Dorset Beach Guide Discover our amazing beaches

Our most popular beaches at Bournemouth, Sandbanks and Weymouth, get very busy during the summer months. So if you are seeking a quieter beach away from the crowds, scroll down the page and take a look at our Beach Guide.

The beaches within our Guide are listed from Highcliffe in the east of the county to Lyme Regis in the west.

The Guide includes useful information for each beach including where to park, if toilets are available, accessibility information for visitors in wheelchairs and with other special needs, whether dogs are allowed and if there is a RNLI Lifeguard Service.

Assistance Dogs: There are exemptions for assistance dogs written within the Public Spaces Protection Orders. As long as the dog is liveried in the exempted areas. no officer will challenge. However, where no livery is worn you may be challenged but enforcement officers would consider next step actions i.e. if an ID card is shown identifying the dog as an assistance dog, no fixed penalty notice would be served. Where no evidence of the dog being an assistance dog is presented, a Fixed Penalty Notice may be served.

Highcliffe Beach

  • Shingle and sand beach. A family friendly beach with gentle shelving.
  • Highcliffe Cliff Top Car Park (424 spaces). 5-10 minute walk down to the beach.
  • Toilets (including (baby changing) on cliff top.
  • 26 Accessible parking spaces. Accessible toilet next to Cliffhanger Cafe, accessed by RADAR key. Gravel slopes and paths lead down to beach level. Access at eastern end mainly on tarmac paths.
  • No dogs between groynes H4 and H8 from 1 May to 30 September. For rest of beach, dogs are allowed all year.
  • Lifeguard patrols 10 July to 5 September 2021, between 10am and 6pm.

Highcliffe Castle Beach

Friars Cliff Beach

Avon Beach

  • Sandy beach. Ideal for families, offering a safe, gentle slope into the sea.
  • Avon Beach Car Park (99 spaces). Or Avon Run Road Car Park (222 spaces), 5 minute walk via steps.
  • Toilets (including baby changing) on promenade.
  • 6 Accessible parking spaces and step free, level access from Avon Beach Car Park. Accessible toilet on promenade (next to cafe) with RADAR key access.
  • From 1 May to 30 September dogs are not allowed on beach.
  • Lifeguard patrols 10 July to 5 September 2021, between 10am and 6pm.

Gundimore Beach

  • Sandy beach. The beach is close to the harbour entrance with strong currents and moving sand bars.
  • Mudeford Quay Car Park (448 spaces) or Avon Beach Car Park (99 spaces). Both a 5 minute walk to the beach.
  • Toilets at Avon Beach or Mudeford Quay – 5-10 minute walk. Both have baby changing facilities.
  • 24 Accessible parking spaces at Mudeford Quay Car Park and 6 spaces at Avon Beach Car Park. Step free, level access from both car parks. Accessible toilets at Avon Beach and Mudeford Quay – 5 to 10 minutes away.
  • Dogs allowed all year, off lead. 
  • No lifeguards at this beach.

Mudeford Sandbank

  • Sandy beach. The beach is close to the harbour entrance with strong currents and moving sand bars.
  • ​Nearest car park is at Mudeford Quay (424 spaces), you'll need to catch a passenger ferry across to the beach. Or Hengistbury Head Car Park (704 spaces) with a 1 mile, level walk.
  • Toilets (some with baby changing) between beach huts.
  • Access by foot, bike or land train from Hengistbury Head Car Park - 1 mile away. The land train can carry wheelchair users.
    Accessible toilets.
  • Dogs allowed all year, off lead. If accessing the beach via Hengistbury Head Nature Reserve, dogs should be under close control at all times to protect wildlife.
  • No lifeguards at this beach.

Hengistbury Head Beach

  • Shingle and sand beach. Paddling in the shallows is safe. Do not sit near to the cliffs – danger of rockfalls.
  • Hengistbury Head Car Park (704 spaces). A 10 minute walk to the beach.
  • Toilets next to cafe and at Visitor Centre.
  • 5 Accessible parking spaces. Additional parking bays on road next to Hiker Cafe. Accessible toilet at Hengistbury Head Visitor Centre.
  • Dogs allowed all year - keep on a lead to protect wildlife at this nature reserve.
  • No lifeguards at this beach.

Southbourne Beach

  • Sandy beach. Ideal for families, offering a safe, gentle slope into the sea.
  • Southbourne Crossroads Car Park or cliff top parking on Southbourne Coast Road and Southbourne Overcliff Drive.
  • Toilets (including baby changing) on promenade.
  • Accessible toilets on promenade.
  • Dogs allowed all year at the dog-friendly area at Fishermans Walk Beach. For rest of beach, dogs not allowed from 1 May to 30 September.
  • Lifeguard patrols 29 May to 5 September 2021, between 10am and 6pm.

Boscombe Beach

Bournemouth Beach

  • Sandy beach. A family friendly beach with gentle shelving into the sea.
  • Parking near beach and in town centre.
  • Toilets (including baby changing) on promenade.
  • Accessible toilets at Pier and on promenade.
  • Dogs allowed all year between groyne 5 and groyne 7. For the rest of the beach, dogs are not allowed from 1 May to 30 September.
  • Lifeguard patrols 2 April to 26 September 2021, between 10am and 6pm.

Durley Chine Beach

  • Shingle and sand beach. A family friendly beach with gentle shelving into the sea.
  • Durley Chine Car Park (131 spaces).
  • Toilets (including baby changing) on promenade.
  • 7 Accessible parking spaces. Car park slopes towards seafront. Accessible toilet on promenade.
  • Dogs allowed all year between groyne 5 and groyne 7. For rest of beach, dogs are not allowed from 1 May to 30 September.
  • Lifeguard patrols 29 May to 5 September 2021, between 10am and 6pm.

Alum Chine Beach

  • Sandy beach. Ideal for families, offering a safe, gentle slope into the sea.
  • Alum Chine Car Park a short walk to beach (92 spaces).
  • Toilets (including baby changing) on promenade.
  • 5 Accessible parking spacesAccessible toilet and changing area.
  • Dogs allowed all year between Branksome Dene Chine and Alum Chine Beach Office. For the rest of the beach, dogs are not allowed from 1 May to 30 September.
  • Lifeguard patrols 29 May to 5 September 2021, between 10am and 6pm.

Branksome Chine Beach

Canford Cliffs Beach

Shore Road Beach, Sandbanks

Sandbanks Beach

Hamworthy Park Beach

  • Sand and shingle beach. A family friendly beach with gentle slope into the sea.
  • Hamworthy Park Surface Car Park (60 spaces).
  • Toilets next to the cafe. Baby changing available in ladies toilets.
  • Accessible toilets next to cafe. No ramp access to Hamworthy beach; only by steps.
  • Dogs allowed all year, off lead. 
  • No lifeguards at this beach.

Studland Bay beaches
(Shell Bay Beach, Middle Beach, Knoll Beach)

  • Sandy beaches. Gently shelving sand suitable for bathing depending on weather conditions. No BBQs on beach or adjacent heathland.
  • ​Large National Trust car parks at Knoll Beach, Middle Beach and Shell Bay.
  • Toilets (including baby changing) in all three car parks - open when car parks are open.
  • Accessible parking in all car parks. Parking charges do not apply to blue badge holders. Accessible toilets at all car parks. Knoll Beach the most accessible with flat paths and beach wheelchairs.
  • Dogs on lead at beach access points. From 1 May to 30 September, dogs on beaches must be on a lead less than 2 metres in length.
  • No lifeguards at this beach.

Studland Bay
(South Beach)

  • Sandy beach. Gently shelving sand suitable for bathing depending on weather conditions. No BBQs on beach or adjacent heathland.
  • ​National Trust car park next to Bankes Arms pub.
  • No toilets on beach.
  • No toilets. Accessible parking. Parking charges do not apply to blue badge holders.
  • Dogs on lead at beach access and car park. From 1 May to 30 September, dogs on beach must be on a lead less than 2 metres in length.
  • No lifeguards at this beach.

Swanage Bay

Kimmeridge Bay

  • Not a typical bathing beach. Sheltered rocky bay with rockpools. Walking boots or trainers needed for walk to and on shoreline. The bay is naturally sheltered. Great for snorkelling and diving. Stay away from the cliffs – danger of rockfalls.
  • Large car park accessed via toll road. 5 Minute walk downhill to shoreline.
  • Toilets at slip-way car park at end of toll road (near Wild Seas Centre).
  • Outside of Kimmeridge Wild Seas Centre is accessible via gently sloping gravel path. Accessible toilets and parking at the slip-way car park.
  • Dogs welcome all year, off lead.
  • No lifeguards at this beach.

Worbarrow Bay

  • Shingle beach. Walking boots or trainers needed for walk to and on beach. 1 mile (20 minute) walk to beach. Stay away from the cliffs – danger of rockfalls.
  • ​Large car park at Tyneham Village - accessed by narrow lane.
  • No toilets.
  • Beach accessed via 1 mile footpath between car park and beach. No toilets.
  • Dogs welcome all year, off lead.
  • No lifeguards at this beach.

Lulworth Cove

  • Pebble beach. Due to sheltered cove, bathing is usually safe. Stay away from the cliffs – danger of rockfalls.
  • Large car park. 5 minute walk to beach.
  • Toilets at Visitor Centre and near to the Cove.
  • Accessible parking. Accessible toilets at Visitor Centre and near to the Cove. Access to beach via gentle wide pathway. No matting on beach.
  • Dogs welcome all year on left hand side of slipway.
  • No lifeguards at this beach.

Durdle Door and Man O' War

  • Shingle beaches. Walking boots or trainers needed for walk to and on beach. Bathing can be dangerous. Stay away from the cliffs – danger of rockfalls.
  • Large car park at Durdle Door Holiday Park - 15 minute walk down a steep path then steps to the beach. Good footwear essential.
  • No toilets on or near to beach. Toilets only available in the holiday park - a 15 minute walk from the beach.
  • Accessible toilets in Durdle Door Holiday Park car park. Views of Durdle Door NOT possible from car park. 15 minute walk down steep path and then 140+ steps onto beach - not suitable for wheelchair users, mobility scooters or those with mobility problems.
  • Dogs welcome all year, off lead.
  • No lifeguards at this beach.

Ringstead Bay

  • Shingle beach with sand at low tide. Rockpools. Often used for bathing depending on weather conditions.
  • ​Parking available with vehicle height limit.
  • Toilets in car park behind kiosk.
  • Accessible toilet by car park and shop. Compacted path to beach but no matting on beach.
  • Dogs welcome all year, off lead.
  • No lifeguards at this beach.

Weymouth Beach

  • Weymouth main beach is sandy. Adjoining beaches at Greenhill and Preston are shingle. Gradual sloping sand into sea. Between May and September First Aid, accessible facilities, Lost Children Services and Beach Attendants.
  • ​Many car parks in town and on harbourside.
  • Many toilets and baby changing facilities. Nearest toilets for beach at Kings Statue.
  • Accessible parking. Accessible facilities at all public toiletsChanging Places toilet at Beach Office. Beach accessed by ramps from promande. SupaTrac beach matting (available May to September) at dog friendly section of beach, opposite Marks & Spencers and in front of beach office. Beach wheelchair free to hire - call 01305 239839.
  • Dogs welcome all year round, off lead at dog exercise area (Pavilion end of the sandy beach) and between Preston Beach and Bowleaze Cove. No dogs on the main beach from 1 May to 30 September.
  • Lifeguard patrols 1 May to 26 September 2021, between 10am and 6pm.

Chesil Beach

  • Pebble and shingle beach. Bathing can be dangerous. Beach shelves steeply with a strong under-tow. Large waves can happen.
  • ​Parking at Chesil Car Park adjacent to beach (616 spaces). 5 minute walk over ridge to sea.
  • Toilets open when Chesil Visitor Centre open (usually 9am-5pm).
  • 8 accessible parking spaces. Good accessibility at Dorset Wildlife Trust Chesil Centre. Cross road from car park to hard surface track with views of Ham Bay. Accessible toilets.
  • Dogs welcome all year but must be kept under control near nesting birds and mudflats.
  • No lifeguards at this beach.

Abbotsbury Beach

  • Pebble and shingle beach. Bathing can be dangerous. Beach shelves steeply with a strong under-tow. Large waves can happen.
  • ​Car park at the end of Buller's Way.
  • Toilets in car park.
  • Accessible toilet. Compacted gravel car park and sloping boardwalk onto beach. No matting.
  • Dogs welcome all year at Abbotsbury Beach to the Tank Teeth Boundary. Restrictions apply neat The Fleet lagoon to protect wildlife.
  • No lifeguards at this beach.

West Bexington Beach

  • Shingle beach. Bathing can be dangerous. Beach shelves steeply with a strong under-tow. Large waves can happen.
  • The Beach car park (78 spaces).
  • Toilets set back from western side of car park.
  • 4 Accessible parking spaces. Car park has good views. No matting or walkways on beach. Accessible toilets.
  • Dogs welcome all year within a designated area.
  • No lifeguards at this beach.

Cogden Beach

  • Shingle beach. Bathing can be dangerous. Beach shelves steeply with a strong under-tow. Large waves can happen.
  • Small National Trust car park. Access to beach via a sloping footpath across a field (5-10 minute walk).
  • No toilets.
  • No toilets. Sea and beach can be viewed from parking area with picnic tables. Parking charges do not apply to blue badge holders.
  • Dogs welcome all year, off lead.
  • No lifeguards at this beach.

Hive Beach (Burton Bradstock)

  • Shingle beach. Bathing can be dangerous. Beach shelves steeply with a strong under-tow. Large waves can happen. Stay away from cliffs - danger of rockfalls.
  • ​National Trust (Hive Beach) car park adjacent to beach.
  • Toilets open when Hive Beach café open.
  • 8 Accessible parking spaces. Parking charges do not apply to blue badge holders. Grassy area overlooking beach is accessible. Accessible picnic bench. Accessible toilets.
  • Dogs welcome all year at dog friendly area. No dogs on main beach from 1 June - 30 September.
  • No lifeguards at this beach.

West Bay

  • Shingle beaches. West Beach more family friendly. West Beach - often used for bathing. East Beach - bathing can be dangerous. Stay away from the cliffs due to rockfalls.
  • ​Numerous car parks - some adjacent to beach.
  • Toilets with baby changing at various locations.
  • Accessible parkingAccessible toilets. Ramps to parts of West Beach but no matting. Accessible picnic benches on eastern Esplanade. Accessible children's play area next to West Bay Road car park (long stay).
  • Dogs welcome at West Beach on the section separated by the rock groyne. No dogs on the main part of West Beach or East Beach from 1 May to 30 September.
  • Lifeguard patrols at East Beach, 10 July to 5 September 2021 between 10am and 6pm.

Eype Beach

  • Shingle beach. Bathing can be dangerous. Beach shelves steeply with a strong under-tow. Large waves can happen. Stay away from cliffs due to rockfalls.
  • ​Small car park accessed via single track lane. Extra parking at rest area by A35 turning with 15 minute walk down to beach.
  • No toilets.
  • No toilets. Steep steps to beach. Sea and beach can be viewed from cliff top parking area.
  • Dogs welcome all year, off lead.
  • No lifeguards at this beach.

Seatown Beach

  • Pebble and shingle beach. Bathing can be dangerous. Beach shelves steeply with a strong under-tow. Large waves can happen. Stay away from cliffs due to rockfalls.
  • ​Large car park adjacent to beach.
  • Toilets on beach front, next to pub.
  • No accessible toilets. Compacted gravel car park but no easy access to beach.
  • From 1 May to 30 September dogs are not allowed on beach.
  • No lifeguards at this beach.

Charmouth Beach

  • Pebble and sand beach. Always follow the fossil collecting code. Often used for bathing, depending on weather conditions. Risk of mudslides and mud. Risk of being cut off by tides. Danger of falling rocks.
  • ​Three car parks with short walk to beach.
  • Toilets behind Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre.
  • RADAR key accessible toilet. Promenade suitable for wheelchairs. Access to grassy picnic area with benches across wooden bridge.
  • Dogs welcome off lead on East Beach all year. At West Beach dogs not allowed from 1 May to 30 September.
  • No lifeguards at this beach.

Lyme Regis Beaches

  • Monmouth Beach is a pebble beach. Front Beach is pebble and sand. East cliff is pebbly and known for fossils. Always follow the fossil collecting code. Front beach - Often used for bathing, depending on weather conditions.  Monmouth beach - bathing can be dangerous. Tides can cut off access between Lyme Regis and Charmouth.
  • Monmouth Beach and Cabanya car parks are two minutes from the beaches, on the flat. Holmbush (393 spaces) and Charmouth Road (386 spaces) are long stay car parks with a 10 minute walk down a steep hill.
  • Multiple public toilets with baby changing facilities along beach front and in car parks.
  • Dogs welcome all year, off lead on East Cliff Beach, Church Cliff Beach and Monmouth Beach. No dogs on Front Beach (sandy beach) and Cobb Beach (shingle beach) from 1 May to 30 September.
  • Lifeguard patrols at Front Beach from 10 July to 5 September 2021, between 10am and 6pm.