Wells / Holkham Beach (Holkham beach)

Holkham beach is a widely recognised as being one of the finest beaches in Norfolk, if not England. The beach itself is a vast expanse of unspoilt golden sand which seem to stretch on for ever. In fact it can be a fair stroll to the water’s edge at low tide.

Even in the summer you will be able to find a peaceful spot at Holkham; in the winter you can usually find a bit of solitude should you desire.

Over recent years there has been some controversy about Holkham’s status as a naturist beach. There was a ban on nudity a while back but this was lifted after British Naturism threatened legal action. However, there is still a nudist ban in the sand dunes behind the beach.

The wild beauty of the beach has not been missed by the film industry. Perhaps best known as the location used in the final scenes of “Shakespeare in Love” with Gwyneth Paltrow walking across a low tide, Holkham as appeared in several other productions. These include “The Eagle Has Landed”, “The Avengers” and the 2008 TV series, “Kingdom”.

Holkham is also a haven for nature with the beach backing onto windswept dunes, salt marshes and the Holkham Pines, a large belt of pine trees. All these form a number of habitats for rare animals and plants which are managed by Natural England and the Holkham Estate. This whole area is part of a National Nature Reserve which covers 11 miles of the Norfolk coast.

Also known as:

Holkham beach

Type of beach


Lifeguard service


Dogs friendly beach?

Dogs allowed

There are no restrictions on Holkham beach at any time but dogs are not allowed on the eastern end of Wells beach, in front of the beach huts.

Norfolk dog friendly beaches »


  • Sailing
  • Swimming/bathing
  • Water skiing
  • Wind surfing


  • Slipway

Nudist/naturist beach


Nearest town

Wells next the Sea


NR23 1DR

OS grid ref.

TF 9044 4596


carpark available.

Water quality

Water quality star rating


Marine Conservation Society Recommended

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Wells / Holkham Beach Reviews

One of the finest beaches in the UK

John Vincent
Nov 15th 2020

If you want to get an all over tan, this is a cracker of a beach to head to. The naturist section is a good hike from the car park and the easiest route is to stay on the footpath that heads west, parallel to the back of the beach. After the farm, there’s a track through the woods that brings you out at about the right spot. The Holkham estate puts up signage saying that the beach ‘maybe used by naturists’. The tides here are huge and if it’s out, the walk to the sea is some distance. Most naturists set up their tents/windbreaks about halfway and are usually easy to spot. The occasional walker on the coastal path and sometimes horse riders are the only others who come this far and as it’s an official naturist beach, there is no confrontation. Under the huge Norfolk skies with sand and sea as far as one can see, it’s a place where the term ‘free-range naturism’ truly applies and you can walk for miles wearing nothing other than a smile. The Estate workers regularly patrol in a 4x4 and are friendly. The dunes are out of bounds after past lewd behaviour had the beach closed for a year. Please don’t spoil it!

Beautifully clean sandy beach

May 29th 2021

Wells Next the Sea has a gorgeous long sandy beach with shallow sea safe for children to splash about in. Lots of brightly coloured beach huts, pine trees, a little railway, free parking, cafe and shops make this an idyllic holidaydestination.

Feb 27th 2022

Beautiful expanse of beach with sand dunes. My favourite beach

Beach warden

Mar 04th 2022

The naturist beach at Holkham is ‘‘tolerated’’ by the Holkham estate. They have employed a new beach warden who appeared my wife and I and told us to move nearer the sea as we were , in his opinion , in the wrong spot despite being well away from the dunes and surrounded by other naturists.
And when I say ‘‘approached’....I mean he drove up to us in the estate 4x4 and spoke to us out of the window..bearing in mind we were laid on beach mats the vehicle was about 3 feet away…This was not a pleasant experience and I told him politely to go away and check his facts…He then proceeded to place multiple signs on a rope boundary near the dunes saying ‘’ do not enter - birds nesting’‘...The bird nesting season had long ended ..and strange that the signs were only placed in the areas adjacent to the naturist Beach.This is yet another attempt to rid the beach of naturists as the local horsey brigade and dog walkers dont like it…and I know this as Im a local and I hear the moans and groans from people in the local town of wells .!!  The beach overall is very good and clean..apart from the horse droppings. There are the usual textile gawkers who like to walk up and down…tutting and giggling but overall its a very safe place.

What did we get wrong?