Most people’s idea of a trip to Bournemouth is to visit Bournemouth Beach. The ten mile stretch of sand along Bournemouth Bay has many beaches, but the jewel in the crown is Bournemouth Beach. The beach is split, by Bournemouth Pier into East (Cliff) Beach and West (Cliff) Beach. These beaches tend to get far busier than their neighbours, but have plenty of dining and entertainment options to add to the fun of a trip to the seaside. There are also plenty of accommodation options on the cliffs lining the beach, for those after more than a day trip.
By car, Bournemouth is accessed via the A338/A35. Bournemouth Station and Bus Station are 1.5 miles away from the main beach. There are regular buses (4,5,5a,6a) between the stations and Bournemouth Pier.
The main access point is from the centre of town via Pier Approach. There are further access points from the cliff top either side via West Cliff Zigzag to the west and East Cliff Zigzag and Toff Zigzag to the east.
There are Victorian Cliff Lifts at both East Cliff and West Cliff. These funicular railways, linking the beach to the many hotels etc on the cliff top, were built in 1908. The lift at East Cliff closed in 2016 after a landslide and is yet to reopen. The West Cliff Lift is still in operation. It runs daily from 1st April until 31st October, between 10 am and 5 pm. A ticket costs £2. There is a weekly (£12.50) and seasonal (£40) option.
The Land Train operates between Bournemouth and Alum Chine and between Bournemouth and Boscombe. Trains run from 1st April until 31st October, between 10 am and 5 pm. A single ticket costs £4, or an unlimited ticket costs £7.50.
There are several car parks near the beach. The closest is probably Bath Road North. Fees are seasonal, costing from £1.90 to £3 for an hour. Further details can be found here. There is also roadside parking on East Overcliff Drive which costs £1.20 for an hour.
The beaches either side of Bournemouth Pier are sandy. East Beach, also known as East Cliff Beach, is a popular beach which stretches for 1.5 miles from east of Bournemouth Pier to Boscombe. It’s a busy beach with many bars, restaurants, amusements, and entertainment . The equally popular West or West Cliff Beach stretches for 1.5 miles from west of Bournemouth Pier to Durley Chine Beach. It’s also a busy beach with many bars, restaurants and amusements.
Food and Drink
There are plenty of dining options along Bournemouth sea front. Some are permanent, others seasonal. This is (hopefully) a comprehensive list, running from east to west.
Bayside Restaurant is a beachside pop-up restaurant only open during August and September situated in, and I quote; “an astonishing tent that offers a breezy experience.” With high prices and an unadventurous vegetarian menu, I think I shall give this one a miss, astonishing tent or not…
El Murrino Beachside Kitchen
El Murrino is an Italian restaurant based in the city centre. It has a summer beachside pop up restaurant called El Murrino Beachside Kitchen (opening at the end of May) offering pizza, burgers and drinks. It also has a VIP cabana, children’s play area and sun loungers.
Iconic Fish & Chips Restaurant Harry Ramsden’s is on the prom, close to the pier. It has a dine in restaurant and take away. Seating 420, the restaurant boasts being one of the largest Fish & Chip restaurants in the world. Vegetarians have the option of salad or veggie pie of the day. Be prepared to queue during peak time. And if you opt for takeaway, watch out for seagulls!
The Prom Cafe is yet another place on Bournemouth seafront to buy burgers. It also offers breakfast, sandwiches and ice cream.
Proper Cornish is a stall on the east side of the pier selling pasties and pies.
Restaurant/bar/club Aruba has a short food menu and a long drinks menu. It offers plenty of entertainment, plus a popular bottomless brunch at weekends. Aruba also has a summer beachside extension; Sunset Beach.
Key West is at the end of the pier. It has a comprehensive food menu for adults, humans and dogs and an equally comprehensive drinks menu. It also hosts a wide range of entertainment for both adults and children.
Specialising in pizza downstairs with an upstairs restaurant, Hot Rocks closed in 2021 due to a fire. The ground floor pizza area is now operating, but not the internal restaurant.
West Beach offers a menu focused on seafood. There are no vegetarian options on the main menu. It has some interesting art work on the exterior and a take away shack.
W Beach is West Beach’s summer pop up, open from April. It offers a bar menu focusing on drinks, plus a few food options – mainly pizza.
The Beach Hut
The Beach Hut is a pop-up on the west end of the beach.
There are several toilet blocks along the beach. The block under the pier has been painted by local artist Paint Shop Studio.
The Focal Point of Bournemouth Beach is the Victorian Bournemouth Pier; a tourist attraction in its own right, with amusements, a restaurant and Rock Reef (climbing, slides and zipwire).
Just west of the pier is the Oceanarium which houses sea creatures, a marine research laboratory and children’s play area.
Happylands Amusements is a traditional seaside amusement arcade on the prom just west of the pier.
On Pier Approach is an Observation Wheel for a bird’s eye view of Bournemouth and Bournemouth Bay.
WHO DARES GYMS
Who Dares Gyms is a beach front gym which offers exercise equipment and Boot Camp style classes as well as yoga.
The iconic image of a trip to Bournemouth seafront is the row of coloured beach huts. Named ‘Sunrise to Sundown’, they feature 75 beach huts coloured in a palette developed by paint manufacturer Crown. Just along from these is the UK’s first ever beach hut.
Land Train Garage
Nestled under the cliffs you can see the Land Train Garage, which has been given a facelift thanks to Paint Shop Studio with this seaside quote.
- Ice cream kiosk
- Mini golf
- Bike hire
- Tourist information
- Fitness park
- Drinking water
There are lifeguard towers along Bournemouth Beach, which operate between 10 am and 6 pm during peak times, as follows:
Bournemouth East operates from 1st April to 24th September.
Bournemouth West operates from 1st April to 24th September.
There is an additional station at East Cliff Beach from 15th July to 3rd September.
Bournemouth Beach for Children
There is plenty for children at Bournemouth Beach, in fact a recent poll placed Bournemouth as the most child friendly beach in the UK. Apart from the beach itself, plenty of options exist for dining and entertainment, there are amusements, climbing, play areas, the Oceanarium…
LV=KidZone offers a beach safety scheme to reunite lost children during the peak season. From the 26th June until 4th September, free wristbands are available which enable parents/guardians to write their mobile number inside and attach to their child. These can be obtained from LV=KidZone staff, seafront rangers and lifeguard towers between Sandbanks and Southbourne beach.
Dogs are not allowed on Bournemouth Beaches between May and September. There is a dog friendly area just to the west, between Middle Chine and Durley Chine.
Leave a Reply