Close Icon
Portland beaches

Explore the wild and wonderful Chesil Beach, situated on the stunning Jurassic Coast. With a sprawling coastline of shingle to discover, as well as unique species, this Dorset landmark is a must-visit. 

Creating a natural barrier against the coastal tides as well as a unique habitat, this Dorset beach is a special landscape. Discover birds, marine life and plants as you drink in the coastal scenery.

Chesil Beach is a distinctive place, home to shingle rather than sand and well-known for its excellent fishing spots. Behind the beach, you will find the calming Fleet Lagoon, an important feeding ground for many wildlife.

Plus, literary fanatics can see Ian McEwan’s renowned novel On Chesil Beach come to life. Stroll along the beachfront to walk in the same footsteps of Edward and Florence.

Continue reading to learn more about Chesil Beach…

How long is Chesil Beach?

Measuring 18 Miles long and up to 50 feet high in places, Chesil Beach, Weymouth is an integral part of the Jurassic Coast landscape. This UNESCO World Heritage Site, encompasses a shallow tidal lagoon and fleet, as well as miles of shingle and pebble beach.

Chesil Beach tide times

Keep up to date with the tidal times here.

Can you swim at Chesil Beach?


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by West Bay UK (@westbayuk)

The best place to swim is at West Bay where the water is shallower. Throughout Summer, there will be lifeguards around too, so you should feel safe! However, swimming is not advised at other points of the beach due to the strong tides.

Opening times

The beach is open all year round! From the 1st of January till the 31st of December.

Where is Chesil Beach?

Where is Chesil Beach

This extensive single barrier is located on the southern coast of England in Dorset. Stretching from Portland to West Bay, there is so much so see along the way.

Take in the sweeping vistas of the Jurassic Coast as you amble the English Channel. And on your way, you can also see how the size and shape of the stones change along the stretch. From golf ball sizes in the east, to shingle in the west.


Check-out this map to view Chesil Beach from Weymouth to West Bay.

Chesil Beach Dorset fishing

Fishing at the beach

Tick off fishing at Chesil Beach in Weymouth to see a variety of sea creatures. With 18 miles to explore, this shingle beach is superb for all fishing abilities.

Discover a range of species, big and small, as well as different points to suit your preferences. Whether you’re looking for a quiet spot away from the crowds or a busier place, there is something for everyone.

Due to the sprawling length of this coastline, it is useful to break the beach down into points. Each part of the beach specialises in different species and this is worth keeping in mind.

To target mackerel, plaice, and small eyed rays, pick a spot at Cogden Beach and West Bexington. Whereas for cod and undulate ray you’ll want to head to Abbotsbury. Other great places to fish include Masonic, The Cove, Moonfleet, Ferry Bridge and many more!


Check the Chesil Beach weather before your trip to help plan what to pack and wear. The south coast of Dorset is the driest, however, it’s always best to check beforehand.



Sunset on Portland beach

Time your visit right to catch the breath-taking sunset at Chesil Beach. Unwind with your favourite people as you admire the pink sky and fresh sea-air.

You can watch the sunset with delicious food from The Cove House Inn and the Hive Beach Café, both overlooking the beach.

On Chesil Beach book


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Endpaper_books (@endpaper_books)

Fans of Ian McEwan’s critically acclaimed book can soak up the scene of their favourite novel. Watched the film adaption too? Even better! You can explore the real set of On Chesil Beach and admire the stillness, which is captured on screen.


Mother and child on Chesil Beach

Depending on which point you would like to enter Chesil Beach in Dorset at, there are a few post codes to type into your Sat Nav. However, the most useful one would be the Chesil Beach Visitor Centre,  DT4 9XE.

Chesil Beach car park

zoomed in pebbles

Depending on where you are wanting to access the beach, there are ample car parks available. For parking in the eastern end, you can leave your vehicle at Portland at the Chesil Beach Visitor Centre.

It is open 24 hours a day and there are 616 spaces on offer, including disabled spaces. Charges apply Monday- Sunday, day and night. See prices here.

Likewise, there is a car park near Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens, where you can pick up a hot beverage from the café.

Then, access to the beach is just over a little ramp. Alternatively, if you wish to join the beach from the Western side, you can find payable car parks at West Bay, Burton Bradstock and West Bexington.

Chesil Beach visitor centre

Chesil Beach café

Refuel your adventure to the beach with a spot of lunch at the visitor centre. Enjoy delicious breakfast or  a light lunch at the Taste café. Or for something fancy, why not tuck into a delightful afternoon tea?

As well as a good menu, the visitor centre offers fantastic learning opportunities for all ages. Immerse yourselves in the local history, and you can also check the marine touch table.

From here, you can also enjoy boat trips on the Fleet Explorer in the summer months and soak up the sea-views.

Is Chesil Beach man-made?

Although this is a special strip of sand, unlike another beach in the UK, it is not man-made. It was formed mostly of sandy deposits from Lyme Bay around 15-20,000 years ago.

This occurred at the end of the very last Ice Age, when the sea levels started to rise, eroding gravel and cliffs. To learn more about the formation of Chesil Beach, visit the website. And if you’re interested in more of Lyme Bay’s past, enjoy a stay in one of these charming Lyme Regis holiday cottages.



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Chesil Watch (@vibrantstays)

Walking the whole 18 miles can be challenging and is described as a moderate walk.  Start your journey from the visitors centre and grab a steaming cup of coffee before continuing. Discover stunning lagoons on your journey and keep an eye out for birds for excellent photos.

You are spoilt for choice as to where you can enjoy Chesil Beach with its various entry points. Catch mackerel from the beach at Weymouth and Portland or soak up lush countryside from Abbotsbury.

Whilst in Abbotsbury, you can admire the hidden gem, Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens before heading down to the beach. Before your trip, you can also read our comprehensive blog: Your Guide to Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens.

Plus, you can enter from Burton Bradstock; here you can admire chocolate box cottages on your stroll. And enjoy fossil hunting at West Bay, backed by golden cliffs. Or why not explore the hidden gem that is Cogden Beach with its marshes and wildness?

With so many beautiful places to stay, you are spoilt for choice, from charming cottages, to harbour side apartments. Secure a coastal retreat and check-out these Chesil Beach holiday cottages.