Tucked away in the lower east corner of The Wash, Snettisham is the first beach you’ll find when travelling north along the A149 coast road from King’s Lynn. In common with the other beaches along this stretch of coast – Heacham and Hunstanton – Snettisham Beach faces west, with views across The Wash towards Lincolnshire.
Protected from the North Sea winds by Norfolk itself, the west-facing beaches experience calmer and more agreeable weather than the more exposed beaches on the north and eastern coasts, and with their westerly aspects, provide ideal vantage points to enjoy long, glorious sunsets.
Snettisham Beach is a roughly equal mixture of sand and shingle, more of a walking beach than a bucket and spade beach. From the car park, located just behind the dunes, you access the beach at a dividing line: to your left the beach is backed by a holiday park full of static caravans and chalets, while to the right there is a wide area of heathland.
Heading further south, you pass Snettisham Beach Sailing Club, and more beach shacks. Behind all these are the lakes and lagoons of RSPB Snettisham. To the north you’ll eventually reach some concrete sea defenses, followed by more heathland-backed beach until you make the transition to Heacham South Beach.
There are no major developments at Snettisham Beach – it’s mostly wild and natural, and thus a haven for birds. Those seeking social interaction may wish to visit other beaches – at Snettisham you can find yourself, even on a summer’s day, the only living soul within view.
Snettisham Beach has a distinct claim to fame – known in bird watching circles as the Snettisham Spectacular. The shallow beach gives way to wide expanses of mudflats at low tide, where tens of thousands of wading birds gather to roost overnight.
From late summer to early winter, incoming tides slowly push the birds off the mudflats towards the beach, and vast flocks of knot, dunlin and oystercatchers take to the air in whirling, mesmerising murmurations.
Snettisham Beach is a favourite spot for some solitary sea fishing, dog walking, watching the abundant wildlife and enjoying breathtaking uninterrupted sunsets.
Large sandy car park with 300 spaces. Open 24 hours.
Price: £1 for 1 hour, £3 for 3 hours, £5 for 24 hours.
Address: Beach Road, Snettisham PE31 7PS
More info: parkopedia.co.uk
There are no official facilities or public toilets at Snettisham Beach, however during busy times of year you may find a food truck and/or ice cream van in the car park. There are some shops and refreshments available at the closest caravan park, and more further back down Beach Road.
Snettisham Beach Caravan Park, situated about 300m away from the beach entrance, has a shop and clubhouse/bar, which are both open to non-members.
A further 150m along Beach road you’ll find Snettisham Beach Fish & Chip Shop, together with an amusement arcade and a small beach shop selling ice creams.
Dogs are allowed, with no restrictions. Snettisham Beach is a lovely spot for walking the dog.
There are no lifeguard services at any time of year.