England's Best Seaside Cafés

Joanna Symons, The Daily Telegraph, July 17, 2013

Wiveton Hall Café, near Blakeney, North Norfolk

In a setting that feels almost Mediterranean (shady pine trees and sandy soil underfoot), this quirky cafe is a great spot for al fresco breakfast, lunch or tea, with views across the salt marshes to the sea, excellent food prepared with locally sourced ingredients and paintings by local artists on the walls inside. In summer, you can pick your own raspberries or strawberries from the surrounding fields (01263 740515; wivetonhall.co.uk/the-cafe ).

The Hut, Colwell Bay, Freshwater, Isle of Wight

New this year, The Hut is already drawing crowds of locals and holidaymakers for its short, well prepared lunch and dinner menu, friendly young staff, great cocktails and panoramic terrace views of a yacht-filled Solent. It’s set right above a safe swimming beach, and is west-facing, so makes a great spot for an evening drink. There are weekend evening barbecues, weather permitting (01983 898637; thehutcolwell.co.uk ). If you arrive by boat and anchor offshore a tender from the restaurant will ferry you to and from the beach.

Rotunda Bar Terrace Café, Midland Hotel, Morecambe, Lancashire

The vast expanse of Morcambe Bay opens out in front of you from the terrace of this beautifully renovated Art Deco hotel (pictured below) on Morecambe seafront. You can come for lunch, dinner – or just a drink with a view. It’s also a popular spot for morning coffee and traditional afternoon tea (08458 501240; englishlakes.co.uk/hotels/lancashire-hotels/the-midland-hotel-morecambe/ ).

The Ship Inn, Low Newton by the Sea, Northumberland

This is a rural pub rather than a bar or café, but it’s included here because it’s a stone’s throw from one of the loveliest beaches on the Northumberland coast (pictured below) – perhaps one of the best beaches in England. In summer you can eat Lobster straight from Newton Bay, or sit on the green outside and sip beer from the pub’s own micro brewery (01665 576262; shipinnnewton.co.uk ).

East Beach Café, Littlehampton, West Sussex

This place has certainly put Littlehampton on the map. Its provocative architecture – an avant-garde Flintstones-inspired building right on the beach – is as big a draw as its excellent menu, featuring local fish and seafood – with a few options for carnivores. On the far bank of the River Arun is its sister establishment, the West Beach Cafe (01903 731903; eastbeachcafe.co.uk )

The Porthmeor Beach Café, St Ives, Cornwall

Tables on the terrace, and inside this chic little café, look out over a classic north Cornwall surfing beach (pictured below). The menu includes superb tapas, particularly the Sicilian arancini, marinated octopus, and chorizo meatballs. Finish with freshly made churros dipped in chocolate (01736 793366; porthmeor-beach.co.uk ). The café’s owners have recently opened the West Beach Bakery further along the beach, serving artisan stone-baked pizza, sandwiches and cakes (gluten-free options), all baked on the premises. Reservations for dinner only.

River Exe Café, Exmouth, Devon

For superb river and sea views, head for the newish River Exe Café (07761 116103; riverexecafe.com ), a floating shed-cum-pontoon moored off Exmouth. Its fish comes from passing boats, so the sea-to-plate interval can be as little as five minutes. There are regular comedy and music nights. Get there by pedalling along the new Topsham-to-Exmouth cycle path, then catch a water taxi to the café. Open until end September.

Sandside Café, Sandsend, Yorkshire

Whitby crab sandwiches and homemade pies and cakes are the chief draw at this simple café right on the golden sands at Sandsend – the prettiest and most peaceful stretch of the wide two-mile beach that stretches north-west from Whitby (01947 893916; sandsidecafe.co.uk ).

Hive Beach Café, Burton Bradstock, Dorset

Locals and visitors pour in here to eat breakfast, lunch and tea against one of the prettiest backdrops in Dorset. Grass-topped cliffs roll away on either side of this sheltered, golden-sand beach, which looks out to Lyme Bay. The fish and seafood is fresh and beautifully cooked, and the home-made cakes are divine. Dogs and children are welcome and there’s an ice cream parlour in summer. Walkers can reach the café (pictured below) via the South-West Coast Path. Dinner is offered from July 20 to September 8 (01308 897070; hivebeachcafe.co.uk ).

Jojos, Tankerton, Whitstable, Kent

You can bring your own wine to this charming little restaurant, which has lovely sea views from the terrace and a reliably good Mediterranean-style food on the menu (chargrilled lamb with tzatziki, calamari deep fried in beer batter, patatas bravas), prepared with organic, locally sourced food. See the website for opening times; payment by cash or cheque only (01227 274591; jojosrestaurant.co.uk ).

Check websites for opening times and dates as some of our recommendations are only open during summer. Advance booking is highly recommended where offered.