Felixstowe Beaches: Something for Everyone

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Going to the coast is almost always worth it. Sure, we have to drive an hour or two each way, but if we leave early enough, it’s all part of the fun. This week, however, we could not seem to get it together. Getting out the door with food,  drinks, swimsuits and warm layers, sunhats and umbrellas… felt so… complicated. And so, we would find ourselves standing around the kitchen at noon, wondering if it was too late. Would it be worth the drive? Would we have enough time? What if it started raining (always a very real possibility)– would it be worth all of the effort? We looked for the quickest way to the water, as we weighed our options. It turns out that Felixstowe is just 40 minutes away– but no one had ever recommended it to us. Why, we wondered? We went for it anyway! It was the warmest day we’d had yet this year (like, 82º!) and everyone else had also headed out to the beach. This place was happening. (And cute!)
There were no waves, and the water was warm. It was the first time I’d seen more than one Brit venture into the water at any given time! And, this little one went in for the first time, as well.

We grilled fish on the beach again. We all went in.
Once we’d had enough sun, we did what all people do on English beaches– we headed for a pub.
After a cider in the shade, we walked down the promenade to the pier. It was busy, busy, busy!
The main beach at Felixstowe is the kind you go to when you want to feel like you’re part of a party! There were lots of families, and especially plenty of college students and teens. The pier had a huge arcade inside– I guess it was a little like Balboa Island in California, but of course a whole lot more British.

But to tell you the truth, most of the time I don’t want to feel like I’m part of a party at the beach. I want to enjoy scenery, clean water, and the serenity of ocean sounds and sights. And this was exactly what we found on Sunday, just a couple of miles from the first beach. We had heard that there were more isolated, beautiful beaches north of the main Felixstowe area, and being late to get out the door again, we thought we’d try to find them.

We went to Felixstowe Ferry, a small fishing village where the River Deben meets the English Sea. It was quiet and incredibly pretty. In fact, a golf course took up much of the land up to the coast.

Where we parked there was a little marina, where boats were setting sail– both leisure crafts, and actual fishing boats. Lots of families were also trying their luck with fishing from the tiny pier.

Walking along the paths above the water, you could just imagine what this place was like a hundred years ago.
That round building is called a Martello. There were two of them on this bit of coastline, and they were built sometime in the 1800s as fortifications, to defend the land from seaborne invaders.I’m pretty sure this is someone’s home now. I peeked over a wooden fence and saw a very pretty garden.

We walked a long ways along these paths. It was windy, and rained quite a bit.Although a bit cold, everything was gorgeous. We waded into a little tide pool, where we saw all sort of interesting sea things, including a little crab trying to pinch my toes.
Then it really started pouring, and we made our way to the local pub. We enjoyed our ciders outside, under the awnings. A big ukelele troop showed up to take shelter. I wish they’d played their tiny guitars for us, but just seeing all of them made me smile.As we were leaving, we decided to take a different route, to see how far the two beaches we had visited were from each other. And then we stopped for a picnic. And that’s when we found another stretch of beautiful beach! This one had windbreaks, like in Southwold, and plenty of sand for Amelia. By then, the sun had come out again, so I went into the water, and we all did a little sunbathing. Perfect. (But not pictured, I had run out of battery power by then.)

People keep telling us about various wonderful beaches along the Suffolk and Norfolk coasts. There are so many little villages and stretches of sand and water to explore. But I have a feeling we’ll be coming to Felixstowe Ferry over and over again– it’s only 45 minutes away, after all!

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9 Responses to Felixstowe Beaches: Something for Everyone

  1. Jenny July 31, 2012 at 9:29 pm #

    Lovely photos! What fun to explore both types of beaches. Although it is not particularly close to you, Lyme Regis should be on your list of beach towns to visit. I think you’d adore the charming village and the fossil hunting at nearby Charmoouth is really fun. xx

    • Ariana August 8, 2012 at 10:35 am #

      Thanks for the recommendations, Jenny! Fossil hunting sounds like a lot of fun!

  2. Marisa August 1, 2012 at 1:04 am #

    Took a peek on my cell phone earlier but now that I am getting the full effect on my computer – wow – what a great place! I think it is clear that no one told you about Felixstowe because they wanted to keep it all to themselves!! And how fun to discover a beach that is so much closer – that will make impromptu visits so much easier. I really am so envious of you and happy for you at the same time – you really are a lucky family to be having this adventure together in England :)And reading your blog and a few others really does whet my desire to find a way to move there myself. Unfortunately it is not any easy thing to do with only an English degree under my belt! But at least in the meantime I can armchair travel thanks to the generosity of bloggers such as yourself. I really do appreciate all that you share – it means a lot to me to pop into your blog and live a tad vicariously through your adventures – so thank you again – I appreciate it and you so much!!

    • Ariana August 8, 2012 at 10:52 am #

      Thanks for your really thoughtful comments, Marisa! We are so often blown away by all that is right here in front of us. It can get a little overwhelming, at times, since there is so much to see. Part of me wants to just go back to the same beach over and over again, and just get to know it really well and make it into a familiar place where I can feel at home. But then there is this other really strong pull (and strongest for Jeff) to go see what else there is– what if we’re missing something really spectacular? Add to that equation all of the really rainy days, and then when the sun comes out, I kind of freeze– what to do?!
      As to moving out here… Would you ever consider WOOFing? There are a lot of those kinds of programs here. If you ever decided to become a teacher, there are plenty of jobs through the DoD, in a lot of interesting places– of course, you’d have to make peace with working on a base and working with military culture, which is kind of a big deal if that is foreign to you (as it was to us.)
      At the very least, you can come visit us in Bury St. Edmunds! 🙂

  3. Katie August 1, 2012 at 4:52 am #

    What gorgeous photos! I can’t decide which I like the best. The English seaside just looks so charming.

    • Ariana August 8, 2012 at 10:54 am #

      Thanks, Katie! Charming is exactly the right word, for both kinds of beach!

  4. Hayley August 5, 2012 at 8:06 pm #

    While you were at Felixstowe ferry you would have seen Bawdsey manor across the river.

    There is a ton of history relating to that site, most recently it was where radar was developed in WWII. There is a small museum there which opens in the summer months.

    As for Felixstowe, there is a good potted history here
    which includes some, if not all, major events.

    • Ariana August 8, 2012 at 10:55 am #

      Hayley, thanks for this very interesting and helpful information! We will definitely check it all out!


  1. Quick & Easy Plum Wine | And Here We Are - August 11, 2014

    […] available to us, we have been packing up a picnic dinner and driving the short 45 minutes to Felixstowe Ferry.  It’s like having our own private beach– there is rarely anyone else there.  We eat […]

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