We recently visited the wondrous beach of West Bay in Dorset, set on the beautiful Dorset coastline. If you are looking for places to visit in Dorset I would recommend checking out West Bay, there is so much to do you can easily spend the whole day there and if you are on holiday there are lots of activities to keep you busy.
West Bay is a popular beach so it is well worth leaving that bit early to grab a parking space. We have been there before after 11 am and struggled to find a space to park. We have found that if we get there before 10 am we have the pick of spaces but within the hour the car park was full. With parking at the bargain price of only £2 for the whole day, it is worth arriving early (price correct as of 2017).
Things to do at West Bay in Dorset
Children’s play park
Right next to the car park is the most amazing play park for all ages even adults. The sign on the gate clearly states the park is for everyone from ages 0 yrs to 99 yrs. I definitely enjoyed playing in the park with the girls letting my inner childfree.
There are so many cool things to play with and keep the children busy for hours. It is a brilliant park with so many different climbing apparatus.
There are climbing frames, swings, trampolines and much much more. There is so much to do at the park we nearly all forgot about visiting the beach.
To get to the beach you have to climb up the pebbled hill which is a slow climb as for every step forward you slid back two, but it is a good laugh trying to run your way to the top and the kids enjoyed trying to get to the top first.
Once at the top you get a lovely view of the beach with a band of blissful sand at the bottom of the pebbles leading into the sea with the beautiful golden cliffs as an imposing backdrop.
The sea is great for swimming or paddling in and there are always lots of children enjoying the foaming waves. The beach is quite safe for children and you can easily keep an eye on the kids. There is space to fly kites, play football and build sandcastles, the sea is clean and so inviting although cold.
When we were on the beach there was a shoal of white baitfish swimming near the shore and loads of them were washed up along the beach. All along the shoreline were these bright simmering little fish we tried to put some back into the sea but it was too late for some. The fisherman on the beach told me that they washed up on the beach because they were being chased by mackerel and to escape headed to far into shore.
When your tummies start to rumble there are so many amazing food places to choose from at West Bay in Dorset.
Around the canal, there are lots of quaint food huts selling fast food and ice cream. We have had the most amazing battered calamari from the fish and chip hut and the kids had perfect sized meals at reasonable prices.
The kid’s meals were very reasonably priced and the portion size of the meals was just right for the girls. Dino and I had the cod and chips and the battered calamari which was amazing. It was the first time I tried it and I loved it, I have had some more calamari since but unfortunately, it was not as good as the one I had at the food shack.
The last time I visited West Bay I didn’t have any cash on me and the hut didn’t take card and the cash machine in the arcade had run out of money so we headed to the cafe the other side of the road. There are three cafes this side selling delicious Cornish pasties, sausage rolls and freshly made sandwiches which thankfully did take card.
The kids enjoyed sausage rolls and I enjoyed a pulled pork sandwich.
When you get your food if you are not eating in you can sit on one of the benches or the wall looking out over the idyllic canal where a dozen seagulls laying wait for their next scrap of food to be dropped.
Once you have finished lunch it is time to embark on a hunt for ice cream. I have to say that the ice cream in West Bay in Dorset is out of this world. I had a mango ripple soft scoop ice cream and it was so delicious, there are 30 different flavours to choose from all looking so delicious.
There are two great cliff walks on either side of the beach one is short but very, very steep and the other is quite a long walk but not so steep. If you are going to walk up the longer cliff it is worth making sure you have some water with you as it is a bit of a walk especially when you have children.
Once we made it to the top there was a caravan park and a big field full of daisies at the top where we all lied down for a while and sun bathed.
From the top, we were rewarded with a stunning view over West Bay. We could see the beach that we had come from and then another beach down the other side of the cliff. It is a lovely place to sit for a while and enjoy taking in the views and the fresh air.
The other cliff walk is so steep and very hard to walk up at points it is easier to crawl up on all fours, especially for the children. It is advised though not to let the children go too far ahead as when you get to the top there are no barriers and a very steep drop off the cliff not to mention that there have been a few rock slides recently.
After the gruelling climb to the top once again you are rewarded with far-reaching views of West Bay and can stay there just looking over the bay and taking it all in. The climb down was just as hard and in part, the kids had to go down on their bottoms.
When you walk around the marina you will see loads of people pitching up around the high walls casting their crabbing nets into the water. If you don’t have a crabbing net you can buy them from the shop for a few pounds.
We didn’t have any bait but were kindly gifted some from one of the other family’s crabbing. If bringing your own bait the crabs eat anything from fish remains to bacon. If you have never been crabbing before you really should give it a try it is great fun and the kids will enjoy catching the crabs and will enjoy looking and observing the crabs up close.
We ended up catching a crab, eel and we were even given a shrimp by another family as they had more crabs in their bucket and were worried that it would be eaten by them.
When it is busy on the crabbing wall it is like a little community everyone talking, exchanging tips and the kids all showing each other their catches. People walk around and look into everyone buckets and have a chat about what they have caught.
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Boat Rides, Canoeing and More
From the marina, you can take a trip out to sea on the high-speed boat ride that crashes around the waves giving people a thrill ride. I have not yet done this myself but have watched the boats doing a high-speed figure of 8’s around the sea and it looks fun.
There were lots of signs offering fishing trips from the marina and wakeboarding. On the canal opposite the marina, they offer canoeing lessons on the calmer water.
To see more activities in West bay and customer reviews you can take a look at Trip Advisor where you can also book ahead.
There is a little corner shop that has lots of pretty little trinkets and souvenirs as well as buckets spades and all the equipment you will need for crabbing.
Near the car park is a little courtyard with a little market selling beautiful art pieces and antiques. Round the marina, there is usually a van parked up selling beautiful pictures taken around West Bay.
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