The best beaches in Dorset

From the best sandy beaches to the best beaches for activities and rock pooling, find out the top spots along Dorset's beautiful coastline.

Quiet, sandy beach in Dorset Photo by Club member Sarah Barnes

Boasting 100 miles of coastline and no fewer than 25 Blue Flag and Seaside Award beaches, Dorset has plenty to offer even the most discerning beach-goer. From the resorts of Poole and Bournemouth in the east of the county to fossil-strewn Monmouth Beach in the west, there’s a huge variety of locations to choose from, each with their own unique character. So whether you’re looking for the perfect sandy spot with plenty of amenities close by, or a secluded cove with rock pools to explore, there’s something to tempt you.

Here, we’ve identified some of the best beaches in Dorset, whatever you’re looking for.

Best sandy beaches in Dorset

Looking for a classic bucket-and-spade beach to spend the day on? Dorset has many to choose from.

Swanage Beach

Overlooking the cliffs and groynes at sandy Swanage beachPhoto by @aldred_david on Instagram

Winner of several Blue Flag Awards, Swanage Beach is a beautiful location for some sun and sand with the family. Its clean, sheltered waters are ideal for splashing, and there are buoys to indicate the designated swimming area. Deck chairs, sun beds, pedaloes and kayaks are all available for hire, and the beach is set in front of a promenade lined with amusements. Water sports enthusiasts can join diving excursions or go sailing, water-skiing or windsurfing from here.

Weymouth Beach

Overlooked by an impressive Georgian seafront, Weymouth Beach is a good old fashioned seaside resort with a sheltered bay, gradually sloping seabed, and clear waters. It’s ideal for families and has plenty to keep young ones entertained, from Punch and Judy shows and donkey rides to pedaloes and rides. Even dogs are welcome year-round.

Avon Beach

Golden retriever enjoying sand Avon Beach at sunsetPhoto by Alinda Howland

This sandy beach in Christchurch is ideal for sandcastle building, paddling, leisurely strolls or simply relaxing with a good book. There’s a designated water sports zone and good facilities, and the beach level car park means it’s good for families with young children and people with disabilities.

Best beaches for activities

Those looking for more to do on their beach break will find plenty of activities to enjoy on the following Dorset beaches.

Boscombe Beach

One of Bournemouth’s most popular resorts, Boscombe has an award-winning seafront, as well as a gently shelving, Blue Flag beach. The whole family can enjoy table tennis or volleyball, take a surfing lesson, or indulge in some traditional fun on Boscombe Pier, with its mini golf and kiosks. The pier is also a prime fishing spot, and with gorgeous views across Poole Bay, simply sitting and taking in the scenery is an absorbing activity.

Studland Bay

Sunset at National Trust's Studland BayPhoto by Andy Pattenden

Studland Bay comprises four National Trust-owned beaches: Shell Bay, Knoll Beach, Middle Beach and South Beach. With golden sands and gently shelving waters, it’s ideal for young families, while those looking for more to do can find kayaking, paddle boarding and snorkelling on Middle Beach. Knoll Beach also has pedaloes and kayaks for hire, and power boat rides can be arranged.

Best beaches in Dorset for rock pooling

Exploring rock pools is a favourite beach activity for many inquisitive youngsters. Here are the best Dorset beaches for rock pooling.

Lulworth Cove

Rocky cliff faces overlooking blue waters of Lulworth CovePhoto by Phillip Thomas

A sheltered, pebble beach, Lulworth Cove is part of the beautiful Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. At low tide it’s an ideal place to discover sea life, with rock pools teeming with crabs, anemones, barnacles and more. Rock Pool School sessions are run during the summer at a cost of £5, enabling kids to identify various creatures with their own spotting sheet.

Lyme Regis

Blue beach hut in the sun in Lyme RegisPhoto by Club member Angela Webb

Backed by the Ware Cliffs, which are an estimated 200 million years old, Monmouth Beach in Lyme Regis is a fine place to hunt for sea creatures past and present. Not only can you find limpets and crabs in the rock pools, but there’s also a good chance you’ll discover some great examples of ammonites and belemnites during a walk along the beach. Along the coast is Church Cliff Beach, which has an extensive rock ledge that’s exposed at low tide. Here you’ll find plenty of rock pools to explore, packed with shrimps, molluscs and fish.

If you're feeling inspired to head away on a beach holiday in the UK, then make sure you check out our top campsites by the seaside. There are plenty of beaches to explore throughout the UK, and there's never been a better time to discover them!