Visiting Camber Sands – ultimate guide & 10 amazing things to do

Camber Sands Aerial

Camber Sands is a beautiful beach in East Sussex, famed for its soft golden sand that stretches for mile after mile. I may be biased, as it’s the most local beach to where I live, but Camber Sands is one of my all-time favourite beaches in the UK.

Most beaches along this section of the South Coast of England have pebbles or shingles, while Camber Sands is home to the only sand dune system in East Sussex.

It’s a natural habitat for various wildlife and plants, remaining wonderfully unspoilt. When the tide is low, there are remarkably wide open stretches of sandy beach, as far as the eye can see.

Due to the size of the beach (sprawling for 7 miles in total!), I love that you can still find a relatively quiet spot even on the busiest summer days.

The most popular section of the beach is the western end, located at the mouth of the River Rother. Sand starts to transition into shingle further along towards the east.

Due to its size and natural beauty, I’m not surprised that Camber Sands has been a filming location for numerous films and TV programmes.

These include Dunkirk, The Longest Day, The Monuments Men, The Invisible Woman, The Inbetweeners, and Doctor Who.

In this guide to visiting Camber Sands, I share everything you need to know about this beautiful area of the UK. From how to get there and where to park, plus my personal recommendations of the best things to do and places to stay.

Author Bio: Jessie Moore

Jessie Moore is a luxury travel expert with years of experience travelling the world to find the best destinations, hotels and adventures.

Where is Camber Sands?

Camber Sands is located in East Sussex on the South Coast of England.

It’s close to the border with Kent and the neighbouring village of Camber. The closest town is the pretty and popular Rye.

How to get to Camber Sands

Camber Sands is easily accessible from anywhere in the South East of England. It’s located under two hours from London, which I think makes it a great day trip for anyone looking to escape the Big Smoke.

By car

The beach is reached via Camber Road, which can be accessed via the A259 near Rye.

If you’re travelling from the north or the east, the M20 is the best route. From the west, it’s the A27.

By train

The closest train station to Camber Sands is in Rye. Trains to Rye travel from Ashford International or Hastings.

If travelling from London, take a train from London St Pancras and change at Ashford.

Once in Rye, there are regular buses which run between Rye train station and Camber Sands. They take around 10-20 minutes depending on traffic.

Or, if you have the time and appropriate footwear then it’s a three mile walk and should take around an hour.

I’ve done this walk myself, but not out of choice as there was an accident so the road was closed – all I can say is, I would not recommend doing the walk in flip-flops!

Camber Sands Day Trip

Facilities and other information

Parking in Camber Sands

There are three paid car parks in Camber, all pay and display. They include Camber Central, Old Lydd Road, and Western Car Park. RingGo is available in all car parks if you don’t have cash.

Note that in 2023, parking charges for Central & Old Lydd Road increased significantly.

From 1st April to 30th September, there is a flat fee of £30 for the day – or £15 if arriving after 3pm.

This change has been met with much controversy and I understand why! Good to be aware, as you may wish to find alternative parking or method of transport.

Are there toilets?

Yes, there are toilets in the main car park closest to the beach. There are a good number of cubicles, as well as an accessible toilet.

They are regularly cleaned, but bear in mind that they are public toilets on a beach, so I find that they can get a little messy.

Is Camber Sands dog-friendly?

During the winter months, dogs are allowed to roam free along the entire stretch of the beach.

Between May and September, there are some restrictions in place. Dogs must be kept on a lead and within restricted areas. Watch out for the signs indicating where your furry friends are allowed.

Are there lifeguards?

There have previously been lifeguards in temporary operation at Camber Sands, but they are not fixed.

So extra care is needed. There is a beach patrol but this is not the same as having a lifeguard.

There are a couple of safety precautions to be aware of. Firstly, be careful of sandbanks under the water, as these can result in sudden increases in water depth. Also be wary of riptides.

Are barbecues allowed on the beach?

Disposable barbecues are not permitted at Camber Sands. Gas-powered barbecues which are raised off the sand are allowed, but only on the Western side of the beach.

If there are over 10 people in the group, then permission is required from Rother District Council at least four weeks in advance.

It is illegal to barbecue in the sand dunes, as it poses a serious safety risk. 

Things to do in Camber Sands

I love that Camber Sands is a great place to enjoy some thrilling water sports.

Check tide times before visiting so you can get the best use of the beach on your trip. I’d recommend using the website Magic Seaweed for this.

1. Kitesurfing & other watersports

Camber Sands is very windy, making it perfect for adrenaline-pumping kitesurfing. It is generally considered to be one of the best places to go kitesurfing in the South of England.

The Kitesurf Centre offers lessons, equipment hire, repair, and a shop. For an alternative, Rye Watersports also provides kitesurfing lessons.

Camber Sands Aerial

Other thrill-seeking water sports and beach activities available at Camber Sands include paddle boarding, power kiting, land boarding, kayaking, sailing, windsurfing, waterskiing, fly-boarding, and jet skiing.

Top tip: Wear wraparound sunglasses to protect your eyes from the sandy wind.

2. Go swimming

Camber Sands is a good spot for a paddle or a swim in the sea. If the wind isn’t too strong, take an inflatable with you and relax on the rolling waves (trust me, it’s bliss!).

It is generally safe to swim at Camber Sands, but be wary of fast-rising tides at the beach.

Also be careful of the sandbanks which can take the water from waist-deep to shoulder-deep within one step – especially when you’re short like me!

I’d advise familiarising yourself with the flag system, so you know when and where it is safe to swim.

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3. Take a RIB Tour

One of my favourite things to do in Camber Sands is to feel the wind in my hair with a RIB tour of the area. A RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) is a powerful inflatable boat, which is lightweight, durable, and fast.

Bounce along the water at high speed while taking in the sights of Camber and its surrounding area.

I’d recommend checking out Full Throttle Boat Charters for RIB tours at Camber Sands.

4. Beachcombing

Camber Sands is one of the best places for beachcombing in the UK. It’s a popular activity with kids, as they can enjoy the challenge of uncovering hidden gems beneath the sand.

Whether it’s collecting shells, or even discovering a hidden message in a bottle!

5. Picnic on the beach

What better way to relax on a hot summer’s day in England than with a beach picnic. Although windy, it’s possible to find a more sheltered spot among the grassy sand dunes.

Bring your own hamper of snacks or indulge in some fish and chips from the beach cafe. A chilled bottle of wine is optional but highly recommended if you ask me!

6. Go cycling

For something a little more active, I’d recommend exploring the roads surrounding Romney Marsh by bike. The Sustrans Coastal Cycle Path is a good route for family bike rides.

You can also hire electric Fat Bikes from Ebike Hire for something a little more fun. Fat bikes will allow you to explore the coast and nature reserve by two wheels.

7. Go walking

With its soft sand and rolling waves, I think that simply taking a stroll along the beach at Camber Sands is immensely invigorating.

It’s especially special at sunset, when the golden light reflects off the water and creates a magical orange hue all around.

There are also a number of marked coastal and country walks around the area.

8. Visit Camber Castle

Camber Castle is located between Rye and Winchelsea. It’s a historic castle that was built by Henry VIII to defend the port of Rye, and is now managed by English Heritage.

Only ruins of the castle remain, but you can still take a guided tour of the interior during summer months. The castle is only accessible on foot, situated a one-mile walk from Rye.

9. Wander Rye Harbour Nature Reserve

I’d advise taking some time to meander around the beautiful Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Its varied landscapes include woodlands, salt marshes, meadows, lagoons, sands, and wetlands.

The reserve is home to an abundance of wildlife and is a Special Protection Area for birds. It is therefore particularly popular with birdwatchers and keen photographers.

There are also some unique military fortifications in the area, adding another dimension of interest.

The Rye Harbour Nature Reserve is a great place to go walking, with a number of trails to explore. Plus, I’m pleased to say that it’s dog-friendly so you can bring your four-legged friend along with you.

10. Explore Rye

You cannot visit Camber Sands without taking some time to explore the beautiful town of Rye. I adore this town and could easily spend a whole day exploring and relaxing here.

Wander the pretty sloping cobbled streets, including the highly Instagrammable Mermaid Street.

Explore the many independent shops and boutiques, then I’d recommend stopping for a break in one of the quaint tea shops.

Restaurants and pubs in Camber Sands

There are plenty of fantastic restaurants and pubs to try within the area. Here are my favourite places to eat in and around Camber Sands:

The Gallivant

Award-winning fine dining with a modern British menu. Enjoy fresh local produce and beautifully presented dishes. It’s in an ideal location, right by the grassy sand dunes.

The Owl

A welcoming establishment located on Old Lydd Road in Camber. It is a traditional dog-friendly pub using locally sourced ingredients.

The Ship Inn

A family-friendly pub and dining room in Rye. It is a great spot for some fresh fish and chips in a laid back atmosphere.

Places to stay in Camber Sands

If a day trip isn’t quite enough to explore this beautiful area, then I’d definitely recommend staying for a night or two.

Nearby towns include Rye, Hastings, Winchelsea, Dungeness, and Pett. Here is my pick of the best places to stay in and around Camber Sands:

Mermaid Inn

Steeped in history, the Mermaid Inn is unique establishment dates back to the 12th century. Rebuilt in 1420, believe me when I say that it feels like a time capsule with its sloping floors and four poster beds.

The Gallivant

For a touch of boutique luxury, book into The Gallivant for a memorable stay. Charm, style and quirky details meet excellent hospitality here, and some of the rooms are dog-friendly too.

The George

The George is a gorgeously presented boutique hotel in the centre of Rye. The building dates from 1575 and even features an original Georgian ballroom.

Beach Lodge

Beach Lodge is a modern self-catering property in Camber Sands Holiday Park. Situated just 100 metres from the beach, it is popular for its exceptional location.

Find hotels in Camber Sands and Rye.

Camber Sands is a truly unique part of England that feels like a slice of the Caribbean – albeit not quite as warm! I think it’s a must for your UK bucket list and definitely one for the warmer summer months.

Wanting to explore more of the UK? Have a read of my UK travel guide or discover some of the best coastal towns in Kent.

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Subscribe to my newsletter and get immediate access to my guide on how to save money on flights and hotels. Our weekly emails are filled with adventure inspiration, insider travel tips and exclusive discounts.

Jessie Moore
Jessie Moore

Jessie is a luxury travel expert with years of experience travelling the world to find the best destinations, hotels and adventures.

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  1. 23rd February 2021 / 2:56 pm

    Nice post.

  2. one word
    6th October 2023 / 2:14 pm

    I had a great time visiting Camber Sands! The beach was beautiful and the town was charming. I would definitely recommend visiting if you’re in the area.

  3. Oh translate
    13th October 2023 / 2:24 pm

    I had a great time visiting Camber Sands! The beach was beautiful and the town was charming. I would definitely recommend visiting if you’re in the area.

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Want up to 25% off hotels?

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