Swimming, sunbathing, surfing, sailing, fishing, drinking, dancing, eating, sleeping – all this and plenty more can be found on Brighton beach, and plenty more besides.
Since Victorian times holidaymakers have been flocking to Brighton beach to enjoy its long stony shoreline, clean seas and the many attractions which line the promenade.
Today on hot weekends during the summer months you’ll often struggle to find a space on Brighton beach to park your towel, as is the popularity of the beach among weekend visitors and locals. But there’s more to the beach in Brighton than just a place to catch some UV. The beach is central to Brighton’s thriving nightlife with many clubs and bars locate directly on the beachfront, some of the best hotels in Brighton can be found dotted along the seafront and watersports are an important part of Brighton life.
Brighton beach itself spans from the east end of town at Brighton Marina all the way through to the Hove end which eventually breaks when it reaches Shoreham to the west of Brighton & Hove.
The whole of the beach is good for swimming and sunbathing but choosing your spot on the beach carefully will help you to get the most from your day. The busiest part of the beach is between the city centre, around the Grand hotel, and Brighton Pier area. This is where most of the bars and beachfront restaurants are located and its good for convenience, but on busy days can get jam packed so for a more relaxing time you might want to move further out of town towards the west pier (the burned down one!) where you’ll find more space to lay on the beach and stuff for the kids to do with a recently refurbished play area.
If you continue further west along Brighton beach you’ll come to the Hove end which is distinguished by its lawn areas along the promenade which are a popular place for locals to hang out, kick a football around and cook BBQ’s. The beach at Hove is usually quieter than the Brighton end. Facilities here are more spread out but there’s still plenty of options- several toilet blocks are available on Hove beach and there’s a couple of beachfront cafes which do a roaring trade during summer months.
All along the Brighton & Hove ends of the beach you can rent deckchairs and sun loungers for the day at reasonable prices.
The Brighton Pier is the entertainment centre of Brighton beach and one of the cities most enduring and iconic landmarks. Centrally located south of Brighton’s Old Steine area, the pier features several amusement arcades, a large funfair, a restaurant, bars and food stalls selling everything from doughnuts to biltong.
The pier is open from 10am to 10pm weekdays and 11pm on weekends. Find out more at http://www.brightonpier.co.uk
Some of Brighton’s best nightlife can be found right on Brighton beach with a number of nightclubs hidden away in the arches which run under the promenade.
Club Digital (previously Zap club) is one of the most famous Brighton beachfront clubs playing house music most weekends with a varied calendar of special nights. www.yourfutureisdigital.com/brighton/
The Honeyclub on Brighton Beach is one of Brighton’s largest clubs having consolidated a number of adjacent bars into one venue. It attracts some big name DJ’s as well as popular weekly club nights and student nights. http://www.thehoneyclub.co.uk/
The Fortune of War bar on Brighton beach, located directly down onto the beachfront from the centre of town and Odeon cinema, is probably the most popular of a proliferation of Beach bars in the area to the west of Brighton Pier.
Eating on Brighton beach
While fish and chips is still the order of the day for a true Brighton beach experience you can find more variety on the beach these days when it comes to places to eat. Alfresco restaurant (http://www.alfresco-brighton.co.uk) on the beachfront serves a good selection of Italian food. Due South (http://www.duesouth.co.uk/) is the place to go for locally sourced home cooked foods on Brighton Beach.
You can also find plenty of smaller alternatives dotted along the beach and of course plenty of fish and chip vendors!
During the summer months the nightclubs along the beach also open up to serve food and drink during the day and these are a good choice for reasonably priced meals on Brighton beach.
Watersports on Brighton beach
With the beach and sea playing such a pivotal role in Brighton life there’s plenty of opportunities to take part in various watersports during your visit to Brighton. Brighton watersports (http://www.thebrightonwatersports.co.uk) hire kayaks by the hour and also offer beginners courses.
For the more adventurous Lagoon Watersports (http://www.lagoon.co.uk) run courses in sailing, powerboating and windsurfing out of Hove Lagoon, to the far west end of Hove beach.
Increasing in popularity, kitesurfing offers an adrenaline packed day, with excellent conditions usually possible at beaches either in or around Brighton. See JB Kitesurfing (http://jbkitesurfing.co.uk/) or the Brighton Kitesurfing academy (http://www.brightonkitesurfingacademy.co.uk/) for more details of classes.
Brighton beach for kids
Brighton Beach offers plenty to keep the kids entertained. Around the West Pier, next to Alfresco restaurant there’s an excellent paddling pool and play park for younger kids. There’s also a number of rides, including the famous carrousel towards the Brighton Pier end of the beach. To the east side of the Brighton Pier you’ll find mini golf and the Volks electric railway (http://www.volkselectricrailway.co.uk/) and further along the paved Madeira drive you’ll find a number of fairground rides for the kids.
Of courses there’s also the fun fair and amusements on Brighton Pier itself or the Sealife centre located just opposite the pier, which are both great ways to entertain kids for an afternoon even if the weather isn’t so good.
Brighton nudist beaches
Brighton’s official nudist beach is the Black Rock beach, which can be found east of the Brighton Pier and near to the Brighton Marina. It’s a partly secluded bit of beach surrounded by built up mounds of pebbles, although the beach is still visible from the elevated promenade. This is the only part of Brighton beach where nude bathing is permitted.
Article written by John McElborough
Photography by Charlotte Mach