Boscombe Beach

Boscombe beach is the section of the beach strand surrounding Boscombe pier and stretches down from Bournemouth East Cliff Beach and towards Southbourne beach and Hengistbury Head. It includes the Portman Ravine zigzag and extends to the lift at Fisherman’s Walk which is the Western most beach at Southbourne. It is the centre for surfing in Bournemouth.

Dogs are banned from the beach during the summer months. See more which of the Bournemouth and Poole beaches are dog friendly and which are not On This Link

Looking East along Boscombe beach promenade
Looking East along Boscombe beach promenade

For many years, Boscombe has been the poor relation of Bournemouth. The sea front around Boscombe beach was neglected. Until 2005 it could only boast a derelict pier and a set of run down beach huts.

Unfortunately, although Boscombe does have a beautiful sandy beach and has significantly improved beach amenities, most of the many millions of pound spent on enhancing the area has so far been wasted.

The arrival of the surfing phenomenon promised great things for Boscombe. The area either side of the pier was (and still is) particularly popular with the surfing fraternity. Today it has become the place to go surfing in the Bournemouth Area. Boscombe beach is a fine sandy beach. It has gained greatly from Beach Recharge (addition of many thousands of tons of sand). It is a great place for kids to dig and play.

A great deal of re-development has taken place on and around Boscombe Beach. Even more is planned for the nearby Boscombe shopping area in the next few years. Sadly though earlier grand schemes for Boscombe have embarrassingly fallen by the way-side. Even after many millions of pounds have been spent.

The Boscombe Beach Surf Reef

Here is a promotional video for the multi-million pound surf reef that was built in the 2010’s. As you can see from the video much was promised. Regrettably far less was delivered.

The pier was modified some years ago with the removal of the derelict Mermaid theatre. The new artificial surf reef described in the above video was built around ten years ago. The intention was to build waves along this part of the coast for surfers. Unfortunately it did little except cost the council a fortune to build. While there were some positives to come out of the millions spent by the council, they were dwarfed by the abject failure of the reef.

When the severe limitations of the artificial reef were apparent Bournemouth Council rebranded it as a “Coastal Activity Park”. The surfing community has written off the reef as “embarrassing”. They feel the enterprise has made them a “laughing stock”.

One of the detrimental aspects of this development was the loss of a major car-park near the beach. This was sold off to a property developer for flats. The idea was to pay some of the bills incurred by the surf reef project.

But even so, despite the development debacle, Boscombe beach is a good family beach. It is a safe beach with lifeguard stations during the peak season. There is a pub, a couple of cafes and a number of ice-cream sellers. It is a great family beach. Surf reef or no surf reef.

Boscombe Beach Parking


A clifftop view down at the juncture of Boscombe and Southbourne beaches
A clifftop view down at the juncture of Boscombe and Southbourne beaches

Parking is not good. There is still parking along the beach strand at the bottom of the hill past the pier entrance but this is limited. Usually parking can be found further up in Boscombe.

There is some time limited parking on the roads near the pier but for obvious reasons there spaces go quickly.

Alternatively you can park further east in Soutbourne. But if you do that you may as well use the beautiful beach at Fishermans Walk instead.

Boscombe Beach Undercliff Car park (BH5 1BN)

This is a very fine and picturesque car park which is literally situated on the undercliff drive by the beach. You need to drive right down to the pier and at the bottom turn right (eastwards) to gain entry. But it has 79 spaces and fills very quickly. It is also very expensive.

Boscombe Beach Overstrand Car park (BH5 1BT)

This is a small car park (72 spaces) that is about two minutes from the beach by foot. Like the Undercliff car park it fills very quickly and is also evidently a nightmare to get out of if you turn up and find it full.

Hawkwood Road Car park (BH5 1BY)

As part of further schemes for Boscombe the Council plan to build on this car park in the next few years. Today it offers 389 spaces. You will find it is about 10-15 minutes walk from Boscombe Pier. So it would be OK for the able bodied but less so for a family group or those with a lot of kit (like surfboards).

Sovereign Shopping Centre Multistorey Car park (BH1 4SX)

This is a large multistory (625 places) which is designed to service the Boscombe Sovereign Centre. You will find it is a 15 minute walk from Boscombe Pier. Consequently, like Hawkwood road car park, it has it’s limitations as a car park for the beach.

Kings Park Park & Ride (BH7 7AF)

In past years Bournemouth Council have tried to ameliorate the Boscombe parking problems by setting up a park & ride scheme from nearby Kings Park. This is that is about 1.5 miles from Boscombe Pier. You catch a bus at Kings park and it drops you off by the pier. It runs in the summer months.But you need to check that it is actually functional before relying on it. At time of writing this is the Bournemouth Council webpage (here) and was out-of-date.It had not been updated since 2021. So be warned and check it first.