enjoying lowestoft's beaches

Enjoying Lowestoft beach and Circus Cortex

Every year there’s a discussion on social media about staycations and whether they’re a holiday or not. Lots of people say that calling a UK holiday a staycation is a snobby look down on those who either can’t afford or choose not to go abroad on holiday. We rarely holiday abroad (and haven’t for years), but we still have holidays. They’re just in the UK instead. I’m with people who say a staycation is staying at home and doing day trips/eating out from home. Hence our holiday this year has so far been a combination of staying with a friend at her parents’ house, and a few days enjoy Lowestoft beach and seafront.

enjoying lowestoft's beaches

Yes Lowestoft is a bit of a random place to holiday, but we were that side of the country, and it was a big enough town in Suffolk to be able to find places to eat within walking distance, rather than having accommodation way out in the sticks.

It turned out to be a really nice holiday, although the weather still felt very hot despite being on the coast. No real sea breezes during the heatwave unfortunately, but probably still cooler than being at home.

We stayed right on the esplanade in the Hatfield Hotel, a Best Western. The location was great. Not far to walk in either direction up and down the esplanade to either side of South Beach or even down to Pakefield Beach.

the restaurant double terrace at hatfield hotel
pastel sunset over the sea at lowestoft
red sunrise over the sea at lowestoft
Sunrise taken by N

Activities in Lowestoft

When we weren’t going out and about further afield, we spent time on the beach, walked up the esplanade to the heritage quay at the harbour (although N refused to go on the historic boat that you could go and look round). Then we spent a lot of time in the amusement arcade in the evening.  

looking along the sea front at lowestoft
statue of neptune at lowestoft
lowestoft harbour and boats
selfie in front of the esplanade

We also found Circus Cortex in town when we arrived, so I managed to book online for our first full day in Lowestoft.

South Beach Lowestoft

I was surprised at how quiet it was on the beach. Compared with beaches in the south and southwest, there was plenty of space for everyone on the beach and in the sea. We liked that there were lifeguards. 

groins on lowestoft south beach
looking out to sea over the beach towards sailing boats

We spent a short hour there the first day we arrived, then an afternoon there the next day. It’s so lovely be be near the sea. N loved digging as usual, although we realised he’d left his spade in my friend’s car the weekend before so I did need to buy him a new one. He also wanted to try an inflatable, so we invested in one of those. They weren’t too expensive, but we didn’t realise that when the windsock is up on the lifeguard’s base, it means no inflatables in the water. The lifeguard came over to chat and warn us about the wind and current both going towards the pier, so to stay shallow and keep a watch on drifting.  They weren’t banning them all if you stuck to that.

We only saw a couple of people with inflatables. The larger ones people left on the beach for another day while they just went in swimming or attempting to body board.

inflatable flamingo ring for sale
holiding an inflatable rind
looking out to sea with a rubber ring around him

It was lovely to see sail boats going past while we were on the beach. There were also lots of paddleboarders and a few kayaks at sea too. The beach had a very relaxed vibe, and the tide timings worked well with the middle of the day being low tide.

Lowestoft beach is sandy unlike many of the Suffolk beaches further down. We found it really clean, plenty of rubbish bins on the esplanade, Our side of the pier there weren’t public toilets, but we were right by our hotel so if needed we could just go back there. The larger beach the other size of Clarement Pier had public toilets and showers, and lots of beach huts.

lowestoft row of pastel beach huts
boardwalk along the beach

Amusement arcades

We do love a 2p machine and when we’re at British seaside towns, the amusement arcades are a great place to spend a bit of time before restaurants open, or if we’re waiting to go somewhere. After Coral Island in Blackpool when we found out about them having tickets, N wanted to see if we could actually win something.

We went to a couple of different arcades, one at each pier. For once we actually won prizes on the 2p machines, and thanks to a football, piano and basketball games, we won plenty of tickets and were able to pick up a few ticket prizes after a few days. We do love the skill games, they bring out N’s competitive side which we don’t often see.

2p machines at arcades
arcade games in lowestoft

Circus Cortex

N’s only been to see the circus once, at Odds Farm Park, and he was quite bored watching it. But he was keen to visit Circus Cortex who had their big top in the open space on the esplanade, just at the end of the next block from our hotel. 

I got discounted tickets online. We queued to go in from 6.30 for the 7 show. There was early bird entry ticket options for 15 minutes earlier, but I’m glad I didn’t bother. Rather than choosing your seats when you arrived, they just took you to the next best seats available, so we had great seats only 4 rows back, just at the side. There were only bits of the cycling we couldn’t see very well, but the rest was fine.

lights in the big top celing

We couldn’t see the point of people who’d paid £20 more for VIP seats (ie first 2 rows in the centre), or £18 more for Grandstand seats which were the remaining first 2 rows around the central side/front areas. We were only 1 row behind and paid £7.99 each. 

Before the show they were selling popcorn, drinks, candyfloss, and various light up or boomerang toys. There were also raffle tickets on sale (but then only one teddy bear prize, so I can’t see the raffle ticket buyers being particularly happy – I don’t know if they knew that when buying. But at least it kept it short!). All the circus folk were friendly and helpful, and it was very efficiently done with card machines, and getting the sellers with the right items to the correct place for what people wanted. 

The show itself was called Warriors, and loosely based around powerful warriors costume wise, although no real plot. We thought the show was excellent, with the music and lighting just right, and the tricks and performance really good.

There were some of the traditional aspects of circus like a unicycle rider, spinning plates, and a ‘clown’ who N thought was absolutely hysterical. The latter wasn’t my type of funny, but it worked for N and plenty of other children and adults around the big top. There was also a bit of audience participation in the clown section.

male acrobat posing hanging from rope
man riding high unicycle holding hand of female assistant on the side
2 male acrobats doing stunts
acrobats jumping on a human seesaw

I preferred the dance and acrobatics. The aerial stunts were done by a man, there were acrobats on a seesaw, bmx stunt riders, and a quite spectacular section by a woman with dancers in white, with giant umbrellas. That was probably the best section of the performance for me.  

dancing women with umbrellas
female acrobat in white doing headstand spinning 4 umbrellas on her feet

The toddler next to N was transfixed all the way through the performance too which we were relieved about.

The show had an interval halfway through where there was more selling. 

Overall we had a great time and really enjoyed the show. The performers obviously love what they do, and N enjoyed spotting them around Lowestoft on their bikes, or just hanging out before/after performances when we were walking past.

You may be able to see Circus Cortex at other locations through each summer as it looks like they do a week in each place.

We found Lowestoft a really good base for going off to other places in Suffolk or Norfolk. There’s a nice beach, and long esplanade to walk or cycle down.

Have you visited before?

Like this post, try these other tips for nearby days out.

eating out lowestoft
hatfield hotel lowestoft
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  1. I’m with you. A staycation is staying home and doing day trips and a holiday is where you go away somewhere, anywhere.
    It sounds like you have had a lovely holiday. You can’t beat spending time on the beach and in the arcades. The circus sounds like fantastic fun.

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