lifestyle

10 of the UK’s best beach cafes and bars, chosen by readers


Winning tip: Catch of the day, Berwickshire

The coastal path between Eyemouth and Saint Abbs is littered with tales of smugglers and shipwrecks. Names like Cauldron Cove and Horsecastle Bay hint at dark deeds and dangerous tides. In Saint Abbs the Ebbcarrs Cafe serves hearty portions of the daily catch – langoustines, lobster, dressed crab and steaming bowls of Cullen skink – to weary walkers. Fishing is a family business. The boats in the harbour that supply the cafe are owned by a generation whose ancestors perished in the 1881 fishing disaster, when 189 men – fathers and sons – lost their lives in a freak storm. In fact, the food was so good that we stopped in again on the way back.
Christopher Watson

Repurposed cliff lift, Broadstairs, Kent

Beach from Funicular Coffeehouse, Broadstairs, Kent

The Funicular Coffeehouse is literally on the beach at Broadstairs. We had a very longed-for break in Broadstairs last September and were lucky with the weather. After a long walk along the coast, we stopped here and had a wonderful cold beer while looking out to sea. Great staff, fabulous location and a small but very local menu. Reasonably priced. Such a good use of the decommissioned building. We are back to Broadstairs again in a few weeks and hoping for some sunshine so we can sit there again and watch the waves.
Alison

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Teashop vibe, Norfolk

Smallsticks Café, Norfolk

If you’re visiting the remote and wave-battered village of Happisburgh in Norfolk, it’s worth walking a little way south along the coast to Cart Gap, where you’ll find a cafe hidden behind a dilapidated barn. Smallsticks is just off the coast path if you take a right by the RNLI Lifeboat, and has a distinct teashop vibe, with friendly staff and wonderful Norfolk accents. They offer an excellent selection of hot meals and cakes, and a walled garden where you can sit out with your dog if the weather is good. Order a large, hot coffee and hearty, no-frills breakfast with change from a tenner. And finish with a slice of carrot cake if you have the room.
Kasia Ladds

Cream of vegetarian cafes, Cornwall

millendreath beach bar with beach and sea

Bistro on the Beach in Millendreath is a half-hour walk off the east beach of Looe, but worth every minute. I went here with my partner in August 2020 and the cafe was beautifully composed, with a southern view of an enclosed but spacious beach. This cafe specialises in (but is not limited to) vegan and vegetarian food, which was a blessing to my vegan boyfriend after a trek to reach the beach in a heatwave. We stumbled on this cafe completely by surprise and were delighted when we tasted their fries with curry sauce, and a side of wakame sesame salad.
Giorgia Gooch

Harbour bites, Brownsea Island, Dorset

Villano Cafe and landing stage, Brownsea Island
Villano Cafe, on the right, Brownsea Island. Photograph: Nick Upton/Alamy

The National Trust’s Villano Café on Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour is close to the jetty, so you can easily drop in on arrival or recharge later before catching your return ferry – or maybe both. I’m always amenable to a National Trust cheese scone and here I can enjoy one in the cafe’s garden, sea scents mingling with those of cake and coffee, while boat watching and appreciating the views across the harbour to Sandbanks and Shell Bay. Watch for the peacocks patrolling the tables, ready to clear away any crumbs. Ferry service from Poole Quay only; Sandbanks service currently suspended.
Sharon Pinner

Pizza on the sand, north Wales

Lligwy Beach cafe and shop near Moelfre on Anglesey
Photograph: Philip Smith/Alamy

On Lligwy beach, near Moelfre on Anglesey, there is a lovely pizza shack (no website). The pizzas are around £9 and freshly stone baked. It’s so lovely to grab a delicious, locally made pizza after swimming in the sea or walking on the beach.
Caitlin

Butties by the beach, North Yorkshire

Beach view from the Cafe at Hunmanby Gap

For the perfect view of the Yorkshire coast, the Beach Cafe at Hunmanby Gap, south of Filey, is hard to beat. Park in the field at the top of the hill for a small fee and walk down a short distance. The beach is just under the cafe further down the cliffs. Sit on the decking, eat a hearty breakfast, perhaps a bacon butty or have homemade cakes with a cup of tea. Butties and cakes cost about £3. The service is friendly and all the food is fresh.
David Cowling

North Sea views, County Durham

Fish and chips, prosecco, tea and cake at Surfside, Seaton Carew

Surfside in Seaton Carew is a brilliant fish-and-chip cafe that also does afternoon tea with homemade cakes, and a wedge of bread to go with your cod and chips, all on traditional tiered plates. Loads of other choices, including coffees and cakes, about 20 metres from the North Sea with a view to Hartlepool harbour and historic headland as well as Teesbay round to the North York Moors. It’s beautiful in the sun – dogs are allowed outside too – or perfect inside when the winter storms lash the full-size windows. If you’re lucky you might see a seal.
Deborah

See Sunderland with a hint of Naples

Minchella’s ice-cream cone, with beach beyond

Seaburn Beach in Sunderland may be a million miles away from Naples but an ice-cream or fish and chips at Minchella’s cafe, with lovely views over a sandy beach and a huge expanse of sea, must surely remind the cafe owners and customers of Italy and the Minchella family’s native shores. It’s been run by the family for generations, and the sitting area overlooks a pristine white lighthouse and a dog-friendly, child-friendly beach. On a clear day, as the sun climbs high into the sky, you might imagine you were in the Bay of Naples – if the temperature were a bit higher.
Bill Cox

Treasure island, East Lothian

The Drift Cafe, a coffeeshop made from shipping containers
Photograph: Sally Anderson/Alamy

If it’s great views you’re after, I recommend Drift cafe, perched high on the cliffs with a sensational aspect looking out over the Firth of Forth to Bass Rock and its gannet colony. This coast inspired Robert Louis Stevenson, and it’s easy to see why. The cafe is welcoming, light and bright, with a cozy biomass stove, and serves simple and delicious food. The sausage rolls are a family favourite. It also does takeaway if you’d like a picnic at nearby Tantallon Castle or a walk down the cliff to the beach.
Jenifer Phillips



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