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Is It Safe To Swim In The Sea at Whitby?

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Whitby has plenty of lovely beaches, but is it safe to swim in the sea at Whitby?

If you want to indulge in some seaside fun, you can’t go wrong with one of the beautiful beaches in Whitby and the nearby villages. The safety of swimming in the sea at Whitby depends on several factors, such as weather conditions, water quality, and tides.


Whitby West Cliff Beach, Whitby Beach

Whitby Beach Swimming.

Beach Type: Sand

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Lifeguards: Yes (May-September)

Dog-friendly: Dogs not permitted from May-September

Whitby Sands Beach, also known as Whitby West Cliff Beach, is a vast sandy beach with some rocks that spans from Upgang Beach to the mouth of the River Esk. It’s the most popular beach in the region and is situated on the northern edge of Whitby town, just a short stroll from the town centre. 

Visitors can access the beach via various points along Cleveland Way, North Terrace, and North Promenade, where you will need to descend relatively long access ramps to reach the beach below the cliffs. There’s a lift that operates from North Terrace during the warmer months.

Whitby West Cliff Beach, Whitby Beach Huts.

On sunny days, families flock to this stretch of sand between Upgang Beach and West Pier. True to Yorkshire’s style, a line of colourful beach huts is available to rent, as well as deckchairs and windbreaks near the slipway at West Pier.

Although dogs are welcome all year round on nearby Tate Hill Beach, a seasonal dog ban is on Whitby West Cliff Beach between May and September.

How to get there: Click here for directions to Whitby Beach.

Whitby has many great beaches. We put together this guide to tell you everything you need to know to find the perfect Whitby beach for your next family outing.


Is it safe to swim at Whitby Beach?

Open Water Swimming Whitby.

It is safe to swim at Whitby Beach if you follow safe practices. 

Whitby Beach is lifeguarded; find the red and yellow flags and always swim or bodyboard between them. For your safety, it is important to avoid swimming alone and always check the tide times. If you encounter trouble while swimming, stick your hand in the air and shout for help. If you notice anyone else in trouble, do not attempt to rescue them yourself. Instead, inform a lifeguard immediately. If there is no lifeguard, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.

Forecasts and tides for Whitby.

Find Whitby Beach lifeguard patrol times here.


Benefits of sea swimming at Whitby Beach

Open-water swimming is an excellent option if you’re looking for a thrilling and refreshing way to improve your physical and mental well-being. Taking a dip in the sea adds a sense of adventure to your routine and contributes to stress management, weight loss, and reduced risk of heart disease. Immersing yourself in cold water can also help wash away anxiety and worries, leaving you feeling relaxed and calm.

Sunset At Whitby Beach.

The North East Coast is an excellent location to experience open water swimming, as you’ll be surrounded by breathtaking scenery and feel connected to nature in an indescribable way. Swimming in the sea is a more challenging and rewarding experience than swimming in a pool, and the beautiful sandy beaches of Whitby and Sandsend make it all the more enjoyable.

Whitby Beach is also home to a friendly and vibrant sea swimming community. Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, you can fully embrace wild swimming and meet new people. The wild swimming family is as welcoming as it is hardy, so you’ll have a great time and make new friends.


Swimming in the sea safety tips

Image credit: Whitby RNLI

It’s always best to be adequately prepared before swimming in the sea. 

Enter the sea slowly: Even during the Summer, the North Sea can be pretty cold and shock the system suddenly. Experts suggest slowly entering the ocean so your body can get accustomed to the temperature. It is not recommended to jump straight into the sea as it can cause a rapid change in body temperature, which can be dangerous.

Bring a change of clothing: Bring plenty of warm and dry clothing to change into after the swim. Wearing a wetsuit can also help keep you warm while in the sea.

Swim with others: So that you have someone with you in case of any issues.

Stick to areas watched over by lifeguards: If you get into trouble, help can arrive quickly. 

Know your limits: It is essential to know your limits while swimming in the sea, as it is entirely different from being in a pool. You have to fight against the water’s current and waves constantly, so it is recommended to be a strong swimmer before venturing into the sea.

Don’t use inflatables: Inflatables are unsafe in the sea, as they are not designed for open water. Using them can put you at risk of being swept far out into the sea. It is best to save them for the pool.

Always check the tide times before going in for a swim!


Visit Whitby Surf School

Image credit: Whitby Surf School

On Whitby Beach, you will find Whitby Surf School – the perfect place to learn to surf in North Yorkshire. Whether you’re a first-timer or need extra guidance before you head out, their fully qualified instructors are passionate about making your session as fun and exciting as possible. They offer an array of swimming, surfing, and sea activities such as surf lessons, weeklong clubs, sunrise SUP paddles, and bodyboarding. This is a great way to enjoy the North Sea safely.

An introduction to sea swimming

If you’re interested in sea swimming, they offer a half-day introduction session ideal for both beginners and intermediate swimmers. You’ll be part of a small group with up to eight people, where you’ll learn about the sea swimming theory before participating in a practical session. During the practical session, you’ll receive guidance on entry points, rip currents, and personal safety in the sea. You’ll also learn about helpful equipment and how the shape of the beach can affect the conditions. Additionally, you’ll receive tips and tricks to help you acclimate to the water and find a safe place to swim when you’re alone. 

They provide all the necessary equipment, so you only need a towel and a swimming costume. They also recommend bringing a bottle of water and warm clothes for after your session.

By the end of the session, you’ll have built your confidence in the water and learned more about this exciting sport. 

One-to-one swim coaching with Ally

If you’re looking for expert swimming coaching personalised to your needs, Ally offers one-to-one sessions tailored to individual swimmers’ requirements, whether you’re a beginner or want to improve your fitness and stamina to achieve a specific goal. Ally provides advice to help you develop open water and sea swimming skills from your existing pool skills. 

Email ([email protected]) to schedule a session at your convenience.


Swimming in Whitby can be safe and enjoyable if you take the necessary precautions. It’s essential to be aware of the tides and follow the safety guidelines. With proper planning and awareness, you can have a great time swimming in Whitby while staying safe.

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