The 18 best beaches in Dorset

Dorset is a beloved county in the southwest of England renowned for its stunning coastline and incredible beaches. From dramatic cliffs and rock formations to golden sands and shingle shorelines, the best beaches in Dorset offer something for everyone who visits on their trip.


Here, we'll explore some of the most beautiful and diverse Dorset beaches you can experience on your holiday – whether it be a family getaway or even a solo adventure you embark on. Get ready to discover Weymouth Beach's pristine surroundings and the secluded luxury of Man O' War Beach. Whatever type of holiday you're looking for, these top 20 best beaches in Dorset are bound to give you more than you could want – sand, shingles, and everything in between. So, let's start digging into the top picks!

The most beautiful Dorset beaches

Let's start our list by looking at the best beaches in Dorset, known for their sheer beauty and scenic delight. When it comes to beach holidays, many of us tend to picture the type of surroundings you'd see in paintings, photographs, and holiday brochures that show off the magic of Dorset. And with these best Dorset beaches, you'll find just that:

Durdle Door Beach image

Durdle Door Beach

When you think of the best beaches in Dorset or locations, Durdle Door most often comes to mind. Durdle Door is one of the most iconic and photographed landmarks on the Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The breathtaking beach features a massive natural limestone arch carved out of the cliffs by the relentless force of the sea over thousands of years.

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Lulworth Cove image

Lulworth Cove

Just a short distance from Durdle Door Beach lies Lulworth Cove. This near-circular natural cove is a famous geological marvel formed by rock erosion over millions of years. What that means for you is to experience the wonders of nature and one of the best beaches in Dorset. Surrounded by dramatic cliffs, the sheltered cove features a shingle beach and calm waters perfect for swimming.

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Man O' War Beach image

Man O' War Beach

Man O' War Beach is another gem found on the Jurassic Coast. Towering cliffs flank this shingle beach, which offers stunning views of the iconic Durdle Door arch in the distance—so you can get an eyeful of Dorset's famous landmarks from multiple spots! It's a popular place for experienced swimmers and adventurous beachgoers who want an unforgettable experience.

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Sandbanks Beach image

Sandbanks Beach

Take a trip to Sandbanks Beach to enjoy the long stretch of golden sand located in Poole, one of the best beaches in Dorset for families of all ages. This Blue Flag beach boasts excellent facilities, including cafes, shops, and parking. With its gentle waves and shallow waters, it's a perfect spot for swimming, sunbathing, and enjoying various water sports.

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Worbarrow Bay image

Worbarrow Bay

Magnificent cliffs surround this stunning bay, which features a shingle beach with crystal-clear waters stretching as far as the eye can see. It's a popular spot for swimming, snorkelling, and exploring rock pools during low tide. Due to its remote location, Worbarrow Bay is often less crowded than other Dorset beaches, making it ideal for escaping to solitude and tranquillity.

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Kimmeridge Bay image

Kimmeridge Bay

This dramatic bay is known for its distinctive rock formations, which look like large tiles or stepping stones. This shingle beach has a rich geological history that can be explored when you visit. The bay is a popular spot for fossil hunting, rock pooling, and exploring the nearby coastal paths, which provide a scenic walk with photo-worthy views.

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The best Dorset sandy beaches

Families looking for the best beaches in Dorset will likely want to know where they can find the top beaches of different types. Therefore, let's now take a look at some of the best sandy beaches in Dorset that are perfect for walks along the soft sand and adventurous sandcastle competitions:

Swanage Beach image

Swanage Beach

Swanage Beach is a magnificent sandy beach located in the charming town of Swanage. This long stretch of golden sand is backed by a classic seaside promenade lined with everything you'd expect – beach huts, cafes, and shops. The gentle waves and shallow waters make it a perfect spot for families with young children, while the more adventurous can enjoy a variety of water sports.

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Shell Bay – Studland image

Shell Bay – Studland

At the Studland Peninsula's tip, Shell Bay is a sandy beach known for its pristine waters and beautiful natural surroundings. This Blue Flag beach is backed by dunes that add to the stunning nature of the beach, and you'll find a range of excellent facilities, including beach cafes and shops. It's a popular spot for sunbathing and swimming.

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Weymouth Beach image

Weymouth Beach

Weymouth Beach is one of Dorset's most famous and best beaches, attracting visitors worldwide. This vast expanse of golden sand is backed by a lively promenade where you can find different shops, restaurants, and attractions. With its gentle waves and shallow waters, Weymouth Beach is perfect for families and offers many activities, such as beach sports and water sports.

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Knoll Beach – Studland image

Knoll Beach – Studland

Dunes, crystal-clear waters, and stunning views of Old Harry Rocks in the distance back to this sandy beach. It tends to be much quieter than the Shell Bay alternative in Studland so that you can choose between a lively adventure or blissful relaxation. The beach is great for swimming and sunbathing, and you can also explore the nearby nature reserve from here.

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Bournemouth Beach image

Bournemouth Beach

Bournemouth Beach is one of the most iconic and best sandy beaches in Dorset. It is known for its golden sands and bustling atmosphere. This long stretch of beach provides many shops, restaurants, and attractions to suit all ages and preferences. You can enjoy sunbathing and swimming, or why not try your hand at some water sports?

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Front Beach – Lyme Regis image

Front Beach – Lyme Regis

Head down to Front Beach in Lyme Regis for a charming sandy beach in this historic town's heart. The iconic Cobb Harbour backs this Blue Flag beach and offers views of the Jurassic Coast. Gentle waves and shallow waters complement the sandy beach, so it's a perfect spot for families and those seeking a traditional seaside experience. The beach is also popular for fossil hunting.

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The best shingle beaches in Dorset

After looking at the best sandy beaches in Dorset, it's only fitting to delve into some of the best shingle Dorset beaches too. Here are some of our favourites for you to visit on your trip:

Chesil Beach image

Chesil Beach

Chesil Beach is a remarkable 18-mile shingle stretch stretching from Portland to West Bay. This unique beach is one of the best shingle beaches in Dorset and a true geological wonder to behold. The beach is near the historic village of West Bexington, which is a great place to visit after your beach session to soak up some culture.

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Monmouth Beach – Lyme Regis image

Monmouth Beach – Lyme Regis

Another shingle beach in Dorset is Monmouth Beach, located in the historic town of Lyme Regis. This small beach is situated at the mouth of the River Lym, so you can take in all the stunning views. For those who want a more active time on their holiday, Monmouth Beach is also a great starting point for coastal walks and offers easy access to the town's amenities.

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Alum Chine Beach image

Alum Chine Beach

Alum Chine Beach is a fantastic shingle beach located in Bournemouth. This beach is known for its distinctive black and white shingle and stunning natural surroundings, so you can experience one of Dorset's unique beaches up close. The beach is also home to many colourful beach huts and offers easy access to Bournemouth's nearby attractions and amenities.

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Bowleaze Cove image

Bowleaze Cove

Towering cliffs surround this small cove and offer great fun for families who want a day out together. Along with the standard swimming and sunbathing activities, you can also explore the ruins of a Roman temple, which can be found at Jordan Hill. Bowleaze Cove is often less crowded than other Dorset beaches, making it a perfect retreat for those seeking a more peaceful time.

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West Bay Beach image

West Bay Beach

West Bay Beach is a beautiful shingle beach in the picturesque village of West Bay. While you're there, you may even recognise the stunning cliffs, which have been featured in numerous films and TV shows, including the popular series Broadchurch. You'll see the extensive formation of cliffs from where they start and then move up so you can walk briskly up the giant hill they form.

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Hengistbury Head Beach image

Hengistbury Head Beach

This beach is situated within the Hengistbury Head Nature Reserve and is a popular spot for walking, beachcombing, and exploring the nearby coastal paths and wildlife habitats. One special thing about Hengistbury Head Beach is that you can see stunning views of the Isle of Wight and The Needles. The beach is also known for its excellent kitesurfing and windsurfing conditions.

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Dorset beaches FAQs

Here are our most frequently asked questions surrounding the best beaches in Dorset!

Are there any sandy beaches in Dorset?

Yes, Dorset is home to several beautiful sandy beaches, including:

  • Bournemouth Beach
  • Weymouth Beach
  • Swanage Beach
  • Shell Bay – Studland

These beaches offer golden sands, gentle waves, and excellent facilities, making them perfect for families and beach lovers.

What are the blue flag beaches in Dorset?

Several beaches in Dorset have been awarded the prestigious Blue Flag title, and some of the best Blue Flag beaches in Dorset include:

  • Sandbanks Beach
  • Shell Bay – Studland
  • Front Beach – Lyme Regis.

You can view the complete list of 2024 Blue Flag beaches here.

What is the large shingle beach in Dorset, UK?

Chesil Beach is a large shingle beach in Dorset, UK. This remarkable 18-mile stretch of shingle runs from Portland to West Bay and is considered one of the most unique and impressive shingle beaches in the world.

Is Lulworth Cove sand or shingle beach?

Lulworth Cove is a shingle beach. This iconic natural cove is beautiful, surrounded by dramatic cliffs and featuring a shingle beach and calm waters. The scenic atmosphere makes this beach popular for swimming and exploring the Jurassic Coast.

Could include photos of some of the beaches mentioned in the FAQs – Chesil Beach or Lulworth Cove, for example.

Discover the best beaches in Dorset for your trip

With its stunning natural beauty, diverse landscapes, and rich history, Dorset is a true paradise for beach lovers. From the Jurassic Coast's dramatic cliffs and rock formations to the golden sands and shingle shores, you're spoiled for choice when looking for the best beaches in Dorset. Dorset beaches offer something for everyone from shingle to sand and from adventure to tranquillity.

Book your next holiday and prepare to be captivated by the breathtaking scenery that makes Dorset one of the most beautiful beach destinations in the UK!

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