Christchurch Quay and harbour is just south of the town centre and a hub for sailing, windsurfing and powerboating. There are several sailing clubs based here as well as watersports tuition providers and equipment shops. Family-friendly beaches around Christchurch include Avon Beach stretching along the coast to Highcliffe-on-Sea from which you can see The Needles and the Isle of Wight off into the distance on a clear day.
Christchurch Harbour is a natural harbour fringed with marshes and reeds. It’s a popular sailing destination with four square miles of race water in Christchurch Bay. There are several sailing clubs based here which organise regular competitions throughout the year. Avon Beach is popular for windsurfing and attracts windsurfers from all over the country. You can pick up windsurfing tuition as well as lessons in powerkiting, powerboating and scuba diving taught along the RYA/PADI guidelines. Boat trips are also available from Christchurch, and trips include cruises around Christchurch Harbour and further out to The Needles and Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight.
The beaches around Christchurch extend for four miles from Highcliffe, on the eastern boundary of Dorset, to Avon Beach in the west. You can access the beaches at various points from the main A337 road. Highcliffe Beach is easily accessible with a large pay and display car park minutes from Highcliffe town centre. There are modern toilet facilities and the Cliffhanger Cafe adjacent to the car park. There are walks along the top of the gorse covered slopes and down to the beach from the car park. The beach itself is a mixture of fine shingle and sand. It’s popular for walks, body boarding and swimming.
Steamer Point & Avon Beach
Steamer Point is another access point to a more pebbly beach. There is a small car park adjacent to Steamer Point wooded Nature Reserve on the cliff top. Avon Beach is a popular sandy beach with a gentle slope to the sea and safe swimming making it popular with families. Beach huts line the beach and are available to hire by the week or day. The beach area in front of the car park is designated for watersports. There is also a shop and cafe so you won’t have to go far for refreshments and buckets and spades!
Harbour Wildlife Birdwatching
Christchurch Harbour is a protected wildlife site. It’s important for its saltmarsh, heathland and sand dunes at Hengistbury Head. The harbour is a great place for birdwatcher’s and a good range of species have been seen here including Cetti’s warbler, bearded tit, spotted crake, Jack snipe, shelduck and migrating species such as wheatear, whinchat and firecrest and ospreys are also seen regularly.