The Good Beach Guide will help you find the best UK beaches. From sandy beaches to pebbly beaches, our Guide includes popular destinations as well as hidden gems. Find out where the lifeguarded beaches and dog friendly beaches are, get the latest weather and tide forecasts and see what wildlife has been spotted at the coast. If you’re going for a swim we have daily pollution updates and recommend you choose a beach which has excellent or good water quality.
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During the bathing season - May to September in England and Wales and June to September in Scotland and Northern Ireland - water samples are regularly taken by the environmental regulator at over 600 UK beaches. At the end of every bathing season the water quality is classified as either -
Excellent – the highest classification meaning the water is cleanest
Good – generally good water quality
Sufficient – meets minimum standards
Poor – You are advised not to swim. The beach will stay open and an action plan should be in place to improve the water quality.
These are new European standards introduced in 2015. They are based on the latest health advice and are roughly twice as tough as the old ones – we think they're a great improvement. Find out how they compare.
Look for beaches with ‘Excellent’ or ‘Good’ water quality and check for daily pollution forecasts when deciding where to paddle, swim or snorkel.
During the bathing season some beaches release daily forecasts, to warn you if there is a risk of increased pollution. Look out for temporary signs at the beach and warnings on our website. Remember water quality can be reduced for up to 72 hours after heavy rain.
High levels of bacteria in the water can indicate pollution from sewage treatment works or polluted rain water draining from the land. Where does pollution comes from and how can you help?
Why are only some beaches monitored?
Find out why only some beaches are bathing waters and how to apply for a new designation.
UK beaches and seas are home to thousands of marine
wildlife species. They live buried in the sand, hidden in rockpools,
clinging to the rocks, lurking in the shallows or can be seen further
out to sea.
There’s so much to explore – check out our UK seas pages to see what’s living in, on and under the sea.
If you spot jellyfish, basking sharks or sea turtles, then let us know.
To make sure we can all enjoy our fantastic marine life and amazing habitats for generations to come, find out why marine protected areas are so important.
In 2015 we've already had a barrel load of barrel jellyfish sightings! Reports have been coming in from Devon and Cornwall since the end of March - with large numbers appearing recently off Teignmouth in Devon, and Penzance and Newquay in Cornwall. If you're heading to the beach, make sure you keep your eyes peeled and, if you see any, report them here.
Litter on our beaches is unsightly. It's no pleasure if you have to pick your way through plastic bottles, condoms, cotton bud sticks and polystyrene food containers before you go for a paddle. But rubbish on our beaches is also a hazard for wildlife with hundreds of species accidentally eating litter or becoming entangled in it.
MCS runs regular beach cleans all over the UK covering much of the
coastline. The results are used to campaign to stop litter getting into the sea in the first place.
The Good Beach Guide is put together by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) – the UK’s leading marine charity.
The guide highlights the issue of pollution in bathing waters and has enabled us to campaign for more investment by water companies in improved sewage treatment and better monitoring of waste water overflowing on to beaches.
Our work to ensure all of the UK’s bathing waters are as pollution-free
as they can be, continues.
If you love getting in the sea – please support us.
The Good Beach Guide is a free service, but a donation
means we can keep the site running.
This website receives well over 700,000 visits per year, providing valuable advice on water quality and beach facilities.
We put pressure on water companies to invest in better systems to stop sewage polluting our seas
We're making sure there's a proper network of marine protected areas around the UK, so the wildlife off your favourite bit of coastline can thrive.
Read our fish advice on Goodfishguide.org, with our mobile app and with the handy Good Fish Guide download.
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