Our detailed Whitby Beaches guide… There’s nothing like the smell of salty sea air in your lungs and the feeling of waves crashing around your feet to help you unwind from the stresses of modern life.
Let’s face it – everyone loves a day at the beach. And one of the best places to go in search of a little seaside fun is the North Yorkshire coastal town of Whitby.
Trouble is though, Whitby has so many great beaches available that it can get a little confusing. So, to help you out we put together this guide that will tell you everything you need to know to find the perfect Whitby beach for your next family outing.
Ready to explore all the amazing Whitby Beaches?
Okay, let’s start from Runswick Bay, north of Whitby and work our way south to Saltwick Bay.
Runswick Bay Beach
Beach Type: Sand & Rock | Lifeguards: No | Dog-friendly: Yes
Runswick Bay is located 9 miles north of Whitby and many say it is one of the most beautiful beaches on the entire Yorkshire coast.
To get there, visitors must travel to the former fishing village of Runswick, nestled under the cliffs at the northern end of the beach.
Although cars aren’t allowed in the village, there is a pay-and-display car park at the end of the steep access road where you can leave your vehicle while you explore the bay.
The beach is mainly sand, although there are some scattered rocks and stony areas.
It’s a great place to visit during summer, especially for families.
Children can build sandcastles, play their favourite beach games, explore the rockpools…even enjoy a dip in the North Sea when conditions are right.
The bay is also a popular place for water-sport enthusiasts, including canoeists and surfers when conditions suit.
In the off-season, there are still plenty of things to do like explore the cliff-tops along the Cleveland Way walking trail or hunt for fossils.
Ammonites (prehistoric shellfish) are quite common and the best way to find a specimen is to search amongst the rocks and beach rubble around low tide.
There are also many different species of wildlife that call Runswick Bay Beach home, and seals can be seen there year-round.
During the winter months, Runswick Bay is a popular fishing spot for sea-anglers and is one of the best cod fishing locations in the region.
It’s also a great place to take your pooch for some exercise because Runswick Bay Beach is dog-friendly and there are no restrictions at any time of year.
There are a great deal of accommodation options in Runswick Bay area. If you like caravans then we'd suggest Holly Lodge as a great place to start. The Firs Guest House is an excellent choice for a traditional bed and breakfast. If you're looking for a cosy cottage then we love Pebble Cottage.
Beach Type: Mainly Rock | Lifeguards: No | Dog-friendly: Not Suitable for Dogs
Kettleness Beach is a remote cove west of Runswick Bay and is not worth visiting unless you are an avid fossil hunter.
Access to the rocky beach is difficult and dangerous. Visitors must clamber down a steep and uneven path while hanging onto a rope.
It goes without saying that this location is not suitable for children, pets or the elderly.
But if fossils are your thing, Kettleness is one of the most productive fossicking locations on the Yorkshire coast.
Ammonites and other attractive fossils are a common find in the shale cliff face and along the foreshore.
Jet, a semi-precious gemstone that Whitby area is famous for, and gem-quality specimens are still found regularly.
In fact, the whole area was worked for alum shale, jet and iron in the past and evidence of this industrial heritage can still be seen dotting the cliffs today.
2 Whinny Hill is a lovely place to stay for those happy to drive, it's just a few miles from the beach at Kettleness, sleeps 7 and has a for poster bed!
We highly rate the Cliffemount Hotel for those seeking a little luxury for their stay in Kettleness.
Beach Type: Shale | Lifeguards: No | Dog-Friendly: Yes
Sandsend Ness is a rugged headland located north of the village and its shale beach is a very popular spot to find a variety of fossils.
You can access this beach directly from the park-and-pay car park at the end of Lythe Bank in the village.
From there, simply walk northwards along the beach and you’re in fossil heaven!
There are literally thousands of belemnites buried in the shale banks here.
Beware though, this beach is not suitable for swimming and has dangerous rips and lives are lost here every year.
Only visit around low tide, do not walk too far from the car park, and leave well before the tide comes back in.
You don’t want to get trapped against the cliff face.
Dogs are allowed on the beach but for their own safety, it’s best to keep them, and children, away from the unstable cliff edge.
Related article – The Sandsend trail, a Sunday afternoon welly walk near Whitby
Beach Type: Sand & Shingle | Lifeguards: Yes (during high season) | Dog-friendly: Restrictions in place from May-September
Sandsend Beach runs from Sandsend Village to Dunsley Beck in the south.
This clean, sandy beach is perfect for families, so make sure your children bring their buckets, spades, swimmers and crab nets.
Paid parking is available at Sandsend car park off Lythe Bank, and to the south of the village along Sandsend Road.
You can access the beach from both of these car parks, as well as many other places in between.
During summer, part of the beach is zoned off for swimming and it is a great place to go for a refreshing dip.
If you have children though, just be aware that strong tidal rips flow parallel to the beach and could drag them along.
This isn’t anything to be concerned about (it can even be a lot of fun!) as the water is typically shallow, but always keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t get out of their depth.
The freshwater streams that run across the beach to the sea also provide perfect pools to swim and paddle dinghies in.
And ducks and pheasants are common around the becks, so don’t forget to bring some bread to feed them.
At low tide, a large area of Sandsend Beach is exposed and there are no shortage of rock pools for children to explore.
You can find the daily tide times on the side of the shop next door to the Sandsend Café.
As you walk south along the beach, the village of Sandsend is left behind and replaced with stunning grassy cliffs by the time you reach Dunsley Beck.
It’s possible to walk all the way to Whitby along this beach when the tide is low, and for most people, it’s a one and a half hour walk.
Sandsend beach is also popular with fossil hunters and fishermen. A great place to stay is Mulgrave Cottage, a luxury bed and breakfast close to the beach.
And it’s also somewhat of a surfing mecca in the U.K., with large waves breaking here when the winds are blowing.
A café, gift shop and pub can be found close to the beach and there are public toilets near the car parks.
Dogs are not permitted on the main part of the beach from May-September (refer to signs for exact locations).
Sandsend Bay Cottages
For those seeking a luxury stay in this hidden gem of the North Yorkshire Coast, we highly recommend Sandsend Bay Cottages. Choose from seven superb holiday cottages, each with it's own unique style. Book directly with Jackie to get the best price and latest availability.
Upgang Whitby Beach
Beach Type: Sand & Shingle | Lifeguards: No | Dog-friendly: Yes
Upgang is a small, flat beach backed by cliffs between Sandsend Beach and Whitby West Cliff Beach.
The access point is next to the Whitby Golf Course via steps and steep walkways that have been built into the side of the hill overlooking the beach.
Upgang Beach doesn’t get as many visitors as Sandsend or Whitby West Cliff Beach, so you won’t see the usual sunbathers or picnickers in this area.
However, it is well known in the surfing community and is a very popular fishing spot during summer.
Dog walkers also use it year-round as there are no restrictions in place.
Whitby West Cliff Beach (Whitby Sands Beach)
Beach Type: Sand | Lifeguards: Yes (May-September) | Dog-friendly: Dogs not permitted from May-September
Whitby West Cliff Beach is a large sandy beach with some rocks that runs from Upgang Beach to the mouth of the river Esk and is also known as Whitby Sands Beach.
It is the most popular beach in the area, and being located on the northern edge of Whitby town, is only a few minutes walk from the town’s centre.
There are numerous access points along Cleveland Way, North Terrace and North Promenade, where visitors have to walk down fairly long access ramps to reach the beach at the bottom of the cliffs below.
For the less energetic, there is a lift that operates from North Terrace during the warmer months.
Paid parking is available at the West Cliff and Pavillion Top car parks.
Whitby West Cliff Beach is easily one of the most beautiful beaches in Northern England.
On summer days, this stretch of sand between Upgang Beach and West Pier is alive with families soaking up the sun and enjoying life.
In true Yorkshire style, there is a line of colourful beach huts available for hire, as well as deckchairs and windbreaks near the slipway at West Pier, so you can make the most out of your time on Whitby West Cliff Beach.
Children can enjoy donkey rides from this area during the summer, and there is always plenty of space to do things like fly a kite, play beach games or go paddling on the ocean.
There is a seasonal dog ban in place between May and September, but canines are welcome all year-round on nearby Tate Hill Beach.
And there’s even a paddling pool for little ones who aren’t confident enough to swim in the sea just yet.
A variety of meals, snacks and beverages are available in the area from a range of outlets, including world-class fish and chips, and public toilets are available.
On the West Cliff you really are spoilt for choice when it comes to quality accommodation. We recommend a stay with Fay and Chris at Haven Crest with ample off road parking for comfort, convenience and cleanliness. Another excellent choice is Melrose Guest House. For those seeking a hotel experience, we highly rate Saxonville Hotel.
Whitby Tate Hill Beach
Beach Type: Sand | Lifeguards: No | Dog-friendly: Yes
Tate Hill is a small, sandy beach located within the sheltered Esk River harbour.
It’s a popular place to relax, soak up some sun, and swim in safety.
Dogs are allowed on Tate Hill Beach year-round and it’s a popular spot for campfires, picnic lovers and metal detecting.
It’s also close to the East Pier and is backed by the fashionable Church Street, with its independent shops that add spice and character to this part of Whitby.
Saltwick Bay Beach
Beach Type: Sand & Rock | Lifeguards: No | Dog-Friendly: Yes
Saltwick Bay is a northeast-facing bay about 1 mile east of Whitby.
Access to the beach is via a footpath that starts near the Whitby Holiday Park on the cliff above the bay.
The path has suffered erosion damage over the years and is quite steep in places.
Its stairs are also very slippery when wet.
The path leads down to the sandy beach, and while swimming isn’t recommended in this area, it is a great place to search for fossils such as ammonites and belemnites.
Whitby Jet can be found amongst the rocks and shale at either end of the beach.
The bay is also a popular fishing spot and dogs are permitted here ― just make sure they don’t disturb any of the wildlife that calls this secluded cove home.
A great place to stay just a short drive away is Raw Pastures, four bedrooms, four bathrooms, sleeps 8 and has off road parking!
Robin Hoods Bay Beach
Beach Type: Sand and Rock | Lifeguard: No | Dog Friendly: Yes
A famous brewery and purveyor of fine Irish stout once said that ‘good things come to those who wait’ and readers of this round up of Whitby beaches will not be disappointed by that maxim; we’ve saved the best til last to quote 90’s pop star Vanessa Williams, to bring you one of the top 25 beaches in the world!
Visitors to Robin Hoods Bay will first be awe struck by the view – the glistening golden arc of sand that stretches out al the way to Ravenscar is a joy to behold. You’ll be well inside your ‘Comfort Zone' stepping out on to the sandy beach of the ‘Bay, as locals call this beautiful part of the world. Passport magazine – an online travel blog – said: “There’s no evidence to indicate that Robin Hood ever visited Robin Hood’s Bay. In fact, no one seems to know where this lovely Yorkshire village and the surrounding beach got their name.”
Myth and legend aside, the beach at the ‘bay is dog-friendly so be sure to take a ball or find a decent stick for your four-legged friend to make the most of the low tide as the beach stretches all the way to Ravenscar for a brisk and rewarding stroll.
Robins Hoods Bay Cottages…
If you’re looking for a cosy place to stay, why not try one of these fantastic Robin Hood's Bay Holiday Cottages? These excellent properties are handpicked for their quality and charm, so you’re sure of a memorable stay on your visit to this world-beating beach.
So, there you have it. Your complete guide to all the beaches near Whitby. If you found this article useful, why not share it with your friends on your favourite social media channel.