Being able to drive on the beach is convenient if you are disabled, useful for those who are doing action sports with lots of equipment such as kite surfing and kite buggying, and for those bringing a horse to the beach in a horse float.
There aren’t many place you can drive on a beach in the UK (check out five beaches you can drive on), but if you do want to, you’ll need to observe some basic safety rules.
Are you allowed?
Check the signage at any beach entrance. Some beaches are only open to vehicles in winter when they are quiet. There may be a charge that applies to get onto the beach. The signs should say if there’s a designated area for parking, and what the speed limits are.
Check on your insurance policy that you are insured for driving on the beach. If you get stuck and the tide washes through your car, it’ll write it off. You might find that vehicles that are not four-wheel drive are not permitted.
Consider your liability if you have an accident, too.
Take care of other living things
This goes for the grasses on the dunes, the sea birds and anyone’s dog running around. Stick to the flatter sand and designated areas. Driving on the dunes causes erosion.
Bear in mind that dogs will be banned on some beaches at certain times of the year. Never leave your dog in a hot car.
Take your rubbish away with you so that it doesn’t blow into the sea, and don’t leave food scraps.
How to drive on the beach
- Drive in the designated areas
- Drive on flatter, harder sand so that you don’t get stuck
- Driving in the surf will prematurely rust your car, as will leaving sand caked on the underside – you’ll need to give it a good power wash when you leave if it’s covered in sand
- Headlights on will improve your visibility to other beach users
- Avoid what you might think are shallow puddles as they can sometimes be significant holes in the sand that will rip your suspension off
- Give way to all other beach users – pedestrians, horses and dogs – making sure you leave plenty of space
- Watch for areas of mud and very soft sand
- Maintain your momentum so that you don’t get stuck. If you start getting bogged down, straighten your wheels as turning a corner will cause you to lose even more speed (unless this means you’re heading into even worse terrain).
- Park above the high tide mark facing the water and downhill so that it’s easy to get going again, and you won’t get caught out by a rising tide (the tide at some beaches can come in very quickly if the beaches are flat).
- Take a spade in case you need to dig yourself out. If you get stuck, dig the sand out from under your car and dig two channels. Digging down will get down to harder, wetter sand. Take any heavy items out of your car if you get stuck so that you have more suspension clearance.
- Let some air out of your tyres if you need more grip. Remember to pump them back up again afterwards, though.
- If you do get stuck, don’t panic otherwise you’ll dig yourself a hole. See if you can get some people to give you a push.