"Over the past three months we've visited hundreds of beaches around Britain, whittling these down to our top 50. Whether you want surf or sandcastles, seclusion or sophistication, we're confident you'll find your perfect beach in our guide. We've divided them into them into five categories — Secret — with 10 crackers in each. Here's to a long, hot summer!
We have a winner... Lusty Glaze
That's right: Newquay. The resort that spent the past decade wondering where it had left its trousers has sobered up, gently ushered out the drunken teenagers and gone back to its proper business: providing lively but wholesome holidays that focus on its fistful of glorious beaches.
There are eight in town, from the dawn-of-the-earth beauty of Crantock, through Fistral's all-action surf-central, to Towan, Great Western, Tolcarne (with its luxury beach huts) and north to Porth. They're beaches on a mammoth scale, spiked with rocks the size of houses and so many acres of hard-packed sand that the local beach patrol gets around using Segways.
Topping them all is Lusty Glaze, privately owned, but free to visit, far enough from the town centre to feel exclusive, and bringing a distinctly Aussie vibe to Cornwall's North Shore. There's a raffishly glamorous feel to the blonde-and-tanned crowd, and the surroundings are just as good-looking: the deep cove looks like a hoofprint kicked into the iron ore-rich cliffs by Neptune's horse.
Make it down the 133 steps from the clifftop car park — or walk in at low tide from Newquay town centre — and you'll arrive at a wide, gently sloping, rock-studded beach with acres of soft, clean sand that has just the right stickiness for castle-construction projects on an Azerbaijani scale. It's west facing, which means Lusty Glaze catches the same swells as Fistral, but the waves are smaller, less crowded and hence loads more fun for the wetsuit-clad kids who bob around in the white water like sugared-up sea lions.
There's a surf school here (lessons from £35pp; lustyglaze.co.uk).
Book your table for lunch as soon as you arrive, then head to the left-hand side of the beach, where you can stake your claim on secluded patches of rock-screened sand, providing privacy, shelter from the wind and a bit of shade from the sun. Do keep an eye on the main sands, though: throughout the day you can join dodgeball and beach-soccer matches, and watch gigs ranging from the Cornish Sinfonia to Razorlight at this summer's Sundowner Sessions"