Bournemouth is voted UK's best beach, but why?

By Sue Paz
BBC South

Image caption,
The resort's seven miles of sand has been rated top in TripAdvisor's Travellers' Choice Awards

Bournemouth has won a vote to find the UK's best beach, but what makes it a hit with visitors and residents?

Even a bracing wind in freezing February doesn't deter the beach dwellers - from dog walkers to cyclists, runners to people-watchers, and even those brave enough for a dip.

The Dorset attraction was also placed fifth on a list of Europe's best beaches, as well as 14th in the world, in the TripAdvisor poll.

Hotelier view: 'Nostalgic yet cosmopolitan'

"Honestly, it's the best place in the world," said Teresa Atkins, manager of Hotel Riviera By the Sea.

She described it as a "panoramic bay", adding: "The magic of it is it's got a Victorian, nostalgic feel about it, yet it's still got that cosmopolitan feel."

Hotelier Chris Griffith, who moved to Bournemouth with her family 50 years ago, said the clean sand and water are what make it special.

"When I was a child we lived between the piers and there wasn't any sand - you had to put your deckchairs on the prom," the 61-year-old, who owns Bed and Breakfast by the Beach, said.

"Now the council is investing so much money on the beach groynes to help stop the sand washing away and it regularly gets huge dumps of sand brought in from elsewhere to top it up."

Image source, Jonathan Hutchins
Image caption,
About 750,000 ice creams are bought on the seafront each year
Image source, Mike Searle
Image caption,
Bournemouth beach hosts events including an annual air festival

What the council says: 'Golden sands' and festivals

The beach's key asset is its seven miles of golden sands and the beach's "Mediterranean feel", according to Jon Weaver, head of tourism at the borough council.

Its long promenade and a "very short tidal length" are also advantages, he said.

"The fact that you don't have to go out half-a-mile to get to the sea," he added.

The seafront is also home to two piers - Bournemouth and Boscombe - and hosts events including an annual air festival, marathon and Pride's Bourne Free festival.

Image caption,
The beach has two piers, one at Bournemouth and the other at Boscombe
Image caption,
Fred Johns said he loves surfing Bournemouth's waves in winter

Surf spot

Bournemouth was home to Europe's first artificial surf reef at Boscombe, but this proved unsuccessful after it was damaged in 2011 and the company that built it subsequently went into liquidation.

Despite this, the resort is still a haven for surfers.

"There's definitely a growing surf community here," said local surfer Matt Edgeley.

"There's a nice atmosphere and it's nice and clean."

Bournemouth resident Fred Johns regularly braves the winter waves.

"It's such an easy place to get in the water and have a relatively safe surf," he said.

"By the piers is great too as they provide shelter from the winds."

Image source, Chris Downer
Image caption,
Bournemouth was home to Europe's first artificial surf reef but this ultimately proved unsuccessful
Image source, Erin Thomas Wong
Image caption,
Erin Thomas Wong and her husband Dom moved to Bournemouth two years ago

Resident and visitor views

Erin Thomas Wong and her husband, Dom, moved to Bournemouth from London two years ago.

"We had never considered it would be possible for us to have this amazing life by the sea," she said.

"The beach is gorgeous - long stretches of lovely sand."

Nestled by a wall along the promenade and armed with a flask, blanket and books, Jane and Chris Renyard don't let the wind worry them on a chilly winter's day.

They holiday in Bournemouth up to four times a year and the beach is a favourite spot for them come rain or shine.

"It's family-friendly with safe waters and a long, flat prom," said Mr Renyard.

"It's just so lovely to sit here and look out to sea and watch the world go by," his wife added.

Image caption,
Jane and Chris Renyard said they loved "watching the world go by" on the beach
Image caption,
German teachers Anne Ritcher and Stephanie Schmidt were visiting the town with their students

Overseas appeal

Wrapped up in scarves and woolly hats, German teachers Anne Ritcher and Stephanie Schmidt, together with 59 students, enjoyed a stroll along the blustery promenade during a 10-day visit.

"We've tried Hastings and Weymouth before and Bournemouth was recommended to us by our travel agent," said Ms Ritcher.

"We've only been here for an hour and we are already impressed by the beach," she said.

Ms Schmidt added: "The soft, clean sand and waves are great."

Image caption,
Bournemouth has four Blue Flag awards which recognise high standards of beach management and water quality
Image caption,
Wintertime on Bournemouth beach is Pat and Donald Tryhorn's favourite time of the year

Beach hut dwellers

Local residents Pat and Donald Tryhorn have taken a winter let on a seafront beach hut for the past five years.

"Winter is our favourite time of year here," said Mrs Tryhorn, who was wrapped up in a coat, yet sitting on a deckchair.

"It's much quieter than it is in summer," agreed her husband.

"There's no traffic and the views out to sea are uninterrupted."

Image source, David Dixon
Image caption,
Fisherman's Walk Cliff Lift on the promenade was crowned the world's shortest funicular railway in 2015

Bournemouth beach facts

  • Each year about 750,000 ice creams are bought on the seafront
  • During a busy weekend about 3,000 deckchairs are hired out
  • In the summer, the beaches are raked by tractors every morning and manually litter-picked twice a day
  • There are 53 groynes along the beach that aim to stop the waves from washing away the sand
  • Bournemouth beach has four Blue Flags, including at Durley Chine which has held the accolade every year for 30 years, since the scheme began
  • Fisherman's Walk Cliff Lift on the promenade at Southbourne made it into the 2015 Guinness World Records as the world's shortest funicular railway

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