Here in Dorset we are incredibly lucky to lay claim to 88 miles of stunning coastline and to be able to say that 25 of our beautiful beaches boast blue flag and seaside awards. We could spend all day talking about the soft golden sandy beaches and the safe bays for bathing and when we’re not busy brewing Dorset Tea this is usually where you’ll find us! But if you’re in search of things to do in Dorset and want a little more than just a nice place to throw down a towel and relax, look no further. Here are our top tips for exploring Dorset’s coastline and getting the most out of our very best beaches.
Kimmeridge: Best for rock pools and snorkelling
Kimmeridge is one of the best natural playgrounds in Dorset and most weekends at least one of the Dorset Tea team heads there for some fun. The rock pooling is fantastic as the rocky ledges extend out into the bay making it really easy to explore the shallow waters and pools. It doesn’t matter how old you are – it’s always fun to spot crabs, blennies, sea snails and anemones! There is a fantastic interactive Wild Seas Centre offering loads of information about the beach and shoreline and it’s well worth a visit if you want to snorkel. They offer a waterproof guide of the snorkel trail including a photo identification list of things you might see! The trail is open from May to September where large wrasse and shoals of fish are seen among the colourful seaweed. If you’re really lucky you may even spot some of the Jurassic Coast’s shy but frequent visitors - seals and dolphins!
Poole Harbour and Sandbanks Beach: Best for kitesurfers and paddleboarders
Poole Harbour and Sandbanks Beach is definitely one of our favoured weekend hangouts as there are a fair few water sports enthusiasts among us. Loads of kitesurfing schools have set up along this strip as the shallow waters are such a great place to learn – you can walk out almost 200m and still not be out of your depth. If paddleboarding is more your thing then either bring your own and enjoy the luxury of a parking spot right next to the water’s edge (if you get there early), or hire boards from one of the many local outlets. Be sure to pack a flask so you can enjoy a refreshing cup of tea after all your exertions!
Weymouth: Best for families
The fine golden sand, sheltered bay and safe swimming conditions make Weymouth a great choice for a family beach day and we love visiting for some traditional seaside fun. With Punch and Judy shows, pedalos for hire, children’s rides and a zillion ice cream stalls there is plenty to keep you entertained should your little ones bore of building sandcastles and paddling. Just five minutes from the beach you’ll reach the slightly quieter side of town, the historic harbour. There is a lovely atmosphere here and it’s a great place to enjoy watching boat-owners tinkering about onboard and admire the yachts that come and go. Surrounded by cafes and restaurants you won’t be short of places to grab a refreshing drink or bite to eat. Weymouth is a great weekend option if you’re planning a little London to Dorset getaway - there is a direct train from Waterloo that takes less than three hours.
Brownsea Island: Best for explorers
Many Dorset travel guides tend to miss Brownsea off the list of top attractions, maybe because it takes some planning to get there but for us that’s all part of the appeal. Arriving by boat to this car-free island will create instant excitement for all ages! Sitting in the middle of Poole Harbour and offering amazing views out over the Purbeck Hills you’ll feel as though you’re in a magical and far away land! It’s an absolute haven for wildlife and you’re unlikely to go far without stopping to view birds, lizards, butterflies and of course the top attraction – red squirrels! The island itself has areas of woodland, heathland, wetland, seashore and lagoon so it’s unsurprising the flora and fauna here is so rich.
Brownsea was the birthplace of the Scouting and Guiding movement and both big kids and adults alike will love exploring the walking trails, bird hides and red squirrel hot spots! You can easily walk around the whole island and in doing so will be able to access plenty of small, almost deserted beaches that are perfect for swimming or simply relaxing! If you go on a quiet day you’ll feel like you were the one to discover it all!
Studland: Best for skinny dippers
We’ve mentioned Studland a few times in previous blogs because it really is one of Dorset’s most glorious stretches of beach. With its fine, white sand and calm waters it’s a real haven whether you’re looking for a family day out, a romantic beach walk, or a good stretch of the legs with your canine companions. You’ll also come across some signs that you don’t get on any other Dorset beach – those marking out the 1km naturist section. So, if you fancy a carefree skinny dip during your beach day, this is the spot for you where no one will be judging!
Charmouth: best for fossil hunting!
Sometimes billed as a ‘quieter Lyme Regis’ we love low-key Charmouth. The sandy beach here is split in two by the mouth of the River Char so to reach the east side you can either take the footbridge or wade through the river at low tide! If you’re into fossil hunting or want to give it a go during your visit, this is a great spot and is one of Britain’s best! Fossils are regularly found on the beach and we’ve found quite a few of our own on previous trips. The Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre has loads of information on where to look and what you might find, and there are even scheduled walks with the wardens that you can join too!
We hope this handy guide has helped you plan a trip to come and admire Dorset’s wonderful coastline. At Dorset Tea we really cherish our proximity to the Jurassic Coast and the beaches around Poole and Bournemouth. Whether we’re having an icy sea dip, riding the waves on paddleboards or taking an evening stroll along the shoreline we’re never far from the beach. Let us know your favourite Dorset beach discovery this summer by tagging us on Instagram or Twitter.