Beach Activities

Dorset offers a range of beaches from bustling resorts to remote quiet coves.

Dorset is the perfect location for a day at the beach as it has over 50 beaches, many of which are sandy and/or dog friendly. The most popular beaches are at Christchurch, Bournemouth, Poole, Sandbanks, Studland, Swanage, Weymouth, West Bay, Charmouth and Lyme Regis. Beaches are great if you want to relax on your own with a book, or have fun with friends and family by swimming, making sand sculptures, playing beach cricket or even enjoying a beach BBQ at one of Dorset’s many BBQ friendly beaches.

Take notice of warning signs along the coast. Stay well away from cliffs and mudflows at all times and beware of quicksand.

What do I need?

You can use the iCoast map to find out what the weather, the tides and the water quality will be like before you go to the beach. You can also find out what facilities are at each beach location.  Once you have sussed out the weather you can see whether you need to take sun cream/sun hats or wet weather/cold weather gear.

When is the best time to do it?

Beaches in Dorset can be enjoyed all year round, whether you go for a winter beach stroll, watching the stormy waves crashing in, or relaxing in the sun on a summer’s day.  Some beaches are good for fossil hunting while others have rockpools where you can go exploring.


Beach BBQ

There are a few beaches in Dorset with specific areas where there are either BBQ facilities or where it is permitted to have a BBQ. There is a Beach BBQ layer on the iCoast map that gives you the locations of BBQ friendly beaches and some more detailed information below.
  • Weymouth BBQ's are not advised on Weymouth Beach, but there are allocated BBQ areas in the Nothe Gardens and also at Lodmoor Country Park. Beach BBQ are also welcome at Redcliff Beach near Weymouth.
  • Bournemouth Bournemouth has four designated Beach BBQ sites between Alum Chine and Southbourne that can be used. You do need to fill in an application form if you want to hold a BBQ for more than 30 people at one of these sites, find out more and download the application form.
  • Poole If you have a group of up to 12 people then you can hold a BBQ on any of Poole’s beaches without having to seek any special permission but you do need to follow a few terms and conditions. At the Western end of Sandbanks there is an area set aside for BBQs with tables and metal bins so you can dispose any hot ash.  If there are more than 13 people in your group then you need to fill in a BBQ request form and it needs to be held at the Western end of Sandbanks Beach. Find out more and download the application form.
  • Studland Bay The National Trust have provided several BBQ friendly sites along the beaches in Studland Bay – the location of these sites can be seen on the iCoast map.

When you enjoy your Beach BBQ please leave the beach as you would like to find it.  Please dispose of a disposable BBQ by letting it cool (speed up cooling by pouring sea water over it), then disposing of the BBQ and all other rubbish safely. Also remember when you have a BBQ think about how your BBQ is impacting on other beach users, if it is smoking everyone out and you are playing loud music then you won't make many friends.


Dogs on the beach

  • There are many beaches on the Dorset Coast where dogs are allowed all year round, some where dogs are allowed during the winter months only and some beaches that have special dog exercise areas. The locations of all of these can be found on the iCoast map.
  • If taking your dog on the beach please remember to clean up after them and keep a close eye on them just in case there are young children around or people enjoying picnics.

Beach volleyball

Boscombe and Toft Steps have three permanent volley ball courts that are free to use to the general public, but you can pay to use a court for exclusive use. You can book online at:

Code of conduct

Watch out for wildlife

  • If you want to go rockpooling while you are at the beach then find out how you can do it without disturbing the rockpool wildlife by looking at the Rockpooling activity page.
  • Report live strandings of cetaceans, and injured/entangled marine mammals to British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) on 01825 765546 (24 hours). Report all other live injured or entangled animals to RSPCA 08705 555999
Watch out for other users
  • Beaches are great because there are so many different things you can do at them. Help everyone enjoy their time at the beach by looking out for other users and sharing the beach.

Watch out for the environment

  • Take home all your rubbish – discard rubbish found in the sea or on beaches spoils peoples experience of the Dorset coast, can harm marine creatures and birds and can be a hindrance to fishermen with litter getting tangled up in their nets.  Find out more about Marine litter in Dorset.

 Staying safe

The RNLI have a detailed guide to beach safety. Follow these simple steps to stay safe:

  • If you are planning on swimming or surfing when you are at the beach then visit the iCoast activity pages to find out how you can do this in a fun and safe way.
  • Check the weather and tides – if you are planning to walk along the beach when the tide is out then make sure you know when tide is coming back in again; otherwise your path back might be blocked by a headland.
  • Be sun smart
    • Always wear SPF factor 30 and above waterproof sun cream. Reapply frequently.
    • Drink plenty of fluids as you dehydrate faster while exercising.
    • Consider taking a rest and seeking shade during the hottest part of the day.


Inflatable toys are enjoyable to use in the sea while you are at the beach but currents and tides can mean that they are very dangerous because there is a chance you can get swept out to sea. The RNLI strongly advise against inflatable’s in the sea but state that if you do want to use them then always do it at a lifeguarded beach, in between the red and yellow flags and always tie them to the shore.



Explore the Dorset coast with iCoast