6 Best Natural Beaches Near Colchester, Essex to Swim

Set in Essex, Colchester has some of the most expansive coastline in the whole of the UK – covering a staggering 350 miles, it’s one of the longest in the country. So it might not be surprising to hear that there are plenty of beaches near Colchester to choose from.

Getting out of the city for the day and enjoying the beach is a great way to recharge your batteries, so whether you’re looking for beaches near Colchester to swim or just relax with a picnic for the day, there is something for everyone’s tastes.

In the summer, on a sunny day, there is nothing nicer than spending the day at any one of these beaches, and they’re even a great opportunity to see plenty of wildlife and birdlife in the surrounding areas.

We’ve included as much information on these Essex beaches as possible to help you have everything you need to get out to the beach and start relaxing as soon as possible! We’ve also included an overall map location too, so it’s easy to see their proximity to Colchester.

Beaches near Colchester

Use this map to help you find the locations of each of the beaches near Colchester that we’ve outlined below. You can view each beach in more detail by clicking on the pin. The names and numbers all coincide with our list below to make planning easier.

Best Natural Beaches Near Colchester, Essex for Swimming

1. West Mersea Beach

Address: 401 Victoria Esplanade, West Mersea, Colchester, CO5 8AT
Distance from Colchester: 9.8 miles from central Colchester
Public Transport: You can take a train from Colchester to Walton on the Naze station, which run through the day. You can plan your journey here. Alternatively, you can take a bus from Colchester to Walton on the Naze. Information on the 105 and 107 bus route can be found here.
Parking: There are three main car parks around West Mersea Beach and the Blackwater Estuary: Victoria Esplanade, Willoughby Avenue Car Park and Seaview Avenue Car Park. All are pay and display and there is no free parking.
Facilities: There is a café and restaurant at the beach, with ample toilets, a picnic area, shop and beach hut hire.
Accessibility: The esplanade along the beach is accessible by wheelchair. Park in the Esplanade car park for easiest access to the beach. This is also accessible for pushchairs.
Type of beach: Sand and shingle beach

West Mersea beach on Mersea Island feels like it has the kind of old fashioned charm you’d expect from a UK beach – it’s well looked after and on a sunny day, it feels like there really is no better place to be.

This Colchester beach does get busy in nicer weather as you’d expect, but there is plenty of space and it’s also a great beach to swim from. The waters don’t get too deep for a while out so it’s the perfect place to practise swimming or for smaller children. Though the gravel can feel corse underfoot so you may want to bring beach shoes, flip flops or wetsuit boots to make it more comfortable.

You’ll also be treated to views of the colourful beach huts which adorn the shoreline and surrounding area. West Mersea is well known for its fresh fish and it’s history and heritage as a fishing village with its most famous catch being oysters.

West Mersea Beach

2. Brightlingsea Beach

Address: Brightlingsea Beach, Colchester, CO7 0HH
Distance from Colchester: 11.4 miles from central Colchester
Public Transport: Take the 87 or 87U from Colchester. Bus timetable and map of stops here.
Parking: There are three main car parks around Brightlingsea Beach: Promenade Way, West Prom Grass car park and Oyster Tank Road car park. All are pay and display.
Facilities: As this is quite a popular sandy spot, you’ll find cafés and restaurants, beach huts and toilets.
Accessibility: There are disabled visitor parking spaces available and there is also wheelchair access to the beach promenade. This is also accessible for pushchairs.
Type of beach: Sand and shingle

Brightlingsea Beach, on the River Colne, is one of the best picturesque beaches near Colchester to get away from the city for the day, and has a lot of fun to be had for all the family. There are plenty of rock pools to be found which make great fun for children. The swimming is great and there are also plenty of walks around and in the area to take in the views out to sea.

One of the good things about this beach is that it’s also quieter than some of the others in the area and has a more chilled out vibe – though in high season, you may not think so! It’s a bit smaller than some of the other nearby beaches, so can feel busier. That said, there is still plenty of space to stretch out and enjoy the sound of the waves as you relax. If you’re looking for beautiful beach days, head here.

Do keep in mind as well that dogs are restricted at this beach at certain times of the year (currently between the beginning of May until the end of September).

Brightlingsea Beach near Colchester

3. Walton on the Naze Beach

Address: 43 The Parade, Walton on the Naze, CO14 8AS
Distance from Colchester: 18.8 miles from central Colchester
Public Transport: Take the 87 or 87U from Colchester. Bus timetable and map of stops here.
Parking: Best parking is at Walton on the Naze Train Station. You can then walk down to the beach from there. This is paid for parking.
Facilities: There are toilets, a café and a pub/restaurant
Accessibility: There is sloped access to the beach. There is also flatter access to the promenade from Walton Pier, Princess Esplanade, the slope at East Terrace and the slope at Cliff Parade/East Cliff. These entrances are also suitable for pushchairs.
Type of beach: Sand

Walton on the Naze is a gorgeous area and it’s coastline is no different. In fact, it has one of the best walks in Essex (see walk number 8 in our guide for the Naze Tower walk).

It’s a great place to get out of Colchester and enjoy checking out the sandy beaches, quaint narrow streets surrounding and even go on search of fossils.

If you need a break from the beach, there is also a pier which has all of the usual kind of entertainment you’d expect – ten pin bowling, amusement arcades and more.

It’s a truly stunning place with a nature reserve and if you’re lucky you’ll get to see a whole host of birds from the cliffs surrounding the area. There’s also plenty of little pools to keep everyone interested and lots of opportunities to spot crabs and other sea creatures at low tide.

Walton on the Naze Beach

4. Clacton Beach

Address: Clacton on Sea, CO15 1FS
Distance from Colchester: 16.9 miles from central Colchester
Public Transport: You can get a train from Colchester to Clacton-on-sea. Information on the route and times can be found here. You can also get the 74 bus from Colchester to Clacton. The final stop is just before Marine Parade East – details on this here.
Parking: There are plenty of large parking lot locations near and surrounding the beach, which you can find detailed here.
Facilities: As this is a large beach and one of the most popular in the area, there are cafes, restaurants, toilets, shops, deck chair and beach hut hire, as well as a first aid area. There is also crazy golf available at Skull Point Adventure Golf.
Accessibility: You can access the promenade via wheelchair from various places – Greensward café, Nelson Road slope, the slope opposite Clacton Hospital and the slope opposite Tower Road. There is also suitable beach access for pushchairs.
Type of beach: Large sandy beach

Clacton Beach is classed as being on the ‘Essex Sunshine Coast’ and it isn’t hard to see why – on a sunny day (which statistically this area has some of the most sunny days in the UK) this beach feels absolutely gorgeous.

The beach is large and it’s perfect for swimming – we’d recommend swimming from Martello Bay, as this is a ‘Swim Safe’ site that is looked after by lifeguards and has a designated area.

This wide, long stretching sandy beach is a popular destination, but due to the fact that it is so large, it never really feels that crowded (except perhaps on some of the hottest days of the year and in school summer holidays). It’s also very close to Walton on the Naze, outlined above, which is likely to be quieter.

Clacton Beach

5. Frinton Beach

Address: 17-18 Esplanade, Frinton-on-Sea, CO13 9AU
Distance from Colchester: 19.1miles from central Colchester
Public Transport: You can take either the 107 or 105 bus to Frinton-on-Sea from Colchester. Timetable and stops here. There is also a train station at Frinton-on-Sea, with a train running from Colchester, which you can find out more information on times and routes here.
Parking: The best place to park is Frinton-on-Sea Station car park. The beach is a short walk from there.
Facilities: There are toilets available and first aid but in the town, there are a full range of amenities such as shops, cafes, bars and restaurants for refreshments
Accessibility: Disabled toilet facilities, disabled parking and wheelchair access to the promenade which is also suitable for pushchairs.
Type of beach: Sand

This area feels cosier and quieter than some of the other beaches near Colchester that we’ve listed. It just feels that bit quieter and has a more relaxed feel. So, if you’re looking for a great escape from the city, then you’ll love this beach.

Frinton Beach feels endless – the sandy beach seems to go on for miles, and the views just feel stunning. It’s also a great place to swim from and on a calm day, it can be a great place for children to practise their paddling and swimming.

What we also love about Frinton Beach is that whilst it’s that little bit quieter on the beach, the town itself has a lovely atmosphere with lots of local offers, so it’s perfect for getting refreshments or grabbing a bite to eat after a long day relaxing before heading home.

Frinton Beach

6. Fen Farm Beach

Address: Fen Farm Beach, CO5 8UB
Distance from Colchester: 11.3miles from central Colchester
Parking: You’ll need to park at Cudmore Grove Country Park to access Fen Farm Beach. From there, there is about a 20 minute walk to the beach along quiet roads
Facilities: None
Accessibility: No wheelchair access
Type of beach: Gravel/pebble

Just across from Brightlingsea Beach, is Fen Farm Beach, which couldn’t feel any more different. It’s much quieter and smaller and has some wonderful walks nearby from Cudmore Grove Country Park (see walk number 9 in our walks in Essex family-friendly trail guide for more info and map) as well as spending time on the beach.

This is an ideal place to take it easy. This beach has a more rugged feel with a real un-spoilt beauty than some of the others we’ve outlined, which, if you’re looking for a quieter experience that feels a little bit more out of the way, may suit you perfectly. It’s one of the most attractive beaches in the area.

It’s important to keep in mind that Fen Farm Beach is a lot more ‘remote’ and therefore has a lot less amenities. There are no toilets, there’s no wheelchair access and not really any shops, so you’ll need to plan accordingly. Dogs are also prohibited. If you stay at the adjacent holiday park, you can get free access to parking and the beach is right at the end of the site.

Fen Farm Beach

Helpful Information and Things to Keep in Mind for Colchester Beaches

Many of the beaches near Colchester practice a no dog policy from the beginning of May until the end of September. This is due to high season and increased visitor numbers. Some beaches, such as Fen Farm Beach don’t allow dogs at any time, so this is worth keeping in mind as there are no exceptions on this.

If planning to swim, you should always check water quality first. Sadly, in recent times, pollution has become quite a problem on the English Coastline and beaches that were before perfectly pristine are no longer safe to swim in at times.

Surfers Against Sewage publish an interactive map which allows you to see current pollution levels in any area in the UK. Anything with a tick is safe, and anything with a cross should be avoided for entering the water.

If you plan to swim, you’ll also want to keep an eye on tide times, which will impact you being able to get into the water. High tides can render the beaches hard to reach too. You can find more information about tide times here.

Depending on the time of year you plan to go swimming, make sure that you are swimming within your limits. It’s worth keeping in mind that the water on the UK coastline is generally quite cool all year round, and much colder in winter. If you want to get into wild swimming, we’d always recommend starting this in the summer, so you’re much more acclimated by the time winter comes round. If you plan to swim in the winter, make sure that you have the essential gear for cold water swimming

Learn About the Essex Coastline

Learn more about how Essex, and particularly the Essex Wildlife Trusts, are working to improve coastal defences, endangered plant species and critical habitat using the variety of natural resources. Watch episode two of our short film series Remaking the Wild on our free to watch streaming platform, tea:tv now.

Enjoy Beaches Near Colchester, Essex

Colchester has some of the most stunning beaches on the Essex coastline, which has stiff competition considering its beaches stretch over 350 miles.

Each beach has something different to offer, and if you’re looking for something with a buzz and an ambience for family outings, we’d recommend Brightlingsea Beach or Clacton Beach, whereas if you’re looking for something a little quieter, Fen Farm Beach may be more your thing. A boat trip is also possible and there’s also plenty of nearby walks and nature trails both long and short to enjoy views of the far reaching coastline too.

We hope our guide gives you some inspiration of beaches to check out for that much needed break from the city.