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    Waterside guide to Dorset beaches

    17 / March / 2021

    When you book a visit to one of our Dorset holiday parks, it’s highly likely that you are looking forward to Dorset beach holidays. Fortunately, we are extremely lucky to have countless stunning Dorset beaches nearby just waiting for you to discover.

    There is something for everyone, from the glorious golden sands of Weymouth beach to the geologically stunning cove at Lulworth, with plenty in between… and beyond! Whether you fancy yourself as a fossil hunter, water sports whizz, master sandcastle architect, or simply hope to laze with a good book, we’ve got you covered.

    This is our guide to the pick of Dorset’s beaches, giving you a place to start your daydreams. The really tough decision is which one to visit first?

    Where to start?

    If you are struggling to narrow down your selection when planning your Dorset beach holidays, start with these FAQs:

    Which Dorset beaches are dog friendly?

    Many beaches allow dogs although some have seasonal restrictions. It’s definitely worth checking before you travel to make sure the family pet will be welcome.

    For a dog friendly holiday in Dorset, these beaches make great choices: Bowleaze Cove, Chesil Beach, Durdle Door Beach, Lulworth Cove (dogs are allowed all year round, although it’s best to let them off the lead on the left end of the beach), Sandbanks Beach (restricted to some areas), Studland – Shell Bay.

    Which are Dorset’s cleanest beaches?

    The Blue Flag beaches in Dorset include; Alum Chine (Bournemouth), Weymouth beach, Branksome Beach (Poole), Canford Cliffs Chine (Poole), Central and Swanage Central Beach (Swanage), Durley Chine (Bournemouth), Fisherman’s Walk (Bournemouth), Peninsula (Poole), Sandbanks Shore Road (Poole), Southbourne Beach (Bournemouth).

    More about Dorset’s beaches…

    Weymouth Beach

    Weymouth Beach - Sandy Dorset beach view from above on a sunny day

    A big, beautiful beach bordering the town centre, Weymouth Beach is popular during Dorset beach holidays for good reason. The golden sand and safe, shallow waters are perfect for all manner of beach activities and water sports. At one end you’ll also find Weymouth Pier with a theatre, Weymouth Pavilion, ferry terminal and parking.

    Bonus beach facts

    There is a seasonal lifeguard service and dogs are permitted year round in specific areas, but not on the main sections of beach between Good Friday and 31st October.

    Drive time (from Waterside): approximately 8 minutes


    Bournemouth Beach

    bournemouth beach - eye level photo late evening with light cloud cover and the pier in the distance

    Although a little distance from our Dorset holiday parks, Bournemouth Beach is certainly a tempting destination.

    The beach is backed by Bournemouth town, meaning you have all the amenities you could ever wish for. There are cafes, restaurants, shops, a cinema to name just a few of the town’s features, plus the Oceanarium is practically on the beach itself!

    Stretching out over 300m into the sea is the famous pier, built in 1880. This is a destination in its own right, offering shops, activities and dining options to its visitors.

    The golden sands are perfect for a day at the beach and the inviting blue waters are safe for swimming and water sports. Plus, if you find the sand immediately adjacent to Bournemouth a little crowded, you generally only need to walk a few hundred metres up or down the coast to find plenty of space to claim with your beach towel.

    Bonus beach facts

    There is a seasonal lifeguard service. Dogs are allowed in the signed areas.

    Drive time: 1 hour


    Bowleaze Cove

    Bowleaze Cove beach - sandy rugged Dorset beach on a sunny day with low grass covered bank in the distance

    Bowleaze Cove is right on your doorstep at Waterside Holiday Park & Spa. It’s a superb beach for families, with rock pools at low tide, sand and pebbles for sandcastles and beachcombing, and safe waters for paddling, swimming and water sports. There’s even a useful slipway for launching small craft.

    If you are a guest at Waterside, Bowleaze Cove will undoubtedly be your go-to beach. You’ll most likely find yourself there several times during your Dorset beach holidays, even if it’s simply for a post-dinner stroll by the sea to take in the glorious views.

    Bonus beach facts

    There is no lifeguard service. Dogs are allowed all year round. There is a fun park right next to Bowleaze Cove as well as a gift shop, café and pub. If you’re feeling peckish after a fun filled day at Bowleaze Cove our Shack beach bar and Dog House Takeaway offer tasty food to go and a selection of refreshing drinks.


    Canford Cliffs Beach

    Canford Cliffs Beach - Mediterranean like Dorset beach elevated view with turquoise sea glistening against a cloudless sky


    Canford Cliffs offers the same golden sands and beautiful views as its famous Sandbanks neighbour and is a great beach to visit during your Dorset beach holidays.

    The sand is soft, ideal for sandcastles and comfortable while reclining and reading a book. The blue waters are safe and perfect for a dip whether that’s dipping a toe or taking the full plunge! Although it might be a bit of a trek with the gear, this is also a great place to paddleboard, too.

    Bonus beach facts

    This beach has a seasonal lifeguard service. Dogs are allowed from 1st Oct. – 30th April only.

    Drive time: 1 hour


    Chesil Beach

    chesil beach - attractive pebble beach with orange fishing boat in the foreground and strikingly blue ocean in the background

    The unique sight of Chesil Beach will take your breath away! Stretching almost 18 miles from Portland to West Bay, it is made up of a huge, sloping bank of pebbles 15m high and 600m wide.

    As you stroll along, behind the eastern part of Chesil beach you’ll find Fleet Lagoon, a stunning conservation area home to a huge range of plants and animals. It’s also where the bouncing bomb of WWII was tested, although it’s much more tranquil these days.

    Bonus beach facts

    Chesil Beach is extremely popular with anglers and dogs are allowed all year round. There is no lifeguard service.

    Drive time: 20 minutes


    Durdle Door Beach

    Durdle Door Beach - Waves lap the terracotta sand/shingle coast of one of the most famous of Dorset Beaches with its arch-shaped rock formation in the distance

    Close to Lulworth Cove is Durdle Door Beach with its iconic limestone arch. This geological marvel was formed by thousands of years of sea erosion and really is spectacular to behold.

    The beach stretching round from the arch is a good one to visit whether you fancy a lounge on the shore, a dip in the sea or hunt for fossils which are regularly found here. There’s something for everyone to enjoy in these beautiful surroundings, although it does get busy in the holiday months.

    Bonus beach facts

    There is a pay-and-display carpark at the top of the cliff and the beach is accessed by a well-trodden path. There is no lifeguard service and although the waters are reasonably safe, the sand shelves suddenly in places which can take bathers off guard. Dogs are allowed but there are no dog bins so please take waste away with you.

    Drive time: 30 minutes


    Lulworth Cove

    This stunning, iconic cove is impressive and delightful in equal measures. Shaped in an almost perfect horseshoe, the cove was formed ten thousand years ago by sea erosion. Today, it really draws in the crowds but it’s easy to see why. It’s certainly a unique destination to tick off the list during your Dorset beach holidays.

    Very sheltered, the pebble beach is a lovely place to relax while the safe waters are perfect for a dip or boat trip. There are plenty of walks nearby, as well as Lulworth itself which offers cafes, pubs, toilets and ice cream stalls.

    Bonus beach facts

    There is no lifeguard service at Lulworth cove, although it is a very safe beach to visit. Dogs are allowed

    Drive time: 30 minutes


    Sandbanks Beach

    sandbanks beach - low tide at a sandy Dorset beach on a sunny day
    Sunny day on Sandbanks Beach Dorset England UK

    Sandbanks is world famous for its high property prices and celebrity residents. However, you don’t have to be a millionaire to enjoy the beautiful, sandy Blue Flag Sandbanks Beach. This is another busy destination but worth the visit if you beat the crowds.

    This beach is part of a long line of seamless beaches running all the way to Christchurch. The pristine sand is perfect for sandcastles or simply lying back and enjoying the surroundings. Pack your swimming costume because the blue waters are safe for a dip and popular with bathers.

    Listen out for the ice cream boat as it sells ice creams to people who paddle out to meet it!

    Bonus beach facts

    Along the beach are various cafes, restaurants and beach shops and there is a crazy golf adjacent to the main carpark. This beach has seasonal lifeguards. Dogs are permitted in signed areas.

    Drive time: 1 hour


    Seatown Beach

    Seatown Beach - picturesque beach set against a verdant hilly background and traditional fishing town in Dorset

    This is a breath-taking gem of a beach adjacent to the hamlet of Seatown. It is just east of Golden Cap, the highest point on England’s south coast and a great beach to incorporate with a trip there or a walk in the area.

    The shingle beach shelves to the sea and, although not the best choice for sandcastles, it’s ideal for those hunting for fossils.

    Bonus beach facts

    There is no lifeguard service at Seatown Beach. Dogs are allowed from 1st Oct. – 30th April only.

    Drive time: 45 minutes


    Smallmouth Beach

    This small but lovely beach is right on your doorstep at Chesil Vista. Grab a paddleboard and head to the water or simply sit back and enjoy the beautiful view as ships pass by.

    Although there aren’t any formal facilities at the beach, you’re so close to your accommodation if you’re staying at Chesil that it’s not a problem.

    Bonus beach facts

    Dogs are allowed on Smallmouth Beach.

    Drive time: 15 minutes


    Studland – Shell Bay

    Studland - Shell Bay - find sandy beach in the foreground with blue ocean in the background on a sunny day

    Shell Bay is a beautiful, sandy beach backed by dunes, at the tip of The National Trust’s Studland Peninsula. It is part of the seamless stretch of Studland’s glorious beaches which are well worth a visit.

    Approaching from one of our Dorset holiday parks, you will most likely reach the beach by driving along the peninsula. The alternative is taking the ferry from Sandbanks which is directly opposite Shell Bay.

    The safe waters are great for swimming while the sand makes excellent sandcastles. This area is also perfect for lazing in the sun and watching the many boats pass by as they enter or leave Poole Harbour.

    Bonus beach facts

    There is no lifeguard service at Shell Beach. Dogs are allowed all year round but must be kept on a short lead 1st April – 30th Sept. Just over the road from Shell Beach is Shell Bay Seafood Restaurant, a Michelin listed establishment with fantastic views.

    Drive time: 1 hour


    Swanage Beach

    Swanage Beach - cliff backed beach with large expanse of sand which meets a blue sea

    Swanage itself is a popular Victorian seaside resort with a huge range of amenities. The beach adjacent to the town is sheltered, sandy and perfect for families.

    Aside from the glorious views and safe waters, one of the striking features is the Victorian pier jutting out into the sea.

    If you explore further along and away from the town, there are fossils to be found as you beach combe.

    Bonus beach facts

    Swanage Beach has a seasonal lifeguard service. Dogs are only allowed 1st Oct – 30th April.

    Drive time: 1 hour


    West Bay

    West Bay - sandy beach backed by high grass topped cliffs

    Our list of Dorset beaches wouldn’t be complete without our final entry. Right at the far end of Chesil Beach is West Bay which actually has two beaches: East Beach and West Beach. The latter is generally the quieter of the pair, set in a protective cove and great for families. Meanwhile, East Beach is backed by dramatic golden cliffs. Both are shingle beaches perfect for swimming and fossil hunting.

    The Jurassic Pier here is an attraction in its own right and worth exploring if you visit this gorgeous Dorset beach.

    Bonus beach facts

    Broadchurch fans may recognise West Bay from the TV series which was filmed in the area. There is a seasonal lifeguard service. Dogs are allowed 1st Oct. – 30th April.

    Drive time: 45 minutes

    We look forward to welcoming you at one of our parks soon and hope that our beach information has got you looking forward to your holiday with us. If you have any questions we can answer or would like help with your booking, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team.

    Have a question?

    Give us a call and we'll answer any questions you have quickly and easily.


    01305 833103


    01305 773233


    01305 837010


    01503 262718

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