This summer's most unexpectedly popular seaside spots

May 17, 2024

Revealed: The Unexpected Seaside Villages That Are The Most Popular This Year

  • Cornwall has taken a tumble in the past year, ranking as the most popular county for seaside breaks in 2023, but falling to third in 2024 
  • Lesser-known Little Haven crowned the most popular seaside destination for the second year running, with Beadnell in Northumberland in second place - both of which are villages
  • The percentage of people wanting a summer break by the sea has increased by over 5% between January to May of 2023 and the same period in 2024

Summer is nearly here, and glorious weather is making an appearance once more across the UK ready for the most highly anticipated season.

As locations around the country have already experienced ‘mini heatwaves’ (and reports are now speculating when exactly the UK will see its balmiest temperatures yet), there’s no doubt that Brits will be looking to make the most of this weather from nearby coastal spots. 

271 million recreational visits are made to beaches and coasts in England annually, according to previous data, highlighting just how many people favour a sun, sea, and sand experience close to home when the weather calls for it.  

But, as summer seaside spots across the country continue to be as popular as ever - and more frequent heatwaves are anticipated - the issue of overcrowded beaches and coastal destinations becomes more of a concern. News providers last year even revealed some of the most overcrowded stretches of coast in the country to keep Brits in the know.

In a quest to see which coastal destinations in the UK are gaining the most attention from Brits, a UK holiday provider found that it wasn’t the go-to seaside spots that many would expect which are at the top of the list.

Independent Cottages analysed its internal enquiry data between the months of January and May in 2023 and 2024 to find the seaside settlements in its UK-wide portfolio that are proving to be the most popular amongst Brits. 

Most interestingly, Cornwall as a county took a tumble in 2024, falling from first position in 2023 to the third most popular county for seaside breaks in 2024, taking the back seat behind Devon (first position) and Pembrokeshire (second position.)

This doesn’t necessarily come as a surprise, as Cornwall has experienced an influx of tourists in recent years, contributing to overcrowding, with holidaymakers even being urged last year to avoid its most popular spots. 

Not to mention that Cornwall has announced that it could be implementing a tourist tax for visitors to the area in future years, which may be another reason why many are choosing to venture elsewhere.

Matthew Fox, CEO of Independent Cottages, states: 

“As summer rolls around again and temperatures rise, it is clear that a break by the beach is still as popular as ever for staycationers.

“But, with overcrowding and the cost of living being but a few issues playing a role in where Brits are choosing to holiday, it looks like they’re doing their research to find where in the country they can go that will offer an equally lovely coastal experience while allowing them to escape the crowds and save some pennies!”

The company reveals that the top two most popular seaside destinations this year are destinations that travellers would not expect, or may not have even heard of, both of which are small villages - the sleepy Little Haven in Pembrokeshire, Wales, and charming Beadnell in Northumberland. 

Little Haven, Pembrokeshire

The sleepy and charming seaside village of Little Haven boasts a prime location in the Southeast Corner of St Bride’s Bay in popular Pembrokeshire, Wales. 

3.51% of all total enquiries in 2024 to date were made to visit Little Haven, Independent Cottages reveals, which was over two times more than the second most popular seaside settlement, Beadnell. With heaps of character and historic charm, Little Haven’s tiny settlement is home to a beautiful sandy beach surrounded by small coastal cliffs and lush greenery. 

It is a designated conservation area, according to the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, with the famous Pembrokeshire Coast Path passing directly through the village for those keen to embark on this notable route. 

With colourful houses and charming traditional pubs, Little Haven is the perfect place to retreat to for some R&R on a seaside getaway. 

Beadnell, Northumberland 

Coming in as the second most popular destination is one that many may not place at the top of their list when they think of seaside getaways, but is nonetheless deserving of recognition, Beadnell in Northumberland. 

This village and civil Parish in the northeastern English county is only small, but its beautiful beach and charming village centre are all one would need for a memorable holiday by the sea. 

Beadnell Bay is the village’s curving sandy beach that is perfect for beach activities, sunbathing, and even watersports. Its protected waters are particularly popular amongst sailing, surfing, and kayaking enthusiasts, with the village’s sailing club having been established for over 40 years. 

No matter the time of year, Beadnell Bay’s sands can be enjoyed with brisk walks by the sea or long picnics. It is also dog-friendly year-round, meaning visitors can bring their furry companions on their holidays no matter the month. 

 Independent Cottages is a specialist self-catering accommodation provider with a range of beach cottages and properties near the seaside for those looking to book their next coastal holiday. You can find more information here > 

  • END -