Bournemouth Beach has been voted Britain’s best for two years running by TripAdvisor so we take our children on a trip to Dorset to see it for ourselves
Children start digging their first sandcastles, surfers ride the morning waves and a little land train sounds its horn as it heads along the promenade.
Bournemouth Beach is gearing up for another day doing what this resort does better than most.
And despite its large green spaces, genteel buildings and bustling town centre, it is the beach which remains the big draw here, a beach officially recognised by TripAdvisor, as Britain’s best, in both 2018 and 2019.
You can see why – soft sand, gentle waves and family-friendly activities stretch along the seafront.
The best way to get a feel for the area is to head for its pier. There you can ride the Observation Wheel to get your bearings, enjoy some traditional amusement arcades and set foot on the sand.
The pier itself is home to zip wires, climbing walls and other action-packed activities, which is another example of how this resort is modernising its appeal to families.
The popular land train pootles up and down the promenade, a Red Arrows simulator is available for those who like to move a little quicker and deck chairs to hire are luring those who prefer a leisurely pace.
The seafront runs for miles from surf haven Boscombe at one end to the millionaires’ mansions of Sandbanks at the other.
But what if it is raining? As it was for part of our visit.
We took cover at Bournemouth Oceanarium, next to the pier.
It’s a busy aquarium complete with shark tunnel, penguin enclosure and a small children’s play area. There is enough to pass a pleasant hour or two especially if you visit when one of the fish-feeding sessions and talks are on. See our full review of Bournemouth Oceanarium here.
When it does dry up, we head for the beach. It is perfect for young children because the sand is soft, there are no hills or dunes, the tide doesn’t go out too far and the sea suits a paddle. Wild and rugged it isn’t but safe and secure it most certainly is.
It is well worth heading to Boscombe’s seafront too. A couple of miles along from the centre of Bournemouth, they have just as good a stretch of beach here as well as a pier with mini-golf and a musical trail.
Boscombe also has surf schools and volleyball courts on the sand. And it is home to the superb family-friendly restaurant Urban Reef.
We ate here during our stay and it has a perfect blend of an informal seaside feel matched with fine food for the adults. Plus, a fabulous sea view.
There’s a restaurant upstairs and café downstairs and there’s plenty for children – the kids’ menu is designed by eight-year-old chefs, there are books to read, quizzes to do and menus to colour in.
Head to the other end of Bournemouth’s 10 miles of beach and you come to somewhere with a different feel entirely – Sandbanks.
This peninsula has its own pleasant beach but people and property watching is almost as much fun. You can take one of the ferries to Poole Harbour or Brownsea Island to get a glimpse of some of the mansions with their own jetties.
Alternatively, just take a stroll around the streets of Sandbanks, home to the likes of footballer manager and I’m a Celebrity winner Harry Redknapp.
We had our own taste of luxury with an overnight stay at Bournemouth’s Orchid Hotel.
This stylish venue has 31 rooms and is set just a few streets back from the beach between Bournemouth and Boscombe.
We had the choice of family rooms or two interconnecting rooms. We enjoyed the latter along with its comfortable beds, quality furnishings and a tasty breakfast with lots of good options for small children. (Read our full review of the hotel here).
And filled up with a hearty breakfast it was time to explore again.
Our Famous Five adventure
As this area has three resorts – Bournemouth, Boscombe and Sandbanks – on the same stretch of beach – it was hard to leave.
But we were off on a fabulous Famous Five adventure elsewhere in Dorset – read all about it here.
*Bournemouth was hailed TripAdvisor’s best beach for 2019, is your favourite among the top 10?
- Bournemouth Beach, Bournemouth, Dorset
- Luskentyre, Isle of Harris, Scotland
- St. Brelade’s Bay Beach, St Brelade, Jersey
- Woolacombe Beach, Woolacombe, Devon
- Barafundle Beach, Stackpole, Wales
- Filey Beach, Yorkshire
- Rhossili Bay, Rhossili, Wales
- Gorleston Beach, Norfolk
- Perranporth Beach, Perranporth, Cornwall
- Newborough Beach, Dwyran, Anglesey, Wales
(Our hotel, restaurant meal and aquarium access were supplied by Bournemouth Tourism and Tourism South East for the purposes of this review. All opinions are our own).