It was designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in 1954, and in 1986 it was subsumed into the 7,700 ha (19,000 acres) North Norfolk Coast Site of Special Scientific Interest. The larger area is now additionally protected through Natura 2000, Special Protection Area (SPA) and Ramsar listings, and is part of the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
The reserve's sand dunes, salt marsh, pasture and pools are important for breeding birds like Pied Avocet, and wintering ducks, geese and waders. There are a range of coastal habitats including, freshwater pools, grazing marsh and saltmarsh. Much of the site consists of natural habitats maintained largely by coastal processes.
- "Holme Dunes National Nature Reserve". Natural England. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
- "Holme Dunes". Nature Reserves. Norfolk Wildlife Trust. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
- "North Norfolk Coast". SSSI citations. Natural England. Retrieved 8 November 2011.
- "Other Conservation Designations within the AONB December 2009". Norfolk Coast AONB Management Plan 2009–14. Norfolk Coast partnership. Retrieved 8 November 2011.