Beaches provide sediment stores and have an important role in the development of the coastline in response to climate change. Quantification of beach thickness and volume is required to assess coastal sediment transport budgets. Therefore, portable, rapid, non-invasive techniques are required to evaluate thickness where environmental sensitivities exclude invasive methods. Site methods and data are described for a toolbox of electrical, electromagnetic, seismic and mechanical based techniques that were evaluated at a coastal site at Easington, Yorkshire. Geophysical and geotechnical properties are shown to be dependent upon moisture content, porosity and lithology of the beach and the morphology of the beach–platform interface. Thickness interpretation, using an inexpensive geographic information system to integrate data, allowed these controls and relationships to be understood. Guidelines for efficient site practices, based upon this case history including procedures and techniques, are presented using a systematic approach. Field results indicated that a mixed sand and gravel beach is highly variable and cannot be represented in models as a homogeneous layer of variable thickness overlying a bedrock half-space.