Beaches and seafront
Staying safe at the coast
Make sure that you know how to enjoy the beautiful South Tyneside coast safely.
Beaches, cliffs and the sea can be dangerous, and weather conditions can change quickly at the coast.
Make sure you're always aware of your surroundings.
What to do in an emergency
In an emergency on the beach or anywhere along the seafront, tell a lifeguard.
If there is no lifeguard available:
- Dial 999 or 112
- Ask for the coastguard
There are two RNLI lifeguard stations on Sandhaven Beach in the high season (usually from May to September).
If you need help, contact the lifeguards.
If a lifeguard isn't available and there is an emergency, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.
For information and lifeguard times:
Stay at least 10 metres away from the cliffs where you can, and never go into caves.
The cliffs are unstable and rocks can fall at any time.
When near the cliffs, remember:
- Do not walk, play, sunbathe, etc at the base of the cliffs
- Do not use cliffs for shade (use umbrellas, hats and other cover instead)
- Do not go close to the edge at the top of cliffs - never cross a safety barrier and even if there isn't a safety barrier, do not go near to the edge of the cliffs
- Do not try to climb the cliffs
- Beware of rock and debris falling from the cliffs
- Know where children and pets are at all times, on top of, or at the foot of the cliffs
- Always stay on the proper designated paths - even if it looks like there are paths worn into the cliffs
- Take notice of any warning signs
For important information about staying safe at the beach, including what the different flags mean, what to do if a child goes missing, inflatables, sun safety and more:
While on and near the beach, remember:
- Check tide times - the sea can move quickly. It's easy to get cut off by the tide, especially in bays (such as Marsden Bay which has limited access). There can be multiple high tides in a day. Check weather forecasts and tides at: Met Office: Beach forecast and tide times
- Read the beach safety signs - these are usually found at the entrance of beaches. They'll let you know about hazards, prohibited activities, lifeguard services and other information.
- Don't climb or jump off the dunes - there might be hidden fencing which can be sharp.
- Be careful when walking on piers or harbour walls - don't cross any safety barriers, be careful when walking on wet or uneven surfaces and look out for sharp objects.
- Protect yourself from the sun
Going into the sea
When going into the sea, remember:
- Only swim between the red and yellow flags when there are lifeguards on duty, and never swim when the red flag is flying - read more about flags at RNLI: Beach safety
- Do not swim if asked not to by a lifeguard or coastguard
- Swim within your capabilities
- Swim parallel to the beach
- Do not swim soon after eating a meal
- Swim with others - never alone
- Avoid rocks, sea walls and other structures
- Do not swim under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Supervise children at all times
- Make sure you are visible when swimming
- Beware of jet skis or other watercrafts
- Use jet skis and other watercrafts safely and only in designated areas - read more at RYA: Jet skis and personal watercrafts and RNLI: Activities
- Don't use inflatables in the sea - read more at RNLI: Beach safety
- Don't jump into the sea from a height (especially from cliffs, piers and sea walls)
- If you do jump or dive into the sea:
- check the depth of the water - tides can go in and out very quickly so the depth will change
- be aware there may be rocks and objects under the water which aren't visible from the surface
- never jump into the sea while under peer pressure, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs
If you get into trouble in the sea
Wave your hands in the air and shout for help.
If you see someone in difficulty, don't attempt a rescue. Tell a lifeguard, or if you can't see a lifeguard, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.
Beach safety zones
Beach safety zones are in place at Littlehaven Beach and Sandhaven Beach in South Shields.
The safety zones have been established to reduce the interaction between leisure water vessels and beach users.
Operators of leisure water vessels should not enter the area between the yellow marker buoys and the beach, unless in the case of an emergency.
Unpowered paddle sports, such as surfing and kayaking, may occasionally be found within the beach safety zone.
Open water safety
If you are planning to access open water please consider the safety information on open water safety.
Dogs on the beach
Dogs are excluded from Sandhaven beach between 8am and 6pm, from 1 May to 30 September each year.
A person in charge of any dog brea this Order will be guilty of an offence and liable to a fixed penalty of £100.
This is reduced to £50 if paid within 7 days.
What happens if you don't pay a fine
If the fine is not paid, the Council will prosecute at Magistrates' Court
If you are found guilty of committing an offence, you can be fined a maximum of £1,000 (current rate).
If you have a complaint
If you have a complaint or enquiry, please contact the Customer Contact Centre on 0191 427 7000.
For more information, see Public Spaces Protection Orders for dog fouling and dog control.
Seals on the beach
Seals sometimes rest on the shoreline, especially during bad weather.
If you see a seal, please:
- keep your distance
- do not approach the seal
For more information on what to do if you spot a seal, see British Divers Marine Life Rescue.
Lifebelts and water safety equipment
South Tyneside Council maintains water safety equipment including lifebelts and throw-lines at many Foreshore and Riverside locations:
- Pelaw Quay
- Hebburn Marina
- Hebburn Riverside
- Jarrow Riverside
- Mill Dam
- Market Dock
- Littlehaven Housing
Missing equipment or vandalism
If you notice any equipment missing or vandalised please contact 0191 427 7000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Water sports licensing
To hire out water-bound pleasure crafts for personal use or carrying passengers, you may need a licence.
- rowing boats
- motor boats
- larger boats
For more information, see Licensing: Pleasure boats.
Keeping our beaches clean
We have dedicated teams working hard to keep our beaches clean during summer.
Please support the teams to keep our beaches clean when you visit.
What you can do to help keep the beaches clean
- Don't leave litter.
- Bag any waste and put it in the bins provided.
- If bins are full take your waste to the next available bin, or take it home to put in your bin.
- Do not take glass on to the beach.
- Only disposable BBQs are allowed on the beach. Make sure you dispose of the waste from these sensibly.
- Please clean up after your dog. Litter bins are provided throughout the area which can be used for bagged dog waste.
- Check before you leave, have you left anything other than footprints? If so please clean up.
Dogs are not allowed on Sandhaven Beach between 1 May to 30 September, between 8am and 6pm.
Dogs are allowed on Littlehaven Beach.
The impact of litter on our beaches
Litter on beaches impacts on how the beach looks, which can result in reduced visitor numbers, affecting the local economy.
It can impact on the enjoyment and safety of those who use the beach for pleasure. Discarded cans and bottles etc can cause injury.
It can also have devastating effects on the marine wildlife and birds which eat some of the litter thinking that it is food, or find themselves tangled in items.
What we do to keep the beaches clean during summer
Beach cleaners are employed between April and September, to make sure that our beaches and surrounding areas are clean and safe for those using them.
During the main summer season, the team works on a shift system so that there is cover both in the mornings and through the evening.
They will continuously empty litter bins, pick up litter, remove windblown sand from paths and anything else which is needed to make our beaches and coastal areas safe and welcoming.
Due to the winds and tides along our coastline, the sands are ever shifting, which results in the dispersal of sand from some areas and the build-up of sand in other areas along the beaches.
We have a sand levelling programme which returns the sand to the areas along the beach where it is needed.
This work involves the use of heavy plant to transport the sand to the areas where it is needed.
It starts the first week of May and takes approximately 3 weeks.
No sand is ever removed from the beaches in South Shields, it is levelled out and dispersed to other areas on the beach where needed.
Sand is cleaned every day.
Once the sand levelling is complete, the sand is mechanically cleaned every day by using a 'surf rake'.
The surf rake is a piece of equipment which is towed behind a tractor, and basically this machine sieves the sand with a belt of steel tines which penetrate the sand, removing any debris and returning the clean sand to the beach.
This is carried out every morning from 6am to 11am, or earlier if there is heavy footfall on the beaches.
It is only possible to do this mechanical cleaning of the beaches once the sand levelling is complete.
We are proud of our beaches in South Shields and we want all who visit them to have a safe and pleasant experience.
Seaside Award for Sandhaven Beach
Sandhaven Beach holds a Seaside Award from the country's leading environmental charity, Keep Britain Tidy.
This recognises that visitors are guaranteed to find a clean, safe, attractive and well-managed coastline.
For more information about Sandhaven Beach, see Visit South Tyneside: Sandhaven Beach.
Adapted wheelchairs for the sand and sea
Local charity Beach Access North East can provide you with specially adapted wheelchairs and equipment.
These help with moving along the sand and in the sea.
They can be picked up from Sandhaven Beach, South Shields.
For more information on this free service, including booking details, please visit Beach Access North East or call 0300 999 4444.