Seaford Beach is a rural beach, as opposed to a resort beach, and assuch the lifeguards are not always on duty. It is a steeply shelving shingle beach means that the water gets deep very quickly and users should exercise caution in the water.
The water quality in Seaford Bay is regularly checked by the Environment Agency and the results are published weekly. In recent years Seaford Bay has regularly had water recorded in the cleanest categories. Seaford Bay has byelaws which control the use of the beach and the inshore waters. These byelaws relate to the control of dogs on the beach and promenade, and the use of boats in the inshore waters.
A 200 metre zone from the low water mark on the shore is marked by a line of yellow buoys but weather conditions can sometimes move these and the line may not always be obvious. The restrictions however still apply.
- Read the information notices
- Swim between the red and yellow flags
- Swim with a friend
- Watch over your children
- Know your capabilities
- Abide by Byelaws
- Swim after drinking alcohol
- Swim when the red flags are flying
- Swim in rough conditions
- Dive or jump from groins, rocks or piers
- Climb on groins, rocks or piers
- Take glass containers onto the beach
- Play loud music
- Cause any kind of nuisance or anti-social behaviour
Seaford Lifeguards are authorised by Lewes District Council to enforce the byelaws relating to boats and dogs and, if necessary, the gathering of evidence to assist the council in taking formal action.
Jet Skis – Jet skis may be launched from the beach but this should be done to the west of Edinburgh Road where the byelaws allow diagonal movement from the beach at a maximum speed of 8 knots. Jet-ski users are the most complained about water users and must always conform to the byelaws.
Kitesurfing and Windsurfing – Kitesurfers and windsurfers are regarded as ‘powered craft’ for the purposes of the byelaws and as such can only come straight in and out of the beach at less than 8 knots. This is difficult even for experienced surfers to achieve. It is suggested that if a suitable starting point west of Edinburgh Road is used it will allow the wind or kitesurfer to go in or out from the beach at an angle without crossing into the safe swimming area.
Byelays and the Law – These byelaws are made under Section 76 of the Public Health Act 1961 and Section 10 of the East Sussex Act 1981 and copies are available on request from Seaford Lifeguards. The period of operation of these byelaws is annually from 1 May to 30 September.
Seaford Bay is covered by the ‘Seaside Pleasure Boat Byelaws’ and this means the area from Splash Point to Edinburgh Road, and from the low-water spring tide mark out for 200 metres, is designated as a safe swimming zone. The seaward side of this zone is marked by a line of yellow buoys but tidal and weather conditions can push them out of place or wash them ashore but the zone still exists. Only hand powered craft are allowed in this zone.
The 200 metre area from Edinburgh Road westward to Newhaven permits powered boats to enter the zone but restricts them to a speed of less than 8 knots and craft must be used with due consideration for all people in that area.
The exception to this allows powered craft to travel directly to sea beyond the buoys or to return to land from beyond the buoys at a speed NOT EXCEEDING 8 knots and with due regard to the safety of any person in that area.
Any person offending against these byelaws shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale. This is currently £1,000.
At Splash Point there is a water-ski lane running parallel with Splash Point and on the western side. This allows powerboats to come into the beach and to go to sea whilst towing water skiers in excess of 8 knots.
Persistently offending craft and users are liable to be photographed along with any attendant equipment such as cars and trailers to assist Lewes District Council to identify and prosecute offenders.
See pictures below for more information.
Waves and Currents – The tidal movement in Seaford Bay travels parallel to the beach and someone in the water can be carried along the beach without being aware of it. It is very easy for people to become disorientated and lose the point where they entered the water. This is especially a problem if inflatables are being used. Parents and guardians should always keep a close watch on their children. They should also note which way the wind is blowing. Great care should be taken if it is blowing from the beach towards the sea. Under these circumstances inflatable toys should NOT be used. There is a great risk that an inflatable with or without persons onboard will be swept out to sea in this circumstance. Whilst lifeguards are on duty an orange windsock will be flying to indicate an offshore wind. Inflatables must not be used.
The waves on Seaford Beach may look exciting to play in but they can be very dangerous to the unwary or the weak swimmer. Even small waves are capable of knocking people over and rolling them around in the surf and causing injury. A strong undertow after a wave has crashed on the beach is also very dangerous as this has the capability of sweeping a persons into the sea and into deep water.
Tombstoning DON’T DO IT – IT CAN KILL! – Tombstoning is the very dangerous activity of jumping from any high place into water. It gets its name from the fatalities that occur every year as a result. DON’T DO IT – IT CAN KILL!
Because water levels are always changing with the tides, what might have been safe in the morning may be fatal in the afternoon. The tidal range in Seaford can be up to 6.9 metres. This means that a short jump into plenty of water can later become a long drop into very shallow water with the potential addition of unseen underwater hazards, resulting in serious injury, paralysis or death. Jumping from Splash Point has the additional hazard of massive injury from rusting metalwork. Waves can also decrease the depth of water. DON’T DO IT – IT CAN KILL
Weever Fish and Jellyfish Hazards – When the tide goes out it can leave sandy patches which are inhabited by weaver fish. These are small fish that burrow into the sand and have sharp stinging spines on their backs. They are very difficult to see and very painful if stood on. The simple solution is to wear beach shoes when on the sandy areas. They do not burrow into the larger shingle. If you are stung, treat by soaking the foot in water as hot as you can stand. Contact the lifeguards if they are on duty and they can assist with treatment. Weaver fish are normally found at the Newhaven end of the beach. Jellyfish that sting are not usually found in Seaford Bay but can sometimes be found.
Dangers to the East – To the east of the bay, locally known as ‘splash point’, comprises of concrete structures, rock armour, towering cliffs (with a highly risk of cliff fall), underwater obstacles and wave-cut platforms. Publicly accessible areas are easily identified. Access beyond barriers and public access areas are prohibited and extremely dangerous.
Chalk cliffs Walkers on Seaford Head (east of the bay) must always stay well back from the edge. The cliffs are made of chalk which is a very crumbly rock and frequently large pieces of it fall hundreds of feet to the beach. The point where it separates can be several metres from the edge with no visible crack beforehand. KEEP AWAY FROM THE EDGE!
Driving on the beach – With the exception of authorised vehicles (HM Coastguard, Seaford Lifeguards, Police, Ambulance, Fire Service, Environment Agency, Lewes District Council Service vehicles) driving or parking on the promenade or beach is not permitted.
Kite flyers – Kite flyers are asked to exercise extreme caution when flying large kites as these are capable of causing serious injury when unexpectedly coming down. Kite lines have also been known to cause severe friction burns to other beach users.
Barbecues – Barbecues are permitted on the beach but users are requested to follow
some simple rules:
- Do not light fires directly on the stones, use a proper barbecue. Disposable types are ideal.
- Do not cause any annoyance to other beach users including playing loud music.
- Be aware that stones can explode if they get too hot, make sure that barbecues are safely put out when you have finished with them.
- Do not put used hot barbecues into the litter bins.
- Take all your rubbish off the beach when you leave. Don’t leave broken glass on the beach. If you break any glass please pick up the pieces and put them into a bin on the promenade.
SCUBA Diving – SCUBA diving from the beach In the interests of safety, scuba divers are asked to use a recognisable diving surface marker buoy when underwater anywhere in Seaford Bay. This should warn any water craft in the area that there are people underwater who may come to the surface suddenly. When entering the water from the beach, divers should always leave someone on the shore to monitor their progress. The number of people entering the water should be logged to ensure that the same number return. The shore party should have the means of summoning the assistance of the emergency services should the need arise (a mobile phone or VHF radio).
Anglers – Angling is permitted on the entire length of Seaford Beach. Anglers are asked to be considerate to others and to be very careful with hooks and weights when casting, to avoid causing injury to themselves and other beach users. The lifeguards get more calls for help to remove hooks from fishermen than they do from other members of the public. You may encounter fishermen using nets close to the beach. Swimmers should be aware of this and, where possible, use another area.
Seaford is a seaside town, not a seaside resort. It doesn’t have many of the things that our bigger neighbours have, such as a pier, or pavilion, arcade or funfair. What it does have is a friendly atmosphere and free on-street parking for two hours (although this may be reduced to 1 hour, so please read the signs). Food and drink establishments are located along Seaford beach. There are shops for just about everything you need on a day out and the town is a short walk from the beach. If you are self-catering for a picnic on the beach there are supermarkets and numerous food shops, though not all will be open on a Sunday. There are several of good pubs in the town, many of which serve hot food all day. There are also restaurants, cafes and take-always of most varieties. The Tourist Information Centre at 37 Church Street can supply information on a wider range of subjects than is provided in this booklet. Seaford Town Council offices, the Citizens Advice Bureau and the Police Station are also located at this address.
Local Facilities – The Salts Recreation Ground has a cafe, a children’s playground, a skate park, tennis courts, pitch and putt golf, toilets plus Seaford Cricket Club, Seaford Rugby Club, The Base Youth drop-in Centre and the headquarters of Seaford Lifeguards.
Other facilities include; Seaford Lifeguards small base near the Martello Tower, a refreshments kiosk near Martello Tower and another opposite West View road, and the Martello Tower and Museum are at the eastern end of the Beach.
Public Toilets – Public toilets are located within the Salts Recreation Ground, Buckle Car Park to the west of the beach, and next to Martello Tower to the east of the beach. Public toilets can also be found within Seaford town centre in a few locations.
Caravans – There is a caravan and camping site at The Buckle end of Marine Parade.
Lost property – If you lose something on the beach when the lifeguards are on duty it is advisable to enquire if it has been handed in to them. A number of keys, cameras, mobile phones etc. are handed to the lifeguards who manage to restore them to their owners. If they can’t be reunited they get handed in at Seaford Police Station as soon as is convenient.
Identity bracelets – If you are taking children on to the beach there is always the possibility that you might become separated. To counter this, the lifeguards have a supply of waterproof plastic identity bracelets. All you have to do is to put your child’s name and your mobile phone number on the bracelet. If you become separated and your child comes to our attention we will be able to contact you. THEY’RE FREE: if you want some ask a Lifeguard.
Beach Huts – The beach huts on the promenade at Seaford are mainly owner occupied but ownership of some has been retained by Seaford Town Council and these are leased to local residents.
Red and Yellow flags – Lifeguards are on duty and it is safe to swim between the flags.
Red Flag – DANGER! Very hazardous to enter the water and it is unsafe for swimming. DO NOT ENTER THE WATER FOR ANY REASON!
Black and White Chequered Flag – Don’t swim or bodyboard. Surfboards, stand-up paddleboards, kayaks and non-powered craft only. Kite/windsurfers may launch and recover from here.
Orange Windsock – unsafe to use inflatables, rubber rings, airbeds and similar toys because the wind is blowing from the beach to the sea. No Inflatables!
Red and White Prohibition Sign – Water related activities such as swimming are not permitted. DO NOT ENTER THE WATER FOR ANY REASON!
It is important to remember that flags will only be flown on Seaford Beach at weekends and public holidays from 1 May to 30 September and usually only between 10am to 6pm. At other times it is up to individual beach users to make their own decisions as to the suitability of the sea conditions for swimming. When making those decisions it is always advisable to err on the side of caution. For example, we do not recommend the use of inflatables at sea. They are designed for pool use only and pose a risk to life.