Where to find it
Old Hunstanton is a tiny village (just a population of 47 in 25 households in the 2001 census) adjoining the large commercialised resort of Hunstanton, two miles away. You’ll find the beach (owned by the Le Strange family - click here for a review of Le Strange hotel - who developed the area back in the 1800s as a sea bathing resort when the railway came in 1862) by driving along the cliffs from Hunstanton, or along the main coast road from Thornham. The cliff top walk to the beach passes the remains of St Edmunds Chapel, built in 1272, and the disused lighthouse. There’s an extensive car park leading down to the sands, toilets and a cafe and shop selling beach related goods.

What to expect
In my opinion Old Hunston (as it’s known by the locals) beach is one of the best in Norfolk. The striped cliffs of the Eastern part of Hunstanton lower and disappear into the beach and you’re left with large dunes and vast areas of soft golden sand. The beach is an impressive sight and large enough to accommodate the masses that arrive here on a sunny day without feeling crowded.

Family fun
This is the beach I spent much of my childhood on; the one my parents and countless other families chose over its noisy neighbouring resort. My brother and I would skip down the slope to the sands clutching our rubber rings and buckets and spades whilst our parents and grandparents ambled behind clutching all manner of picnic attire. The scene can still be witnessed on any day now for this is a beach you come to stay a while, to relax on and spend an inexpensive but highly enjoyable day out.

The sea comes in slowly and provides shallow waters to splash in although islands can form so care should be taken that little ones don’t become cut off (there are no lifeguard patrols here as there are on the main resort beach). There’s always a warm breeze for kites and wind sports are popular as amateurs and experienced boarders take to the ocean. There’s plenty to amuse all and an afternoon really does fly by.

Something for everyone
In contrast to Hunstanton, dogs are welcome so walkers love this beach too, as do lovers – it’s perfect for private picnics in the dunes and romantic evenings watching the sun go down over the shimmering waters – it may be on the East coast but it faces West over the Wash. The Ancient Mariner pub is just a short climb over the dunes where you can grab a drink and take in the breathtaking views (click here for a review). Old Hunston also has a RNLI lifeboat station with a B class (Atlantic) boat and a hovercraft. I’m told the Old Lifeboat Cafe serves a good al fresco breakfast too although I’ve not experienced it myself. Then there’s also the possibility that you may see something extraordinary – on Christmas Eve in 2011 a 55 ft sperm whale was washed up by the tide!

Whatever brings you to Norfolk, I recommend a visit to this beach. People rave about Holkham Bay and the sands of Cromer and Wells-next-the-Sea but Old Hunston beach remains more of a local secret. It’s big enough to accommodate all though so we’ll let you in on it too.

The details
The main car park is pay and display with reasonable wheelchair access to the beach. There is a smaller privately owned car park by Le Strange hotel but involves a climb over the dunes. All beach huts are privately owned but some are available to hire through www.beach-huts.com/beach-huts-for-rent.html; prices are around £120 to £160 for a week.