The purpose of this study was to determine the presence of thermophilic Campylobacter spp. and Salmonella spp. in sand from non-EEC standard and EEC standard designated beaches in different locations in the UK and to assess if potentially pathogenic strains were present. Campylobacter spp. were detected in 82/182 (45%) of sand samples and Salmonella spp. in 10/182 (6%), Campylobacter spp. were isolated from 46/92 (50%) of samples from non-EEC standard beaches and 36/90 (40%) from EEC standard beaches. The prevalence of Campylobacter spp. was greater in wet sand from both types of beaches but, surprisingly, more than 30% of samples from dry sand also contained these organisms. The major pathogenic species C. jejuni and C. coli were more prevalent in sand from non-EEC standard beaches. In contrast, C. lari and urease positive thermophilic campylobacters, which are associated with seagulls and other migratory birds, were more prevalent in sand from EEC standard beaches. Campylobacter isolates were further characterized by biotyping and serotyping, which confirmed that strains known to be of types associated with human infections were frequently found in sand on bathing beaches.