While most visitors to the North Norfolk coast are familiar with the seaside town of Hunstanton, just around the corner lies Old Hunstanton – a completely different experience altogether. A wide, sandy beach backed by dunes with beach huts nestled within, Old Hunstanton Beach is quieter and close-to-nature, without any of the noisy amusements or other trappings of a busy holiday resort.
There’s space to spread out even when the tide is in, and when the tide is out the beach stretches almost as far as the eye can see. The sand is fine and soft, and the extensive grassy dunes provide both privacy and shelter.
There are two access points for the beach: the cliff-top car park and the village entrance.
The cliff-top car park, by the old lighthouse, is council run and has parking for 1500 cars. There’s a café next to the entrance and public toilets by the beach path. The path is steep and sandy, and runs down beside the edge of the cliffs. From this entrance you can head right, onto Old Hunstanton Beach or left, along the foot of the cliffs towards Hunstanton. If you plan on exploring the extraordinary striped cliffs, beach boulders and shipwreck on Hunstanton North Beach during your visit, this is a good starting point.
The village entrance has a car park owned by the Le Strange Arms Hotel next door. It’s an attended car park with around 180 spaces. There are public toilets between the car park and the beach. From this entrance it’s straight into the dunes from the back of the car park, or onto the beach via Sea Lane. If you’re after maximum soft sand and space to spread out, this is where to start.
The village entrance has a café – The Old Town Beach Café – and it’s right next to the Le Strange Arms Hotel, a rather up-market establishment where you can take a break from the sun and enjoy a drink or a meal.
Unlike the beaches along the stretch of coast extending northwards from King’s Lynn to Hunstanton, Old Hunstanton doesn’t face due west, but with its north-westerly aspect it still enjoys glorious sunsets across The Wash.
Kitesurfing has become a popular activity at Old Hunstanton in recent years, and there are a number of schools and clubs that operate in the area. With the vast expanses of firm wet sand available at low tide, you can often watch kite buggies zipping back and forth.
Hunstanton Golf Club has an 18-hole course that runs behind the beach towards Holme.
At the Sea Lane beach entrance you’ll find the Hunstanton RNLI Lifeboat Station. The two boathouses are home to an inshore lifeboat and one of only four inshore rescue hovercraft. The lifeboat station is open to visitors most days throughout summer.
Old Hunstanton Beach is great for dogs, with a wide, shallow beach. The beach cafés are dog friendly, offering water and treats. There are no restrictions on dogs at any time of year.
There are two car parks with access to Old Hunstanton beach.
Old Hunstanton Beach Car Park
Grassy/hard sandy surface with spaces for approx. 180 cars.
Privately owned by Le Strange Arms Hotel next door. Please do not park in the hotel car park, use the beach car park through the gate to the right hand side.
Attended car park open from 7am – 9pm.
Charges vary, during peak season expect to pay £5 per day.
Address: Le Strange Arms Hotel, Golf Course Road, Old Hunstanton, Norfolk PE36 6JJ
More info: www.lestrangearms.co.uk
Hunstanton Cliff Car Park
Large grassy surface car park with 1500 spaces. Open 24 hours.
Note: the steps to the beach are steep and sandy and unsuitable for anyone with mobility issues.
Monday to Sunday and Bank Holidays (9:00am until 5:00pm)
Off-peak 1 September to 30 June:
1 hour – £2.00
3 hours – £4.00
All day – £6.00
Peak 1 July to 31 August:
1 hour – £2.00
3 hours – £4.00
All day – £7.00
Monday to Sunday and Bank Holidays (5.00pm to 9:00am)
Address: Lighthouse Close, Hunstanton, PE36 6EL
More info: www.west-norfolk.gov.uk
Old Hunstanton Beach is served by the 36 Coastliner.
The nearest stops are located at Lighthouse Close, by the entrance to the cliff-top car park, and Old Hunstanton Post Office, on the A149 coast road.
Both stops are approximately 0.7km (0.4mi) from the beach, although the cliff-top access is via a steep sandy steps beside the cliffs.
There’s a cafe at the entrance to the cliff top car park, next to the old lighthouse, called appropriately the Lighthouse Café.
Further away, at around 1.6km (1mi) from the cliff top, Hunstanton town centre has a selection of pubs, restaurants, fish and chips shops and supermarkets.
Next to the the beach entrance on Sea Lane is The Old Town Beach Café.
Back on the A149 coast road, approximately 500m (0.3mi) from the beach, there’s a general store, in the Old Hunstanton Post Office.
Old Hunstanton Beach is dog friendly, with no restrictions.
No lifeguard service at any time of year.