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:

RNLI: Sandhaven Beach (Centre)


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: 

RNLI: Beach safety

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.