The Essex coastline has plenty to amaze and entertain, and 2023 may just be the perfect year to take full advantage of it
The National Coastal Tourism Academy has designated 2023 ‘The Year of the Coast’. With one of the longest coastlines in the country, Visit Essex, the county’s tourism body, takes you through all there is on offer along its 350-mile long coastline, from exciting coastal attractions and vibrant culture to the quaint and picturesque.
Culture by the coast
Along the coast, there’s plenty of culture and heritage to experience. In Southend-on-Sea, the Beecroft Art Gallery shows off over 2,000 artefacts ranging from 17th century Dutch paintings to contemporary works, while the Focal Point Gallery showcases contemporary visual art. Adventure Island, complete with a range of white-knuckle rides, will launch its 2023 season during February half term, ready to thrill all the family. With two theatres, award-winning beaches, and the longest pier in the world, which stretches 1.34 miles out into the Thames Estuary, Southend-on-Sea’s coastline is one not to miss.
Further north, Clacton-on-Sea hosts the delightful Princes Theatre with a mixture of musical shows ongoing throughout the year as well as their Easter Pantomime, Rapunzel. There’s also the West Cliff Theatre, which puts on ‘The Summer Show’, a variety spectacular packed with comedy, song and dance. Clacton-on-Sea’s pleasure pier and arcades are always a family favourite, while the Clacton Air Show, a two-day annual event, being held on 24-25 August 2023, never fails to attract excited crowds to the area.
Known for its seafood
A trip to see Essex’s vast coastline in 2023 would not be complete without sampling the delicious seafood available on the water’s edge. Mersea Island is famous for its oysters, harvested since Roman times, and there are charming restaurants on the west of the island that serve them up. The quaint area of Leigh-on-Sea near Southend also has a selection of excellent pubs and fish restaurants, along with its famous cockle sheds. There’s also the opportunity to head over to Old Leigh and view the once-busy fish port. For fish and chips by the seaside, Brightlingsea offers up a traditional serve, or there are plenty of restaurants in Southend that specialise in the beloved dish.
Take a walk on the coastal side
While West Mersea is known for its array of shops, restaurants and fishing boats, East Mersea offers the scenic Cudmore Grove Country Park and sandy beaches. One of over 30 islands in Essex, a walk around Mersea Island allows you to fossil hunt as well as explore the island’s saltmarshes and migrating birds.
You can also walk along the estuary in the quaint village of Mistley, taking in the stunning views over the River Stour. Or head to Burnham-on-Crouch, the historic town on the banks of the River Crouch that is home to a range of listed buildings, boat-building yards and sailing clubs. The coastal town will host the internationally famous ‘Burnham Week’ on Saturday 26 August to Saturday 2 September 2023.
So much to see
Try a different way to see the coastline on a Thames sailing barge with Topsail Charters. They’ll take you along the Blackwater Estuary, all the way from Maldon, past Northey and Osea Islands and back, and you can also enjoy a cream tea while you cruise across the smooth waters.
If you’re looking for that perfect Instagram-worthy image, head to the Tollesbury Lightship; it’s an icon on the Essex landscape and should not be missed. Or take pictures at some of the pretty beach huts that line the county’s seafronts at Walton-on-the-Naze, Frinton-on-Sea or Thorpe Bay near Southend.
With a lot to see and do along the coastline, why not turn your seaside adventure into a short break? Go luxe at the Roslin Beach Hotel in Southend to experience coastal delights in the south of Essex, or The Mistley Thorn in the centre of the estuarine village of Mistley, the perfect base to explore the north Essex coastline. For something a little different, take in views across the Colne estuary while cosied up in a stable cottage, lush cabin or unique pod at Lee Wick Farm Cottages & Glamping in St Osyth.
To discover more, see visitessex.com