Whitstable is a fishy sort of place. Think crabbing on the beach, gulls wheeling over a salty little harbour, lobster pots, cockle stalls and of course, oysters. Whitstable and oysters go together like cod and chips.

    History

    The town’s heritage is in fishing and shipbuilding – and the 19th-century harbour is still a proper working port – but aside from being Kent’s Oyster Central, modern Whitstable is better known as a kind of Islington-on-Sea; an arty, trendy boho beach retreat within an easy weekend jaunt of London.

    Town Center and beaches

    People love the narrow streets (the name Squeeze Gut Alley sets the scene), the footpaths that follow the shingle past a rag-tag line of beach huts and tarred fisherman’s huts, weather-boarded houses and colour-washed seafront cottages. There is a castle, a line of pebbled beaches and views across the oyster beds to the Isle of Sheppey. A few miles offshore, the rusting Maunsell seaforts rise from the Thames Estuary like something out of Mad Max.
    The relatively easy commute from London is one of the big draws.
    But Whitstable is still a proper community.’ Around 90 per cent of the town is independent, she says. ‘We have three butchers and four greengrocers – and there are not many places that can still say that.’ And there are enough people, all year round, to sustain the town’s micro economy. ‘As soon as the sun comes out the place is heaving,
    Whitstable’s pebbly beaches run from Seasalter to West Beach and on to Tankerton – where a seaward ridge of shingle known as ‘the street’ appears at low tide. There is a cycle path to Canterbury on a disused railway line now known as the ‘Crab and Winkle Way’. The town has a small theatre, a community cinema, a yacht club (one of the oldest in England) and great places to eat. July’s oyster festival is the town’s annual highlight which due to covid has been moved back to August bank holiday this year.

    Don’t let the word ‘trendy’ put you off though. Whitstable is a bit posh (with lots of gifty little galleries selling cashmere wraps, hand-poured candles and the like) but it’s a bit scruffy too. In a fish-market-and-weathered-timbers sort of way, the real Whitstable still shines through.

    Visiting Whitstable

    Take a train from Whitstable or Chestfield & Swalecliffe stations, both on the North Kent railway which whizzes into London St Pancras in 76 minutes (by road, on a good day, the 65-mile journey takes under two hours). Canterbury is only five miles away. The nearest airport is London City.
    The town can get very crowded in the summer. You’ll struggle to park without your own spot and your idyllic seafront house could feel a little like a fish bowl at times. But tourism keeps the place going and helps sustain all those nice little shops, galleries and foodie cafés.


    These words were taken from the Coast magazine which we think really describes Whitstable well. The photos are generic