Surfing in Dorset requires a substantial swell to travel up the English Channel but when it does beaches, reefs and pointbreaks come alive all along the length of Dorset’s coastline.
We’ve created a detailed guide to surfing in Dorset, where to surf, when to surf and some expert local tips to help you along the way.
The best surf spots in Dorset
Dorset is home to lots of rare waves that only break on the largest of swells.
Most waves require small windows of tide wind and swell so knowing where to go can save you a lot of time hunting for surfable waves.
In no particular order here’s a list of the best surf breaks along the Dorset Coast.
Kimmeridge also known as a K-bay on the Jurrasic Coast is without a doubt the jewel in Dorset’s surfing crown.
Offering three separate waves with very different setups, when this place is firing there are quality waves all across the bay.
The ledges break far out to sea on the left-hand side of the bay.
Offering long, mellow peeling waves with a fairly easy take-off, this wave is very popular with longboarders, mini mals, stand-up paddle boarders, kayakers, and windsurfers.
When gigantic swell arrives from the Atlantic and maxes out Kimmeridge’s other waves (it’s too big and wild to surf) you can opt to surf the little-known inside wave called ‘The Bay’.
Breaking right inside the bay at Kimmeridge and offering much more shelter than the other two more exposed breaks on either side of the bay.
It can offer quality rights with much shorter lefts suitable for shortboards and longboards.
Scoring this spot requires commitment just because of how well it needs to get going but to those committed few do, it’s well with the wait.
The Bench otherwise known as Broadbench is located on the right-hand side of the bay and is the most dangerous wave at Kimmeridge.
The wave breaks across shallow reef with longer rights offering sections for barrels and snaps along the length of its ride.
The shorter more extreme left is not for the faint-hearted offering a slabbing takeoff and heavy barrel section reserved for expert surfers willing to risk board and body.
Despite not breaking very regularly Bournemouth has quite a big surf community with surf shops and even small local competitions.
Bournemouth Pier itself offers fun waves throughout all states of tide and there’s even a Surfline webcam pointed at the break so you can check before you go.
Boscombe Pier is the second most popular break along Bournemouth’s long sandy beach.
Offering protection from wind and better banks than the open beach you’ll see a lot of surfers congregate on the Eastern side of the pier to escape strong onshore winds.
The Boscombe artificial reef
Opening in 2009, a year later than the proposed 2008 opening date and affected by endless delays, the Boscombe artificial surf reef was not everything people expected and wanted it to be.
Large geotextile bags were filled with sand collected locally, the artificial reef was repaired in 2010 after finding several of the large bags had split spilling their contents and minimizing the reef.
This repair work was ultimately ineffective and the artificial reef was officially closed in 2011 and was later rebranded as a Coastal Activity Park encouraging diving, snorkelling, and windsurfing.
The wave itself was short and very shallow and was only really surfable for advanced to expert surfers on shortboards and a contingent of bodyboarders.
Lyme Regis is an idyllic little town just across the Dorset-Devon border with large hills surrounding the unusual surfing location.
The inner harbour offers long mellow rides perfect for longboarders and stand-up paddleboarders.
The large concrete harbour wall and boulders surrounding it provide great shelter from the prevailing south-westerly winds and swell can wrap around into the bay forming long groomed lines that can break right and left.
The Cobb at Lyme Regis offers up wedgy left and rights at low tide through to mid with the left offering a longer ride into deep water and a snappier right that breaks towards the harbour wall and ends in ankle-deep water.
This fickle wave is very wind affected and needs a swell from the south to really turn on.
On the far right hand of the bay, there are waves all up the side of the long pebbly point.
Scoring along this stretch of coast requires commitment and more often than not the Cobb and the point will be wind affected and not as good as other surf spots in the area.
Check out our detailed guide on surfing Lyme Regis to learn more about surfing here.
Charmouth can provide waves through all stages of the tide making it a go-to for consistent waves in Dorset.
The pebble bottom gets broken up by the river flowing from inland and can create some great banks when the condition allows.
The main break is normally situated just to the left of the main car park but can shift when large swells move around the ocean floor.
The predominant southwest swell favours long right-handers suitable for shortboards and longboarders with easy-to-hit sections and a steep inside shore break.
Occasional lefts can be found on the main break with swell from the east being optimal.
On larger swells, you can find waves all up and down the beach but the low tide can leave Charmouth a bit exposed to the wind so if you’re searching in an onshore breeze you should opt for high tide.
West Bay’s slight tilt to the west means it can suck up a lot of swell from south-westerly storms making it a great option if other surf spots in Dorset are flat or too small.
Sandbanks form along the long groins and in the centre of the bay offering waves of varying quality.
West Bay is very consistent but rarely provides waves of any considerable quality compared to some of the other surf spots on this list.
What’s the best time of year to surf in Dorset?
Large south-westerly swells need to travel up the channel to reach Dorset. These mainly occur from September to January.
Is Dorset a good place to surf for beginners?
Yes, generally Dorset’s sheltered location means that it has great waves for beginners to hone their craft. Avoid reefs or waves breaking over a rocky bottom until you are comfortable riding waves consistently without falling.
Is surfing in Dorset dangerous?
There are very few dangers to surfing in Dorset, avoid surfing in storms or after large rains and you should be fairly safe. The biggest risk surfing here is probably other surfers so make sure you respect the lineup at all times.
What’s the best wind direction for surfing in Dorset?
Most of the surf spots in Dorset favour any wind from a northerly direction.