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With over 230 miles of coastline, it’s not surprising there are some gorgeous beaches in Hampshire. Stretching from Highcliffe on the Dorset border to Chichester Harbour in West Sussex, it is home to The Solent – an area between the Hampshire coast and the Isle of Wight, known as one of the busiest coastal zones in England.
Did you know that Hampshire is regarded as the birthplace of windsurfing? Or that Southampton was the first UK town to sample fish fingers!
In this guide, we’ll take you through the best beaches in Hampshire, starting from the east of the county, into Southampton, and out along the west coast. One of the best things about Hampshire Beaches is that they do not get overly busy. Hampshire is known for its wide-open spaces and this applies to its beaches too. Beaches near cities and main towns will get a little crowded during hot days, but the rest of Hampshire’s coastline… well, it’s all yours!
Firstly, we’ll start by asking an important question…
Are there any sandy beaches in Hampshire?
Hampshire may be known for the interesting facts above, but sandy beaches are unfortunately not one of them. However, it is quite unique that Hampshire actually has many shingle beaches.
These natural formations are only found in a few places in the world, with the southeast coast having most of the UK’s 6000 shingle beaches. They are formed due to the amount of chalk that underlies much of the south of England. For more information about these types of beaches, check out this fact sheet.
If you are looking for a sandy beach in Hampshire though, head to Hayling Island. Sandy Point Corner has its own little sandy patch. Venture a little further and catch a ferry over to the Isle of Wight to check out Ryde beach. For real sandy beach experiences, head just over the Hampshire border into West Sussex and check out Thorney Island (you will need to walk quite a distance to this beach) or West Wittering. For more information about these beaches, check out this post.
Lepe Beach can be found just outside of Southampton and is a good mix of sand and shingle.
If you really cannot plan a beach day without good use of a bucket and spade, you could head to Dorset and find some of the best sandy beaches in and around Bournemouth.
Southsea & Eastney Beach, Portsmouth
Southsea Beach Postcode: PO4 0SP
Eastney Beach Postcode: PO4 9NB
We’ll kick off our list with the most easterly best beach in Hampshire. Southsea is the main beach in Portsmouth, with Eastney running west from it towards Hayling Island. It is a very popular place!
Within a short distance from the city centre, there is plenty to see and do along this shingle and pebble beach. There are 2 piers to choose from, plenty of amusement arcades, cafes, restaurants, takeaways, bars, coffee shops and shops. If the beach is a little too crowded, there is always Southsea Common which is a large grassed area, but still with sea views.
There are car parks and facilities all along the Southsea and Eastney seafronts.
Dogs are permitted on the beach from the Royal Marines Museum and Henderson Road all year round. Other areas of the beach have restrictions from March to September.
Stokes Bay Beach, Gosport
Stokes Bay Beach Postcode: PO12 2TR
This bay is a little less known gem when it comes to the best beaches in Hampshire. Located just outside of Portsmouth, Gosport is home to this untouched delight. It is perfect for the simple pleasures, but also has a couple of small cafes, facilities, children’s play areas and parking close by. It is a long beach, stretching as far as the eye can see. It’s popular for swimming, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, fishing and other water sports.
We love that Stokes Bay is also home to Stoked Watersports. Head out into this gorgeous part of The Solent by grabbing a kayak or paddleboard hire for an hour.
In the mood for something different? Try out their Red Shark Bike Experience and take to cycling on the water! Mastered stand up paddleboarding? How about now adding wings? We dare you!
If you love seafood, check out the Pebbles Fish and Wine Bar with its stunning views across the water to the Isle of Wight.
Stokes Bay beach in Hampshire is a dog-friendly beach from October to April. Some beach areas are restricted during other times.
Lee-on-Solent Beach, near Gosport
Lee-on-Solent Beach Postcode: PO13 9LB
Further west from Stokes Bay Beach, you’ll find Lee-on-Solent Beach. This is the quieter section of this long stretch of shingle. Walk along the promenade or stop at one of the few cafes to take the views in. Parking and facilities are nearby.
This beach is well known for its watersports. Swimming, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, some surfing and fishing all happens from here.
Extreme watersports anyone? Check out Red FIN Watersports. They offer jetboarding lessons and experiences. These jetboards are a great watersport when there are flat surf days, or when you are looking for that summer adrenaline fix!
Hill Head Beach, near Fareham
Hill Head Beach Postcode: PO14 3LU
This beach is a shingle beach with wooden groynes, near Fareham in Hampshire. It’s known as a pretty, peaceful beach where you can escape the crowds. It’s popular with watersports with good parking and facilities close by. There’s even a small shack cafe along the waterfront.
Take a walk to the west, along the colourful beach huts and you’ll find a small harbour, located at the mouth of the River Meon where it enters The Solent. It’s a good location for paddlesports.
There are sections of this Hampshire beach that are dog-friendly all year. However, the main beach does have restrictions from May to September.
Calshot Beach, near Southampton
Calshot Beach Postcode: SO45 1BS
The popular attractions to this shingle beach are the picturesque beach huts and being home to one of the UK’s largest outdoor and watersports centres. The beach huts have to be some of the prettiest along Hampshires Beaches. The watersports centre offers a range of activities including windsurfing, kitesurfing, sailing, powerboating and paddle sports. There is also a velodrome, rock climbing wall and ski slope.
There is plenty of parking, along with facilities along this beach. It is a dog-friendly beach with some restrictions – dogs must be kept on a lead.
Lepe Beach, New Forest
Lepe Beach Postcode: SO45 1AD
This beach is found in Lepe Country Park, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is one of our favourite beaches near Southampton. It is a mix of sand and shingle and is popular for watersports. If you enjoy boat watching, this is the place to be.
There is a large car park with facilities close by, but this car park does get full during busy periods. The Lookout is a great little cafe to take in the panoramic views of The Solent.
Lepe Beach is dog-friendly from October to March. Restrictions apply the rest of the year with clear signage along the beach.
Milford-on-Sea Beach, near Lymington
Milford-on-Sea Beach Postcode: SO41 0PT
This beautiful all year round dog-friendly beach is perfect for those long walks, along Hurst Spit to Hurst Castle. If you don’t fancy the walk, catch the leisurely ferry from Keyhaven to Hurst Castle whilst meandering along the Keyhaven River.
It’s a stony shingle beach (sandy at mid-low tide) with colourful beach huts lining the promenade. It’s also popular with open water swimmers, water sports lovers and paddlers, especially on the easterly of the spit.
There is plenty to see and do in the pretty village of Milford-on-Sea, but also lots of facilities and cafes along the seafront, plus many parking options. The views from here are vast, with the Isle of Wight and The Needles to the east, and to the west, you can clearly see the Purbeck Hills, Hengistbury Head and Christchurch Harbour.
If you really are into walking, enjoy the beach/clifftop path that runs from Milford to our final best beach of Hampshire at Barton-on-Sea.
Barton-on-Sea Beach, Hampshire
Barton-on-Sea Beach Postcode: BH25 7DX
Just a few miles east of Bournemouth, but still in Hamsphire, Barton-on-Sea is a sand and shingle beach. It is an extension of the sandy beaches that run all along the Dorset coast, including Bournemouth, Mudeford, Christchurch and the adjacent Highcliffe-on-Sea beach. The beach has some rock sea defences and rock groynes to help reduce cliff erosion.
There are a number of colourful beach huts, shops, cafes with plenty of facilities and car parking. Barton-on-Sea is a dog-friendly beach all year round.
Hayling Island beaches
No best beaches of Hamsphire list should not mention the 3 main beaches on Hayling Island, near Portsmouth. But there is a reason we’ve only just added them to the end of the list…
Hayling Island consists of West Beach, Beachlands Central and Eastoke. West Beach is a shingle beach with sand dunes protecting the beach from the wind. This makes it an ideal beach for swimming. Beachlands Central is a mix of sand and shingle with lots of things for families to do. Eastoke is the most picturesque with lovely views of Chichester Harbour and home to Sandy Point Nature Reserve.
Whilst these 3 beaches are popular, especially for watersports and paddle sports, the facilities on Hayling Island seem to be in decline. We’ve personally not had a great experience on any of these beaches with poor standards becoming the norm. We really hope this changes in the future, and when that happens, we’ll be happy to sing out loud about them in this best-of list.
Do you have a favourite best beach in Hampshire? Willing to share your secret place?! We’d love to know in the comments below.
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