The Dorset and Jurassic Coast boast some of the most impressive scenery anywhere in the UK, but it is also home to a variety of activities too.
From coasteering to canoeing and kayaking, there are lots of coastal activities you can enjoy during a stay with us in one of our beautiful holiday cottages in Dorset.
Before hitting the water, here we take you through the best ways you can enjoy Dorset's vibrant coast and which providers are the best in the area.
Sailing and Yachting
When the Summer Olympics were held in London back in 2012, all the sailing events took place in and around Weymouth Harbour.
But despite this recent claim to fame, the Dorset coast has been a hugely popular destination for sailing and yachting for over two centuries with King George once mooring his yacht – the Royal Sovereign – in Weymouth.
The region is perfect for bringing your own craft, with a number of launch points available. Alternatively, there are a number of sailing and yacht clubs that offer lessons and excursions.
Best sailing and yachting tour operators
Moonfleet Adventure Sailing
With Moonfleet Adventure Sailing you can sail from Swanage's very own authentic Victorian pier and get the opportunity to try your hand at classic tall-ship sailing around Southern England’s stunning Jurassic coastline, the Isle of Wight and, the Isle of Purbeck.
From weighing anchor and hoisting the mainsail, to taking the helm itself, you can have a go at most activities during the voyage. Alternatively, you can sit back and enjoy the scenery.
The Moonfleet of Swanage is a steel hulled gaff cutter that was built in Holland to originally take cargo from Amsterdam to neighbouring countries, before being converted into a sail training vessel.
This trip is certainly worth doing and if you are interested in finding out where the next voyage is headed, check their Facebook page
Shell Bay Sailing Centre
Shell Bay Sailing Centre is a RYA training centre, providing sailing tuition for children and adults from 8 years old.
The centre, which is located close to Poole Harbour, also hire sailing dinghies to experienced sailors and run harbour tours in a Wayfarer sailing dinghy for those who are looking for a sailing experience.
The tour takes up to four people and the experienced instructor will sail around the harbour before allowing you some hands-on sailing.
Based in Weymouth, Yachting Experiences offer you the chance to follow in the sails of the Olympic 2012 athletes who competed for gold.
You can enjoy a skippered charter experience, extensive sail training and navigation and, for more experienced sailors, you can take part in race training.
Kayaking and Coasteering
Two coastal activities that have gained huge popularity in recent years are kayaking and coasteering in and around Dorset’s major bays and coves.
One of the earliest forms of navigating the Jurassic Coast, sea kayaking can involve intense or leisurely paddling along the rocks and inlets of the area. The treks vary in distance and require a bit of planning and expertise.
The art of coasteering has steadily become a favourite activity in Dorset and the rest of the UK. A physical challenge for all, the sport includes ocean swimming, rock climbing and a bit of diving. Participants negotiate nature’s obstacles as they move along the coastline without the aid of a boat.
Best kayaking and coasteering tour operators
Jurassic Coast Activities
Jurassic Coast Activities is the only company permitted to operate kayaking tours between Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door, meaning you can kayak the world heritage Jurassic coastline with expert guides. You can also go coasteering along this beautiful stretch of coastline.
Their full-day kayaking and coasteering activities run from 9am-4.30pm and include free fish and chips at lunch time or at the end of the day. The trip will explore Lulworth Cove, which was formed over 10,000 years ago, and while it is nice to walk to the cove, it is even more magical from the perspective of the water.
As well as being able to explore the beautiful Jurassic coastline, there are kayaking tours available for Weymouth Bay and Harbour. Here you will see the beautiful Georgian facade from the sea, paddle alongside tall ships, see the Nothe Fort and lots of other attractions.
Cumulus Outdoors offer a whole host of kayaking, canoeing and coasteering activities on the Jurassic Coast.
Their coasteering adventures are fun-filled and allow you to explore the coastline and caves from the sea alongside two professional coasteering guides. You can learn new skills and choose how high you jump.
The canoeing and kayaking trips offered by Cumulus Outdoors are perfect for experienced or novice paddlers as you will explore the Dorset coast and Poole Harbour whilst learning the perfect technique.
If you have done kayaking or canoeing before, then you can also try Canadian canoeing as Cumulus Outdoors offer a fun introductory session before your newly-acquired skills can be tested on a river, in Poole Harbour or out at sea.
Land and Wave
Land & Wave delivers epic coasteering sessions near Swanage and is the closest coasteering venue to Bournemouth. Their trips allow you to hurl yourself into the sea, play in the swell and explore the coastline and caves from the water.
You can also explore Swanage Bay by kayak with Land and Wave and can perfect your paddling skills during a two-hour journey. The kayaking session even includes games and challenges to get you practising your turns and speed paddling.
If that’s not enough, then try your hand at Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP), which is the fastest-growing water sport in the world. You can choose to paddle at Land & Wave Sandbanks along the iconic shoreline and harbour or in Swanage Bay. There is also a jumbo paddle board you can jump on with the whole family.
Cruises and boat trips
With some of the largest natural harbours in the world, boat trips and cruises have become a popular way to explore Dorset.
The great thing about going on a boat trip or a cruise is the wonderful variety available, with a selection of leisurely cruises or high speed boat trips on offer up and down the whole Dorset coast.
Best cruise and boat trip operators
Lyme Bay RIB Charter
Lyme Bay RIB Charter usually runs its trips from Easter to September and this multi award-winning tour operator, which has won Dorset Tourism awards and South West Tourism awards, is ideally located in West Bay, in the centre of Lyme Bay, Dorset.
There are four different trips you and your family can enjoy with Lyme Bay RIB Charter:
- The West Bay Blast – there’s lots of throttle on this trip, as you go on one of the fastest rides on the water. You can travel up to six miles along the coast for around 30 minutes.
- Water Taxi – if you want to travel in style, then Lyme Bay RIB Charter offer a water taxi from West Bay to Lyme Regis. This trip means you don’t have to worry about parking your car and is an ideal day trip that takes in the coastline.
- Charter boat privately – you can exclusively use one of Lyme Bay RIB Charter’s boats at a time that suits you. This is a great group activity and is perfect for large families holidaying in our Dorset cottages.
- Water ski/wake boarding – Lyme Bay RIB Charter even offer 45-minute water ski and wakeboarding lessons. All the equipment is provided, but check beforehand that they have the right size wetsuit for you.
Simon Miles, who runs Lyme Bay RIB Charter, explains why West Bay Harbour is the perfect place to start your adventure of the Jurassic Coast.
He says, “West Bay Harbour provides immediate access to the Jurassic coastline and I’m not bored of looking at it yet! It changes minute by minute throughout the day and we are very lucky to live here and have it on our doorstep.
“It’s a real pleasure to give people the opportunity to experience it from a different perspective when they come to sea with us.”
City Cruises Poole
City Cruises Poole operate daily from Poole Quay and Swanage Pier and offer a wide selection of cruises, from harbour and islands cruises all the way to coastal cruises.
There is something for everyone to enjoy and there are even festive, evening and firework cruises available.
You can really enjoy all the incredible sights and famous Dorset coastline from the open upper decks, or from the comfortable saloons. City Cruises Poole also offer refreshments on all sailings and a fully stocked bar too.
Get Lost Sailing
Ahoy all adventurers, explorers and sea folk!
Get Lost Sailing have the only fast powerboat to run from Poole Harbour and it is a popular trip with a five-star rating on Trip Advisor.
There are a number of trips to choose from and during these excursions you will be able to see wildlife, incredible examples of Dorset’s geology and explore sights hidden from the shore.
Some of the most popular trips include the Bay Blast, a one-hour adventure that will make you feel the full speed of a power boat out at sea, and the Sea Safari, an hour-and-a-half trip where you could see dolphins, seals, porpoises, puffins, cormorants and lots more.
Lyme Rib Rides
This family-run business is based in Lyme Regis and offers fast-paced exhilarating coastal rib rides or leisurely Jurassic coastal cruises.
Sea Spirit, which is the name given to their Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB), seats 12 passengers on comfy leather bench seats and has two new 250hp Honda engines that will certainly put the wind in your sails.
All of Lyme Rib Rides’ trips are family-friendly. The trips are between 30 minutes and an hour long and take in 7-14 miles of the stunning Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. They are 5 star rated on TripAdvisor too!
Group bookings are welcomed. Lyme Rib Rides offer affordable skippered charters too, so they can help you plan a bespoke trip for a family get-together or a special occasion.
During some of their trips you can also see the stunning backdrop and filming locations for the ITV television series ‘Broadchurch’.
Pre-booking is advised during the summer months and if you book online then you can get a 10% booking discount.
Other great attractions
On top of all of the above, Dorset is home to a number of other coastal attractions that you and the whole family can enjoy.
So if you are staying in one of our English holiday cottages in Dorset and are after something slightly different, then when not visit one of the following attractions.
If the high speeds of kitesurfing interest you, there are plenty of opportunities for that as well with Dorset being home to a variety of beaches offering an option of shallow, flat water and wave breaks in all wind and tidal conditions, which are rare in the UK.
Often seen as an extreme sport, participants negotiate the water while being attached to a large, manoeuvrable kite. With some practice and experience, tricks and jumps can be performed with relative ease.
The Poseidon Kite School in Poole offers beginner and advanced training from sunrise to sunset and a relaxed hire scheme to help newbies or travellers get on the water easily and cheaply.
Poseidon Kite School even operates a beach club in Poole harbour, offering beach support and a community social hub for kiters.
Perhaps you would like to have a go at windsurfing?
If you do, then Poole Windsurfing is the only truly dedicated and independent windsurf school that offers windsurfing lessons and equipment hire in Poole Harbour, which is the number one windsurfing location in the UK.
Your lessons will be in small groups and you will have all the latest equipment at your disposal as well as being taught by instructors who have years of experience.
There are a few different lesson options available, including a full beginner’s windsurfing course, taster lessons and private windsurfing lessons.