The beautiful beach near London with some of UK's cleanest waters

Families enjoy Three Shells Beach in Southend
It's the ideal location during a heatwave -Credit:Jacques Feeney/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Nestled on the coast less than an hour from London you'll find a beach with one of the cleanest stretches of water in the UK. Three Shells Beach in Southend is among 74 sites across England to be awarded the prestigious Blue Flag Award in 2024.

The accolade is only handed to the country's cleanest and tidiest beaches as high standards must be maintained all year round. While Three Shells Beach is closest to Southend Pier and the city centre, the Essex coastal hotspot also retained Blue Flag Awards on three other beaches - East Beach, Shoebury Common, and Westcliff Bay.

This is the most any area's been awarded in the East of England. Despite this, locals are demanding action against the amount of sewage discharged off Southend's coast.

READ MORE: UK's best city to walk around named as it beats London to top spot but is less than an hour away

Southend Pier picture from the air
Southend Pier is the world's longest pleasure pier -Credit:Waverley Excursions

The Environment Agency reported 400 sewage spills in 2023, an increase from 120 in 2022. Thorpe Beach, situated east of the city centre, lost its Blue Flag status in February due to the drop in water quality.

Along with being home to four Blue Flag beaches, Southend has a number of claims to fame. Southend Pier - which boasts being the longest in the world - is perhaps the most prominent example. It stretches into the Thames Estuary for 1.33 miles. It's been around since 1889, and was extended in 1898 to place it in the record books.

The pier has crazy golf, a museum, an RNLI gift shop, fishing spots, a railway, and perfect spots to watch the estuary's wildlife. One reviewer said: "Excellent value. Train to the end with plenty of cafes. Large ship to explore and a train ride back. Can be walked but on a cool and windy day, the train is a must."

Nearby Adventure Island is another must-see in Southend. The free admission fun park has over 40 rides and attractions, including a ferris wheel and several gravity-defying rides.

A view across Southend Cliff Gardens towards Adventure Island and Southend Pier
A view across Southend Cliff Gardens towards Adventure Island and Southend Pier -Credit:Andy Soloman/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

One person wrote: "Great rides and great value with the yearly ticket for the kids, I must say in a day and age where the phones and laptops seem to be attached to the kids' vital organs this is just perfect to reclaim the children and see them natural and beautiful smiles come out again."

How to get there

The easiest way to get to Southend is by train. Greater Anglia's service takes one hour and runs from Liverpool Street and Stratford, while a c2c service runs from Fenchurch Street. You can drive there too. A car journey from Central London takes just over two hours on average.

Get the biggest stories from around London straight to your inbox. Sign up to MyLondon's The 12 HERE for the 12 biggest stories each day.