The 5 best Dorset beaches to visit in your motorhome or caravan
Dorset is well known for its impressive Jurassic coast and stunning shoreline which stretches for 100 miles and provides many wonderful beaches to visit.
Not only do they offer breathtaking scenery, but also provide many activities for all the family including fossil hunting, walking, swimming and of course, sandcastle building.
Dorset’s dramatic coastline was made England’s first natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2001. Its many coastal villages and towns are full of unique charm and character, many providing great places to eat and drink and a warm welcome.
From stunning coves such as Lulworth and Durdle Door to huge pebble beaches like Chesil, and even the biggest natural harbour in the world in Poole, this area really has it all.
If you enjoy walking, there are also many well signposted walks to enjoy in Dorset, including the final stretch of the South West Coast Path. This follows the full length of the Jurassic coast on its epic journey, but for day walkers there is a plethora of short routes that can be made as hard or as easy as you like.
Dorset towns and villages that are worth a visit include Sidmouth, Lyme Regis and Charmouth.
Things to do in Dorset
Longthorns, Wareham, Dorset BH20 6HH
For a family day out full of fun and education, visit the Monkey World ape Rrescue centre in Wareham, where you can watch monkeys and apes interact, listen to keepers’ talks and enjoy a picnic or lunch at the café on site. You may have even seen this attraction on TV as it has been featured in many programmes, including the ‘Monkey Life’ series which is filmed at the park and follows the rescue and rehabilitation stories of the primates.
Call 01929 462537 or visit monkeyworld.org
The Quay, Poole, Dorset BH15 1HJ
Whether you want a sightseeing cruise along the famous Jurassic coast, an afternoon tea with a difference or to even enjoy a themed evening cruise, City Cruises can provide a great experience for everyone. Discover the beautiful Dorset coastline, hear commentary from onboard experts and enjoy exploring the county’s famous landmarks.
Call 07483 005956 or visit citycruisespoole.com
Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens
Buller’s Way, Abbotsbury, Weymouth, Dorset DT3 4LA
Wander through the award-winning Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens, observing the fantastic floral displays, enjoying refreshments from the tea house and spotting the golden pheasants which live in the sunken gardens. There is also a gift shop, nature trail and plant centre on site and many of the wonderful flowers grown in the gardens can be bought here.
Call 01305 871387 or visit abbotsbury-tourism.co.uk/gardens
The top 5 beaches in Dorset
Bournemouth attracts over five million visitors each year and it is easy to see why. As well as a picturesque seven-mile stretch of sand and clay cliffs, it has some of the warmest sea temperatures in the UK and a pier with attractions for all the family.
It is also classed as one of the safest in the country and has retained the international Blue Flag award since it was introduced in 1996. The Victorian pier has an abundance of entertainment, attractions, shops and even the first ever pier-to-shore zipwire.
You really are spoilt for choice when it comes to food, with fresh seafood, charming cream teas and you can’t go to the beach without having fish and chips – and maybe an ice cream for afters. There are some regulations to having dogs on the beach so it is always best to check before setting off.
How to find Bournemouth beach
The beach is a two-minute drive from the town of Bournemouth which is found following the A338 or A35.
Once there, head southeast along Exeter Road. Around here you will find many car parks to choose from where charges will apply (BH2 5AA).
Where to eat near Bournemouth beach
Key West Bar and Grill
Pier Approach, Bournemouth, Dorset BH2 5AA
Positioned at the end of Bournemouth Pier, this restaurant has wonderful views across the water and a varied menu. The large sun terrace is perfect for sunny days and beautiful evenings.
Durdle Door has to be one of the most recognisable natural features of Dorset and is a must-see when visiting the area. Being part of the Jurassic coast there are great fossil hunting spots and perfect photo opportunities for capturing this natural beauty – as well as a fantastic sandy beach to be enjoyed.
In addition to its iconic arch, you can see the high limestone cliffs and natural caves that have been formed over the years. With so much to be seen and with picnic seating and a refreshment kiosk, a car park plus a gift shop selling beach equipment and souvenirs, your day is sorted!
The Marine Conservation Society recommends the beach for its excellent water quality which allows swimming and snorkelling to be possible in some areas. However, with no lifeguard about make sure to take care. All of the family are welcome for this day out, including the four-legged members, as dogs are allowed on this beach all year round.
How to find Durdle Door beach
Drive to West Lulworth village on the B3070 and head west onto West Road and then turn right onto Church Road. From here follow the road down past Durdle Door Cottages and holiday park until you reach the car park (BH20 5PU).
Where to eat near Durdle Door beach
The Boat Shed Café, Main Road, West Lulworth, Wareham, Dorset BH20 5RQ
This nautical-themed café is situated perfectly for you to have fantastic views of the stunning Lulworth Cove. Open seven days a week you can enjoy breakfasts, lunches, homemade cakes and seasonal specials including whitebait and calamari.
Studland Bay is an area with heathland full of wildlife and four miles of sandy beaches that are all owned by the National Trust. The beaches here are called Shell Bay, Knoll Beach, Middle Beach and South Beach and all have fantastic views, including of Old Harry Rocks.
Studland Bay is very popular for water sports and beach games including kayaking, windsurfing, beach volleyball and snorkelling with wet suits available to buy. Boats can also be hired here and the gentle bathing waters make it perfect for all of the family to enjoy.
As well as the beautiful seafront, there is heathland behind with fantastic wildlife to be seen including deer, rare insects, beautiful bird life and all six native reptiles. There are facilities nearby and dogs are allowed all year on the beaches however there are some restrictions in the summer months.
How to find Studland Bay beach
Studland can be reached from Corfe Castle on the B3351, Swanage on the Ulwell Road or the Ferry Road coming from Bournemouth direction.
There are plenty of car parks and facilities, with Middle Beach Car Park the closest to the beach (BH19 3AX).
Where to eat near Studland Bay beach
Bankes Arms, Manor Road, Studland, Dorset BH19 3AU
This beautiful traditional pub by the sea has a large pub garden where you can sit and enjoy the stunning sea views while tasting some local food. Having two open fires it is also perfect to snuggle up in come the winter.
Charmouth Beach is perfect for a day of fossil-hunting, revitalising walks and exploring either by yourself or on one of the regular guided walks from the Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre. This beach steeped in history, fascinating rock formations and sparkling water was nominated as one of the UK’s five best beaches in 2017 and has picnic areas, safe swimming and plenty of shops providing all the beach equipment needed for a family day at the seaside.
Broadchurch fans may recognise the beach huts that are available to be hired here, as they were featured in the hit drama. Charmouth Beach is split into two by the mouth of the River Char, separating East and West beach which sometimes creates a lagoon. And there are also many rock pools ready to be foraged for loose fossils.
How to find Charmouth Beach
Heading east on the A35 towards Charmouth, turn right off onto The Street. Following that round take a left onto Lower Sea Lane where you can continue on this until you reach the Beach Car Park (DT6 6LS).
Where to eat near Charmouth Beach
The Royal Oak, The Street, Charmouth, Bridport DT6 6PE
Enjoy a traditional Sunday roast or a pub classic in the Royal Oak. With award winning beers, cosy log fires and games such as darts, dominoes and table skittles, you might find yourself staying all afternoon!
A straight pebble beach stretching from Portland to West Bay, Chesil Beach is one of just three major shingle structures in Britain and also the longest in the UK. The pebbles on this dramatic coastline start at a pea-sized shape at West Bay and become much larger towards Portland.
This is a beautifully natural beach and although popular, it feels far from the crowds; a peaceful place to be with the relaxing sounds of the waves hitting the pebbles along the shore and crisp sea air. Dogs are welcome which makes this a wonderful place for a walk, to be enjoyed whatever the weather. Just behind the beach, Fleet Lagoon is home to a mute swan colony, the only managed nesting colony in the world, a fantastic thing to see.
There is a visitor centre here with a café and opportunities to book a boat trip to explore this stunning area more.
How to find Chesil Beach
From Dorchester follow the A354 down to Weymouth which is only about three miles from the beach. Keep going on the A354 to Portland Beach Road and eventually Chesil Car Park (DT4 9XE).
Where to eat near Chesil Beach
The Cove House Inn, 91 Chiswell, Portland, Dorset DT5 1AW
Enjoy a cosy pub lunch with stunning views at this inn right beside the beach. You can sit outside taking in the sea air, enjoying locally caught seafood and one of the guest ales that is on offer. On chillier days, warm-up in front of the open fire with a hot chocolate.
Looking for more UK beaches to visit on your motorhome, caravan or campervan holidays? Check out our guide to the top 6 beaches in Cornwall here. And you can find the perfect campsite for your Devon holiday using our Campsite Finder.
This feature is brought to you in association with Bailey, the Bristol-based motorhome and caravan manufacturer. Find out more about Bailey — and their range of motorhomes and caravans — on their website, or join them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.