The school summer break is just around the corner and families across the UK will be eyeing an escape to the seaside.
With budget airlines cancelling thousands of flights over Europe amid air traffic control chaos, staycations are bound to be more popular than ever.
Characteristically, however, the weather at home has been flip-flopping between scorching heatwaves and chilly downpours, leaving beachgoers unsure of what to expect.
Sea temperatures, for their part, tend to be predictably stable all summer long.
For those keen to take a dip but who don’t fancy freezing, Express.co.uk has mapped the warmest waters in Britain.
New research by outdoor clothing retailer Millets has compiled temperature and water quality data from the best beaches in England and Wales.
Clacton-on-Sea topped the charts, with a reading of 18.2C (65F). The largest town on Essex’s Sunshine Coast has been in decline for many years, but the golden sands of the beach itself continue to attract visitors.
With a seasonal lifeguard service, easy parking and plenty of amenities close it is a hotspot favoured by families. According to the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the water quality is also excellent
Folkestone has a number of beaches in and around the international port and resort town. From Sunny Sands to the shingles of Mermaid Beach in the city centre, there are plenty of options to choose from.
The temperature there came in a close second, at 18C (64F), and the water’s quality was considered good.
Rounding out the top three was Bognor Regis Beach. Just a 20-minute drive from the South Downs National Park, the West Sussex town is self-described as a “traditional” seaside resort, boasting a 2.7-mile promenade with top-shelf fish and chips.
The warmth of its waters reached 17.8C (64F) and its quality was considered good.
Then came Barry Island Beach in Wales, Margate in Kent and Worthing in West Sussex, all posting a temperature of 17.7C (64F).
These destinations may be top of the league, but imagery from the European Space Agency (ESA) in June showed waters around virtually the entire UK coastline were warmer than usual – partially attributed to an El Niño weather, partially to man-made climate change.
Met Office data show global sea surface temperatures for April and May 2023 were at their highest since records began all the way back to 1850.