It’s ironic when I think about it, we bought our house in Southbourne based upon the beautiful surrounding area and beach café lifestyle never having visited Southbourne Beach!
Let me explain, I fell in love with East Dorset and the 7 miles of beautiful coastline after visiting a girl-friend of mine who I’d grown up with in Hull. It was a bank-holiday weekend in May, I’d travelled down on my own (it had taken me 8 hours due to the traffic) with our daughter who was two at the time (a handful and in the midst of potty training)! The weather rained non-stop and with two terrible two’s (my friend’s daughter is 6 months older) it was hard to entertain them in the very wet and dreary conditions, nevertheless I literally fell in love with the place. Having served in the Air Force for 18 years at that point, I had definitely been around the block, but I just had an instant connection with this coastal region. I felt at home and instantly wanted to visit again.
And we did, two years later and after numerous visits and lots of house hunting we took a massive gamble, bought our first home and the rest is history – we’ve never been happier! It was actually my mum that alerted us to the fact that you could actually walk down to the beach after spotting beach huts on google earth (don’t even ask me how she’d managed that). We just thought the beach was surrounded by cliffs (like parts of Scarborough). We liked the area so much – this minor oversight on our behalf was an added bonus and we still have plenty of places to discover.
A Blue Flag winner, the beach itself spans for nearly 4 miles from Bournemouth and is mainly sandy with some shingle (mainly as you enter the sea). The beach is heavily populated by families as the water is safe for bathers and is patrolled by lifeguards over the summer season which runs from May to September, and a Kidzone Scheme is also on offer in season. The beach tends to be less crowded compared with Bournemouth Beach and it’s the locals that use the beach the most (the mistake that we made after our countless visits)!There is a paved, flat promenade that runs the full length of the beach, it is a little steep to get down to the prom but there is a Cliff Lift for wheelchair access / pushchairs etc. available adjacent to Café Riva. Cycling is allowed along the promenade (except during July and August).
You can walk dogs (off the lead too) from 1st October to 30th April, however dogs are not permitted on the beach during the summer season. The beach does however have a Dog Friendly exercise area up to Groyne 41 (west off Fisherman’s Walk beach) and there is also another section from Groyne 45 towards Hengistbury Head.
I love taking my dog Posy to the beach during the winter months, however she is a disaster in the summer just wanting to eat children’s lunches and sausages from BBQs! You can BBQ too from 6 pm in the evening – the smell and atmosphere are amazing during the summer evenings. You do have to apply to the council though if your party is larger than 30 people.
If you don’t want to BBQ then there are plenty of food outlets situated along the beach, one of our favourites bars is Urban Reef who now also deliver fresh pizzas to your hut or beach party! How fab is that? There are also various beach shops stocking beach essentials e.g. suntan lotion, flip flops, inflatables and of course lots of ice-cream parlours.
Parking is free on the top of the cliff, however it does get extremely busy in the summer season. There are also 2 car-parks next to the beach (Postcode: BH6 4BE).
There are plenty of rest-rooms, baby changing facilities, outside showers and drinking water taps (for kettles, thirsty dogs and water bottles), available along the whole length of the beach, there is also an information office situated at the bottom of the beach.
Southbourne beach has a number of beautiful Beach Huts for hire either on a daily or weekly basis. Charges do vary, depending upon the time of year and they also offer “block” periods. Full pricing details can be found on the Bournemouth Council website and bookings can be made by telephoning 01202 451781.
If you want to stay overnight, why not try one of the 15 enchanting Beach Lodges which are available to hire further up the beach towards Boscombe, these are new and only opened in April 2017. Although we don’t live very far away, staying overnight in one of these gorgeous contemporary lodges is definitely on our ‘to do’ list for this year!
So, if you are ever visiting Bournemouth for the day, why not skip the touristy area for a change and head over to Southbourne Beach for a more relaxed vibe. I am sure if will not disappoint!
As ever, thank you for stopping by
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(Image of the Beach Lodge taken from the Website)