Making a Splash: A Guide to Dorset’s Best Beaches


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Dorset is a fantastic destination for a summer holiday. Did you know that the region gets more sunshine per year than any other part of the UK? So what are you waiting for? Grab the towels and swimwear and run until your feet are touching soft, golden sand. Dorset is home to many incredible beaches and to help you make your choice, we have put together our guide to the best places to swim, paddle, sunbathe, and seek adventure in Dorset.

Best for beauty – Lulworth Cove

The view down to Lulworth Cove

Lulworth Cove is instantly recognisable by its horseshoe shape. Just along the coastal path from famous landmark Durdle Door, Lulworth is a fantastic beach to visit after a scenic walk admiring the magnificence of the Jurassic Coast. It’s a great location to relax, enjoy a picnic and cool off with a swim. If you’re very lucky, you may even see a dolphin.

Best for geological wonders – Man O’War Bay

Positioned on the east side of the iconic Durdle Door, Man O’War Cove is a very popular beach with swimmers looking for calmer waters. The cove is protected by a semicircle of narrow rocks, making its water consistently gentle. The beach gets a lot of shade in the afternoon, meaning it’s a great place to cool off when the sun is really beating down. It’s also a popular place for snorkelling and diving and more and more surfers are flocking to the cove every year.

Best for kids – Cobb Beach

The Cobb Beach

The Cobb is Lyme Regis’ picturesque harbour, which dates back to the fourteenth century and is complete with a small, sandy beach. For those of you who identify as film buffs, you might recognise Cobb Beach as the location for the opening scene of ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’. It’s a great beach for the kids because not only is it beautiful, it’s sandy and ideal for running around or building sandcastles, it’s fairly small so it makes it easier to keep a close eye on them, plus it’s manned by RNLI lifeguards during the peak season. The beach has been transformed with lots of sand brought over from France, meaning it no longer gets lost in waves when the tide is high. There are lots of cafes, pubs and restaurants in close proximity and some great walking routes to embark on.

Best for pets – Bowleaze Cove

Image via Flickr

Bowleaze Cove is a charming pebble beach just outside of Weymouth. It’s surrounded by a backdrop of cliffs, making it a picture-perfect location for a stroll. They welcome pets year-round too, so your four-legged friend can run around in the fresh sea breeze whilst you absorb the spectacular views. When the tide is out, there’s exposed sand to walk on, if you prefer sand to pebble beaches. There’s ample parking close by, plus a café and pub to stop off at for a refreshing beverage after an enjoyable saunter in the sunshine.

Best for fossil finding – Charmouth Beach

Fossils on Charmouth Beach

Charmouth beach is one of the best places to hunt or fossils in the UK. More importantly, it’s one of the safest places in Dorset to fossil hunt, without doing any damage to areas that are sensitive to disruption or putting yourself at any risk or danger. The Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre on the seafront is a great place to learn more about the local natural history, plus they run fossil hunting walks which are extremely popular and informative.

Best for breath-taking views – Chesil Bank

Views from Chesil Bank

Chesil Bank (or Chesil Beach, as it’s also known) is a magnificent 18-mile stretch of pebble beach that spans from Portland to West Bay. It’s mostly separated from the mainland by the Fleet Lagoon and is known to contain an incredible 180 billion pebbles. It’s an important site for Dorset’s wildlife, both flora and fauna, and has been a designated World Heritage Site since 1985. Chesil is actually identified as a tombolo rather than a beach, as it joins Portland and Abbotsbury. Climb to the top of Abbotsbury Hill and capture a truly breath-taking landscape.

Best for surfing – Kimmeridge Bay

Kimmeridge Bay

Kimmeridge, or ‘K-Bay’, as it’s affectionately known by locals as, is an excellent spot for a variety of water sports. Snorkelling and diving are popular in its shallow, warm waters and it’s a great place to spot a host of wildlife in its natural habitat. Surfing is becoming increasingly popular here, as there is excellent visibility and a mild current. Kimmeridge is a beautiful beach with some of the most important geology on the Jurassic Coast. Even if you aren’t a keen surfer, you will still have an enjoyable day out here.

If you’ve been inspired to make Dorset your next holiday destination, visit our Dorset holiday cottages page and let Sykes Cottages help you to find your perfect holiday accommodation.

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