Beautiful Beaches in Dorset

Beautiful Beaches in Dorset

Running for nearly 100 miles from Bournemouth to Lyme Regis, the Dorset coast is a thing of beauty. Embodying millions of years of history, its Jurassic coastline and geological wonders capture the imagination, while its sandy beaches and pebbled shores draw the eye and steal the heart. Carved with world-famous natural formations, sprinkled with prehistoric fossils and lapped by sapphire seas, it is decorated with the kind of coastalscapes that cement themselves in the memory and beckon for return trips time after time. 

Helping you to select the very best places to visit during your trip to the county, we’ve picked out some of the most beautiful beaches in Dorset. 

Lulworth Cove

Lulworth Cove with boats bobbing on calm waters in the summertime

Next door to Durdle Door is the stunningly beautiful Lulworth Cove. One of the best places to visit in Dorset for unique activities, the cove itself encompasses a huge natural harbour protected by limestone headlands. Formed countless years ago when the sea broke through a weakness in the cliffs, the cove these days provides welcome sanctuary for everyone from sailors to bathers looking to enjoy its crystal-clear, sheltered waters. Particularly popular with watersports, it lends itself wonderfully to swimming, paddleboarding and kayaking in summer when the tranquil, crystalline sea calms and forms a glassy top ready for leisure and play.

Man O’ War Beach

A dramatic view of Man O'War Beach in Dorset

On the same section of coast as Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove, Man O’ War beach is a picture-perfect cove shouldered by towering cliffs. Accessed via a long coast path, it is a little harder to reach than some of its neighbouring coves and draws those looking for blissful adventures off the beaten track. Being out of the way, this beach does not have lifeguard cover or facilities close by, but this makes it all the more appealing for those wilderness days nestled on the shingle. With hampers brimming with treats and your favourite page turner at the ready, Man O’ War is especially beautiful in summer when the beaming sun warms the shore.

West Bay

The golden cliff faces of West Bay in Dorset, with beach and sea below

“The Golden Gateway to the Jurassic Coast”, West Bay at the mouth of the River Brit near Bridport has to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Dorset. Overlooked by dramatic golden cliffs that shimmer in the sunlight, it boasts incredible aesthetics that have won over countless beach dreamers over the years and saw it used as the backdrop for notable TV drama Broadchurch. For beachside moments, explore West Bay’s two shores (West Beach and East Beach) and soak up the setting. If you’re feeling energetic afterwards, you can follow a steep path up onto the cliffs, heading west towards Golden Cap or east towards Chesil Beach.  

Seatown Beach

A distant view of Seatown from the surrounding cliffs in Dorset

Just 3 miles from West Bay, Seatown near Chideock is a coastal hamlet met by a shelving, shingly beach. Privately owned, this peaceful haven lends itself wonderfully to laidback summer picnics and blustery winter walks - although its steep banks mean it’s not considered safe for swimming. With a quieter feel than some of the larger Dorset beaches, this Jurassic beauty has endless appeal and radiates a special kind of atmosphere. Take a spot on the beach and let your mind drift as the waves lap the shore, imagining a time more than a century ago when smugglers would arrive on the shore by rowing boat, ready to land their illegal contraband under starlight.

Lyme Regis

Lots of boats on the water in Lyme Regis with a view of the town in the background

Lyme Regis is etched with a number of beautiful beaches that make it a real hit with beach fans. Known as the Jewel of Dorset, the town’s colourful cottages, welcoming atmosphere and gorgeous views combine to create an idyllic destination throughout the year. Especially inviting for carefree days on the coast is Monmouth Beach. Situated on the far side of Lyme Regis’ Cobb (harbour wall), this pebbly gem happens to be one of the best places for fossil hunting in the South West. Home to an ammonite pavement, it is well-known for its fascinating finds, revealing a glimpse into the life of the town’s residents some 200 million years ago.

Studland Bay

A sunset view over Studland Bay with boats silhouetted on the horizon

With pearly white dunes quilted in marram grass and gorgeous views of the Old Harry Rocks sea stacks, the Studland Peninsula is already a firm favourite for beach days. Complete with 4 miles of sandy beaches to choose from, it is simply irresistible. Found at the tip of Studland, Shell Bay is a particular head-turner, offering a year-round dog-friendly beach that beckons for exploration and relaxation throughout the seasons. Served by the Michelin-recommended Shell Bay seafood restaurant, as well as lots of facilities in nearby Poole, it promises the best of all worlds for those looking for hearty doses of wilderness without having to stray too far from conveniences.

Sandbanks Beach

A view of the houses, sand dunes and sandy beach of Sandbanks in Dorset with the sea on a calm summer's day

Sandbanks Beach is an iconic destination in Dorset known for its golden sand, Blue Flag waters and spectacular views. Whether your idea of beach heaven is fine dining by the shore, paddleboarding under the sun or lounging on the sand with your latest read, Sandbanks Beach has something for everyone. Especially tempting for families, it benefits from lifeguard service in summer and boasts a whole array of things to see and do, including crazy golf, play areas, watersports lessons, equipment hire and more. It’s also renowned for its inviting eateries, including Rick Stein and Lazy Jacks - a heavenly way to round off those salt-kissed moments on the beach.

Alum Chine

A group practicing  yoga by the shore on Alum Chine beach in Dorset

A Blue Flag award-winning beach, Alum Chine Beach in Bournemouth is popular with locals and visitors alike. Carpeted in a wide, sandy shore, it’s backed by rows of multi-coloured beach huts and divided by wooden groynes that jut out into the sea. Wander along the seafront or find a quiet spot on the beach to savour moments in your own reverie. Or, for some family-friendly entertainment, explore the nearby tropical gardens and attractions (including a pirate-themed playground for children), pausing at one of the ice cream kiosks as you go to choose delicious scoops of your favourite sweet treat.

Kimmeridge Bay

A dramatic view of Kimmeridge Bay from the rocky midshore with clouds above

Set within a marine Special Area of Conservation, Kimmeridge Bay is a magnet for all generations of adventurers. Known for its Wild Seas Centre and unique geology, it provides something to see at every turn - but be warned, this isn’t your typical bathing beach as there’s very little sand in the bay. If you’re looking for adventure, meander over to this jaw-dropping spot to revel in its natural beauty and make the most of all there is to do. In summer, snorkelling is a really wonderful activity that can be enjoyed here, while when the wind picks up in the shoulder months, surfing and windsurfing are high on the agenda.

Chesil Beach

A bird's eye view of Chesil Beach, an 18-mile long beach in Dorset

One of our favourite places to picnic in West Dorset, Chesil Beach is an 18-mile stretch of pebble and shingle that stretches from West Bay to Portland. The longest beach in the country, it forms part of the world-famous Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site and is made up of smooth, rounded stones that range from tens to hundreds of millions of years old. A natural barrier between Fleet Lagoon and the sea, it is surrounded by wildlife-rich waters and Site of Special Scientific Interest that set a gorgeous backdrop for walks. To make the most of this quiet gargantuan stretch, pack a picnic, bundle up a blanket and set off for halcyon days by the shore.

Durdle Door

A view of Durdle Door archway and the surrounding sea on a calm day with tranquil waters

Durdle Door is one of the most instantly recognisable locations in not just Dorset but the UK. Famed for its stunning limestone archway that frames the sea beyond, this UNESCO World Heritage Site exudes natural beauty and is a real Dorset highlight. If you’ve never been before, you can access its pebble beach via a walk from the nearby car park in Lulworth Estate or along the South West Coast Path from neighbouring Lulworth Cove. With a reasonable walk of around 15 minutes from the car park (plus another 143 steps down to the beach), it requires a little effort to get down to, but is well worth the energy if you can.

Ready to explore beautiful beaches in Dorset? Take a look at our collection of luxury cottages.


Sign up to receive our boutique stories…

Stay connected with retreat magic and be the first to know about our new additions. We promise to only fill your inbox with the dreamiest staycation stories and luxury travel moments.