MILLIONS of Brits think UK beaches are among the best in the world – with an Essex beach voted among the top 50 in the country.

A survey of 2,000 adults on the 50 best UK beaches saw Southend finish in 36th place.

It was the only Essex beach to be featured on the list.

Bournemouth beach in Dorset was voted the nation’s number one, with three Cornish beaches named in the top 10, including St Ives, Bude and Newquay.

It also emerged 75 per cent consider the beach or sea to be an iconic British landscape, and a third reckon holidays to the UK’s seaside are underrated.

Sarah Young, head of marine policy at WWF-UK which commissioned the research in partnership with Sky Ocean Rescue, said: “While we wait for travel restrictions to be lifted, there are a number of things we can be doing at home to protect our beautiful coastlines and ensure staycations can be enjoyed for years to come.

"Over the months ahead, Sky Ocean Rescue and WWF will be setting out the actions that we can take as individuals to become ocean heroes, while also encouraging stronger leadership from the UK Government to support vital ocean recovery that’s so urgently needed."

A survey of 2,000 adults on the 50 best UK beaches saw Southend finish in 36th place. Picture: PA

A survey of 2,000 adults on the 50 best UK beaches saw Southend finish in 36th place. Picture: PA

The study also found half of those polled love the beach so much because it makes them feel free, helps them to clear their head and allows them to escape the stresses and strains of everyday life.

Two thirds even feel they have a strong emotional connection to the seaside, with 67 per cent admitting they have missed visiting the nation’s beaches during the pandemic.

For eight in 10, sitting by the ocean is good for their mental wellbeing, with a third wanting to visit the coast to help clear their head and get some peace and quiet.

Read more:

More than half head to the beach to relax and unwind and 29 per cent see it as a form of escapism, while 51 per cent simply like to take in the scenery.

Others like to feel their sand between their toes (24 per cent) or listen to the crashing waves (44 per cent) as they collect their thoughts.

A survey of 2,000 adults on the 50 best UK beaches saw Southend finish in 36th place. Picture: PA

A survey of 2,000 adults on the 50 best UK beaches saw Southend finish in 36th place. Picture: PA

The study, carried out via OnePoll, also revealed 45 per cent feel trips to the seaside are an important part of British culture, and 87 per cent would be upset if their visits were ruined by environmental factors.

As a result, two thirds are passionate about the care of the ocean and its wildlife and are concerned about climate change and the state of the UK oceans.

But only 23 per cent are fully aware of the role that oceans play in tackling climate change – with one in 10 admitting they were not aware at all.

To help benefit the oceans, 59 per cent have made conscious lifestyle choices – with swapping single use plastics for reusables the top change.

Properly disposing of hazardous materials, choosing fruit and veg with no plastic packaging, using the ability to vote, and eating sustainable seafood also feature on this list.

Sarah Young from WWF-UK added: “The Ocean Hero campaign by Sky Ocean Rescue and WWF is designed to show people that they have the power to make an impact on ocean health and, in doing so, inspire them to advocate for bold action from our government.

"At this critical time for climate and nature, we hope that millions of people will join us to show they care about our oceans and help to turn the tide on ocean recovery.”

The top 50 UK beaches:

1. Bournemouth, Dorset

2. St Ives, Cornwall

3. Bude, Cornwall

4. Blackpool Beach

5. Whitby, Yorkshire

6. Brighton, Sussex

7. Newquay, Cornwall

8. Tenby, Pembrokeshire

9. Bognor Regis, West Sussex

10. Filey, North Yorkshire

11. Woolacombe, Devon

12. Weymouth, Dorset

13. Great Yarmouth, Norfolk

14. Tynemouth, Tyne & Wear

15. Scarborough, North Yorkshire

16. Barmouth, Gwynedd

17. Llandudno, Conwy County Borough

18. Robin Hood's Bay, Yorkshire

19. Shanklin, the Isle of Wight

20. Exmouth, Devon

21. Aberystwyth, Ceredigion

22. Broadstairs, Kent

23. Dawlish, Devon

24. Polzeath, Cornwall

25. Watergate Bay, Cornwall

26. Barton-on-Sea, Hampshire

27. Crosby, Merseyside

28. Sandbanks beach, Dorset

29. Torquay, Devon

30. Eastbourne, East Sussex

31. Skegness, Lincolnshire

32. Camber Sands, East Sussex

33. Ilfracombe, Devon

34. Paignton, Devon

35. Southwold, Suffolk

36. Southend on Sea, Essex

37. Whitstable, Kent

38. Lochinver, Scotland

39. Margate, Kent

40. Salcombe, Devon

41. Pittenweem, Fife

42. Porthmadog, Gwynedd

43. Portree (Skye), Inner Hebrides

44. Portmeirion, Gwynedd

45. Hastings, East Sussex

46. New Brighton, Merseyside

47. Folkestone, Kent

48. Plockton, Ross and Cromarty

49. Gardenstown, Aberdeenshire

50. Stromness, Orkney