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Best Places to visit on the Hampshire and Dorset Coast

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Stretching from Hayling Island to Lyme Regis in the West, the Hampshire and Dorset coast is a coastline of contrast which includes both vibrant coastal cities and towns and areas of untouched natural beauty.  An ideal location for a city break by the sea or an escape to the seaside, rich in maritime history, home of the cruise capital of the UK and the iconic UNESCO World Heritage Coast, this part of England's South coast has something for everyone.

Best Places to visit on the Hampshire Coast

The Isle of Wight is the South Coast's only island.  Just four miles from the mainland, this beautiful island offers a coastal escape, mixing a stunning 70 mile coastline, with glourious countryside, ideal for both walkers and those looking for an on the water adventure or coastal retreat.

The Needles on the Isle of Wight, are three white chalk stacks leading up to the Needles lighthouse.  These form the western tip of a band of chalk that crosses the centre of the Isle of Wight and continues under the sea to Dorset’s Isle of Purbeck.  It is believed to have once been connected to Old Harry Rocks (see Poole Harbour) about 20 miles away.  Don’t miss the opportunity to ride the vintage chair lift at Alum Bay overlooking the iconic Needles Landmark and create your own souvenir filled with Alum Bay's famous-coloured sands. 

The Needles credit Visit Isle of Wight

Did you know, the Isle of Wight became a UNESCO biosphere in 2019, preserving the unique and diverse ecosystems of the island.  

Up to 10 metres of land is eroded away from the coast of the Isle of Wight every year.  This makes it ideal for dinosaur fossil hunting adventure.  An 11 mile stretch of coastline that runs between Compton and Sandown, regularly yields a large collection of dinosaur bones and fossils.  Don’t forget whilst here to visit the Dinosaur Isle museum. 

Hurst Spit is a hook-shaped shingle spit which extends for 1.4 miles from the village of Keyhaven in Hampshire, into the Solent towards the Isle of Wight. The spit is formed from loose flint pebbles which had been eroded from the cliffs further west. The spit shelters an area of saltmarsh and is home to Hurst Castle. 

Portsmouth is one of three cities along England's South Coast.  Rich in maritime history and heritage, home to the world renown Portsmouth Historic Dockyard's and Spinnaker Tower, this city offers all the ammenities of a city break mixed with the pleasure of being by the sea.  Discover the three kilometres of Southsea promenade, linking off of Portsmouth's historic waterfront, Gunwharf Quays and Old Portsmouth. 

Visit the famous Palmerston’s Follies in The Solent, at Portsmouth.  The four Solent forts were built for the protection of Portsmouth and it's harbour from sea. They were never used in anger and have become known locally as "Palmerston's Follies" after the Prime Minister of the time.  Cruises area available in the summer with the Gosport Ferry company.  As well as taking to the water to explore from the outside you can now stay on two of the four follies, which are now luxury hotels.  

Take a trip on the only passenger Hovercraft in operation in Europe from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight.  Taking just 10 minutes it’s the fastest way to travel to the Isle of Wight.  You can also see this unique form of transport at the Hovercraft Museum in Gosport. The Museum has the hovercraft that featured in the Bond move ‘Die Another Day’ plus ones that have featured in the Top Gear, Scrapheap Challenge and Salvage Squad TV programmes.

Hovercraft Museum credit Discover Gosport

Stokes Bay seafront in Gosport offers stunning views over The Solent to the Isle of Wight.  A softly sloping sheltered peddle beach with a large grassy area adjacent, it was voted as one of the best places for a picnic in the UK.

Best Places to visit on the Dorset Coast

Poole Harbour is Europe's largest natural harbour formed by a drowned valley at the end of the last ice age.  Located in Dorset, it has the town of Poole on its shore and is stunning location for all types of water sports. Catch a boat and see the iconic Old Harry’s Rocks and the Victorian seaside resort of Swanage. These three chalk formations mark the most eastern point of the Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

The bustling town of Bournemouth’s not only offers seven miles of award-winning beaches, a host of places to stay it also has over two hundred and fifty beach huts available for weekly, daily and period hire. Bournemouth was the first place in the UK to have purpose-built beach huts and the first beach hut, built in 1909, is marked with a Blue Plaque near the Bournemouth Seafront Office (to the east of Bournemouth Pier). 

Southbourne Cliff, Bournemouth - Credit Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole Tourism

Christchurch joins Bournemouth to the west and the New Forest to the east. With its own award-winning beaches, history and heritage, every nook of this beautiful town will delight you.  From its bustling High Street packed with boutiques to its luscious rejuvenating parks, active watersports and more.

Enjoy the 3.6 mile walk around Hengistbury Head Bournemouth, this scenic historic headland between Mudeford and Bournemouth. With golden sands and wildness make it an ideal place to visit anytime of the year.  Pop into the Hengistbury Head Visitor Centre to find out more about this site of international importance.

Why not explore the best places to visit on the Kent and Sussex coast too?

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