Britain’s cleanest sands have been honoured this week, thanks to the annual Blue Flag awards – the golden standard for beaches.
This discerning accolade denotes clean bathing water (no industrial, waste-water or sewage spills), along with top-notch environmental standards.
A total of 68 beaches made the grade this year, including many coastal stretches in the south-east.
We’ve laid out a few of our favourite Blue Flag destinations within easy reach of London.
Hop from a sweaty tube carriage to powdery sands and sea breeze in two hours or less. Have your beach reads handy; seaside, here we come...
Photos: iStock, Rex and Getty
West Wittering, West Sussex
Soak in glorious views of Chichester Harbour and the South Downs on this popular wind-surfer beach.
Distance from London: 1hr 54 mins by train (Victoria station)
Viking Bay, Kent
Charles Dickens was a fan of this horseshoe-shaped bay that lines the town of Broadstairs.
Distance from London: 1 hr 39 mins by train (St Pancras station)
Margate Main Sands, Kent
Romanticist painter JMW Turner loved Margate beach. Like him, you can admire “the loveliest skies in all of Europe”.
Distance from London: 1 hr 33 mins by train (St Pancras or Victoria stations)
Ramsgate Main Sands, Kent
Grab a deckchair and revel in the vibes of this friendly town beach, with plenty of restaurants all around.
Distance from London: 1 hr 46 mins by train (St Pancras or London Bridge)
Nestled on the north coast of the Isle of Sheppey, tranquil Sheerness is shrouded by open greenery; don’t forget your picnic.
Distance from London: 1 hr 19 mins by train (St Pancras or Victoria station)
Also on the Isle of Sheppey. A typical seaside resort, you’ll find amusements and cafes aplenty here – as well as a nudist beach just down the road.
Distance from London: 1 hr by train to Sittingbourne (from St Pancras or Victoria station), then 20 mins by taxi or bus
A secluded shingle beach recommended by the Marine Conservation Society, Sandgate is a great spot for a quick dip.
Distance from London: 1 hr 12 mins by train to Folkstone (St Pancras or London Bridge station), then 12 minutes by taxi or bus
Pelham, East Sussex
The golden sands of Pelham stretch from Hastings Old Town to the end of the promenade at Bulverhythe. It’s a friendly beach designed with families in mind.
Distance from London: 1 hr 36 mins by train (St Pancras, London Bridge or Victoria station)
Herne Bay, Kent
Explore two miles of coastline peppered with ice-cream parlours, candyfloss stands and welcoming local pubs.
Distance from London: 1 hr 20 mins by train (St Pancras or Victoria station)
Saltdean, East Sussex
Indulge in a spot of old-school rock pooling at low tide on Saltdean, near Newhaven, or hire a surf and cut a few shapes in the waves.
Distance from London: 1 hr to Brighton (London Bridge or Victoria station), then 15 minutes by bus, car or train
Bognor Regis East, West Sussex
Located right by the town centre, this sloping shingle bank offers a quintessential seaside experience. Exercise junkies can get to grips with the custom-made “Flex on the Beach Fitness Trail”.
Distance from London: 1 hr 32 mins by train (Victoria station)
Worthing, West Sussex
This 7.5 mile long beach is the perfect spot for an ice-cream, and the quality of the water is rated as “excellent”. The pier views aren’t bad, either.
Distance from London: 1 hr 21 mins by train (Victoria or London Bridge station)