Essex has a coastline of 350 miles, just behind Cornwall for its length, but did you know that Essex has more islands along its coast than any other English county?
Visit Essex, the county tourism organization’s mission is to showcase ‘Essex Island’ in an effort to encourage people to explore the coastline.
The organization’s president, Councilor Mark Durham, said the islands have so much to offer.
Here is a list of all the islands and why you should visit them:
Probably the best known of the islands, Mersea is located a few miles from Colchester.
Famous for its oysters, which are landed daily before heading to the best restaurants in London and Paris.
Mersea is renowned for its colorful beach huts, golden beaches, and national parks, as well as its beachside seafood restaurants.
South of Essex is Canvey, the UK’s fourth most populous island.
In the 1970s, the island became the birthplace of the sounds of “The Essex Delta” when local bands Dr Feelgood and Eddie and The Hotrods hit the charts.
These groups are still celebrated around the island with murals and plaques on bars, hotels and sea walls.
History runs to the soul of Canvey, the much-loved 17th century Lobster Smack pub, was the inspiration for the pub in Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations”.
North of Southend is the largest island on the Essex coast, but only 160 people.
Owned by the Department of Defense, Foulness has a long military history, including the weaponry for the D-Day landings tested on the island.
But the island is also known as a bird paradise as a site of special scientific interest.
The calm backwaters of Hamford Water, near Walton-on-the-Naze, are home to Horsey Island.
The island is connected to the mainland from Kirby-le-Soken by a 0.6 mile long path known as “The Wade”, which can be walked at low tide.
Managed by Natural England and Essex Wildlife Trust, it is a nature haven with many species of birds and harbor and gray seals that inhabit the island and permission is required to visit.
This island in the Blackwater Estuary, near Maldon, has long been the getaway destination for the rich and famous of The Who’s Pete Townshend who vacationed with family here, while from 2005 to 2010 it became the home to a drug addiction clinic, which has helped many celebrities.
Currently owned by music producer Nigel Frieda, Rihanna in 2019 hired Miloco Studios on the island to record an album while living on the island.
Most recently, the island served as the backdrop for the Sky series “The Third Day” with Jude Law.
Island with two trees
Another wildlife paradise, reclaimed from the sea in the 18th century when a dike was built to enclose the land.
Today the island is a nature reserve managed by the Essex Wildlife Trust.
Owned by the National Trust, you must apply for permission to visit the island known as “Wuthering Heights of Essex”.
Northey was once the scene of a fight between the Vikings and the Anglo-Saxons in AD 991 and there are monuments to Britain’s oldest recorded battle on the island.