Oh, we Brits do like to have a second home by the seaside..

THE Victorians invented the idea of the British seaside as a holiday escape, and our coastal towns remain excellent options for second homes today. Even given the property market’s recent blip, seaside prices in England and Wales have increased by 128 per cent in the last decade. Seven out of 10 seaside towns have experienced greater increases in property values than the country as a whole. This means a home on our island shores is a clever investment as well as a smart lifestyle choice. Here are five hot coastal towns.

This old port town in Cornwall is already a second home favourite, commanding prices that demonstrate it. This year, however, it hit the jackpot, climbing into the top five most sought-after seaside towns, according to a ranking by Halifax. Lucian Cook, Savills’s head of research, says the market has surged lately and that top quality stock in Fowey will always sell. “Fowey is traditionally prime second home territory, but the local area is heavily reliant on people from London buying down there.”

“This is sailing heaven,” says George Wade, a director at buying agent Property Vision. “Its proximity to the New Forest also makes it really appealing.” This year, like Fowey, Halifax ranked it as one of the most expensive seaside towns in the UK.

“Aside from the footballer ghettos, Alnwick stands head and shoulders above other coastal towns in the north,” says Cook. “The beauty of the area, however, is that it is far less flashy than places the stars reside.” The area’s prices have been rocketing – the average price hit £220,228 this year, compared to £125,259 for the North East as a whole.

Rhyl is one of the best seaside bargains in Wales, with an average house price of £121,838. The area’s traditionally unfashionable reputation actually gives it some get-away appeal. “The fewer numbers of Londoners in Rhyl is often appreciated by the people who opt to buy there,” says Cook.

Unlike Rhyl, Tenby is quick to attract the capital’s cash. It has some of the highest prices outside of southern England. “The prices in Tenby are certainly not as punchy as Cornwall’s, but it can offer many of the same benefits,” says Cook.

Price: £1.295m

This coast-front property is arranged over two floors. It has two bedrooms, two shower rooms, one of which is en suite, a kitchen-dining room, utility room and playroom. The house has underfloor heating.

Contact: John D Wood & Co on 01590 677233 or go to www.johndwood.co.uk

Price: £1.5m

People who value cool modern design will be drawn to this four-bedroom house with its huge glass walls, curving balconies, cinema room, plentiful outdoor spaces and architectural clean lines.

Contact: Strutt & Parker Chester office 01244 354888 or www.struttandparker.com

Price: £2m

This is an atmospheric, four-storey harbourside townhouse with views out over the boats bobbing on the water. It has four bedrooms, four bathrooms, a series of balconies and terraces, with private steps to the shore and gated parking. Fowey is 22 miles to Truro, 23 miles to Newquay Airporta and 34 miles to Plymouth.

Contact: Savills Truro on 01872 243200 or go to www.savills.co.uk.

Price: £1.35m

This grade II-listed house has a detached cottage, stable block, outbuildings and almost 14 acres of woodland and paddock. As well as seven bedrooms and plenty of reception rooms, this grand imposing example of Georgian order has extensive cellars and beautifully manicured gardens.

Contact: Strutt & Parker Morpeth on 01670 516 123 or go to www.struttandparker.com

Price: £550,000

The living room with its own sun terrace has to be the seller in this airy property. There four bathrooms and bedrooms and ample parking space on the long drive way.

Contact: Savills 02920 368 931or go to www.savills.co.uk