Best Beaches in Dorset

Searching for the finest beaches in Dorset? Look no further than the advice of a local! Fortunately, I was born and raised in Weymouth, spending each summer exploring the Dorset coastline in search of the top beaches. My father, the ultimate Dorset enthusiast, was a wealth of knowledge on the subject, and I believe I’ve visited them all!

Weymouth Beach

I might be a bit partial because Weymouth is my hometown, but I genuinely believe this is one of the finest beaches in England, if not all of Dorset! The good news is you don’t have to rely solely on my opinion, as Weymouth Beach has recently been honored with a Blue Flag and a Seaside Award.

This is the classic British seaside experience. Picture golden sandy shores, donkey rides, and one of the few remaining Punch and Judy shows in the nation. The esplanade is adorned with charming Georgian architecture, and the sheltered bay is framed by distant white cliffs. Simply delightful!

Bournemouth Beach is another one of my cherished Dorset beaches. However, I should forewarn you that it’s exceptionally popular and can become quite crowded during the summer months!

Bournemouth Beach spans a magnificent seven miles of white sandy coastline, renowned for its relatively warm sea temperatures compared to the rest of the UK. To complete the picturesque seaside scene, the beach features a lively pier with arcade games, a collection of colorful beach huts, and a pastel blue Land Train that shuttles up and down the promenade!

Sandbanks Beach, Poole

Sandbanks Beach, situated on a narrow peninsula nestled between Poole and Bournemouth, is often hailed as one of the finest South Coast beaches in England. Additionally, it boasts the world’s priciest coastal real estate, featuring stunning properties with breathtaking views of the sea.

The beach itself is truly magnificent, having earned its 32nd consecutive Blue Flag award. The water is pristine, safe, and typically tranquil. On the opposite side of the peninsula, Poole Harbour stands as the world’s largest natural harbor, hosting more than a dozen yacht clubs and marinas. Furthermore, the area is replete with exceptional dining establishments. A visit to Rick Stein’s is a must for its breathtaking views and exquisite seafood.

Lyme Regis

Lyme Regis is rapidly emerging as one of the most fashionable destinations in Dorset. Flanking a charming 13th-century harbor called the Cobb, you’ll discover a combination of sandy and pebbly beaches, with Town Beach being the most frequented.

While Lyme Regis is famous as a tourist destination, it’s also one of the key locations along the Jurassic Coast for fossil hunting. This is where Mary Anning, the celebrated paleontologist, got her start, and the region is teeming with fossils of sea creatures dating back 180 million years. Make sure to visit Lyme Regis Museum to delve deeper into this history and stay vigilant for fossils as you explore the beaches!

Swanage Beach

Swanage offers a delightful seaside experience with its vibrant beach huts, pristine white sands, and a sheltered bay ideal for swimming and stand-up paddleboarding. The town has a charming atmosphere, featuring numerous boutique shops and independent cafes. For an authentically traditional seaside outing, you can park in the vicinity of Norden and embark on a journey aboard the Swanage Railway’s steam train, arriving in town and ready to enjoy the beach.

Charmouth Beach

Charmouth Beach, located a short distance from Lyme Regis, is a fantastic spot for fossil hunting. This delightful seaside village is nestled within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and its shingle beach is framed by the dramatic cliffs of the Jurassic Coast. Particularly noteworthy is the Golden Cap, the tallest point on the southern coastline, situated approximately one mile from Charmouth beach.

The beach is divided by the River Char’s estuary. Interestingly, I once had a near mishap with my younger brother in the river when he was just a toddler! Nevertheless, it remains a highly sought-after destination for families due to its tranquil waters and the wealth of fossils to be discovered.

Mudeford Sandbank

Mudeford Sandbank is located on a narrow stretch of land that extends from Hengistbury Head toward Christchurch, creating a small enclosed harbor. This beach is characterized by its narrow expanse of white sandy shoreline, bordered by the bay on one side and Christchurch Harbour on the other. It’s truly one of my preferred beaches in Dorset!

Mudeford is renowned for its picturesque beach huts, which are often adorned in pastel colors. Some of these beach huts have fetched incredibly high prices, with one recently selling for £295,000! Setting aside the upscale beach huts, Mudeford is undeniably a stunning location, situated at the conclusion of a delightful walk around or over Hengistbury Head.

Beaches for Epic Coastline and Adventure

Durdle Door and Man O War Bay

Durdle Door is an iconic landmark along the Jurassic Coast, offering access to two of the finest beaches in Dorset. To the right, you’ll find Durdle Door Beach, the more popular of the two, with a clear view of the rocky arch. On the left, Man O’ War Bay, with its stunning semi-circular cove, is considered by many to be the more beautiful beach. The bay is sheltered by a series of rocks, making it an ideal spot for swimming, particularly with young children.

Lulworth Cove: Iconic Jurassic Coast Destination

Lulworth Cove, another iconic location on the Jurassic Coast, is a charming fishing village set alongside a stunning circular cove. The sheltered waters and the extensive shingle beach, flanked by striking white chalk cliffs, create a dramatic and rugged ambiance. Whether you’re looking for a relaxed day at the beach or an adventure like a cliff walk (to the nearby Fossil Forest) or watersports, Lulworth Cove has something for everyone.

For those seeking thrilling adventures, Lulworth Cove offers excellent opportunities for coasteering, making it one of the prime locations on the south coast to give it a try. I personally experienced this with Lulworth Outdoors and found it to be incredibly enjoyable. Coasteering allows you to intimately explore the Jurassic Coast by climbing cliffs, leaping into the sea, and navigating through caves and tunnels, offering an exhilarating and fun experience.

Kimmeridge Bay

Kimmeridge Bay, designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is globally renowned for its geological significance, making it one of the top beaches in Dorset for those seeking stunning coastline. While it lacks sandy shores, the rocky beach is set in a breathtaking location. Fossils can be frequently found here, and the numerous rock pools that emerge along the bay provide excellent opportunities for exploring the rich marine life of Purbeck. In essence, Kimmeridge Bay resembles a colossal rock pool more than a traditional beach.

Clavell Tower, an elegant Tuscan-style tower constructed in 1830, commands a view over the bay. When seeking distinctive accommodations in Dorset, this is a top choice. The circular tower has been transformed into a self-catering clifftop retreat, adding an element of uniqueness to your stay.

Hengistbury Head

Hengistbury Head holds a special place in my heart as one of the finest locations in Dorset for beachcombing or cliffside strolls. This headland extends into the English Channel, lying between Bournemouth and Mudeford. An enchanting walk takes you across the cliff to Mudeford Sandbank and then guides you back through heathland and freshwater wetland. On the opposite side of the headland, Hengistbury Head Beach offers an extensive expanse of sand and shingle, embellished with beachgrass. It retains its natural beauty, making it equally suitable for thrilling adventures and tranquil beach days.

Chesil Beach

Chesil Beach, a barrier beach, stands as one of the three primary shingle structures in Britain. This 29-kilometer-long shingle formation links the Isle of Portland to the mainland at Abbotsbury. Along its course, it shapes The Fleet, a brackish water lagoon with a history intertwined with smugglers and their daring escapades. Stories of swashbuckling adventures abound along this coastal stretch. It’s said that smugglers could identify their landing location at night based on the size of the shingle, as it consistently varies along the length of the beach!

Towards its southern tip, Chesil Beach offers scenic views of Portland Harbour, the third-largest manmade harbor in the world. The calm waters here create an ideal setting for engaging in activities such as stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) and kayaking.

Studland Bay

The beaches surrounding Studland offer a wild and captivating experience with their undulating white sand dunes and swaying beach grass. Studland Bay, a National Trust nature reserve, is nestled within an extensive lowland heath, creating a genuine wilderness atmosphere. During the summer months, when the heathland is adorned with vibrant purple heather and bright yellow gorse, it provides a striking backdrop to the rugged coastline.

West Bay

West Bay, known as the filming location for the popular TV series Broadchurch, stands out as one of Dorset’s renowned beaches. Beyond its fame, it’s a striking beach in its own regard. The rocky shingle beach is overlooked by a dramatic golden sandstone cliff, a prominent feature in the series. With its wild and rugged charm, the setting is stunning. Additionally, the nearby fishing village and harbor offer delightful exploration opportunities.

Worbarrow Bay

Worbarrow Bay, located just east of Lulworth Cove, is one of the top beaches in Dorset for experiencing the beauty of the Jurassic Coast. It boasts a wide and shallow bay with tranquil waters and a backdrop of dramatic cliffs. To add to its appeal, the nearest car park is a mile away, making it a relatively peaceful destination. You might even find yourself with the whole beach to enjoy! This beach is ideal for fossil hunting and exploring rock pools, and the walk from the nearby historic village of Tyneham is a picturesque one.

Church Ope Cove, Portland

Nestled against the side of Portland and encircled by gentle, grass-covered cliffs on three sides, Church Ope Cove is a charming pebble beach that tends to be quieter than most of its counterparts in the area. The beach is overseen by the remains of Rufus Castle, and you can enjoy some delightful vistas from the cliff tops.

Be sure to explore the nearby “Pirate’s Graveyard” within the ruins of St Andrew’s Church. Many headstones in the churchyard bear skull and crossbones symbols, giving rise to the local legend of the Pirate’s Graveyard. While I can’t guarantee that these are indeed the resting places of pirates, it’s a fun tale to entertain!

Castle Cove Beach, Weymouth

This is among my preferred beaches in Weymouth. Situated on the other side of the harbor, facing the Isle of Portland, this petite beach tends to be wonderfully serene during my visits. Thanks to the natural shelter provided by Portland Harbour, the bay typically boasts tranquil waters, making it ideal for activities like stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) or kayaking. Additionally, the shallows teem with marine life, including crabs, shrimps, and anemones. At the cliff’s summit above the beach, you can explore the imposing remains of Sandsfoot Castle, an artillery fort constructed by Henry VIII!

Chapman’s Pool

Chapman’s Pool is a petite cove situated on the Isle of Purbeck, which is one of the most breathtaking regions along the Jurassic Coast. If you’re seeking a secluded escape, it’s one of the finest beaches in Dorset. The nearest parking lot is approximately a mile away, and the hike there can be a bit challenging. However, the payoff is the discovery of a beautifully untamed and private little beach, making the journey entirely worthwhile!

Ringstead Bay

The pristine shoreline at Ringstead Bay is among my preferred beaches in Dorset. Encircled by the majestic cliffs of the Jurassic Coast, this expansive shingle beach offers splendid vistas overlooking Weymouth Bay and Portland. Moreover, it’s usually a tranquil spot as most visitors tend to frequent the more popular beaches in the area.

For an excellent clifftop hike, commence your journey at Bowleaze in Weymouth and trek along the cliff trails leading to Ringstead through Osmington Mills. Be sure to make a pit stop at the Smuggler’s Inn, a centuries-old pub that used to be frequented by local smuggling gangs, for a meal!

Gundimore and Avon Beaches, Mudeford

On the opposite side of the water from the busier Mudeford Sandbank, you’ll discover the tranquil shores of Gundimore and Avon, two less crowded beaches in Dorset.

Offering splendid views of the nearby sandbank and the distant Isle of Wight, Gundimore boasts a quaint little sandy and shingle beach that’s beloved by locals. Much like Mudeford Sandbank, this spot features a row of charming pastel-painted beach huts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *