Known as the Golden Gateway to Dorset's Jurassic Coast, West Bay is renowned for its striking sandstone sea cliffs and has a pretty fishing harbour and two great beaches. It's ideally positioned for exploring, affording easy access onto the South West Coast Path and to the magnificent rocky shoulder of Golden Cap, a high point on the south coast with spectacular views across Lyme Bay. Chesil beach to the east and fossil finding country around Lyme Regis to the west are within easy reach. The National Trust own and care for much of the coastline between West Bay and Charmouth.
The old railway line is now a scenic walking route to Bridport (around a 20 minute walk or quick bus ride) to the north, and around the beautiful harbour and marina sit a wide choice of restaurants, inns, cafes and refreshment kiosks selling ice creams and fish and chips. West Bay is a great family seaside location with its two beaches - East and West Beach. Crab fishing is popular around the harbour, or enjoy a fishing or pleasure boat trip from the harbour along the Jurassic Coast. Rowing boats are also available to hire for leisurely trips up the River Brit. West Bay has a pitch and putt course and an 18-hole golf course, a swimming pool, arcade and children's play areas.
West Bay's beaches, East beach and West beach, are popular not only for relaxing and sunbathing, but also to get a closer look at the Jurassic rocks exposed on the seaward side of Golden Cap. West Beach is particularly good for younger children as there is a protective cove between the harbour's west pier and the esplanade's rock armour. East Beach is a mix of sand and shingle and extends along Chesil Beach to Portland Bill. The sharply cut golden sandstone cliffs at West Bay were laid down in the Jurassic period and are around 180 million years old!
Lyme Bay is an excellent area for diving. There are around sixty known wrecks in this area which is also known as "The Bay of a Thousand Wrecks"! Off-shore there are numerous reef and drift dive sites where you can see a diverse array of marine wildlife. West Bay Diving offer dive boat trips and dive training. If you fancy learning how to navigate your own way around the seas, Lyme Bay Sea School offer powerboat training following the RYA National Powerboat Scheme
Above the golden cliffs to the east of West Bay is Bridport and West Dorset Golf Club. This is a stunning cliff-top golf course with far reaching views of the Jurassic Coast, Chesil beach and Lyme Bay. The sixth hole, Port Coombe, is the course's signature hole voted one of the top 100 golf holes in the world and only 133 yards, but dropping from the top of the cliff to a green almost at sea level far below! Visitors are warmly welcomed.
Just east of West Bay is Burton Bradstock, a pretty historic village with Saxon roots - the Saxons called it Brideton, the village of the river Bride. It was once a rope making centre but couldn't compete with nearby rope making centre Bridport. To improve their fortunes England's first flax mill, Grove Mill, was built where cords and shoelaces were spun. Today Burton Bradstock is noted for its sixteenth and seventeenth century thatched cottages and its fifteenth century church St Mary the Virgin. You can follow the town's historic walking trail, The Robert's Trail, named after the entrepreneur Richard Roberts who put Burton Bradstock on the map by building up the hemp and flax businesses in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The trail leaflet is available from the village Post Office for a nominal fee.
Hive beach at Burton Bradstock is a long shingle beach backed by stunning yellow sandstone cliffs. Overlooking the beach is Hive Beach Cafe renowned for its seafood and friendly welcome. Rick Stein has visited and commented on it. The cafe is open seven days a week and there is ample parking nearby. Hive Beach is a popular shore diving site. Underwater you can see the Jurassic geology. The sea floor in front of the car park is a reef of boulders, in front of the cliffs it's a series of sandstone platforms; between the two is the fault that runs west from the beach. Marine life you can expect to see on a dive include pout, greater pipefish, butterfish, ballan and corking wrasse, velvet swimming crabs, hermit and spider crabs and cuttlefish.
Charming small heritage hotels, guest houses and old inns with rooms are available around West Bay centre near beaches, and on the outskirts you'll find an excellent choice of family friendly holiday and caravan parks. Lots of accommodation in the area welcomes dogs - West Bay with its many trails, cliff top walks and easy access onto the South West Coast Path is a great spot for holidays and short breaks with active dogs. Riverside and country cottages are plentiful in the area, and B&B accommodation in West Bay is perfect for walkers and relaxing breaks, with hearty breakfasts inclusive and extras such as packed lunches happily provided.