Sunday morning arrived with forecasts for another hot day. We tossed between visiting a beach or Bluewater in order to stay cool. For some reason, Cara woke up at 6am (normally it’s 7:30am), so we opted for the longer drive to West Mersea Beach. We had never been to this particular beach before and our previous visit to Mersea Island was during Winter. So what better way to spend a family day out.
Date Visited: Sunday, 8th July 2018 – temperature was baking at 30°
Location: West Mersea Beach, Victoria Esplanade, West Mersea CO5 8JD
Getting There: Closest train – Colchester station then bus and walk, but it’s quite a trek. We opted for the drive which was approximately 90 minutes from South-East London. On-site parking is available (£2 for up to 2 hours, or £3 for over 2 hours). Street parking is also available, and local restaurants have limited spaces on-site
Cost: Free access to the beach – just need to pay for parking, petrol and toll if going via Dartford crossing
Review: Coming from Sydney, Australia, we are quite spoilt for choice when it comes to beaches. Our expectations of English beaches are relatively low given that some beaches have replaced sand with giant pebbles. So before setting out to West Mersea Beach, we ran a quick Google search to manage expectations.
An early Sunday morning wake up call from Cara meant we were able to enjoy a nice breakfast before starting the 90 minute drive. It was a nice cruise with minimal traffic, with plenty of parking available on arrival.
The beach is a short stroll pass the lovely beach huts, which after a check on Rightmove, can be sold for £35,000! Upon seeing the beach, it was as expected. Although the sand was not as soft or fine as Bondi Beach or Fraser Island, at least it wasn’t full of pebbles. There was plenty of space to set up our mat and beach tent. After an application of sunscreen, Cara was off exploring the beach and water. Unfortunately for us, we arrived as the tide was going out. This meant as trickier walk out to the water and depending on where you have set up, can also mean a trudge through mud.
After dipping her feet in the water, Cara spent most of morning building sandcastles, looking for shells and rocks, and relaxing in the tent. Before we knew it, it was lunch time so we decided to pack up after a couple of hours of sun. There is a snack shop for refreshments, a playground, and toilets are available across the road.
We booked to have lunch at The Coast Inn, which is a 6 minute drive from West Mersea Beach. There is parking on-site but it does fill up quickly, so side streets are available. We enjoyed a nice seafood lunch of seafood chowder, fish and chips and a pint of prawns. The service was slightly slow due to it being busy, but we weren’t in any particular rush. Afterwards, we walked down the road to West Mersea Oysters for a quick dozen while Cara enjoyed an ice-cream.
Once we devoured that, we called it a day to try and beat any traffic home. Although we had a comfortable drive, traffic going the opposite way was crawling from the tunnel back to the M25 interchange. Cara never noticed though. She crashed within 5 minutes of driving and slept all the way back home. That’s when you know you’ve had a good day out!
- Arrive early as possible, especially if the weather is hot, as the car park fills up and the local restaurants book out
- Pay for parking as you enter, but park at the far end of the car park towards the playground, it is closer to the amenities like snack shop and toilets
- Bring sandals or waterproof shoes – when the tide recedes, you can walk out further but there are sharp rocks and oyster shells
- Check the tide levels before heading to Mersea Island in case the road over the estuary is flooded
Burn Time: 5 out of 5 – Burnt an entire day out at the seaside. Good seafood, lots of Sun and avoided any traffic on the way home.
Value: 5 out of 5 – Cheap day out – can be even cheaper if you pack your own lunch. But £11 for a dozen local oysters, how can you not?
Overall: 5 out of 5 – Obviously not something we can do everyday as it’s weather dependent. However, we made the most of it
In addition to a visit to the beach, you can review these tips for staying cool this Summer.