The beaches in West Sussex are among the most beautiful in England. Quaint seaside towns such as Chichester, Littlehampton, and Bognor Regis have pristine beaches that are great for families thanks to the wide sandy expanses that emerge when the tide drops. There are colourful beach huts, grassy areas, and promenades with loads of dining options, too.

    While summer is the best time for a day at the beach, many West Sussex beaches are great for kitesurfing and windsurfing in the winter months. Check out this guide to the best beaches in West Sussex, all of which make excellent day trips from the city.

    1

    West Wittering Beach

    A sandy beach with a Blue Flag award

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    West Wittering Beach is a broad sweep of fine white sand that slopes gently down into cobalt seas. Situated at the mouth of Chichester Harbour, the surrounding area is natural grassland and marshland where you can spot ducks, waders and terns. Flocks of brant geese come here in the winter before returning to Siberia. Keep an eye out for Solent seals that often visit the harbour.

    West Wittering Beach has plenty of open space that makes it a popular place to windsurf or kitesurf. It's also possible to snorkel or dive in the clear waters. You can swim in the ocean, stroll along the footpaths around the East Head, or build sandcastles on the beach.

    Location: Pound Rd, West Wittering, Chichester PO20 8AJ, UK

    Open: Daily from 7 am to 8.30 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)1243 514143

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    2

    Bracklesham Bay

    A shingle beach with views across to the Isle of Wight

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    Bracklesham Bay is an excellent place for collecting fossils in West Sussex. When the tide retreats from the shore at this 496-acre geological site, it often uncovers marine fossils, shark and ray teeth, and gastropod shells.

    The coastal bay overlooks the English Channel, offering views of the Isle of Wight. The beach is backed by a village of the same name, which gets busy during the summer. Popular activities in Bracklesham – besides fossil hunting – include swimming, paddleboarding, and birdwatching (in winter). You might even spot harbour seals swimming in the ocean.

    Location: Bracklesham Bay, Chichester, UK

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    3

    Climping Beach

    A dog-friendly beach that’s popular with kitesurfers

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    Climping Beach lies between Littlehampton and Bognor Regis, though it’s significantly quieter than both. The rather rural beach is a great place for dog walkers, as well as fans of Doctor Who – it was the set location of the series during the 1960s and 1970s.

    At low tide, the sea is shallow enough for kids to swim in, though Climping Beach is more famous among kitesurfers and windsurfers than swimmers. The beach’s eastern half is known as the West Beach Local Nature Reserve, which has a dune system supporting a variety of wildflowers and birdlife.

    Location: Climping Beach, Littlehampton, UK

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    4

    Shoreham Beach

    A 65-acre nature reserve in Shoreham-by-Sea

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    Shoreham Beach is quite popular among windsurfers and kitesurfers in West Sussex. Located in Shoreham-by-Sea, this shingle beach covers around 65 acres and is backed by sea defences and parkland. If you’re visiting with kids, there’s a playground and outdoor gym at the nearby Shoreham Beach Green. 

    Shoreham Beach is a prominent local nature reserve, supporting about 90 plant species such as sea kale and curled dock. It often attracts adventurous walkers tackling the Monarch’s Way – the 625-mile long-distance footpath runs quite close to the beach.

    Location: Shoreham-by-Sea BN43 5RJ, UK

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    5

    Lancing Beach

    Home to colourful beach huts and a sailing club

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    Lancing is a lively shingle beach between Worthing and Shoreham-by-Sea in West Sussex. It’s backed by a row of beach huts in pastel colours, which make for pretty photos. There’s also a café and a sailing club right on the beach, attracting those looking to enjoy a day out on the coast.

    Windsurfers and kitesurfers frequent Lancing during the winter months, while summertime sees families enjoying calmer activities. Lancing Beach Green has a playground and a skate park. Funfairs and seasonal markets occasionally take place in the open space.  

    Location: Lancing, BN15 8RA, UK

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    6

    Littlehampton Beach

    Check out the UK’s longest wooden bench

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    Littlehampton consists of West Beach and East Beach, both of which are excellent for those looking to enjoy some fun in the sea. East Beach is suitable for families, thanks to its promenade, theme park, and gardens along its mile-long expanse. It’s also home to the longest wooden bench in the UK – at 1,000 ft long, it overlooks the town's award-winning Blue Flag beach.

    Littlehampton’s West Beach has ample green spaces and one of the region’s 3 sand dune systems. Wooden walkways overlook the dunes and the ruins of the 19th-century Littlehampton Fort.

    Location: Littlehampton BN17 5LH, UK

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    7

    Bognor Regis Beach

    Great for families and fun-seekers

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    Bognor Regis Beach encompasses 2 areas – East and West – surrounding the seaside resort’s Victorian pier. The 19th-century structure now stretches 350 ft out to the sea, though it used to be around 1,000 ft long.

    Closest to the town centre is East Beach, which has a promenade with lots of food and drink stands. Kids can play in Beach on the Beach, a large sandpit that opens in summer. West Beach has an amusement arcade just opposite Bognor Regis Pier, from which you can take in spectacular sea views.

    Location: Bognor Regis PO21 1PJ, UK

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    8

    Rustington Beach

    A popular kitesurfing beach in Littlehampton

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    Rustington Beach is largely shingle, though you’ll find a sandy expanse stretching down to the water’s edge when the tide is out. The beach is backed by a row of pastel-coloured beach huts. With consistent south-westerly winds off the English Channel, it’s a popular spot for windsurfing and sailing.

    Rustington Beach is part of a long coastline adjoining Littlehampton’s East Beach. Many families come here for walks and leisurely beach activities, though it’s much calmer than both East Beach and West Beach in Littlehampton.

    Location: Rustington, Littlehampton BN16 2LF, UK

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    9

    Thorney Island

    A quiet peninsula with unspoilt beaches

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    Thorney Island has miles of unspoilt beaches towards its southern tip, attracting those looking for a secluded getaway in West Sussex. The peninsula is in Chichester Harbour, separated from the mainland by The Great Deep channel.

    The beaches comprise long stretches of shingle and sand. When the tide comes in, the water is usually warm enough for swimming and paddling. The southmost area is a great place to spot brant geese, skylarks, and ospreys. If you’re up for a challenge, Thorney Island Walk is a 9.5-mile marked route that runs around the perimeter of the island. You’re rewarded with views of natural dunes, saltmarshes and shingle along the way.

    Location: Longmere Point, Thorney Island, Emsworth, UK

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    10

    Felpham Beach

    A shingle beach on the outskirts of Bognor Regis

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    Felpham Beach lies on the outskirts of the Bognor Regis seaside resort, offering many convenient and family-friendly facilities. This shingle beach is divided by wooden groynes, with a large sandy expanse and rock pools when the tide drops.

    There are blue and yellow beach huts, cafés and tennis courts adjacent to Felpham Beach. The eastern part of the beach has a traditional promenade where you can bike and walk with views of the sea. The beach is less than 1 mile south of Felpham Village, where you can find many more shops and restaurants.

    Location: Bognor Regis Promenade, Bognor Regis PO22 7EE, UK

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    Penny Wong | Compulsive Traveller

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