When you think about a holiday in the New Forest, a day at the beach probably isn’t the first thing that springs to mind. With a gorgeous, largely unspoilt coastline along the Solent though, the national park really is one of the best locations in the south for sandcastles, ice-cream and working on your tan!
Here are our recommendations of the best New Forest beaches to hit during your camping trip.
Visit this safe, shingle beach for views across the Solent to the Isle of Wight. As for things to do, Barton on Sea is one of the best spots for fossil hunting, being famous for over 600 species of shells. If the weather turns windy, the clifftop above the beach is a perfect kite flying hot spot.
Sitting at the entrance to Southampton Water, this beach is well known as a haven for water sports. Sailing, windsurfing and kayaking can all be enjoyed here, with equipment for hire and qualified instruction available from Calshot Activity Centre.
Set within the Lepe Country Park, a short distance from Calshot, Lepe enjoys some of the most stunning sunsets in the area. Make use of the restaurant and tea rooms, open daily throughout the summer months and the facilities available in the country park.
Mudeford is a delightfully family-friendly spot that caters very well for younger children. Even the journey to the beach will entertain the little ones as you choose between a short ferry ride from Mudeford Quay or a ride on the little land train from Hengistbury Head car park. The warm yellow sand here makes it one of the best beaches for lazing in the sun while the kids paddle in the surf.
Although not strictly in the New Forest, no guide would be complete without mentioning the quintessential seaside town, just a short drive to the west from the national park. Once a sleepy retirement community, Bournemouth is now a vibrant and bustling town with wonderful beaches to complement the wide selection of cafes and restaurants. Try Alum Chine beach with its adventure playground and tropical gardens, or take a stroll along one of the piers at Boscombe or Bournemouth central beach.
A short camping break in the New Forest offers the opportunity for everything from shady forest walks in sylvan woodlands to pony trekking and cycling through sunlit glades; just make sure you don’t miss out on the wonderful coastline gracing its southern edge. With a beach to suit all visitors, you’re certain to discover your perfect day out on the sand.
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