Dog-friendly beaches in Dorset
Dorset is one of our favourite choices for a weekend break because of its spectacular scenery, buzzing seaside towns and beautiful marriage of lush countryside and craggy coastline. It’s also got some of the best dog-friendly beaches in the country, perfect for stretching your legs and breathing in salty air with your best friend by your side. To help you plan your trip, we’ve rounded up five of the best year-round dog-friendly beaches in Dorset, with more sparkling seas and golden sands than you can shake a muddy stick at.
A sandy beach at the mouth of Christchurch Harbour, dotted with colourful beach houses and offering amazing views across the Solent towards the Isle of Wight and the Needles. There’s no direct road access, so you’ll need to walk 15 minutes from the nearest car park (Hengistbury Head), or take a land train or ferry to get here. It’s popular with swimmers, dog walkers and hikers, but has more than enough space for everyone. It’s one of our favourite dog-friendly beaches in Dorset for its vast expanse of golden sands and no cars close by – ideal if your pooch loves a good run around off lead. There’s also a little beach house café, great for refuelling with coffee and a pastry while you watch the boats bobbing out to sea.
With its dramatic limestone arch and vibrant cobalt seas, this is one of Dorset’s most iconic landscapes. Come prepared with good footwear and a sense of adventure, as access is via a fairly steep path. The beach itself is a mix of sand and pebble, and the shallow tides are great for a dip or doggy paddle in the warmer months, just take care not to go too far out. Your dog will love all the space to roam, and you’ll feel instantly calmer as you take in the sights and sounds of this beautifully wild coastline. If this whets your appetite for sea air, there are plenty of lovely trails to join from here – we recommend joining the coastal path and heading east to Lulworth Cove for one of the most scenic seaside walks in the country finishing at another fantastic beach.
A uniquely beautiful shingle beach that’s steeped in history. This stretch of the Jurassic Coast is a haven for wildlife – look out for rare bird colonies and winter wildfowl. The pebbly terrain makes walking on this beach a real workout for both you and your dog, so it’s perfect for active types, and your efforts will be rewarded with glorious ocean scenery. The best way to appreciate the sheer beauty and scale of this coastline is from higher up, and if you can manage the scramble up the hill just west of Abbotsbury Gardens, you’ll be treated to spectacular views out to sea, Portland and beyond. When you’re suitably tired out, head into Abbotsbury or Portland where there are several dog-friendly pubs. If you’ve still got fuel left in the tank, the nearby Fleet Lagoon is a fantastic choice for extending your walk and marvelling at the stunning scenery and variety of wildlife.
Another Jurassic Coast gem, this rocky beach is known for its safe swimming waters, gentle surf and abundance of rock pools. The bay is in a Special Area of Marine Conservation and is home to a huge array of sea creatures and vegetation – look out for mesmerising peacock’s tail seaweed in the tide pools, shoals of small fish in the shallows and even seals and dolphins further out. If you keep your eyes peeled at low tide, there are also some incredible fossils to be seen such as ammonites and those of ancient large marine reptiles. Curious dogs and their humans will have an exhilarating time sniffing around and exploring every corner of this fascinating beach. Crystal clear waters and a sheltered position make Kimmeridge safe for a dip, and it’s also a popular snorkelling spot for the same reasons. If you feel like stretching your legs even more, join the coast path to Clavell Tower for lovely views of the bay, head to the South West Coast Path for a bigger walk or wander into picturesque Kimmeridge village for lunch at Clavell’s, a charming thatched restaurant that also happens to be dog-friendly.
This shingle and sand beach on the Dorset-Hampshire border is a great choice if you prefer quieter (but just as beautiful) spots. It’s backed by grassy sand dunes, trees and cliffs, and if you gaze out to sea on a clear day you might spot the Isle of Wight in the distance. If you’re looking for spacious dog-friendly beaches where you can dodge the crowds and let your dog go galloping off the lead, Highcliffe is the perfect choice. The currents are gentle here and the sea generally calm, so water-loving pups will be in their element. This beach is also a brilliant base for exploring the South West Coast Path and setting off on long walks to other beaches or pretty towns – head to Steamer Point beach for golden sands and a Nature Reserve, or cross the border and journey towards Bournemouth Pier if you’re feeling really adventurous.
Claire combines her twin loves of writing and travel to create inspiring blog content. Rudi combines his twin loves of baths and chasing squirrels to excuse getting as muddy as possible whenever he can. He hates missing out, so finding dog-friendly places is an absolute must. Claire loves a place with a stunning interior and is thankful Rudi is well-behaved enough to leave it the way they find it, unless there are slippers to be eaten.
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