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Located in Dorset on the southwest coast of England, Bournemouth beaches are blessed with over seven miles of golden sandy beaches (ten miles if you include Poole!). This gorgeous progression of great beaches spans from Sandbanks to Christchurch Harbour.
Bournemouth beaches are known to get busy in peak times. But it’s not hard to see why they get so popular, especially as Bournemouth’s main beach was voted 20th in the World by the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards in 2021. There are two piers to enjoy – Bournemouth Pier on the main beach and Boscombe Pier just to the east.
The water quality here is excellent and safe for swimming. All these Bournemouth beaches have been awarded a Blue Flag Award. It’s a popular area for surfing, wind surfing, water skiing, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, jet-skiing and sailing. It is also said that the bay here benefits from its own microclimate with a reputation for mild weather.
All of Bournemouth’s beaches have paid (most are now card payment only) car parks close by, but just be aware these spaces fill quickly on warmer days. It’s worth checking out a couple of options close by so you don’t get too disappointed when parking. Try and get there as early as you can!
Bournemouth beaches also operate a LV+Kidzone scheme during summer months to promote beach safety. Running from Alum Chine to Boscombe beaches, visitors can collect a free wristband to help if your child becomes missing or lost. Click here for more information.
You won’t be able to miss the colourful beach huts in Bournemouth that are situated on many of the popular beaches. Beach Hut hire is available from Bournemouth Borough Council, however you do need to book in advance for blocks of 4 weeks at a time.
In this guide, we’ll let you know where to find the best sandy beaches in Bournemouth, beaches near Bournemouth, quieter beaches and BBQs on Bournemouth beaches, along with other useful information to get the most out of your visit, including dog-friendly beaches.
Bournemouth Beach Webcams
There is nothing better than taking a quick sneak peek at a beach before you head there for the day. Whether you are going surfing, wanting to see how the weather looks or wondering how busy it is, checking a live webcam first is ideal. There are a number of different live streams available, some requiring paid premium access, however we’ve found these free beach webcams on the Sorted Surf Shop website. They offer surfing lessons and board hire in Boscombe, and these live cams are great to check before you head out the door…
Bournemouth Beach Check App
Have you heard of the Beach Check UK app? Here you can check in real-time how busy the beaches in Bournemouth are. The map highlights the full length of different beaches from Poole, all along Bournemouth seafront and stops at Christchurch. If the zone is green, it’s quiet, orange means it is starting to get busier and red means the beach is really busy. You can also click on the area of the beach which provides more information such as if there is a lifeguard on duty or whether the beach allows dogs.
The app was created during the Covid pandemic to encourage social distancing. There is also mention about information on the number of nearby car park spaces being available, however we have not found this available yet. It also may not run in absolute live real-time and there might be a slight delay in updating, but could still be a good indicator before finalising your plans for the day.
There are a number of other councils participating in this Beach Check App across the UK so fingers crossed it becomes more of a useful resource when planning your ultimate beach day out!
Bournemouth Beach Wheelchair Accessibility
Most of Bournemouth’s best beaches are accessible with their beach balloon-tyred wheelchairs that are available to hire and can be used in the sea. These are available on a first come, first served basis from Bournemouth and Boscombe beach offices 9.30am to 4.30pm, from May to September each year.
Boscombe Beach also has 3 wheelchair accessible beach huts along the seafront – the UK’s first purpose-designed fully disabled accessible beach huts.
Bournemouth’s main promenade is flat with seafront parking available at many locations, including disabled spaces. However, it is worth noting that other car parks away from the seafront often are only accessible by hills.
Sandy Beaches in Bournemouth
There is a string of sandy beaches to choose from in Bournemouth, all close to the town centre.
Bournemouth Beach Postcode: BH2 5AA
Bournemouth’s main beach has been and will long continue to be one of Britain’s favourite and best family beaches. Its wide golden sands, set on a lively and popular resort town is a huge draw for many. The sandy beach has been given international awards, along with high safety ratings from its lifeguard patrols.
There are plenty of cafes, restaurants and bars along the promenade, including WestBeach, Aruba and Harry Ramsden’s – the world’s largest fish and chip restaurant chain, along with street food vendors, gift shops, public toilets, tourist information centre and the Oceanarium. During summer months, you can take in views of the coastline in the giant wheel that pops up.
Bournemouth beach is also a dog friendly beach between 1st October and 30th April. Dogs are allowed to run free on all sections of this beach during this time. Along the promenade, Pier, zigzag paths and cliff paths, dogs must be kept on a lead at all times.
Heading to Bournemouth Beach today? Don’t forget to check out the live Bournemouth Beach webcam from Sorted Surf Shop here.
Bournemouth Beach Pier
Bournemouth Pier attracts over half a million visitors every year. It’s open 7 days a week from 9am until 11pm (subject to adverse weather conditions), with a small charge to pay during peak times. There is an amusement arcade at the pier entrance with several shops, cafes, takeaway kiosks and restaurants nearby. The pier is also home to Rock Reef – voted one of Dorset’s best attractions. Take the adrenaline rushing PierZip from the height of the pier, along the top of the waves and down onto the sandy beach. Or explore the indoor climbing centre that will keep you entertained for hours.
We also recommend Key West Bar & Grill with its perfect vantage point and excellent food and drink. They also have great outdoor live music events from their large sun terrace.
There are leisure cruises that depart the main pier that takes in the sights of other Bournemouth beaches, Poole, Swanage and even the Isle of Wight!
Boscombe Beach Bournemouth Postcode: BH5 1BN
Another one of Bournemouth’s best beaches is just to the east of the main beach – Boscombe. This is one of our personal favourites. We hired a beach hut here for 4 weeks during the early summer months in 2021 and loved every moment of it! These beach huts need to be hired in advance and often have a hire period of 4 weeks.
Boscombe Beach is Bournemouth’s main beach slightly quieter sibling. There has been a lot of investment in the promenade over the past several years. It’s certainly worth considering as an alternative on busy Bournemouth beach days.
The sandy beach is long and wide, with good water quality for a perfect day on the beach. The water is clear on a calm day, however there are small pebbles and stones along the water’s edge.
Meander along the pier for great views of beach activities taking place, soak up the sun whilst enjoying the waves and grab a drink and bite to eat from one of the many cafes, coffee shops, restaurants, take-away huts and ice-cream parlours along the promenade.
This beach is lifeguard patrolled during the summer months. Boscombe beach is also a dog friendly beach between 1st October and 30th April. Dogs are allowed to run free on all sections of this beach during this time. Along the promenade, Pier, zigzag paths and cliff paths, dogs must be kept on a lead at all times.
One thing we love about Boscombe Beach is the parking along the promenade. Get here early to claim your spot for the day, or there is alternative parking via a small hill overlooking the east part of the beach.
Heading to Boscombe Beach today? Don’t forget to check out the live Boscombe Beach webcam from Sorted Surf Shop here.
Boscombe Beach Pier
The restored pier is free to enter 7 days a week from 9am until 11pm (subject to adverse weather conditions). At the pier’s entrance, there is a cafe, takeaway and beach shop.
Along the windbreak at the centre of the pier, you can learn about its history whilst enjoying crazy golf and outdoor musical instruments along the trail. With a viewing platform at the end of the pier, on a clear day, you can take in stunning views of the Isle of Wight.
Fishing is allowed from the end of the pier with your own fishing gear, however there is a small charge for this activity.
The beach train is an ideal way to explore the golden sands from Boscombe Pier to Bournemouth Pier. This characterful promenade locomotive bumbles along, tooting to those who have got lost in their own world whilst it sets the pace for the day. Check out signage at either end for train times and costs, although it is good value for money.
Don’t let this put you off walking from Boscombe to Bournemouth though. It’s just over a mile and a half each way with plenty to see along the way. The colourful beach huts will have you mesmerised. The swimmers between the piers will have you gasping for your own breath. And the popup bars and entertainment will no doubt make the walk even longer than you originally planned!
East Cliff Beach
East Cliff Beach Bournemouth Postcode: BH1 3DN
This beach lies between Bournemouth Beach and Boscombe Beach. If you are looking for somewhere quieter, this is one of Bournemouth’s best beaches to head to. With a reputation of being one of the cleanest beaches, it is perfectly sandy with a gentle slope into the sea.
Beach Huts are available to rent along this stretch, however there is not much else in between the two major beaches. This is the main reason for it being a quieter section. Be prepared to walk a little further from car parking and amenities, including public toilets – but the upside is having more beach to yourself!
This beach is a dog friendly beach between 1st October and 30th April. Dogs are allowed to run free on all sections of this beach during this time. Along the promenade, Pier, zigzag paths and cliff paths, dogs must be kept on a lead at all times. This section is not lifeguard patrolled from the beach.
Durley Chine Beach
Durley Chine Beach Bournemouth Postcode: BH2 5JF
Known as one of the best family beaches in Bournemouth, this is a wide, sandy and shingly beach. Just a 10 minute walk west of the main beach, you’ll find clear water, golden sands, a beach office, deck chair hire, a new cafe, ice cream and takeaway kiosks, public toilets and baby changing facilities. Parking is also available right along the beachfront.
Views from this beach are incredible. Bournemouth beach and pier are stunning to one side. Whilst in the distance, the Studland coastline and the chalky cliffs of Old Harry Rocks are magnificent to the other side.
Dogs are allowed on parts of the beach between Durley Chine and Middle Chine throughout the year and is lifeguard patrolled during the summer months.
Alum Chine Beach
Alum Chine Beach Bournemouth Postcode: BH4 8AF
Extending from the above Durley Chine Beach, Alum Chine Beach is very similar. A wide sand and shingle beach welcomes you and is known to be a quieter, more family-friendly section of Bournemouth’s best beaches. There is a large adventure playground with a paddling pool, ice cream parlours and takeaway kiosks.
Parking is available a short walk away and the beach is lifeguard patrolled during the summer months. Alum Chine Beach is also a dog friendly beach between 1st October and 30th April. Dogs are allowed to run free on all sections of this beach during this time. Along the promenade and paths, dogs must be kept on a lead at all times.
Branksome Chine Beach, Poole
Branksome Chine Beach Poole Postcode: BH13 6LP
Although this beach is officially located in Poole, it is less than 2 miles from Bournemouth’s main beach so is worth considering. It is the next beach west on the above mentioned Alum Chine Beach and really is a gorgeous little spot.
Here you’ll find excellent facilities including a takeaway kiosk, cafe, beach shop, public toilets and a beach office. You won’t be able to miss the irresistible Branksome Beach Restaurant and Terrace Bar, especially with their stunning views. There is also a watersports zone dedicated between the chequered black and white flags during the summer months. Bring along your own paddleboard, windsurfer or kayak with its easily accessible car park.
Lifeguards patrol the beach during the summer months and parking is available, but is limited so get there nice and early!
This beach is a dog friendly beach between 1st October and 30th April. Dogs are allowed to run free on all sections of this beach during this time. Along the promenade and paths, dogs must be kept on a lead at all times.
Quieter Beaches in Bournemouth
Looking to escape the usual bucket and spade brigade?
Head further east along the coast and you’ll find quieter beaches along the popular Dorset coast.
Fisherman’s Walk & Southbourne Beach
Fisherman’s Walk Beach Bournemouth Postcode: BH5 2EJ
Southbourne Beach Bournemouth Postcode: BH6 4AY
These two wide sandy beaches with some shingles are east along from Boscombe Beach and within easy walking distance. It’s quieter with beach huts and deckchairs available to hire.
Due to the steepness of the cliffs, there is a cliff lift that runs between Easter and the end of October. Views from the top of these cliffs is dramatic from Poole Harbour round to the Isle of Wight. If catching a lift isn’t your style, there is a gentle walk down the Fisherman’s zigzag path to the beach.
Parking is available free along the top of the cliffs, or there is a small car park at Southbourne Crossroads. Lifeguards patrol these sections of the beach during the summer months. At the top of the cliffs, you’ll find a cafe, a children’s playground and crazy golf. Along the beach, there’s an ice cream parlour, public toilets and a beach office.
Dogs are not allowed on the beach from 1st May to 30th September each year. However, there is a dog exercise area between Fisherman’s Walk and Southbourne beach that can be used all year round.
Hengistbury Head Bournemouth Postcode: BH6 4EN
If you want to get away from the commercialism of some of Bournemouth’s beaches, head to Hengistbury Head. This relatively unspoilt nature reserve is a south-facing pebble beach that’s impressive with its imposing clay and ironstone cliffs.
During low tide, there is a wide stretch of beach, however be careful with tide times as it does come up high. Dogs are allowed all year round so it is popular with walkers and dog lovers.
There is no lifeguard patrol at this beach.
Hengistbury Head has a large car park but does get busy during peak times, along with the access road in and out. A welcoming cafe is close by, a Visitors Centre, public toilets as well as exceptional views from its peak. A land train runs between the cafe and Mudeford Sandbank during the summer months, known for being a spit of white sand lined with brightly painted beach huts and whispering sand dunes.
Avon Beach, Mudeford, Christchurch Postcode: BH23 4AN
Opposite Hengistbury Head in Christchurch, Avon Beach is a popular family beach in this area. With a backdrop of pastel-coloured beach huts, this long sandy beach offers the perfect day with stunning views on a clear day.
There is a dedicated watersports area (in front of the car park) that is popular with windsurfers and kayakers. Boards are available to hire during the summer months.
Good facilities can be found including The Coffee Cabin, The Noisy Lobster restaurant, ice cream parlour, deli, beach shop, beach huts and public toilets. There is a car park conveniently situated next to the beach, however it is small, so alternative parking can be found close by or along the street.
Beaches near Bournemouth
Happy to travel away from the busy main beach? Find a beach near Bournemouth which is just as sandy and perfect as those more centrally located.
Sandbanks Beach, Poole
Sandbanks Beach Poole Postcode: BH13 7QD
No list of beaches near Bournemouth comes without highlighting the famous Sandbanks beach in Poole. This is the type of beach that perfect picture postcards are made of!
Considered one of the best beaches in the UK, it has been awarded the prestigious Blue Flag for over 30 years. It is a spit of golden sand that crosses the mouth of Poole Harbour. The Sandbanks Chain Ferry connects Sandbanks with Studland.
There is plenty to do here with a parade of shops to explore, boat trips, numerous bars, cafes and restaurants, including Rick Stein’s restaurant, takeaway kiosks, ice cream parlours, crazy golf, a children’s play areas and public toilets. There are two lifeguard patrols along the long beach.
Watersports are popular here with equipment available to hire on the Poole harbourside.
Even though Sandbanks has over 500 car parking spaces, during warm days, these spaces can disappear by 9am! Try and get there early to avoid disappointment.
There is a designated all year round dog friendly beach area at the western end of Sandbanks beach to Haven Point (near the chain ferry). From 1st May to 30th September, dogs are not allowed on Sandbanks main beach and must be kept on a lead on the promenade and paths.
Studland – Shell Bay Beach
Shell Bay Beach Poole Postcode: BH19 3BA
There is a string of Studland’s beautiful beaches, with Shell Bay being a firm favourite. Being situated opposite the busy Sandbanks Beach, amongst the sand dunes and tranquillity, you feel like you are worlds away from the mayhem. It’s certainly a quieter option for your well-deserved beach day.
Popular with families, there are plenty of facilities close by, including restaurants and picnic areas. There’s also a naturist area between Shell Bay and Knoll Beach – just to forwarn you in case you accidentally stumble upon it.
Although the beach is named after shells that were commonly found here, there doesn’t seem to be more shells than anywhere else along this stretch. But there is plenty of sand.
There is no lifeguard patrol on this beach and dogs are welcome all year, however must be on a short 2m or less lead from 1st May to 30th September.
Other favourite beaches in Dorset include Lulworth Cove, Durdle Door Beach, Mudeford Sandbank Beach, Canford Cliffs Beach, Chesil Beach and West Bay Beach.
Bournemouth Beaches and BBQs
Ten electric BBQ hotplates are available at Bournemouth Beach, Boscombe Beach, Branksome Chine Beach and Fishermans Walk Beach. They are available from 10am until 10pm on a first come, first served basis, from Easter until the end of October. They are also subject to availability (and that they are working!). Disposable barbecues are allowed on the beaches after 6pm until 10.30pm, however it is important to follow disposal instructions with care. Open fires, gas barbecues and camping are not allowed on any of the beaches at any time.
Do you have a favourite beach in Bournemouth? We would love to know in the comments below.
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