West Wittering Beach as it sounded perfect and not too far to go.
We packed up the car with some snacks, drinks and swimwear and headed off, arriving at West Wittering at 10.30am. As you arrive, you go to a 'toll booth' type affair with a ticket machine attached to it. The cost per day is £6.50 (which we knew in advance as their website tells you this). In went my £10 note and out popped the change - a £1 coin fell on the floor. Oh no, barriers open, money on the ground and hardly any space to open the door of the car. A bit of twisting and bending and I had the coin in hand. Away we went to park. The car park was pretty much empty bar around a dozen vehicles so I chose a nice bit of green right at the edge of the road (well, if it does get busy I can get straight out). Car and family unpacked and off we went.
We started out sitting by the sand dune area just down from the lifeguard tower on this lovely Blue Flag beach. It said no dogs allowed which is ideal for us. Hubby and the 3 girls headed off to investigate how cold the water would be so I sat with our stuff and began to relax. Unfortunately for me, with nearly the whole beach free, Mrs "I will say f**k every other word" and her family arrived. Despite the husband repeatedly saying "please don't keep swearing" she carried on. The thought of sitting next to this horror for the rest of the day filled me with dread, so I picked up our stuff and carried it all down onto the beach itself and set us up about midway between the water and the dunes. Ah...peace again.
Back came the gang from the water and sat down. The youngest two girls delighted in rolling in the sand all wet and then proceeded to commando crawl around us. S then says "my hands are all sandy" - surely not! ;-) Much sand castle building began before about 10 minutes later they wanted to go back into the sea. It was cloudy but warm so that was fine. A good breeze blowing across makes the heat feel less strong.
Teen decided to listen to music at our 'camp' and I headed off and took some nice pics of the girls splashing around in the sea. That wobbly pattern the waves makes was harder than you imagined as you walked across and hurt my instep. Girls having a great time in the water and hubby had rolled his shorts up too.
Back I went to sit with J. The beach was filling up and all you could hear was the tap-tap-tapping of people putting up wind breaks. Blimey, almost every family had a tent or standard wind-break with them and a rubber mallet so I don't think during the day there was one point there wasn't a mallet bashing wood somewhere around us. Not a peaceful place then. Not to worry, we had our own noise making machines and they were back making more sandcastles now. Lots of kiddies running around having fun which was great to see. Children so love the sand.
Facilities at the beach are good. Toilets and showers at both ends and in the middle. Beach huts (presumably rented to locals - although none were open). A small shop selling usual beach stuff - buckets and spades, windbreaks, umbrellas, mini surf-boards, sun lotion, etc - and an ice cream section. By midday, the car park was full and it seems the overflow car park had been opened. Kites were flying and BBQs lit. I have to say I was impressed as there was no litter on the beach or in the car parking area. There are large bins everywhere so there's no excuse really but you know how people are sometimes regardless. Here it seems everyone was happy to bin it.
Spotted someone walking a dog at the waters edge in the 'no dogs' part but they certainly weren't being a nuisance - only guilty of being illiterate. Apparently dogs and their scooping companions are permitted on a stretch of beach to the East.
Kite-surfers and jet-skis are given separate areas to use allowing the swimming area to remain as that. The tide does go out a long way so lots of sandbanks and little water inlets for the children to explore.
After eating our lunchtime sand-wiches, sand-apples, sand-crisps and sand-muffins (yes, it really does get everywhere) and an ice-cream, by 2.30pm it had started to get a bit chilly so we packed up and headed off the beach to the showers to de-sand the girls before off to fly the kite for a while before going home.
One thing I did notice about this beach is that if you wanted to leave, say for lunch at a local pub - you would have to pay all over again - the full amount - to get back in. There was no tickets produced by the machines and no way you could prove you had paid. I doubt many people leave but some may want to so that is something I think the estates people could consider.
All in all, a lovely time and would visit again.
P.S. I've ordered a tent windbreak (ah the joys of Internet on the beach) and we've got a rubber mallet ;-)