We count ourselves very lucky to live in what we consider to be the best parts of the UK – it must be since a lot of people choose to come to Bournemouth and Poole on family holidays.
Having lived here for almost 40 years (eek!) my husband and I know the area really well and definitely have our favourite beaches.
We do tend to go to the beach more in the winter as in the summer they’re so packed full of tourists us locals can’t get anywhere near! However, with the current heatwave in the UK, we’ve been visiting the beaches more than usual and as the kids aren’t off school yet it hasn’t been too bad.
If you are planning a visit down to Dorset this summer (and you really should!), here is our guide to Bournemouth and Poole’s best beaches so you know which ones to head to…
Now this one is actually our least favourite in the area but I’ve included it as I know a lot of people down here on holiday will love the bits we don’t! Bournemouth beach is a couple of minute’s walk from the town centre so if you’re staying in town then it’s really easy to get to, just a stroll through Bournemouth Gardens.
The main part is called Pier Approach and has restaurants, water fountains, a giant ferris wheel, amusement arcades, an aquarium and of course Bournemouth Pier where you can find another restaurant and a rock climbing centre. If you’re feeling brave, you can even zip wire from the end of the pier back down to the beach!
The beach itself is lovely, with golden sand and palm trees that definitely make you feel like you’re abroad. Be warned though – it gets absolutely rammed in the summer and you’ll have to get down there very early to get a spot.
Boscombe beach onwards are more like your traditional Victorian beaches with beach huts and pier. Boscombe pier isn’t as busy as Bournemouth Pier but has musical instruments from beginning to end which will keep kids amused, as well as a crazy golf course which ends with your golf ball falling into the sea to feed the fishes!
The beachfront has a surf school, posh apartments and a couple of restaurants, and on the beach are volleyball courts and climbing rocks. There’s also currently a giant Havaiana flip-flop which is actually a shower but I’m not sure if this is permanent or not!
Hengistbury Head & Mudeford Spit
Hengistbury Head is one of my favourite places and you might have seen some of my photos on Instagram before. The beach huts here sell for more than an average priced family home!
You can park at Hengistbury Head and visit the beach on this side – this beach is very stony so nice for a stroll but I wouldn’t recommend sitting on it for very long.
You can walk up to the viewpoint and see for miles towards Bournemouth and Poole in one direction and the Isle of Wight in the other.
It’s about a 15-20 minute stroll down to Mudeford Spit or you can take the land train. At Mudeford, you have the expensive beach huts, Christchurch Harbour, a lovely beach and a restaurant and ice cream kiosk.
You can also get a boat over to Mudeford Quay and also a boat over to Christchurch.
Heading back towards Poole you have plenty of golden sandy beaches to enjoy. If you walk from Bournemouth Beach towards Poole you’ll get to Branksome Beach.
Here there’s a restaurant, a beach shop and ice cream kiosks. It’s much less touristy in this direction than Bournemouth and Boscombe.
If you start at the cliff top by the library you can stop by the wooden play area and then walk down to the beach through Pinecliff Gardens with amazing views out across the sea.
The carparks get full very quickly and is expensive so it’s best to park a bit further away and walk down if possible.
If you carry on from Branksome Chine you’ll reach Durley Chine which has a Harvester pub and a beach cafe and then you’ll arrive in Alum Chine.
Alum Chine has a lovely Italian restaurant next to a playpark which has recently been redone. The land train goes from Alum Chine up to Boscombe Beach if you wanted to see all the beaches without having to walk it.
The beach at Alumn Chine is lovely and we find usually a bit quieter than the others if you head a few minutes’ walk away from the restaurant and park.
Probably the most famous beach in the area because Sandbanks is one of the most expensive places to live in the world!
The beach is lovely and in the summer it really does feel like you’re abroad. There’s a cafe, ice cream kiosk, a play park and crazy golf. You can see across to the Isle of Purbeck from the end of the peninsula and you can catch the chain ferry by car or foot across to Studland. You can also get a boat across to Brownsea Island.
You also have Poole Harbour on the roadside where there are various watersports activities and views across the harbour.
Sandbanks is a great beach but be warned that the carpark is expensive and there’s no longer any free parking on the road. If you’re staying in Poole you can get the open top bus from Poole bus station down to Sandbanks which might be a better bet than trying to park!
Studland is on the Isle of Purbeck across the water from Sandbanks – you can also drive a slightly longer way around if you don’t fancy queuing for the chain ferry from Sandbanks.
These beaches are as far from touristy as you can get, definitely not the place to go if you want amenities and entertainment. However, if you like the sound of a nature reserve on the beach then this is the beach for you!
Studland Bay is part of the National Trust so you’ll get free parking if you’re a member. The water here is really shallow and there’s a watersports school if you fancy paddle boarding or kayaking.
Knoll beach is just around the corner where there’s a cafe, another carpark, and you can walk for miles along the coastal path.
And that is the end of our guide to Bournemouth and Poole’s best beaches! If you’ve visited Bournemouth and Poole before, which are your favourite beaches? If you’re coming down to Dorset this summer, which beaches are you looking forward to visiting?