It’s hard not to love Whitstable. It could be the perfect seaside town. Eat an oyster, skim a stone, lick an ice cream, leave some coins at the RNLI, walk along the front. It’s a joy in all weathers, and only a one hour pootle down the A2/M2 for lucky south-east Londoners.
It may annoy some locals how much we love it, as we flood their beautiful, winding streets each summer. But Whitstable with it’s highly Instagrammable clapboard houses, beach huts, oysters and just-so craft shops is the perfect day trip for Londoners in need of seaside breezes and a mouth full of our finest seafood.
OK, you may disagree if you’re in Richmond or Kingston, but we can discuss Shoreham another time.
Apparently some Londoners with young children drive all the way to Whitstable for the high quality haircuts at Peekaboo Kids. Um, I am that parent.
The main attraction in Whitstable, however, has got to be the local oysters and the great eating to be had so close to London. All ends of the dining spectrum are covered from casual posh sit-downs to takeaways that wouldn’t be out of place in Victorian London.
Choose a fresh pot of cockles or whelks or a dozen or so oysters at the working port and eat on the hoof.
Book lunch at the Michelin starred Sportsman at Seasalter for probably the best pub food you’ll get outside of The Eagle in Clerkenwell.
If you can’t get in there, and you’re too disorganised to sort your lunch three months out, Samphire is a delectable rustic bistro in town.
I’m avoiding rushing you to the Whitstable Oyster Company, as it’s the obvious spot for a sit-down nosh on the local oysters, but it is also one of the best. I’ve never had a bad time there, and I’ve taken some very fussy eaters.
The Whitstable shops are fantastic and really it’s only fair that you should support local independent businesses in the high season. So visit the chandlery stores and kit yourself out in a Sou’wester, Breton and the odd bit of rope like you’re a true deck hand. Saunter down to the front and you can pretend you’re facing Atlantic gales and not the calm, shallow waters of Whitstable Bay and the Kentish Flats.
Pro tip – take the train or park up along Marine Parade towards Tankerton and walk back in to town rather than clog the small and winding streets. Everything you need is roughly around Harbour Street and the Sea Wall.
If you need more than a simple meal and the promise of the perfect seaside town to encourage you to Whitstable, head down at Oyster Festival time in summer and knock yourself out on bivalves.
Main image credit: Nicholas Stone Schearer via Getty Images