The Best Beaches near the South Downs

seven sisters cuckmere haven

The South Downs is the perfect place for a family getaway, a couple’s break, or a solo excursion. But what if you want a more leisurely holiday? Sometimes, rather than activities, all you want to do is sit around, enjoy the stunning scenery, eat a picnic, and maybe – just maybe – brave a dip in the sea! During the current pandemic, there are some additional considerations and limitations to consider at beaches, so we’ve noted these where we can.

West Wittering beach

This is a long, beautiful, broad expanse of golden sand less than half an hour’s drive from Chichester. It’s the sort of beach you think of when you imagine curling your toes in the sand. There’s parking available nearby for a fee and places to buy food. Swimming is allowed, too. You can also try beach sports such as kitesurfing.

West Wittering beach is currently operating at limited capacity due to Covid-19. Before you go, please check the website ( and make a booking in advance. And of course, once there, remember to social distance.

Pagham beach

A 15-minute drive west of Bognor Regis is this wide shingle beach. Unlike West Wittering, there’s no sand here, but we think the pebble shingles have their own rugged charm. There’s parking, an amusement arcade, and toilets available for visitors.

Note that, while there is no booking system in place for Pagham beach, some attractions or facilities may be closed at the moment. If you find that the beach is too busy to social distance, we advise going elsewhere.

Cuckemere Haven

West of Eastbourne, by the towering South Downs chalk cliffs, is this stunning, wild beach. Once used by smugglers, this wide-open pebble beach is perfect for a bracing walk while you soak up the dramatic scenery. There are no facilities to speak of at this beach, so even during the Covid-19 pandemic, there’s a good chance that the crowds will be much thinner and social distancing will be possible.

We hope you enjoy your trip to the South Downs. Why not try out one of these beautiful beaches?

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