As England’s first natural UNESCO World Heritage Site, Dorset’s Jurassic Coast ranks among the globe’s top natural wonders, with the likes of the Galapagos Islands and Victoria Falls for company. Spanning 95 miles, there is plenty for holidaymakers to explore, and a surprising diversity amongst its many beautiful beaches.
From royal bathing spots, to stunning coves and finding fossilised shells amongst the shingle, there’s a wealth of seaside experiences to suit anyone!
If lazy days lounging in the sunshine sounds like your idea of fun, then Weymouth Beach should be highlighted on your holiday itinerary. Famed for its royal connection to King George III, who often bathed here, the three-miles of gently sloping sand gives way to calm, shallow water that is ideal for paddling.
Located next to Weymouth’s bustling Esplanade, identified by its brightly coloured Jubilee Clock, there is the usual assortment of beach attractions for visitors to entertain themselves with. From Punch and Judy shows and donkey rides to more active events, including volleyball tournaments, live music and even the occasional firework display, there is something for everyone. And in the quieter months, you can make the most of the extra space and take your dog for a stroll on the sand.
One of the wonders of the southern coastline, Lulworth Cove is a stunning natural beauty spot that attracts thousands of visitors every year. Formed over centuries by sea water eroding the various bands of rock at differing speeds, the cove is a popular place for people to moor their boat and go for a dip.
There is a large visitors’ car park and the shingle beach offers a route to the water. Many holidaymakers choose to follow the path, over the hill, which leads to the equally striking Durdle Door. This limestone arch, which juts out into the sea like the tail of a sea serpent, rises high enough for certain sailing boats to pass through it. The beach here is recommended for its excellent quality of water, but beware the steeply shelving shingles. The beauty of the site has not gone unnoticed by filmmakers and it has formed a backdrop for music videos and motion pictures alike!
Named as the ‘best beach in Dorset’ by our local photography expert, Andy Farrer, who spent his childhood summers playing in the sand, Swanage beach has won numerous European Blue Flag awards. A great location for soaking up some sun, you can hire a deck chair and while away the day with a book and a sea breeze. If you want some shade and a place for storage, the colourful beach huts, which are available for hire, prove a popular, comfortable seaside base..
For landlubbers, amusements line the promenade and there are restaurants and cafés within easy reach. And if you’d like to hit the waves, there is a range of water sports activities to choose from, such as sailing, water skiing, windsurfing and more!
For those really wanting to make the most of the Jurassic Coast, a trip to Charmouth Beach is a must. Here, buckets and spades do more than build sandcastles! The beach is famous around the world for its fossils, and thousands of visitors arrive every year in search of a prehistoric souvenir. Hammering on the bedrock and cliffs is strictly prohibited, but the multitude of ammonites that rest in the shingles means that you shouldn’t have to work hard to find your relics!
While wind and rain may not be conventional coastal break conditions, Charmouth Beach can actually benefit from wintry conditions, as it tends to unearth more fossils. To learn the best way of finding fossils for yourself, it is advisable to join one of the guided tours that operate regularly throughout peak months. Local expert, Katie Davies, from the Moors Valley Country Park and Forest, views the fossil hunting at Charmouth Beach as one of the gems of the region and a unique experience for holidaymakers.
The expanse of dunes and heathland at Studland Beach is a brilliant exhibition of Dorset’s signature landscape. While the golden sand and gently shelving sea makes a welcoming home for bathers, the beach is better known as a haven for water sports. A great vantage point, there are far-reaching views from the beach, with Old Harry Rocks and the Isle of Wight within eye line of the shore.
If you’re a wildlife lover, then this is also the place for you. A protected Site of Special Scientific Interest, the area is home to all six of the UK’s native reptiles and you can follow designated trails through the sands and woodlands in search of insects, birds, wild flowers and deer!