavilion Bar while, twice a year, the Pavilion Theatre hosts the UK’s only remaining pier variety show. Additionally, close to the shore at Cromer, you can find Europe’s largest chalk reef. At 20 miles long, the Cromer Shoal Chalk Beds are said to provide some outstanding snorkelling and diving opportunities.
Lowestoft is the most easterly part of the UK and even has a little plaque at said spot to inform visitors of the same. This town in East Anglia has a wide stretch of powdery, golden sand which, as you can see below, could rival some of its more famous overseas counterparts (coughs, Bondi beach). There are also a huge number of brightly coloured beach huts at Lowestoft beach which prove to be very popular with the Instagram crowd. Most importantly, however, Lowestoft has the best fish and chips that I have ever sampled in my life at Michaels. Given that I am English and that this dish is a weekly staple for me (I’m not kidding – it’s not Friday without a fish and chip supper!) I do consider myself a connoisseur in this area and this particular fish and chip shop is exceptional.
Have you visited the East Anglian coast? Let me know some of your favourite UK coastal destinations in the comments below or check out another UK coastal highlight of mine here.