Highcliffe Beach A Natural Beauty – Beach Trip

Highcliffe beach postcode: BH23 5DA

Highcliffe Beach Christchurch Dorse...

Highcliffe Beach is a stunning natural beach in Christchurch next to the upmarket Walkford area and side by side with Mudeford Beach (which has the most expensive beach huts in the world). This beach is incredibly beautiful and it’s obvious why it’s so desirable and expensive to buy a property here.

You’d be forgiven for mistaking this beautiful place for a Mediterranean beach. As the views of the White Needles and the Isle of White in the distance look like distant Greek Islands. And the flowers that grace the clifftop and beach edges give that distinct Mediterranean feel.

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The beach is just a walk from the town centre of Highcliffe which has many quaint pubs, cafes and restaurants in the town.

After hearing rave reviews about Highcliffe Beach. We decided to go and check it out, and as one of the staff here at BournemouthGO. frequents the beach regularly to take her dogs for a walk. We asked Sarah to give us the low down on why Highcliffe Beach is so great.

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Here’s what Sarah had to say:

Highcliffe Beach at Sunset
Highcliffe Beach at Sunset

What’s great about Highcliffe beach?

Highcliffe beach has a rustic feel about it, it feels like a proper beach. The way you can imagine beaches used to be before they were commercialised. It is breathtakingly beautiful and I can see why the area is so expensive to live in. And why people from all over the UK want to come here and have a beach hut or to live by this sea.

It’s frequented on a daily basis by surfers, walkers and dog walkers. It seems to be a very popular place to surf at. The waves do seem to be more pronounced on Highcliffe Beach than on other beaches in the area. This may be due to the way the beach curves and the rock formations.

It’s a great beach for dog walking. It combines both the woodland feel as well as the beach feel as up the cliff top there is greenery and trees.

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There are numerous slopes down to the beach making it great for anyone in a wheelchair or with mobility issues. there are also steps for the more able-bodied beachgoer. But be warned, it’s a serious workout walking up those steps to reach the top again.

highcliffe beach
Highcliffe Beach on a Windy Day

Highcliffe Beach parking is easy

There is a large car park at the top, it does get busy in summer but I have never had any difficulty finding a parking space here.

What’s great about it for us dog walkers and walkers, in general, is the car park is free in the Autumn and Winter months. And as the beach is quite empty in winter it gives us the perfect opportunity to let our dogs run free. Without having to pay a parking charge to do it.

Highcliffe Beach Dogs

It’s a Dog friendly beach

Highcliffe Beach Signs
Highcliffe Beach Signs

Highcliffe beach is very dog friendly. Dogs are allowed on the beach all year round. In the summer months, something to be aware of is there are Adder snakes in the bushes. Rabbits also frequent the tops of the cliffs and run in and out of the bushes.

If you have a dog like mine who is partial to a rabbit, you have to be careful it doesn’t chase one into the bush and then gets bitten by an adder.

This has happened before to dogs on a few occasions.

Dogs are allowed off the lead on the beach. There is a rustic promenade that can be walked along which will take you all the way to Bournemouth beach if you fancy walking. It’s about a 35-minute walk to Bournemouth Pier from there.

To find out about the dog-friendly beaches in Bournemouth and surrounding areas please go to our
Dog friendly beaches in Bournemouth page.

Highcliffe Beach Cafe

Cliffhanger Restaurant

There is a great cafe on the top of Highcliffe beach called the Cliff Hanger Restaurant, it’s a restaurant and cafe. It can be found next to the car park.

cliffhanger cafe highcliffe beach
Cliffhanger Cafe on Highcliffe Beach

Cliffhanger Restaurant gets very busy in the summer months. People flock here for the fresh air and sea views and the outside space which has picnic benches to sit out on and enjoy the views.

Highcliffe beach cliffhanger cafe by night
Cliffhanger Cafe by Night

Is Highcliffe Beach Sandy?

Highcliffe Beach with the Isle of White
Highcliffe Beach with the Isle of White in the distance

The majority of Highcliffe beach is shingle. Basically stones. But there is a beach at the side which when walked will take you to Hengistbury Head. This beach is very soft sand. It’s enclosed with protection from the cliff face behind and is a stunning area to sunbathe in the summer.

This beach is also my favourite place to take the dogs as it’s enclosed so it feels safe and easy for them to run free.

If you look at photos of Highcliffe beach online, you’d think the beach is all sandy. But that’s not the way it is, well not now anyway. The beach is full of stones. Except for this one beach on the side which is super soft sand.

It’s a site of Scientific Interest

What’s fascinating about this beach is its a designated site of scientific interest. The bushes on the cliffs going down to the beach are filled with rare and endangered insects, birds and lizards.

I can vouch for it being full of unusual insects as the previous summer my dog while running through the bushes got stung or bitten by some kind of insect which made him very ill.

He had to have steroid injections for a period of time as he came out with a high fever and a rash and couldn’t stop itching. To this day we don’t know what it was that stung him. This makes sense if the creatures that live there are rare.

It’s also a Jurassic site as many fossils from the Jurassic period have been found here.

This is the reason this beach has managed to stay natural and hasn’t been commercialised like the other beaches, it’s protected from being changed or built on. This beach is a proper beach.

For beachgoers in the summer months, this is a great family beach. There are lots of rocks to climb on and it seems a very safe beach.

It’s quieter in the summer months than the more well-known beaches in the area. A lot quieter than Bournemouth Beach which gets absolutely packed in the summer months and reaches capacity very quickly.

Highcliffe beach in the summer is busy, but it’s a ‘nice busy’. There is plenty of space on the beach to sunbathe. It’s even pleasant to walk along the promenade during the busiest times as it’s not packed.

It is a good idea to take refreshments down to the beach with you in the summer, it gets very hot down there as the cliff shelters it from the wind. It’s a long way back up if you need to go up to get water.

Take a look at our video of Highcliffe Beach on a Saturday morning in the winter months. You can see the shingle on the front beach.

In this video, you can see the popular cafe and the car park and where you would walk down the steps to the beach below. If you look in the distance out to sea you can see the Isle of White and the needles. On a summer day, this is very clear.

Highcliffe beach is a stunning beach. A part of scientific interest and is a rare natural gem. It really is the most amazing beach to visit and is incredibly beautiful.