Beach
Activities & Days Out, Beaches & Coastline, Days Out in Dorset, Hampshire & Wiltshire

Sandbanks, including Shore Road and the Sandbanks Ferry

This beach has held coveted Blue Flag awards for 30 years, and deservedly so. There’s loads more to Sandbanks than Harry Redknapps house, besides he no longer lives here!

Sandbanks is the end point of a long beach, which starts at Hengistbury Head. Its possible to walk this whole beach front it should take around 3 hours to do this. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants along the promenade.

Shore Road tends to be busy with teenagers in the summer holidays, lots of music and laughing and big groups gather, especially after exams have finished!

BCP council have launched an app for you to check how busy the beach is before you head out. Download it for free here.

There are BBQ’s you can use on the beach itself, and ping pong tables set into the sand and volleyball courts also set into the sand. Visit the Borough of Poole website for all the info – www.poole.gov.uk –  the website will list all the activities that are council run, you can visit the beach office for further information. You can rent chairs, and windbreaks, and umbrellas daily from the beach office. This is where you would pick up keys for beach hut rentals too.

There are beach huts available for rent all along Poole’s beaches. You can rent for a day or a week. All the information is on the Poole council site – www.poole.gov.uk

Sandbanks beach has a large play park for children, all on sand. It’s not on the actual beach, its adjacent to the carpark.

There’s a crazy golf course here too.

There are restaurants both on the beach and nearby. There’s a large cafe on the beach at Sandbanks (Banks Road carpark end).There’s a Tesco express at Shore Road end, and Rick Steins restaurant at the Banks Road end of the peninsula.

I wouldn’t recommend Jazzys Cafe at Shore Road, we have had terrible service and terrible food here over the years.

There’s a lovely cafe next to Rick Steins place Le Cafe. Open all year round, this is a firm favourite of ours. Great for breakfast, there are some seats outside, and a take away service.

Car parking is limited at Sandbanks, so either arrive early or get the bus – www.purbeckbreezer.co.uk – the no 50 bus will take you all the way from Bournemouth to Swanage (via the ferry) however, in busy times it’s a great way to Sandbanks without waiting for a car park space for 2 hours…!!

Car parking is an issue, and traffic can be terrible. It’s definitely a place to get to early if you can. Sandbanks & Poole Harbour are world-class water sports activity centres. There’s lots of watersports activities run from here, both the harbourside and seaside. Some of the companies are;

The Watersports Academy
www.thewatersportsacademy.com

Land and Wave
www.landandwave.co.uk

Poole Harbour Watersports
www.pooleharbourwatersportsschool.co.uk

These companies offer every sort of water-based activity – kayaking, windsurfing, kitesurfing, sailing, paddle boarding, power boating and yacht charter amongst them. They offer lessons, hire, and equipment for sale. You can rent bikes from them too.

During the school holidays, they run day & weekly activity groups for children of all ages. My son and his friends have been on Land & Wave days out in the holidays for years. I can recommend them. They run great holiday clubs. They also offer activities further afield for both adults and children. The Land & Wave base is at the Banks Road car park. Book ahead as these groups get busy.

The rest of the coastal & water activities are generally in The Purbecks. Land & Wave offer coasteering, kayaking around Old Harry Rocks and bushcraft courses. For these activities you need to get the ferry over Poole Harbour to Studland bay.


The Sandbanks ferry is a must do on a trip to Dorset.

There has been a ferry running across Poole Harbour since 1923. It is a chain ferry and holds around 50 cars. It takes you to the National Trust owned Studland peninsula.

www.sandbanksferry.co.uk

The road through Studland leads you to quite a few of the Dorset pubs I have recommended, Corfe Castle, Dorset Waterpark and onto Swanage and the rest of The Purbecks.

Our most favourite restaurant is over on the Studland peninsula – if you feel like a treat The Pig on the Beach. Just heavenly!

The Purbecks are an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Jurassic Coastline starts here at Old Harry Rocks. This whole area has such huge historic importance, and you can visit many beaches along here and go fossil hunting. You should always be able to find at least one.

www.jurassiccoast.org

Recommended by

Dionne Bell

Beach
Activities & Days Out, Beaches & Coastline, Days Out in Dorset, Hampshire & Wiltshire

Branksome Dene

This is a bit more of a locals beach, (its where we go) and so it is a little quieter in the holidays.

There’s an ice cream kiosk, parking close to the beach and toilets. There’s also a great little company called Shaka Surf that offer surf lessons, paddle board hire and either hourly or daily hire of equipment.

They are usually at the beach during the summer holidays. I have used this company several times whilst organising both school events and my sons birthdays.

www.shakasurf.co.uk

BCP council have launched an app for you to check how busy the beaches are before you head out. Download it for free here.

Recommended by

Dionne Bell

Beach
Activities & Days Out, Beaches & Coastline, Days Out in Dorset, Hampshire & Wiltshire

Alum Chine

A great family beach, with a big play park for children – all gated – and a great italian restaurant and take away.

www.vesuvio.co.uk

There’s a takeaway kiosk, whippy ice creams & chips amongst other things. The kiosk has some beach toys and games too. Car parking & toilets here too.

Alum Chine beach is quite close to the apartment. There’s always lots of kids here. There are no dogs allowed between May-September. The sea is normally quite gentle here too.

There are lifeguards here in summer. There are deckchair rentals here.

BCP council have launched an app for you to check how busy the beaches are before you head out. Download it for free here.

Recommended by

Dionne Bell

Beach
Activities & Days Out, Beaches & Coastline, Days Out in Dorset, Hampshire & Wiltshire

Bournemouth Beach

Bournemouth Beach will be the biggest and most easily accessed beach to you from the apartment, however I struggle to recommend it to you.

Over the years it has become really busy and sadly many visitors to the beach do not understand the importance of taking your rubbish home with you. This means over busy times, and school holidays its really not a nice beach to spend the day on.

I’m sure a lot of you will have seen Bournemouth Beach in the media over the last year or so, overcrowded, dirty and full of partying kids. The treatment of this beach by visitors to our town has upset many of us greatly. Please remember Leave Nothing but Footprints – whenever you visit any of our beaches.

Bournemouth Pier has a climbing centre at the end of it and there is a great Zip wire that runs from the pier to the shore – www.rockreef.co.uk

There is an oceanarium close to the pier too – www.oceanarium.co.uk

There are ice cream kiosks, and beach vendors around the pier. None of these are anything special, so I would recommend going further along the beaches.

There are often events along the beaches, this website will give a comprehensive guide to it all – www.bournemouth.co.uk

The air show takes over the whole beachfront from Bournemouth to Boscombe for a week. Lots of events take place here – www.bournemouthair.co.uk

As always use the BCP Beach check app to see how busy th4e beach is before you head out.

Recommended by

Dionne Bell

Beach
Activities & Days Out, Beaches & Coastline, Days Out in Dorset, Hampshire & Wiltshire

Boscombe Beach

There was a very controversial & expensive “surf reef” built here a few years ago. I don’t think it works…!

However, I’m adding this to the list for 2 reasons.

The first is the car access. You can drive straight onto the prom here, and park your car right next to you on the beach! I’ve always liked this, and it is popular on summer days, so get there early! Its known as the Undercliff. There is a very pretty garden that runs from Boscombe Beach (Sea Road) there’s a crazy golf course here.

The second reason is Urban Reef. Of all the beachside restaurants we have along our coast I think this is one of my Top 3. Its quite informal, and the menu isn’t huge, but the food is good, they have loads of homemade cakes, wood-fired pizzas, great cocktails and most importantly a big outdoor terrace. On a good day this is a really lovely place to be. You can cycle or walk the whole way along the prom from Bournemouth to get here, it takes about 30/40 minutes on the bike at a slow pace.

www.urbanreef.com

BCP council have launched an app for you to check how busy the beaches are before you head out. Download it for free here.

Recommended by

Dionne Bell

Beach
Activities & Days Out, Beaches & Coastline, Days Out in Dorset, Hampshire & Wiltshire

Hengistbury Head

Hengistbury Head is very natural headland, with a shingle beach and grasslands, heathlands and walks.

I have visited Hengistbury Head all of my life, in all 4 seasons. I find it just as much fun on a blustery Autumn day as I do in the height of summer. It has a great visitor centre and lots of educational facilities.

www.visithengistburyhead.co.uk

It overlooks Christchurch Harbour and Christchurch Priory. All lovely places to visit. It has a big car park, and cafes both at the start and end of the walks. However, the biggest reason to visit Hengistbury Head has always been the Noddy train, as its known locally.

It’s a small land train that takes you around the headland and out to Mudeford Spit. Its a very cute train, and I don’t think I know any child who hasn’t been on this train! My mum still enjoys a day out here, and will always ask to go on the train and she’s 73!

The journey to Mudeford beach takes about 10 minutes, tickets are inexpensive and it runs every day. Some the UKs most expensive beach huts are on Mudeford Beach Its worth a trip, you can have a lovely walk, and a lovely lunch at the restaurant here – www.beachhousecafe.co.uk

There’s a kiosk here for ice creams and coffees and the local beach hut residents get their day to day supplies here.

The Visitor centre runs talks and holds lots of information about the area.

BCP council has launched an app for you to check how busy the beaches are before you head out. Download it for free here.

Recommended by

Dionne Bell

Beach
Activities & Days Out, Beaches & Coastline, Days Out in Dorset, Hampshire & Wiltshire

Shell Bay and Studland Bay

The first beach you hit from the ferry is a particularly beautiful natural beach.

Be warned … further along this beach, before you come to the first cafe at Middle Beach you have to go through the Naturist Beach!! This is the largest naturist beach in the UK. Its best to know before you get there, so you can distract the kids as you walk through it!!

It leads from the ferry along a curve all the way to Old Harry Rocks. The National Trust website has lots of information regarding all the activities on offer.

www.nationaltrust.org.uk

There’s lots of car parking on their beaches if you drive over. They have some nice cafes, and during school holidays there often walks and trails to follow. I believe they even have horse riding on the beach.

Whilst its a bit further away than some of our very local beaches, these beaches here are quite special. they are much more natural and they are definitely worth a day out.

Whether you spend the day enjoying the sun or walking from one end to the other, this part of Dorset is what makes it so very special.

 

Recommended by

Dionne Bell

Beach
Activities & Days Out, Beaches & Coastline, Days Out in Dorset, Hampshire & Wiltshire

Lulworth Cove & Durdle Door

You can drive to Lulworth Cove either via the ferry or by taking the A35 and going via Wareham.

On a normal day, with normal traffic, the journey should take you around 50 minutes. However, this is a very busy part of Dorset, on a sunny Sunday, this journey could take you 3 hours!

Travelling on the ferry is dependant on the queue, again on a sunny Sunday morning you could sit in the queue for an hour. Its best to get up early and get on with your day if you want to visit Lulworth.

So, will it be worth it…?

Undoubtedly YES!.

Both Lulworth Cove & Durdle Door are truly beautiful to look down on from the cliffs above. The beaches here are all shingle, part of the Jurassic coast and full of fossils. There is a castle in the village about 15 minutes from the cove.

This is part of the Lulworth Estate, all the information regarding Lulworth and Durdle Door is found on this site – www.lulworth.com. Events at the castle will be listed here too.

Durdle Door is one of the most photographed places in Dorset. It is a hike down to the beach, and not for the unfit. You can still see the cove and enjoy the beauty of it all without doing the hike down. You will need proper shoes to get down to the beach, its steps all the way down, made from the cliff side & uneven. Over the past few years there has been unprecedented numbers of visitors to this area. The Lulworth Estate and local residents have struggled to keep numbers manageable, and what should be a lovely day out has turned into chaos for some people. Please check the Lulworth website and twitter for up to date information before your visit. Remember as always Leave nothing but footprints.

Lulworth, on the other side of this big bay, is accessed straight from the small village and is much easier to get to. There’s normally great rock pools here. Pick up some crab fishing equipment from a local store before you leave Bournemouth and spend an afternoon trying to catch something.

You need good shoes to do these beaches, the stones are smooth, but you still need shoes to get across them. Its not a place for flip flops!

There are some amazing walks along this part of the coastline. They are all signposted and range from 5 miles to 25 miles. This site will help you plan your route – www.southwestcoastpath.org.uk.

Recommended by

Dionne Bell

Chewton Glen Hotel
Activities, Activities & Days Out

Chewton Glen Hotel

I have to make a special mention for the Chewton Glen here.

Situated outside New Milton, also on the edge of The New Forest stands the iconic Chewton Glen Hotel. Voted one of the top 5 hotels in the world many times, this is the place if you want true country luxury.

The Chewton Glen hosts Michelin starred chefs, Tom Kerridge being one of them. There’s an amazing cookery class run from their kitchens and a spa that is one of the most amazing I’ve ever been to. This is 5-star luxury, if you’re celebrating a birthday or anniversary it may just be the place to book.

You can go for a cocktail on the lawn, afternoon tea (delicious…!) or book in the restaurant or the kitchen for lunch or dinner.

I have travelled to many places in the world in my former job with BA, and been lucky enough to visit some very special hotels but there’s something about The Chewton Glen that sets it apart in my view.

www.chewtonglen.com

Recommended by

Dionne Bell

Westbourne
Activities, Activities & Days Out

Westbourne

Westbourne is the nearest shopping area to the flat, for groceries, wine & other essentials!

There’s a M&S food only store here. There’s a small Tesco express store that’s open late, and a couple of other food stores.

Westbourne has an array of restaurants and coffee shops. Starbucks, Costa and Cafe Rouge represent the larger chains, whilst Renoufs, The Coffee Club, Circo Lounge & The Duck represent smaller independents.

Some of these serve breakfast as well as lunch & dinner. All are either independent companies or part of a smaller group.

Coffee Saloon next to M&S serve the best coffee for miles

Renoufs is a cheese & wine bar. It’s definitely one of our favourites in Westbourne. It gets busy, so book ahead.

My favourite Indian restaurant is in Westbourne is the Taj Mahal. An older style Indian restaurant, as opposed to Dilli Haat, which is more modern Indian food.

There new places coming to Westbourne all the time.

Take a wander through the arcade, look through the little stores. In the tough times these small retailers have had, they will be pleased to see you, and I’m sure you will find some little treasures there to take home.

Recommended by

Dionne Bell