Dorset beaches are among the finest in all of England. The variety of this historical county’s coastline is truly impressive, ranging from picturesque coves to sandy beaches that still produce fossils from the Jurassic period every once in a while. Iconic towering cliffs and smooth pebbles are to be found on multiple other beaches.

    During the summer months, Dorset is a great place to go swimming in the English Channel, but only the toughest brave the chilly waters at any other time of the year. Water sports, sunbathing and amateur archaeology are some of the other activities on offer on Dorset’s best beaches.


    Chesil Beach

    Take a stroll along the pebbles

    Chesil Beach is a marvel of nature. It is technically a bank that is largely separated from the mainland by a lagoon. Standing on it you can look out to sea, and turn around and gaze towards the mainland over the lagoon. The dramatic scenery was chosen as the setting of Ian McEwan’s well-known novel On Chesil Beach. The rugged nature of the pebbled beach serves as the perfect location for this romantic and dramatic novel.

    The beach stretches 18 miles from end to end, offering numerous walking opportunities across the dramatic landscape. Fishermen are often seen on the beach itself and there is no shortage of dining options for those who want to grab a bite to eat while they enjoy the scenery – seafood is an especially popular choice!

    Location: Chesil Beach, Dorset, UK


    Swanage Beach

    Enjoy a classically Victorian-era seaside resort

    Swanage has a history dating back to the Victorian period. The town was a popular seaside resort after the railway station opened here in the 19th century. Its popularity has endured and today it’s a thriving hub of water sports, overlooked by charming beach huts with colourfully painted front doors (available for hire).

    Deck chairs are available for hire to soak up the sun during the long summer days. For the more adventurous beach-goer, pedalos and kayaks are also available for hire, and diving excursions leave regularly from the beach. Behind the beach is a long promenade bustling with shops, eateries and arcades.

    Location: Swanage Beach, Shore Road, Swanage, BH19 1LB, Dorset, UK


    Weymouth Beach

    Follow in the footsteps of kings

    Weymouth Beach was famously frequented by King George III so that the royal could relax and enjoy a health-restoring swim. When you experience the calm waters with their ideal swimming conditions due to the sheltered bay it’s easy to see why.

    Like many beaches in Britain, Weymouth capitalises on its Victorian seaside heritage. Punch and Judy shows are available to entertain children, as well as the classic donkey ride. Behind the beach, the promenade is occupied by classic Georgian terraced houses, giving the whole place an extra historic feel.

    Location: Weymouth Beach, The Esplanade, Weymouth, DT4 7SL, Dorset, UK


    Lyme Regis Beach

    Go hunting for Jurassic fossils

    Lyme Regis is one of Britain’s most unique beaches due to its geological wonders: the beach is a wonderful place to go hunting for fossils from the Jurassic period. Mary Anning famously found the first complete ichthyosaur (a marine reptile that somewhat resembles a modern-day dolphin) in the first half of the 18th century on the beach in Lyme Regis.

    It’s still possible nowadays to find entire ichthyosaurs, but most people are happy to find an iconic spiral-shaped ammonite or even some fool’s gold. The beach stretches from the sandy shores of Cobb Gate to the pebbles of Monmouth Beach.

    Location: Lyme Regis Beach, Lyme Regis, DT7 3JF, Dorset, UK


    Lulworth Cove

    Walk around this picturesque cove

    Lulworth Cove is one of the most picturesque spots in Dorset, which is quite an impressive feat. The almost perfectly circular cove is surrounded by a white pebble beach and opens out to the sea. The water within the cove is a striking turquoise during the summer months, contrasting beautifully with the dark blue of the waters further out.

    The beach is an excellent spot for a scenic walk – either on the beach or above in the hills looking down – and has excellent swimming conditions. The rock pools in the cove are home to a whole array of marine wildlife.

    Location: Lulworth Cove, Dorset, UK


    Boscombe Beach

    Join the crowd at Boscombe’s white sands

    Boscombe Beach is a busy white sand beach that is teeming with visitors in the summer months. The charming pier and colourful beach houses, not to mention the beach’s proximity to the bustling town of Bournemouth, are just some of the reasons why.

    As well as swimming and water sports, make sure to take a stroll along the beach as the sun sets – amateur and professional photographers alike will not be disappointed.

    Location: Boscombe Beach, Bournemouth, BH5 1BN, Dorset, UK


    Durdle Door

    Visit one of Dorset’s most famous natural spots

    Durdle Door is a common sight on Dorset fridge magnets and postcards, but nothing beats seeing this iconic beach in real life. Famous for its limestone arch, the beach became the UK’s first natural UNESCO world heritage site in 2001.

    The beach itself is made up of pebbles and shingle. Bathing in the water is possible but swimmers are advised to take caution as there is no lifeguard. Perhaps the best way to enjoy the stunning scenery at Durdle Door is to view it from the cliff-top viewing point above, where there's a small food and souvenir shop.

    Location: Durdle Door, Dorset, UK


    Alum Chine Beach

    A fun-filled day for families with kids

    Alum Chine is to the west of Bournemouth and the place people go to either escape the crowds at Bournemouth and Boscombe or to take their little ones somewhere fun. The beach has a pirate-themed playground and plenty of places to buy ice cream.

    For the adults, there’s a tropical garden right next to the beach and some charming colourful beach huts that can be rented out. Sunsets at Alum Chine are also particularly spectacular.

    Location: Alum Chine Beach, W Undercliff Promenade, Bournemouth, BH4 8AN, Dorset, UK


    Avon Beach

    Take a dip in the water

    Avon Beach is one for swimmers as the beach has a designated swimming area. This is separate to the part of the water that’s reserved for water sports and there’s a lifeguard service during the busiest period of the year in July and August.

    Like many beaches in Dorset, Avon Beach is home to Victorian-style beach huts that can be rented out. There’s also a restaurant and café near the beach.

    Location: Avon Beach, Mudeford, Christchurch, BH23 4AN, Dorset, UK


    Southborne Beach

    Access this beautiful beach by nature trail

    Southborne Beach is one of the quieter beaches in the Bournemouth area, beloved by locals for its idyllic white sand. Beach huts are available for hire and the beach is popular with families with small children. Dining options nearby include plenty of pubs.

    The best way to access Southborne Beach is via the Fisherman’s Walk nature trail, a beautiful boardwalk route that zigzags down to the beach (a lift is also available). The trail goes through shrubs, greenery and wildlife and is a truly beautiful way to access the beach.

    Location: Southborne Beach, Bournemouth, BH6 4BT, Dorset, UK

    Cassie Gibbons | Contributing Writer

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