Whitley Bay is a seaside resort in Tyne and Wear in the northeast of England, with a population of 36,623 in 2013. It was part of Northumberland until 1974 when the borough of North Tyneside was created within the metropolis of Tyne and Wear. The North Tyneside towns of Wallsend, North Shields and Tynemouth are described separately.
The first settlement hereabouts was inland on church holdings, which became Monkseaton. The coastal village of Witelei (or Wyteley or Hwyteleg or half a dozen other versions) remained small until the 18th century, then grew with industry based on coal and limestone, and eventually engulfed Monkseaton. In the 19th century it also became a seaside resort. It was always just plain Whitley, but the "Bay" was added in 1901 as too much mail was going astray to Whitby in North Yorkshire. The final straw was a corpse for burial that was misdirected. However this confusion didn't afflict the undead, as Bram Stoker's Dracula was able to bound ashore in Whitby even though he'd devoured everyone who could navigate or sail his ship.
Famous people from Whitley Bay include the TV reporter Kate Adie (b 1945), rugby union player Toby Flood (b 1985) and author Captain WE Johns (1893-1968), creator of Biggles.
Get in Edit
By train Edit
There are no mainline trains to Whitley Bay. Newcastle Central has frequent trains from London and the Midlands via York, from Edinburgh, and from Carlisle. Change at Central for the Metro Yellow Line.
The district has three stations on the northern loop of the Yellow Line, with trains running M-Sa every 15 min and Su every 30 min from St James and Monument in Newcastle city centre. It's the furthest point on the loop so either way round takes just under 30 min. From Central Station, it's simplest to take the northbound (clockwise) train via Monument, Haymarket, Jesmond, South Gosforth, Northumberland Park and Shiremoor to 1 Monkseaton Metro Station, 2 Whitley Bay Metro Station and 3 Cullercoats Metro Station. Trains continue to Tynemouth, North Shields, Wallsend, Byker, Monument and St James. You could also take the eastbound (anti-clockwise) train, but this means changing at Monument. After their loop, those trains head along the south riverbank to Gateshead, Jarrow and South Shields.
From the airport, take the Green Line to South Gosforth and change for the Yellow Line. The Green Line continues southeast to city centre, Gateshead and Sunderland.
The Whitley Bay stations are in Fare Zone C so you need an all-zone ticket for travel to or from Newcastle city centre. In 2022 an adult single is £3.90, and it's the same fare from the city centre, Gateshead or Sunderland. A day ticket is £5.70. Travel from the Airport is cheaper because this only passes through zones B and C (provided you change at South Gosforth) - an adult single for this journey is £3.20 and a day ticket is £4.70.
By bus Edit
A slightly cheaper alternative to the metro is to use the bus from Newcastle. The two main routes between Newcastle and Whitley Bay are the 308 and the 309 - both take about 40 minutes for the full journey with the 308 operating four times an hour during the day and the 309 operating three times an hour. Other useful services include the 306 (slower than the 308/309 but a more scenic route through Tynemouth), the 317 (a local route through North Tyneside which connects with ferries from South Shields), and the 57 (an hourly service from Ashington and Cramlington). Some buses are operated by Go North East, others by Arriva, and the 317 by Stagecoach; tickets valid on one operator are rarely valid on others but fortunately the different companies use different colours which makes distinguishing between them fairly easy.
There isn't a bus station, buses make multiple stops along the main streets.
By road Edit
From the south, take A19 to bypass Newcastle to the east and come through the Tyne Tunnel (toll). Take A1058 Coast Road to Tynemouth then A193 north.
From the north, take A19 and via Coast Rd is simplest, but you could also shortcut on A186 / A192.
Get around Edit
The buses and Metro trains from the city continue through the district. For local destinations within Fare Zone C you only need a one zone ticket, so (as of 2021) a single is £2.10 and a day-ticket is £3.30. On the Metro this covers from Meadow Well to North Shields, Tynemouth, Cullercoats, Whitley Bay, Monkseaton and Shiremoor.
- Whitley Bay is mostly modern. St Paul's Church (Anglican) on Park View in town centre is from 1864.
- 1 The beach is sandy for two miles from town north towards St Mary's Island. The Promenade continues south along the rocky coast towards Cullercoats.
- 2 Cullercoats: see Tynemouth for this former fishing village. There's a small sandy beach, a sea arch and caves etched into the bluffs. Long Sands just south is the area's main beach.
- 3 St Mary's Lighthouse, Whitley Bay NE26 4RS (Pay & Display car parks by causeway), ☏ . Sa Su tides permitting. This is perched on a tidal islet. The causeway can be crossed for about four hours either side of low tide: use Easytide for a free tide prediction up to 7 days ahead. In medieval times there was a chapel here, but the ruins were swept away when the lighthouse was built in 1898. It was decomissioned in 1984 is now a visitor centre. There's wheelchair and pram access this far, but 137 steps to climb the tower. Adult £3.70, conc £1.90.
- Monkseaton is a much older settlement, on lands once belonging to Tynemouth Priory, but no early buildings remain: it's nondescript modern lowrise along Front St south from the Metro Station. The only reason to come is to walk the trail along the disused railway northwest towards Seaton.
- 4 Seaton Sluice is a curious little harbour. It was used to export salt, coal and bottles, but it kept silting up. The sluices were lock gates fitted to the natural harbour in the 17th century to pen the high tide then flush the channel clear; in the 18th century a more direct channel was cut. The harbour was disused from the 19th century as larger ports developed elsewhere, and a local pit disaster of 1862 ended the coal exports and the lives of all 204 trapped underground.
- 5 Seaton Delaval, Seaton Sluice NE26 4QR (on A190), ☏ . W-Su 10:00-15:00. Grand mansion designed by Vanbrugh and completed in 1728, in extensive grounds. The family lived riotously and suffered several calamities, and the central block was destroyed by fire in 1822. The facade and West Wing have been partly restored. Adult £8, child £4, NT free.
- The Playhouse is on Marine Ave, 100 yards inland from Spanish City.
- Jam Jar Cinema is on Park Ave by the shopping centre.
- 1 Whitley Bay Ice Rink. daily 14:00-16:00, 19:00-21:00. Public skating rink which is also home of the Whitley Warriors ice hockey team. Adult 2 hour session £7.50, skate hire £2.50.
- Swimming Pool: Waves is on The Links half a mile north of Spanish City.
- 2 Whitley Bay Golf Club, Claremont Rd NE26 3UF, ☏ . White tees 6579 yards, par £72, visitor round £50.
- Spanish City (Trenchers or 1910), Whitley Bay NE26 1BG (next to Premier Inn), ☏ . Once the centrepiece of a funfair, this oddity was built in 1910, in sort-of Brighton Pavilion meets Grand Mosque of Baghdad then shrunk in the wash. The funfair was extolled in the 1980 Dire Straits single "Tunnel of Love" but fell derelict and was demolished in 1999. The Dome, once a pinball and slots arcade, has been restored into bars and two restaurants. Trenchers is fish and chips (W-Sa 12:00-21:00, Su 12:00-18:00), 1910 is a steak and seafood restaurant (F Sa 17:00-21:00) and serves afternoon tea.
- Hinnies, 10 East Parade NE26 1AP (south end of beach), ☏ . Tu-F 12:00-14:00, 17:00-21:00, Sa 09:30-15:00, 17:00-21:30, Su 17:30-16:00. Great reviews for its trad fare. Dog and child-friendly.
- Rendezvous Cafe on Dukes Walk, North Promenade has good ice cream and snacks. It's open daily 09:30-16:30.
- Turknaz south end of the beach is open daily 12:00-22:30. Takdir (Indian) and La Casetta are either side.
- 1 The Roxburgh, 4 Roxburgh Terrace NE26 1DS, ☏ . Home cooked trad British food, gets good reviews. F Sa 18:00-22:00.
- 2 Papa Ganoush, 240 Park View NE26 3QX, ☏ . Th F 17:00-21:00, Sa 12:00-20:00, Su 12:00-15:00. Splendid East Med cuisine.
- Zamorins next to Papa Ganoush is South Indian fare.
- Whitley Road south towards Cullercoats is Little India, with Whitley Bay Tandoori, Shahenshah, Shampan, Kismet, Shikara and Elder and Wolf, plus Pranzo Trattoria on Station Rd.
- Town centre has The Fire Station (below), The Victoria, The Brewery (below), Tanner Smith's, The Dog and Rabbit, and Albear.
- The Fire Station, 18 York Road NE26 1AB, ☏ . Su-Th 08:00-00:00, F Sa 08:00-01:00. Wetherspoon's pub in a former fire station, built in 1909 and operational until 1991. Good food, beer and service.
- Brewery: Whitley Bay Brewing at 2-4 South Parade produces some half-a-dozen beers. No tours.
- 1 Premier Inn Whitley Bay, 9 Spanish City Plaza NE26 1BG, ☏ . Reliable budget chain on seafront. B&B double £80.
- 2 Royal Hotel, 13-17 East Parade NE26 1AP, ☏ . Friendly comfy hotel on seafront, good value. B&B double £55.
- 3 York House Hotel, 106-110 Park Ave NE26 1DN, ☏ . Small hotel a block inland, great reviews for comfort and service. B&B double £120.
- 4 Hotel 52, 52 South Parade NE26 2RQ, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Friendly staff but the facilities are tired and basic. B&B double £85.
- A dozen or so other small hotels and B&Bs either didn't open in 2021 or went to the dogs.
- 5 Whitley Bay Holiday Park, Blyth Rd, The Links NE26 4RR, ☏ . This park is mainly for static units and long lets, but they have pitches for tourers and campers plus glamping pods.
As of July 2021, this area has 5G with EE and 4G with the other UK carriers.
Go next Edit
- Tynemouth just south has a long sandy beach and a ruined castle and priory.
- Newcastle upon Tyne city lights are only 30 min away by Metro.
- Northumberland has an attractive coast once you get clear of the industry, with battered castles and the Holy Isle of Lindisfarne.