The Thanet coast is where to head in Kent for the best blue flag sandy beaches. A choice of watersports and children's playgrounds are on Margate's Main Sands beach. Windsurfing and water skiing are particularly popular in the area. Alongside Margate's Blue Flag Main Sands beach a choice of other Blue Flag beaches are situated both east and west of the resort. To the west, Westgate-on-sea is Margate's quieter seaside base offering spectacular beach bays and cliff top walking, plus a choice of elegant hotels lining the cliff top seafront. Margate's history as one of Britain's most popular seaside resorts is legendary, for the early bathing scene to taking the lead in seaside resort development through the 19th and 20th centuries. It's a rich history this, and brilliantly explored through exhibits in Margate's acclaimed museum within the historic old town hall.
Margate Tourist Information Centre, 12-13 The Parade, Margate, Kent, CT9 1EY. Tel. 0870 264 6111.
The bathing machine wasn't invented in Margate but the bathing machine was extensively developed here in Margate by local glove and breeches maker Benjamin Beale in the 1750s. As seaside bathing shifted from the therapeutic to the mass popular, Margate continued to thrive as a British seaside holiday resort leading the way in seaside resort development. Britain's oldest rollercoaster is here in Margate on the Dreamland amusement complex which dates from the 1920s. A campaign is currently pushing for its preservation, with much local community support (see the Save Dreamland's website right for details). Campaigners are also fighting to preserve the stunning art deco 1930s Dreamland cinema with its distinctive tall flat tower. Look to famous theme park designer Jean-Marc Toussaint's 'I Dream of Dreamland' vision via the website.The Margate Museum which held extensive exhibits on Margate's seaside history is sadly now closed.
Unlike the Whitstable and Herne Bay stretch of coast to the west, Thanet's glorious choice of beaches at Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate are sandy. No wonder then that this stretch of the Kent coast has pulled in the seaside crowds (especially from London) for decades. Today a fair few of these beaches have Blue Flag status and in glorious Margate Blue Flag beaches reign supreme across the beach board!
Margate Main Sands Blue Flag sandy beach stretches for around 200 metres, so plenty of space for all. Attractions line the beach including kids playgrounds, plus there's a popular tidal bathing pool and traditional seaside donkey rides. Facilities on hand are excellent including a choice of cafes, toilets (including disabled toilets and good disabled access onto the beach), lifeguards and first aid station and deckchair hire available aplenty. The 18 hole floodlit Stokes Adventure Golf is conveniently sited on Westbrook Promenade, just west of Margate Main Sands Beach.
Beautiful Westbrook Bay, another Margate Blue Flag beach west of Main Sands is likewise around 200 metres of sandy beach and prime territory for water skiing. Excellent facilities are here too, including cafes, toilets, lifeguards, first aid centre, beach huts and deck chair hire. Disabled toilets are also onsite, with good disabled access onto the flat level beach. The northern stretch of Margate's coast, pushing towards Cliftonville is home to Quality Coast Award winner and Blue Flag beach Walpole Bay. Walpole Bay is longer at 400 metres, and serves as a popular stretch for watersports. Jet ski hire, toilets, disabled access, adjacent parking and more are all onsite. Alongside these three main Margate Blue Flag beaches, there's more Blue Flag beach treats in store at nearby Minnis Bay off the Birchington coast and glorious West Bay and St Mildred's Bay at Westgate on Sea. Minnis Bay is a superb spot for families with a sailing club and windsurfing on--site, plus seal watching boat trips are easily hooked into here. A comprehensive Margate beach guide can be found on the official Visit Thanet webguide.
Pushing north of Margate Main Sands up Fort Hill you'll pass Margate's Yacht Club (see webguide right for information on sailing lessons). Winter Gardens faces onto Walpole Bay beach and a number of attractions are in this area including Margate's Bandstand, Bugsy's Ten Pin Bowling, the Walpole Bay Hotel Museum and Thanet Indoor Bowls Centre. The little Tom Thumb Theatre is also just east of the Bandstand. Margate Yacht Club, 12-14 Fort Hill, Margate, Kent, CT9 1HD. Tel. 01843 292602.