Sandwich Bay has long been recognised for its botanical interest. This was an important factor in the designation of the area as a SSSI, a Special Area of Conservation and the creation of a National Nature Reserve.

There is a mosaic of habitats including Kent’s only ancient dune pasture.

About 800 species have been recorded ranging from 90 species of grass, through the parasitic broomrapes (including  Bedstraw Broomrape), hemi-parasitic Yellow Rattle to rare clovers such as Subterranean and other rare plants such as Heath Dog-violet, Yellow Bartsia and the magnificent  Lizard Orchid.

Lizard orchid - Himantoglossum hircinum

Sandwich Bay is the main site for the latter in the United Kingdom.