Staithes is very like Robin Hoods Bay and Runswick bay with its narrow streets and alleyways hanging onto the cliff side either side of a small river. The car park is at the top of the cliffs like Robin hoods bay with a walk down to the old village.
There are several places you can eat and drink and there is often an ice cream van near the beach. It only has a small beach which is actually inside the harbour walls. It maybe looks its prettiest at high water but Staithes is much more interesting at low water when you can explore the large rock ledges outside the harbour walls for fossils and sea creatures. Staithes is famous for its fossils . In particular there are some excellent ammonite fossils found here. There are many different species of ammonites and there is a guide for identification of the Staithes ammonites here.
We sometimes walk to the south east of the harbour on the flat rocks on a big low tide. You see many fossils stuck in the rocks you are walking on. You can see mining evidence in the form of old track ways and if you go far enough holes in the cliff from jet mining. You have to time it correctly and have good boots on for walking on rocks many of which can be slippery. Do not undertake a walk like this lightly. There are many places where you can be cut off when the tide comes in. If it is a big tide there is nowhere to go at high water. You will have no mobile signal so cannot call for help. The cliffs are also very unstable with regular rock falls. YOU MUST BE AWARE OF TIDE TIMES and make sure you are back soon after low tide or you may become a tragic casualty.
There is quite a lot of interesting history at Staithes. It was once a very important fishing port and was at its height around 1900. At that time it also had a railway station on the line from Teeside to Whitby. There has been extensive mining in the area for jet, alum and ironstone. Staithes is close to the current giant potash mine at Boulby. Captain Cook famous for his world exploration and usually associated with Whitby lived here for a while.
There was also a thriving artist community in Staithes particularly towards the end of the 19th century. Many of the paintings really captures the sea and yorkshire cobles. Some of the paintings can be seen at Whitby museum and art gallery. Well worth a visit. I find the one of the Yorkshire coble going through the surf really good. It is very hard to make a yorkshire coble look right in a painting but this artist Harold Knight has succeeded brilliantly showing a coble tackling the surf off Staithes. He has also made the waves look so alive.