Dog-friendly seaside staycations are among the top travel trends for 2021, with a reported 80% increase in pup-friendly holiday bookings this year compared to 2019.
Dogs love nothing more than the sea breeze in their fur and sand between their paws, but what if the beach you’re planning to visit doesn’t allow dogs?
Researchers at Uswitch have put together some tips for driving with your pet this summer and mapped some of the best beaches in the UK which allow all-year, all-day access for you and your dog to enjoy.
If you’re planning a UK holiday with your dog in tow, then you might want to start your search in one of these areas.
Source: Instagram / @mars_and_sky
Best for: Surfing and fossil hunting
Car Park Costs: Free parking on road side, the surf shop nearby has parking available with - charges apply
Dogs allowed: All year-round, no restrictions
Just south of Scarborough, Cayton Bay is a quiet and peaceful cove that is hidden in the Yorkshire countryside and is perfect for your pup to get that much-needed exercise. Known for staying quiet all year round, the beach boasts some of the best waves in the region for surfing and is a great spot for fossil hunting. So if you are ready to feel that sea breeze air, grab a jacket and get exploring next time you take your dog for a walk.
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Best for: Watersports including diving, sailing, and waterskiing.
Car Park Cost: £7.00 for 2 hours
Dogs Allowed: Dogs are allowed on the beach all year round
Located just off the south coast of Wales, Oxwich beach’s sweeping golden sand dunes have been a popular destination for families and dog walkers for years. With a whole host of activities to choose from, including jet-skiing or paddling with your pooch in the shallow waters, there is something for everyone.
For those that prefer something a bit quieter and less crowded, taking your dog to the sand dunes towards the end of the beach can be the perfect way to soak up some sun during summer.
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Best for: Fishing, Walking, and Dog-Friendly Pubs
Car Park Cost: Daily Cap, £6.00
Dogs Allowed: All year-round, no restrictions
As a sand and shingle beach, Ogmore-by-the-sea has a reputation for being one of the cleanest beaches in the region and has proven popular for many thanks to the wide range of activities available.
Spend the day fishing or surfing in the waves, or if you fancy a bit of history look out towards Tusker Rock and soak up the Danish Viking heritage. For those dogs that fancy a longer run around, we recommend the coastal walk that offers stunning views out to sea from the cliff-tops.
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Best for: Rockpooling and Walking
Car Park Cost: Free beach parking
Dogs Allowed: All year round, no restrictions.
West Angle Bay is a quiet and sheltered beach, located close to Milford Haven. Made up of golden sandy beaches and rock headlines that offer wind protection, the beach can be the perfect place to take your dog on a warm sunny afternoon.
Discover nature in the rockpools or explore the village as part of a wider walk for you and your pup - with so much history to soak up there is something for the whole family to enjoy.
Source Instagram / @rodneyandmabel_the_cavapoos
Best for: Surfing and Swimming
Car Park Cost: Daily Cap during high season £8
Dogs Allowed: All year round, dog on a lead in certain zones
Saunton Sands is a key part of Devon's coastline and is backed by the stunning Braunton Burrows, a UNESCO reserve. The long stretch of sand is perfect for those that love to swim or want to catch some waves during the summer months.
Not only that, but the beach has some famous routes with Robbie Williams having filmed his iconic ‘Angels’ video on the sands. For those that are looking for a more refreshing walk, going up to crows point can be perfect to get some exercise in with your pooch while also basking in some stunning views across the coastline.
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Best for: Rockpools
Car Park Costs: Daily Cap during high season £8
Dogs Allowed: All year round, but must be kept under control.
Holywell beach is a peaceful and quaint cove located in the west end of Eastbourne and boasts a popular cafe, beach huts and chalets. If you are looking for a way to entertain the kids, then we recommend checking out the rock pools across the coastline.
The beach has charming Italian gardens that are full of life and it’s been the backdrop for many shows and films including Eastenders, Angus Thongs and Perfect Snogging and Miss Marple. Though the beach has complete freedom for pets, make sure to keep your dog under control around families and wildlife.
Source: Instagram / @golden_max_oc
Best For: Kite Surfing
Car Park Costs: Daily Cap, £5.00
Dogs Allowed: All year round, no restrictions
Fraisthorpe Beach is a golden sandy beach that is located in the East of Yorkshire and forms part of Bridlington Bay that stretches for miles. As a beach that has no restrictions on dogs, its long coastline makes it the perfect place to let your dog splash along the water's edge.
In summer, the beach is a popular spot for swimmers and is also great for kite-surfing thanks to its wide and relatively flat stretch of sand.
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Best for: Nature Spotting
Car Park Costs: Daily Cap £4.00, free for National Trust Members
Dogs Allowed: Dogs are allowed but is best to avoid in winter due to the seals
Horsey is an often deserted and unspoilt sandy beach located in Norfolk, where nature thrives. With one of the biggest sand dunes on the east coast, you won’t find it a struggle to get a space on the beach, even during the summer months.
Stroll along the sand from November to January and watch as Grey Seals take to the beach to give birth to newborns. We recommend bringing your dog during the summer months for a play on the sand so they can freely run around without disturbing other nature that occupies the coast.
Source: Instagram / ttinkerbell4ever
Best for: Walking and stunning scenery
Car Park Costs: £2.00 for 2 hours
Dogs Allowed: All year round, no restrictions
If you are looking for a beach in Scotland with beautiful scenery and enough space for your dog to run around, Ganavan Beach in Oban should be at the top of your list. Walking along the coastline you will get views across the Firth of Lorn and the isles of Lismore and Mull, with so much stunning scenery you won’t be disappointed.
Looking for a good walking route? There are plenty around the area, as well as partial ruins of 13th Century Dunstaffnage Castle to explore.
Source: Instagram / @being_brick
Best for: Nature and Sand dunes
Car Park Costs: Daily cap of £7.50, free for National Trust members
Dogs Allowed: Well behaved dogs are allowed on the beach all year round but must be on a lead through the squirrel walk.
Formby is one of the Northwest’s most loved coastlines and is backed by extensive sand dunes, giving it that extra-rural feeling. Located between Liverpool and Southport, the beach has managed to retain its nature and is one of the few homes left for red squirrels.
While your dog is able to roam freely on the beach so long as it is well behaved, make sure to keep them on a lead when walking through the pinewood to spot squirrels.
If you’re planning a dog-friendly seaside staycation but are flexible about where you end up, we’ve collated the number of truly dog-friendly beaches in each region.
In first place with 81 beaches that are dog-friendly was Pembrokeshire, in Wales. Home to a number of beautiful beaches including Marloes Sands, Monkstone Beach, Newport Sands and many more, Wales is a great location for you and your pooch to go for a relaxing staycation this summer.
Coming in second with 68 dog-friendly beaches that are perfect for your fluffy friend this summer is Devon, England. The coastline is known for its spectacular stretches of sand and glorious waves that make it perfect for walking and surfing when the weather is warm.
Towards the bottom of the list is Gloucestershire in England that has only 1 dog-friendly beach in the whole of the region. Although the area has just 9 beaches in total it is only Severn Beach that allows your dog to get some exercise in.
With many people having bought dogs during the lockdown period, taking your dog out to the beach or driving with your pup can be a big step for owners. That's why with the help of Wendy Kruger, Dog Behaviour & Training Specialist at Wood Green, we have the answers on how to prepare your dog for the beach:
“As we approach the holiday and travel season, ensure your dog’s microchip and collar tag details are up to date – just in case. Get used to checking ground surface temperatures before you take your dog out, as dry sand can be too hot for dogs’ paws on sunny days. To check the ground temperature, place the back of your hand on the ground. If it’s too hot to hold comfortably for at least five seconds, it’s too hot for dogs’ paws.”
“Practising basic, reward-based training when out and about will help your dog to maintain focus and engagement on walks. Recall is also an area that needs particular attention. Even if your dog has a great recall at home, it’s not something that can be guaranteed in unfamiliar environments with exciting new distractions. Games with toys are a fantastic way to help your dog engage with you when there are other distractions around.”
“Always pack fresh water and a bowl, as well as some tasty training treats and a toy. If your dog goes in the sea, rinse them down so they don’t lick the salty water off. Sometimes it’s not suitable to have your dog off lead, so take a harness and longline lead.”
“Dogs are highly susceptible to heat stroke, so it’s critical to take precautions when the temperatures are higher too. It’s a good idea to take something to provide shade, like an umbrella or windbreaker, and there are also cool mats and cooling coats available, which can be effective if used as per the instructions. You’ll also want some blankets or towels to protect your car from wet, sandy dogs on the drive home!”
With huge increases in pet ownership and many families expected to plan a staycation, more road users than ever before will be travelling with their pets in tow. Multicar insurance can also allow you to share the drive with someone else, if your dog requires attention in the back of the car.
But what are the rules when travelling with pets in the car? Joel Kempson, car insurance expert from Uswitch, explains more about keeping both four-legged and two-legged passengers safe as you head off on a seaside adventure.
“It’s perfectly legal to take your pet with you in your car, but they must be restrained at all times, according to Rule 57 of the Highway Code. Pet seat belts are widely available as are carry cages and harnesses, all of which can keep you and your pet safe in the event of an accident.
“These restraints also stop your pet from roaming around the vehicle while it’s moving, which could invalidate your car insurance. Ignoring this law could also land you with a fine of up to £5,000 for ‘careless driving’ if you were pulled over by the police.”
Joel explains that some pets may not have experienced a road trip before and to get them used to the car before heading out on any long journeys.
“Try taking your pets on some shorter trips before you head off on holiday to get them used to the movement of the car. Take it slowly and build up to longer journeys to assess how your individual pet will react.
“An open window can help your pet keep cool in the car, which is especially important on hot days or in slow-moving traffic. Don’t be tempted to let your dog hang their head out of the window. It might look cute, but it can have some devastating consequences.
“When travelling, remember to drive gently, plan your stops and keep your pet restrained, hydrated and comfortable.”
Mapped: 10 Dog-Friendly Beaches in the UK
We then compared that list of beaches against The Beach Guide’s Dog-Friendly Beach List to determine the beaches which permitted dogs all year round with no specific access restrictions.
Ranked: Seaside staycation destinations with the most dog-friendly beaches
To rank the top seaside staycation destinations, we used The Beach Guide and ranked each region of the UK based on how many beaches they had in the region that welcomed dogs.