Bournemouth’s draw as a tourist resort has always been its stunning seafront and award-winning gardens, but the town features a host of other attractions as well, making it one of the UK’s most popular coastal destinations and bringing in over £500 million a year.
It was Bournemouth’s beaches that put the town on the map in Victorian times, and the seven-mile stretch of golden sands is as popular today as it was then. The town was voted the best British Beach Destination in a 2012 TripAdvisor poll, and the beaches at Alum Chine, Durley Chine, Fisherman’s Walk and Southbourne all have Blue Flags. A Blue Flag award indicates excellent water quality, safety, environmental education and information on beach services and so on – so visitors can feel safe when enjoying themselves. Bournemouth and Boscombe beaches also boast Seaside Awards.
The resort is unusual in featuring two working piers. Bournemouth Pier has an all weather attraction – Rock Reef – as well as family amusements and a restaurant, while Boscombe Pier has been voted “the coolest pier in the UK” and is at the centre of the town’s Coastal Activity Park.
The beaches boast a wide choice of restaurants and cafés, and Alum Chine has a children’s play park, amusements, and New England-style beach huts – in total Bournemouth has around 250 huts, including the world’s first wedding beach hut – and amusements.
Beach huts, deck chairs, sunbeds, windbreaks and parasols can all be hired along the beach from Seafront Offices and all beaches are dog-friendly during the low season, although dogs are restricted to Alum Chine, Middle Chine, Fisherman’s Walk and Hengistbury Head between May and September.
Cliff lifts are situated at West Cliff, East Cliff and Fisherman’s Walk next to zigzag pathways. Land Trains provide rides along the promenade and into Boscombe, and bikes can be hired just east of Bournemouth Pier, although there are cycling restrictions on the promenade during July and August.
The ten-mile stretch of coastline between Bournemouth and Poole is said to offer a greater variety of water sports than anywhere else in the UK. Details of kite-surfing, power-boating, jet-skiing, surfing, kayaking and much more – along with scores of experienced instructors – can be found at http://www.coastwiththemost.com
The town’s brand new Tourist Information Centre is situated at Pier Approach in a distinctive new leaf-shaped building – all visitor information can be accessed from here.