A little-known seaside town is bracing for an influx of visitors after Tripadvisor voted the beach the best in the UK and 12th best in Europe.
Locals insisted today that they were not at all surprised by the accolades for the vast expanse of sand in Gorleston-on-Sea, Norfolk.
Mother-of-two Emma Flaxman-Taylor, a conservative councilor in the city, said: ‘The beach is like our hidden gem. It’s just fantastic.
‘More people have become aware of it in recent years, partly due to the increase in staycations due to Covid.
‘Many visitors are clearly impressed and have left rave reviews on Tripadvisor because it is such a beautiful beach.
Tripadvisor named Norfolk beach Gorleston-on-Sea the best in the UK and the 12th best in Europe
The Pier Hotel in Gorleston-on-Sea. A councilor has said people have referred to Gorleston as ‘the new Southwold’
Denis Great and son Dylan on the beach at Gorleston-on-Sea. They say they ‘weren’t all surprised the beach won the Tripadvisor title’
Dan Hall, partner Louise Barker and her father Ron Francis. They had traveled from their home in Norwich with her father Ron Francis as a treat on his 86th birthday
‘Now that it has appeared in the press, I am sure we will attract more visitors. It’s great for business and great for the city.
‘I call it a pure beach because it’s just sand with no stones. We have a cliff and a nice boardwalk below it, and then this huge expanse of sand.
‘It’s not overly commercialised, although there are nice pubs, restaurants, shops and places to get ice cream.
‘There are also lovely common areas, including a children’s amusement park, and plenty of boutique-style shops and amenities just a five-minute walk from the beach.’
Fellow Councilor Paul Wells, 36, added: ‘It’s definitely a fantastic beach. We have the same beautiful sand as Great Yarmouth, but it’s a lot calmer.
‘Gorleston is a very nice and tasteful town. It’s fair to say it’s on the rise. We have our share of problems like everywhere else, but there is a great sense of community and the town is very welcoming.
“People don’t know about Gorleston, or if they do, they love it. In recent years, many more people have come to the beach, especially since Covid.
‘I live behind Marine Parade and I judge how busy the city is by how easy it is to park on my street. Five years ago it would be blocked a few times a year, but now it’s up to 15 days every summer.
“Now we’re going to get even more visitors, but the beach is so big that it can accommodate huge numbers.”
Liz and Bill Carass and their granddaughter. They say their local beach is ‘gaining sand’
City Councilors Emma Flaxman-Taylor and Paul Wells. Mum-of-two Emma Flaxman-Taylor, a conservative councilor in the city, said: ‘The beach is like our hidden gem’
The bandstand next to the beach. Visitor numbers to the town also increased after being heavily featured in Dany Boyle’s 2019 film Yesterday
Catering outlets next to the beach. Shania Howard, 23, the manager of The Fig beachfront bar and grill said they walk by the sea every day
Mr Wells said some people even called Gorleston ‘the new Southwold’, referring to the affluent Georgian seaside town in nearby Suffolk, which has long been a celebrity haunt and popular with well-to-do Londoners.
The town’s beach has become extremely popular in recent years after apparently increasing in size due to its proximity to the new outer harbor in neighboring Great Yarmouth.
While millions of tons of sand have been stripped from the nearby beach at Hopton-on-Sea due to coastal erosion, the opposite has happened in Gorleston.
Locals believe the outer harbor served as a barrier, trapping millions of tons of extra sand in the city’s vast bay.
Visitor numbers to the town also increased after being featured heavily in Dany Boyle’s 2019 film Yesterday starring Ed Sheeran who lives across the border in Suffolk.
Liz Carass, 65, who was on the beach today with husband Bill and two-year-old granddaughter Margo Clark, said: “There used to be stone seawalls all along the boardwalk wall.
“But they’re covered by all the sand now. We gain sand while Hopton loses theirs.’
Denis Gray, 49, who was with son Dylan, 13, and their husky Nanook, said: ‘I wasn’t all surprised that the beach won the Tripadvisor title.
Shania Howard, 23, with golden retriever Harper. The manager of The Fig bar and grill on the beach said: ‘This is just a beautiful town and the people are so nice’
The model boat pond. Locals say there’s ‘a real vibe’ in town and on the beach
‘It’s a wonderful, peaceful place and I recommend it to everyone. It is always clean and I come to her most days. In the summer it is packed with people and families.’
Other dog walkers who stopped for a £3 coffee at Jay Jay’s cafe on the promenade also praised the beach.
Dan Hall, 56, and his partner Louise Barker had traveled from their home in Norwich with her father Ron Francis as a treat on his 86th birthday while he was visiting with his seven-year-old Salouki dog Lidi.
Recruitment manager Louise, 56, said: ‘Look at the beach. It’s just beautiful, lovely sand. It is well deserved to be called the best in the UK.
‘The sand is very fine and the dog likes to run around on it. The sand at my father’s house in Devon is almost red and makes the dog filthy.’
She jokingly added, “We don’t want to advertise it too much, or we won’t be able to park so easily next time we come.”
Asset manager Dan added: ‘There are plenty of other beaches we could go to, but Gorleston is the best. The city has a wonderful old-fashioned, worldly appearance.’
Shania Howard, 23, the manager of The Fig beachfront bar and grill, said: ‘This is just a beautiful town and the people are so nice.
‘I walk on the beach every day. It’s the best part of town. It’s so busy in the summer and quieter in the winter, which gives a nice atmosphere.’
Charlotte Youngson, 43, said: ‘I’m just surprised the beach hasn’t been voted the best beach in the country before.
“I came here one day in the summer at five in the morning to see the sunrise and there was a whole family with children swimming.”
A Grand Designs house is being built overlooking the coast. Ella Look, 65, from Blofield near Norwich says she moved to the city from Surrey
Mother of three Siobhan Humphries and mother-in-law Joy Blinkhorn. The 32-year-old that she feels “safe” every time she comes to the beach
Metal Detection Fan Geoff Lewis. He said he ‘can understand why it is one of the best beaches in Europe’
Her friend Gabby Williams, 43, added: ‘Gorleston has such a friendly, family atmosphere. It feels like a quaint seaside town.
‘People are respectful and the beach is always clean. There really is a kind of vibe.’
Ella Look, 65, from Blofield near Norwich, enjoying a coffee with daughter Robyn, 35, said: ‘I moved here from Surrey in 1994 and this was the first beach we came to.
‘I’ve been coming back ever since. My kids loved it growing up. You have the arcades and places to buy ice cream and chips in the summer. Now my grandchildren love it too. It’s easy to get there and parking is always free.’
Retired painter and decorator Geoff Lewis, 66, from Hopton, who detected metal on the beach, said: ‘I normally get on the bus to Great Yarmouth, but decided to stop here for the first time.
“The sand is just beautiful. You can understand why it is one of the best beaches in Europe. I found two cents and a pound today, so that’s a bonus.’
Siobhan Humphries, 32, of Downham Market, Norfolk, who visited with her three children, and mother-in-law Joy Blinkhorn, 67, said: ‘We love walking up and down here.
‘My boys can cycle on the boardwalk and the sand is beautiful. It’s a friendly city and I feel safe.’
Retired restaurant owner Graham Plant, 66, the current mayor of Great Yarmouth and Gorleston, said: ‘Gorleston has a fantastic beach and always has.
‘There are many beach activities and delicious eateries. It’s great that the rest of the world is now being informed about it.’