There’s few places nowadays that retain the charm of a time gone by, but Mersea Island on the Essex coast has managed to escape the clasps of the modern world, somewhat at least. Yes, there’s the odd sea-facing glass fronted bars and restaurants to serve weekend crowds, but hey, who doesn’t love a glass of Champagne with their oysters?
Beyond this though, you’ll find sandy dunes and fish shacks accompanied by the gentle hum of boat sails flapping in the wind. The pace of life is generally a little slower and there’s no loud clanking of amusements or fairgrounds, it’s coastal bliss.
Start your trip at the beach where you’ll find pretty pastel beach huts lining the shore. If you enter the beach on Coast Road, you’ll need to walk along the jetty to reach the sand dunes. Here there is plenty of space to make camp for the day. The beach is large enough for you to find your own little secluded corner, even during busier periods and there’s a section which is dog-friendly year round.
Feel the sea breeze in your hair and view the coastline from a different perspective by hopping aboard the Lady Grace Boat, which runs 20 minute trips, seven days a week, year round. There’s no need to book, just turn up at the jetty and wait your turn. They even let well-behaved dogs aboard! The jetty is also a prime spot for crabbing – perfect if you have little ones in tow.
Best places for seafood in West Mersea
It’s quite easy to spend the day eating your way around Mersea Island. Purchase fish from the local fisherman as they unload their daily catch or dine at one of the rustic restaurants serving up delicious seafood. A no thrills concept, both Company Shed and West Mersea Oyster Bar, are essentially a shack that serve up some of the best seafood on the Essex coast. Diners are encouraged to bring their own bread and wine to the Company Shed, while the Oyster Bar has outside picnic benches and a licenced bar so you can enjoy oysters and a glass of white with a sea view!
If you’re feeling a little weather beaten after a day on the beach, head slightly inland to the Peldon Rose for a spot of lunch or dinner. The pub has a beautiful garden with a few shady spots, ideal for scorching days. Cute and cosy, the pub serves delicious home cooked food.
Accommodation on Mersea Island
There’s so much to do in this little corner of Essex, a two to three night break is highly recommended. If you do extend your stay, try a break at Waldegraves Holiday Park. Overlooking the sparkling Blackwater Estuary, you can hire a luxury self-catering holiday home at the park that sleeps 6 guests, from just £159 per break. Day visitors are welcome to dine in The Granary restaurant or make use of their golfing facilities and fishing lakes on site.
Family run and owned, Waldegraves has been trading for over 70 years, offering family holidays from camping to luxury static holiday home breaks. They are also committed to environmental issues and promote sustainability to help keep Mersea Island a beautiful and clean location. There are several areas of wood and meadowland around the park to encourage wildlife as well as a butterfly conservation area, housing plants specifically chosen to attract butterflies and other insects.
If you’re a keen fisherman or have little ones keen to try their hand at angling, check out the four well-stocked lakes. The lakes feature commercial sized carps averaging 6-10lb and weighing up to 22lbs. Day tickets can be bought, but you can also take advantage of the fishing breaks on offer.
If you’re looking to get away from it all and discover this county’s old world charm then pack your bags and have a break in this corner of Essex.
Why not hire a beach hut for the day? Read our review of West Mersea’s newest rental here