West London is a buzzing metropolis, which means there is a lot to see and do, however it also means we are some distance from the nearest beach.
The closest stretches of sand are some miles away on the Sussex and Kent coastline, however the popular and commercial beaches in towns such as Brighton get packed up fast on a hot summer's day.
So we have tracked down some of the south coast's best hidden beaches near(ish) to west London.
If you wish to get away from the chaotic city lifestyle then head down to one of these serene beaches, bays and coves.
Botany Bay, Thanet
Botany Bay has been awarded the highest honour that can be bestowed upon a stretch of sand or shingle - a Blue Flag award.
The sandy beach is hidden behind residential streets on the way to Broadstairs and the unspoiled bay is surrounded by white chalk stacks.
It is only accessible via steps or a very steep slope and there are no "official" facilities there except a quaint little cafe, the Botany Bay hotel, a few toilets and a couple of small kiosks in the high summer season.
Below the gorgeous chalk clifftops, there are large stretches of pristine white sand ideal for long lazy walks and setting up base for a family day out exploring.
Botany Bay really shines as a hidden gem though when the tide is low. Once the sea recedes into the horizon, in the next bay to the right, visitors can try to climb into the cliff chambers where smugglers once hid their infamous booty.
It was these smugglers that carved impossible mazes in the cliffs on the beach. Some of these tunnels would lead back on themselves, while others were dead ends, a measure taken to confuse customs officials and disguise the true route away from the sea.
Kingsgate Bay, Broadstairs
Kingsgate Bay is a sheltered sandy cove backed by high white chalk cliffs and is a lot quieter than neighbouring Joss Bay.
There are lots of sea caves to explore and overlooking the southern end of the beach is Kingsgate Castle, built in the 1760s for Lord Holland.
A limited lifeguard service gives you plenty of warning when the tide is due to come in but it's important to know that the beach does get cut off at both ends at high tide.
The bay is dog friendly all year round and the only access to the bay is via a set of steep steps.
There are no toilets but there is a cafe/restaurant and pub nearby and beach huts for hire.
Kingsdown Beach, Deal
The secluded half sand, half shingle beach in Deal is located on the South Foreland Heritage Coast and is an ideal spot for rockpooling.
It is a popular place to launch a kayak and the village of Kingsdown is located at the northern end of the White Cliffs of Dover.
There are watersports available, along with public toilets and ample parking by the beach.
Toilets, a local pub and shops and cafes are available nearby.
Fairlight Glen Beach, Hastings
Fairlights Glen beach lies about two miles east off the fishing ports of Hastings on the East Sussex Coast and leads down to Covehurst Bay.
The beach is ruggedly beautiful, made up of shingles and some patches of sand.
Word to the warning it is a naturist beach but is shared by non-naturist visitors.
The main cove lies between lower cliff areas and there are no facilities or buildings of any kind on the beach.
This is a beach for the adventure-minded as it can only be reached by walking along a hilly clifftop path until signs lead down the cliff to the cove however you will be rewarded by a absolutely stunning and serene beach.
Cuckmere Haven, Seaford
The beach lies next to the famous Seven Sisters chalk cliffs and is known as one of the wildest beaches on the south coast.
Situated between Eastbourne and Seaford, Cuckmere Haven Beach sits within the Seven Sisters Country Park.
At low tide you might be able to sport the ironwork in the sea close to the river mouth, which is the wreck of the Polynesia, a German sailing ship that run aground in 1890.
The beach has been the location for various films including Atonement and Harry Potter.
Atherington Beach, Climping
The beach is located between Bognor and Littlehampton and is a quiet rural shingle beach.
Like many beaches along this stretch of the Sussex coast, it is made up of shingle and pebbles held in place by a series of wooden groynes.
There is a sea swimming club here, a great little cafe and if you walk east you can even find some dunes.
The facilities in the area include car parking (charges apply), cafe with outdoor seating, toilets and outside shower.
There is also a pub half a mile up the road from the beach. Dogs are allowed on leads in the car parks but are free to roam on the beach.
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