With its picturesque coastline, golden sandy shores, and an abundance of activities, Dorset offers a myriad of options for families to create unforgettable memories. In this blog post, we will explore the top 10 family-friendly beaches in Dorset where sun, sand, and endless fun await!
Weymouth Beach is a firm favourite among families; its shallow waters and soft sand makes it perfect for little ones to paddle and build sandcastles. The bustling promenade offers a variety of entertainments that are ideal for children including donkey rides, Punch & Judy, mini-golf, and the fascinating SEA LIFE Centre. A short stroll from the main beach is the picturesque harbour where you can enjoy a sunset stroll and fish and chip supper and watch as the boats come in for the evening.
Another popular beach for families is Knoll Beach at Studland, a stunning stretch of golden sand with views out to Old Harry Rocks. The beach is backed by rolling sand dunes, perfect for exploring and spotting sand lizards and the sheltered bay offers calm, clear waters for watersports. Families can enjoy hot and cold refreshments from Knoll Beach Café and the National Trust run fun activities for children during the school holidays.
Swanage is a family-friendly beach offering safe swimming conditions and a traditional seaside atmosphere. Deck chairs, ice cream vendors, fish and chip restaurants and amusement arcades line the promenade, while the historic Swanage Pier provides a fantastic spot for crabbing. With the Swanage Railway situated a 5 min walk from the beach, there’s also the option to enjoy a nostalgic trip to Corfe Castle on the steam train.
Chesil Beach, Weymouth
Stretching for 18 miles, Chesil Beach is a haven for families interested in coastal wildlife. It offers stunning panoramic views over towards Portland and is perfect for long walks, beachcombing, and birdwatching. The Wild Chesil Centre run by the Dorset Wildlife Trust provides educational exhibits for curious minds, a gift shop and light refreshments, as well as activities during the holidays. During the spring and summer months, you can also take a boat trip on the Fleet Explorer.
Boasting not one but FOUR beaches, Lyme Regis is a pretty seaside town where children can enjoy building sandcastles, exploring rock pools, flying kites and hunting for fossils on some of the most fossil-rich sands in the UK. There’s a variety of family-friendly activities on offer as well including boat trips, fossil hunting tours, mini golf, the Town Mill, Aquarium and Lyme Regis Museum, all the ingredients for an unforgettable day out.
Avon Beach in Christchurch is a firm favourite with young families. This small, sandy beach is backed by pastel-coloured beach huts (available to hire) and offers beautiful views of the Isle of Wight. There is a dedicated watersports section just by the car park so bring along your kayak or paddle board and work up an appetite before enjoying seafood and cocktails (for the grown ups!) at the beachside Noisy Lobster restaurant.
Alum Chine Beach
Quieter than its larger neighbour, Bournemouth, Alum Chine is a Blue Flag Beach that’s a hit with young families due to its pirate-themed large adventure playground, toilets with baby changing facilities, lost children centres, RNLI lifeguard stations, pubs and ice cream kiosks. Children will delight at waving to the land train which drives past frequently on the promenade from Bournemouth Pier to Alum Chine Beach and exploring the tropical gardens.
This charming fishing village of West Bay is a hot-spot for families all year round with its delightful combination of striking golden cliffs, beach, and harbourside kiosks. Enjoy fishing, crabbing, or take a thrilling boat trip along the stunning Jurassic Coast. There are also plenty of cafes and seafood restaurants to satisfy appetites and a brilliant play area by the car park, which is also wheelchair friendly.
Lulworth Cove, another captivating gem along the Jurassic Coast, is a must-visit for families. The sheltered cove provides safe swimming conditions, and children can explore rock pools teeming with marine life. If you’re feeling active, you can also hike along the cliffs over to Durdle Door and enjoy the panoramic sea views.
Considered one of the best beaches in Britain, Sandbanks has won the prestigious Blue Flag award more than any other UK resort. The beach has soft, golden sands and breath-taking views. Sandbanks boasts some great facilities with a large and challenging crazy-golf course situated behind the beach as well as mini golf course. There's also a children's play area with climbing, swings, sand diggers and sensory play area.
Dorset's coastline is a popular location for visitors to enjoy and explore and the majority of visits are incident free, however, it’s important to use common sense and caution to ensure your safety when visiting the coast.
Make sure your family watch and share our short film below, where our CoastWise friends explain how to stay safe at the beach, while still having fun!