Bournemouth: 7 unmissable things to do by the sea
1. Try your hand at watersports
You can take your pick from the full A-Z of watersports in Bournemouth, because this area has pretty much everything going. If you’re here to surf, the best swells are near Bournemouth and Boscombe piers – just bring your own board or hire one from any of the surf schools along the coast. You can canoe, kayak and paddleboard from both places too, and Hengistbury Head is great for kitesurfing. Poole Harbour is another great spot to learn sailing, kitesurfing and wakeboarding – The Watersports Academy will have you looking like a pro in no time.
2. Brave the PierZip zipwire
Got a head for heights? Then you’ll love PierZip – the world’s first pier-to-shore zipwire. It’s a head-spinning 25 metres above the waves and 250 metres long, and you’ll need to be at least 1.3 metres to ride it. It’s a dual wire, so it’s great fun with friends, and there are discounts for group bookings. And if that’s your cup of tea, you should also do Bournemouth Big Wheel while you’re here. It’s on Pier Approach – you really can’t miss it – and the birds-eye views are something else.
3. Follow the Selfie Wall Trail
If you want to get your bearings in Bournemouth while boosting your Instagram grid, the Bournemouth and Poole Selfie Wall Trail has you covered. Starting in Sandbanks and running all the way to Southbourne, this collection of colourful murals is dotted along the 10-mile seafront promenade. All the artworks were created by local artists, and your challenge is to find all 11. The route takes you past the area’s best beaches – including Alum Chine and Boscombe Pier – not to mention all the cafés and ice cream kiosks you could wish for.
4. Splash out at Sandbanks
The small peninsula of sand that crosses Poole Harbour certainly has a big reputation. Sandbanks Beach is the main draw here – this golden sweep of sand runs the length of the peninsula and it’s easily one of the south coast’s most beautiful. But you can also dine out at high-end restaurants like Rick Stein Sandbanks, wander along Panorama Road – dubbed Millionaire’s Row thanks to the number of incredible properties here – or gawp at the glitzy yachts bobbing in the harbour while trying to spot Harry Redknapp.
5. Fill up on fish and chips
Fish and chips is a must while you’re in Bournemouth, and there’s no shortage of places to get your fill. Harry Ramsden's is a bit of an institution right next to the Pier, and Chez Fred is well worth a trip into trendy Westbourne for. But if you want widescreen sea views, it’s got to be the terrace at Key West Bar & Grill. Right on the end of the Bournemouth Pier, this is the place to tuck into fish and chips or a swanky seafood platter as you watch the surfers ride the waves below.
6. Take the land train to Boscombe
For the quintessential Bournemouth seaside experience, hop on the land train to Boscombe. It leaves from Bournemouth Pier, costs about £3.30 for an adult ticket, and will sweep you along the coast all the way to Boscombe pier. The Blue Flag beach steals the show here, but there’s also an art trail that leads you to the main shopping street, and a market on Thursdays and Saturdays. When you’ve had a wander, just jump back on the land train back to Bournemouth – or it’s a pleasant half-an-hour walk along the prom.
7. Hop on the megabus to Poole
If you’re coming all the way to Bournemouth, you’d be mad to miss next-door Poole. And the great news is, the megabus stops here too. The harbour is the beating heart of the place – come for a wander along the quayside, a spot of crabbing, or a sea-view meal at any of the waterfront restaurants. This is also a springboard to some of the area’s more remote areas, including Brownsea Island – a sleepy National Trust spot that’s packed with resident wildlife. The ferry crossing takes about half an hour and ferries run hourly from Poole Quay. Just remember to pre-book your island tickets and bring some cash for the crossing.
Ready to go? Get to Bournemouth with megabus.
Published on 18 May 2021