Back to the Bay – six things you need to do

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Back to the Bay
Back to the Bay – St Mary’s Lighthouse

St Mary’s Lighthouse

Going back to the Bay – six more fun things to do at the North East coast! What else can you see and where can you eat at the wonderful Whitley Bay?

I love a lighthouse and the North East coast has some beauties.

As picturesque as any you might find in the world, is the gorgeous St. Mary’s Island in Whitley Bay. St Mary’s Island is a small sandstone island connected to the mainland by a cute causeway which is passable for 16 hours of every day. It is a nature reserve where numerous seabirds nest. It is also a favourite spot for seals to sunbathe on the rocks around the island. Seal spotting is great fun.

Back to the bay
Sunbathing seals

The Lighthouse, completed in 1898 helped to warn vessels away from this hazardous coast. It remained operational until 1984. Now run as a visitor attraction by the council, you can still climb to the top of the lighthouse and see how things used to work. The light house also serves as a quirky venue for spooky films during the Whitley Bay Film Festival

The Rendezvous cafe

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Meet you at the Rendezvous cafe?

With a wonderful promenade location overlooking golden sands in Whitley Bay, the iconic Rendezvous Cafe is hugely popular, attracting people from miles around for coffee, cakes and ice creams.

This Art Deco style cafe at Duke’s Walk by the North Promenade hasn’t changed its style in decades. It was built in June 1930 by Whitley Bay & District Council, and was refurbished and renamed as the Rendezvous Café in 1957 when the Arnone family took ownership.

The family-run cafe has been modernised, whilst carefully retaining the original features and is on the local heritage list for being a “perfect example of a traditional seaside ice cream parlour”. The cafe is also one of the venues used for the Whitley Bay Film Festival.

Pantrinis – the best fish and chips

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The best fish and chips

You can’t have an English seaside town without fish and chips. Pantrinis in Whitley Bay is my favourite fish restaurant in the world, although I admit I haven’t been to all of them. A fish and chip shop of the year award winner, it serves succulent fish in light crispy batter, proper, chunky, homemade chips and divine mushy peas. Of course the cod is from Iceland and the Pantrinis are originally Italian immigrants who moved here after the war – but it’s still 100% British! Sit in or take out – Pantrinis is always worth a trip!

Riley’s Fish shack

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Riley’s Fish Shack

Riley’s fish shack is the new cool place to go at the coast, run by husband and wife team Adam and Lucy Riley.

Their aim is to help people appreciate the Fresh healthy local seafood fished right here off this coast. They said that local people just didn’t realise the variety that was available. The shack is right on the beach and began as a temporary structure, but is now open most of the year. You can buy and eat freshly cooked seafood dishes directly on the beach. It is so much fun and the food is great.  King Edward’s Bay ‘Eddies’ bay as it’s known is the picture perfect venue for this seaside eatery.

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Fish tacos- yum!

The business aims to be sustainable from the wooden shack itself, to the paper packaging, to the locally sourced food. You can hang around the shack or take your food onto the beach and recline in traditional deck chair.

Tynemouth Priory

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St Edward’s Bay

Tynemouth Castle and Priory on the coast of North East England was once one of the largest fortified areas in England. Overlooking the North Sea and the River Tyne, it dominates the headland. With its 2000 year history and beautiful views it is great spot to view the coast line and a great location to have a picnic.

The priory was first an Iron Age settlement, then an Anglo-Saxon monastery, royal castle and a coastal defence. The gun battery was designed to defend the Tyne in the First and Second World Wars.

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Tynemouth Priory and Castle

Lots of events are held here in the tourist season. This English Heritage site also hosts the popular Mouth of the Tyne music festival in the summer.


A great little bistro serving delicious, hearty, quality food at reasonable prices, Hinnies is right on the sea front. In the summer time the front of the restaurant opens up to a small, rather cool, landscaped patio.
I love the decor with its exposed rough wood, metro tiles and eclectic selection of vintage kitchen implements. Everything in the restaurant is recycled, including the fittings, furniture, and even the bar. Coastal colours are understated and cool.

Back to the bay

Wherever possible, ingredients are seasonal and locally sourced. A typical choice of mine is often the fish of the day, maybe Hake served with something like puy lentils. The Fish Quay at North Shields is not far away, and a great source of locally caught fresh fish. Sometimes Sea bass is available and sometimes Sea bream, whatever is swimming our way at the moment will appear on the menu.

Back to the Bay