Whitstable is a beautiful Kent costal town famous for its oysters. It has a pebbly beach, separated by groynes. The town is exceptionally quaint, with numerous independent shops selling all sorts of lovely items. Restaurants, eateries and fish and chips shops aplenty, including a fish market in the harbour where you can buy fresh fish.
Ice cream vans can be found dotted around the place, including the harbor and near the jetty. If you like to be a bit more active, take a stroll towards Tankerton, along the promenade. This is a truly beautiful place, with numerous beach huts (bring your camera!). Tankerton would no doubt warrant a review of its own! (By Nina Grimstead).
A quintessential family day out at the seaside. Ideal for small budgets and big spenders alike! Plenty to see, do, eat and drink and also dog friendly. Whitstable has a calm friendly atmosphere and is sure to be an enjoyable day for all (by Amy Stapleton).
MUMMY’S GIN FUND SAYS:
Oh boy, how we love this place! With three lively boys, we love nothing more than heading here with our friends, and have spent many a sunny day, crabbing, playing on the boats (dragged up onto the beach not in the sea!), throwing stones into the water and wandering around the busy harbour. There is also a long promenade that you can scooter on although this is very busy at peak times.
Personally, if it’s a sunny Sunday, we will be on our way here by 9am. It can be very tricky to park, and traffic can be quite bad, if you arrive too late in the day. Arrive early enough and you will see the rejects from the mornings fishing haul, providing you have a strong stomach! Your children will absolute love picking up the boned fish skeletons and entire crab shells/lobster claws thrown onto the beach by the fishermen. My youngest boy loves making a ‘fish gut sandwich’.
Take a trip into the town (there is a great shop called Georges) and buy a crabbing net and bucket (these are reasonably priced and you’ll pick up the pair for around £5). Bring some bacon from home and head out on the jetty to catch some crabs. Our record is 44 large crabs caught in under an hour!
Make sure you check the tide times before you leave home: www.tidetimes.org.uk/whitstable-approaches-tide-times
The beach is very pebbly so you may want to bring camping chairs!
Worth noting is the Raspberry beer available from the Oyster Company right near the jetty. Take a wander down to the harbour area and you will find Whitstable Harbour Village, an eclectic mix of independent retailers selling fabulous homemade food, hand made crafts and clothes (personal recommendation for “Curry in a Hurry” who sell homemade vegetarian or chicken curries, with chips/rice or in wraps and they are delicious!). This is open on bank holidays and weekends only, see website for more details (www.whitstableharbourvillage.co.uk/traders.html).
We’ve ended many a Whitstable day watching the sun set over the jetty, with the kids eating ice-cream and left with them barefoot on scooters (having gone into the sea in their converse!) back to the car, where they fall asleep, with pockets full of sand and shells and heads full of memories made (Nina).
Whitstable is a great, authentic beach day out for children. It can also be done on a small budget. There are no attractions or rides like you would expect at nearby Margate but the hours of fun my sons have had selecting stones to throw in the sea and collecting shells to take home is amazing. Crabbing is a popular activity along the jetties. The sunset is stunning and to be enjoyed with a bag of chips or a disposable bbq (available in Sainsburys on the high Street). Drinks can be bought from the pubs along the sea front, The Pearsons Arms and The Neptune and taken to the beach in plastic, or stock up from the shops on the high street. Some sand can be found among the shingle so take spades. If you get caught out by the weather there is a bowling alley near the harbour and a swimming pool. Both have a cheap car park but arrive early to secure a space! The swimming pool has an inflatable obstacle course session on Saturday and Sunday afternoons for confident swimmers and a baby pool for younger swimmers. Non-Members Welcome. https://www.activelifeltd.co.uk/family-fun-time/ A stroll down the high street can be a bit of a dodging act as they are narrow and busy in the summer months. But you’ll find quirky shops, charity shops, a lovely toy shop as well as bigger shops such as Jo Jo Maman Bebe, White Stuff and if you forget the essentials, Sainsburys, Co-op and Boots. Often there are art stalls or vintage sales inside the Whitstable Umbrella Community Centre where quirky gifts can be bought (by Amy Stapleton).
Address: Whitstable, Kent, CT5 1FB (post code for sat nav purposes only and may not represent the actual beach).
Cafe: There are numerous cafes, pubs, restaurants, and eateries in the vicinity. One of the most popular is the fish and chip shop on Harbour Street (Nina).
Above the Whitstable Oyster Company is a very chic coffee shop. It’s relaxed, spacious and children are welcome. A large open space with fantastic views of the sea and oyster beds. Not openly advertised from the street, it is very quiet during the week and serves hot drinks, smoothies and pastries. Accessible only by stairs from inside the Whitstable Oyster Company Restaurant. There are binoculars you can use to look out to sea and often a range of artisan homewares to purchase. A welcome change from the usual cramped chain coffee shops. A popular feature for my children are the glass water dispensers with fruit and cucumber infusions which are free to use. http://whitstableoystercompany.com/ The Lobster Shack is a fun, rustic place for lunch or dinner. Tables inside and out on the beach. Suitable for children and doesn’t just serve lobster! The downside is they don’t take reservations so arrive early. https://www.thelobstershack.co.uk/ There are a range of other family friendly restaurants such as Zizi, Pizza Express and pubs to eat in but be sure to book a table at peak times. They get busy! Alternatively take a picnic and treat yourself to an ice cream from the ice cream vans! (Amy).
Playground: Up at Whitstable Castle is a small onsite car park and a beach themed playground for children. Featuring the usual wooden climbing equipment it also has a hand pump to move water along the small stream that flows through the playground. Small wooden bridges to cross. Additionally there is a tea shop and toilet facilities within the castle. A lengthy but doable walk from Whitstable and shorter walk from Tankerton (Amy).
Toilets: Toilets are available in the area but they vary depending on which part of the beach you head to. There are public toilets (one ladies (and I mean just one), one mens and one disabled that is shared by the ladies) on Horsebridge Street which is by the popular crabbing jetty near The Whitstable Oyster Company restaurant and Zizi’s. These toilets are, understandably, busy and you can queue for some time here during busy periods. Word of warning . . . there is no cubicle in the men’s toilet! There are a larger set of public toilets by the Harbor. Baby change in Horsebridge street. A Google search comes up with ‘ Whitstable mums call for better baby change facilities” so may be worth bearing this in mind. Many of the larger restaurants have baby change and a sweet smile will usually get you in to borrow their facilities (Nina).
The Horsebridge Arts Centre, Horsebridge has clean accessible (by lift) female, male and disabled toilets with baby change. There is a donation box in the entrance if you wish to use the facilities without visiting their cafe, shop or exhibition areas. Outside the front door is an amnesty box for buckets and spades. Feel free to borrow one during your trip and return it to the box at the end of the day for someone else to use (Amy).
Pram/wheelchair/mobility friendly: Yes, there is a fairly smooth path running along side the beach from the Harbour to the Neptune Pub. However, you need to climb stairs access the path at the Neptune Pub end. Bear in mind it’s a shingle beach so you may need to drag your pram backwards if you take it off the path.
Parking: Whitstable has numerous car parks, however these can be very busy at weekends or during school holidays. I would suggest that you try every car park you drive past. All are clearly signposted. Whitstable Junior school is on the approach into Whitstable town centre and during weekends, bank holidays and school holidays (there are a few exceptions) they allow parking on the school premises for a donation. This is also clearly signposted with temporary parking signs. This web site provides details on all car parks in the vicinity including costs, number of spaces and opening times: www.parkopedia.co.uk/parking/carpark/whitstable_harbour/ct5/whitstable.
There is sometimes free parking on the residential streets behind the High Street.
Nearest station: Whitstable Station, just over 10 mins walk from The Harbour.
Phone: 01227 770060 (Whitstable Visitor Information Centre)
Email: [email protected] (Whitstable Visitor Information Centre)
Review by Nina Grimstead and Amy Stapleton.