From statuesque chalky white cliffs to sparkling crystal blue waters, Botany `Bay is the UK’s answer to Portugal’s Algarve. This bay is one of my favourites to visit as it is a only a two hour drive from West London (and I think even shorter from East!) and extremely easily accessible with no hikes and free parking. We visited on the 23rd June, so this is post Covid lockdown rules where the government regulations have lifted to allow unlimited day travel throughout the UK but not allowed to stay overnight and of course with social distancing measures in place. My tips below will show you the best times to go to avoid traffic, where to park, what the facilities are, where to sit at different times of day to be further from others and how best to enjoy your day trip to Botany Bay in the summer of 2020!
WHEN TO GO?
As we wanted to beat the crowds (we have all seen the news of overcrowded beaches and it’s not pretty!), we decided to take a day off so that we could escape the weekend bunch and visit on a Tuesday during the week. This was during the heatwave week we were having in London so it still ended up being quite busy, I can only imagine what it would be like on the weekend! In which case as the bay is quite small, especially the part of the beach that will not get closed off during high tide, I would highly recommend NOT going on a weekend and rather a random weekday to avoid crowds. We left London at 7:30am to arrive around 9:30am and left at around 5pm to come home for 7pm. I would say both are ideal times as we didn’t encounter any unnecessary traffic and also managed to get a parking spot very close to the beach.
WHERE TO PARK?
We left quite early and arrived around 9am, but even by then the small parking lot right next to the entrance of Botany Bay was full, although with only approx 8 car spaces it wasn’t surprising! We ended up parking on the street Botany Road, which is right next to said carpark and is less than a five minute walk to Botany Bay beach. We weren’t sure if we were actually allowed to park on that road but luckily as we were pondering on the street, a resident came up and told us we were allowed to park on that street, for free, as long as none of the residents driveways and entryways were blocked! So definitely feel free to park on this road but of course please be respectful and mindful of the residents, say thank you if you see them, don’t block any of their entryways and be sure to keep noise down to a minimum!
Address to Park: Botany Road, put postcode CT103SE into your sat nav.
WHERE TO SIT TO AVOID CROWDS?
So we arrived around 9:30am and it was still rather quiet with around 10 other groups along the whole beach. As it was low tide then, we set up our beach blanket quite far up front as we wanted unobstructed views of the ocean with no one in front of us and decided that we would move once the tide came close. This was actually a great spot as the beach slowly filled up behind us and as the tide came in, more people would move to new spots and therefore meant we had quite a good radius of empty space around us. As the tide came up around 12:30, the beach was FULL. Barely a patch of sand left without a 2m space between and so we went all the way to the back of the beach and parked up near the lifeguard stand, it was near the cliffs and completely quiet and away from others. The perfect location to finish off our afternoon by the beach away from others!
LOW TIDE UNTIL 1PM!
So Botany Bay is divided into two beaches, the main beach is the part directly near the main entrance and the road where your car will be parked. The tall standalone chalk cliff separates the beaches and if you walked through you would find a massive beach, with far less people and much more space. I soon discovered that the reason was because once the tide came up, that beach would then be separated from the main beach and therefore separated from the parking and toilet facilities. If I was spending the whole day and evening there, I would 100% pitch my blanket on that quieter beach, however as we left when the tide was still relatively high at 5pm, that beach was basically closed off from the main beach and would require some walking through the water with all our things to get back! Not a problem if you didn’t mind but we didn’t fancy that and so decided to stay on the main beach.
ARE THERE FACILITIES ON THE BEACH?
As of the time we went around late June 2020, no cafes and restaurants were open but there were toilets that could be used! I can’t speak for the mens but the ladies loos are up the stairs on the far left from the main entrance and have two cubicles with loo roll and metal seats. They do the job well and of course please try to social distance when queuing for the loos. I would bring my own hand sanitiser with me for an extra spritz on your hands when done!
WHAT SHOULD I BRING?
As there are no cafes as of the time we went, it is so important to remember to bring your own food and LOTS of water so that you are not at risk of dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke during the day! We packed a lovely little picnic basket with some white wine, 3 big bottles of water, a easy little cold pesto pasta salad (which I will put up the recipe to soon!) and a slice of strawberry shortcake for desert alongside many easy snacks like pretzels, crisps and bananas! Make sure you bring the beach essentials like SPF, a sun hat, swimsuit, beach towels…etc. For extra space to lie down on, I actually packed a massive linen table cloth, which worked perfectly to give us ample space to lie out on without touching the hot sand.
CAN I SWIM?
Absolutely! If the weather is hot enough, it is actually such a lovely swim and so refreshing. Not to mention if you swim during high tide, the sand below the water is nice and soft and free of rocks and seaweed! There is nothing better than a nice float with the view of the magnificent chalky white cliffs ahead.
Botany Bay is truly such a special place so to preserve it please be mindful and leave the beach as you found it! Please take your trash home with you and take care to be mindful of other people’s space and social distance accordingly. I hope this has helped you plan your trip and if you have any questions let me know! In the meantime, you can also find a video on my Youtube Channel if you want to hear more!