Sandbanks first came onto my radar when I watched a TV show talk to Harry Redknapp about his home in the area. It appeared to be a pretty exclusive area: small in size, but lined with grand houses amongst a sandy beachfront (a sandy beach in England, I know!) It wasn’t until recently that I took a trip there and realised it’s so much more than that. Sandbanks is the perfect staycation location for this summer, or an absolute must-visit for your next day-trip.
Sandbanks is a peninsula located just over 2 hours from London by car, just on the edge of Poole Harbour, Dorset. As well as neighbouring Poole, it also neighbours Bournemouth, home to its own plethora of beaches. Sandbanks is primarily known for its wealthy inhabitants, as well as a gorgeous sandy beach and clear waters.
For those of you interested in a brief history, Sandbanks was actually originally cut off from everything else during the Victorian era by huge mounts of sand and no roads being paved to reach the area. This stopped just after World War One when a few properties and hotels were built, and people began to day-trip there. Over time, the unspoilt plots in this ‘new’ area meant that some of the wealthy were flocking in to build and buy properties there: Sandbanks became an area for investment and development. Some of Sandbanks’ residents are now comprised of the rich and famous, which created the conception we have of the ‘wealthy Sandbanks’ some of us have today.
For those of you choosing to go by car, there’s a huge parking lot right next to the beach, as well as parking along the sides of the main street leading up to the beach. I went on a weekday, and it was still fairly busy by the time we arrived at midday, so try and get there as early as possible to avoid disappointment! To be honest though, there was a sign outside the car park saying that the car park was full, however we went in and there were spaces, so do give it a shot! I have heard though, for those planning to go on a weekend, spaces can be taken up as early as 9:30am.
There are trains that can get you to Poole, or even Bournemouth, where you can get the bus or taxi from there. I also remember seeing a bus stop opposite the car park next to the beach, so definitely look into any public transport options (it’s also better for the environment!)
What to see and do
Opposite the main beach, you’ll see an array of boats, from sailboats, to speed boats, to yachts cruising along the water. There’s a small area of beach on this side which you can choose to stay in, but this side is ideal for putting any water sports to use: there’s a water sports rental centre just a short walk away (nearby the Tesco Express) where you can choose activities such as paddleboarding and windsurfing. The water here is quite shallow until you get a quite a bit further out, so it’s perfect for water sport beginners.
Alternatively, you can bring your water sports to the main beach, where the water gets deeper quicker (although, it doesn’t get deep straight away, so it’s great for kids or not-so-confident swimmers). This side offers plenty of space to set up whatever towels, umbrellas, or even gazebos (if you’re feeling like doing the full shebang) you want. There’s also a café on site, as well as showers, and a separate side of the beach for people bringing dogs. Here you can have fun in the sand and sea, whilst watching the yachts and jet skis of the rich cruise past every once in a while.
What really struck me is how beautiful the beach really is: it reminded me of this Italian beach me and my family go to when visiting our family over there. I felt like I was being transported into the Mediterranean, and that I didn’t need to be in another country for this years’ holidays when there’s beaches like this around. On the weekday that we went, it was busy but still quiet enough that it didn’t feel overcrowded when you set up camp in the sand. Walking along the beach too, there were quieter areas to sit, so there’s always room. I was also surprised at the water temperature, with on a good day, it feeling cool enough to dive in. If you’re planning on going for a day trip, bring a spare set of clothes for your travel back (my big mistake). What I will say is being there made me wish that I was actually on a staycation around the area, or even in Poole or Bournemouth, so that I could stay longer and not have to worry about travelling back: it’s definitely near the top of my staycation destinations for this year.
If you’re looking to eat around here for dinner, be warned that there aren’t too many options: there are restaurants such as Rick Stein and Oriel, but be warned that some don’t open on certain days, or may be on the pricier side! If I chose to come here for a staycation, I would maybe stay more towards Bournemouth or Poole so you have more options of where to eat.
Driving around just to get there was also something to marvel at: it was all surprisingly green, full of nature, but also carefully planted with these luxury houses, most of which had this unique ‘tiered beach house’ look to them. It was like getting a peek into the lives of the elite (although it wasn’t as dramatic in reality as that probably sounds).
Sandbanks has now become one of those places that I’d absolutely love to return too: it’s one of those ‘abroad without being abroad’ destinations, and can just take you away from the hustle and bustle of your town and city. Maybe I’ve just been missing a good sandy beach, but you’d have to judge for yourselves because I definitely recommend going here during this summer (or the next summer…and the one after that).