At West Bay, crumbling golden cliffs of sand reveal falling sea levels from some 175 million years ago. Here the mighty Chesil Beach – 18 miles long, born from landslides that eroded after the last ice age around 20,000 years ago – finds its western end.

In summer the shingle hosts the sound of laughter and the smell of BBQs. When winter storms blow in to thunder along these shores the cliffs and beaches shift and change. Rocks fall, reminding us that this natural place hides dangers as well as pleasures.

At nearby Bridport Museum, fossil brittle stars, ammonites and other sea creatures on display offer a vivid glimpse of the long lost sea now seen preserved in rock at West Bay.

How to Get There

The Jurassic Coaster bus service runs through Bridport and West Bay. The nearest railway stations are at Axminster to the west and Dorchester to the east. By road, Bridport and West Bay are signposted from the A35.

For further information, visit our travel page.

West Bay - East Cliff image
The stunning East Cliff at West Bay. © Steve Belasco - stevebelasco.net

Car Parking & Facilities

There are several short stay and long stay car parks at West Bay. Visit Parkopedia for a map and charges for the various parking areas.

There are public toilets available on either side of the harbour, including disabled toilets.

West Bay features a long promenade, a flat harbour and pier walks, making it a great location for those with limited mobility.

Ramps are available to some areas of West Beach, but no matting. There are accessible picnic benches on eastern Esplanade, and an accessible children’s play area adjacent to the town’s long stay car park.

Clifftop South West Coast Path
East Beach at West Bay

Beach Information & Dogs

West Bay contains two beaches – the well-visited East Beach, backed by the stunning East Cliff, and the less-visited West Beach. Both are fine shingle beaches.

West Beach is more suitable for families as it is flatter and the sea more sheltered. At East Cliff the beach slopes quite steeply into the sea and there are some areas of sand at the water’s edge.

The sandstone cliffs at East Cliff are imposing and unstable. Visitors should observe the various warning signs around the beach and stay well away from the base of the cliffs, as rockfalls have been known to occur on this stretch of beach.

West Beach is often used for bathing. Bathing at East Beach can be dangerous as the beach shelves steeply and there is a strong undertow. Take care on the shoreline because sudden large waves can engulf people at the water’s edge. RNLI Lifeguards patrol during high season at East Cliff.

No dogs are allowed between 1 May – 1 October in the area of East Pier to East Cliffs, and West Pier to West Cliffs. See the below video for information on taking dogs to the beaches at West Bay.

West Bay pebble close-up - Alan Piper
Pebble at West Bay, with the golden East Cliff in the background. © Alan Piper via Flickr.

Where to Stay

We recommend staying at the fabulous Highlands End Holiday Park (pictured here) or Graston Copse Holiday Park, both within easy reach of West Bay.

You can also book a cottage in the area with holidaycottages.co.uk.

For a comprehensive list of local options, visit our Accommodation page.

Highlands End Holiday Park in Eype.

Things to Do

West Bay

West Bay Seafront

Once known as Bridport Harbour, West Bay lies at the mouth of the River Brit. The seafront has two piers and is lined with old cottages, characterful kiosks and an early 19th-centuary customs house. Until the mid-19th century, the main trade was exporting Bridport’s ropes and nets.

west bay harbour
The harbour at West Bay, west Dorset.

East Cliff

The golden strata of nearby East Cliff are one of the most distinctive features of the Jurassic Coast, and the area is very popular with walkers.

East Beach has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and forms one end of Chesil Beach, which extends 18 miles south east to the Isle of Portland. The cliffs here are very unstable, so it’s important to keep well clear of the cliff edges and bases.

West Bay - East Cliff
East Cliff as seen from the sea. © Steve Belasco - stevebelasco.net

West Bay Discovery Centre

West Bay Discovery Centre tells the story of West Bay past and present featuring information, static and interactive displays, oral history and walking trails, with something of interest for all ages.

The centre is housed in the former Methodist Chapel just to the rear of the Bridport Arms Car Park, close to the harbour and beach. Admission is free although donations are welcome.

West Bay Discovery Centre
West Bay Discovery Centre

Walks Around West Bay

The area around West Bay is exceptional for walks, both along the South West Coast Path and venturing inland.

For some walking inspiration, check out our downloadable walking routes, or pick up an OS Map of the area from our shop.

West Bay - How to Get There
View of West Bay from the South West Coast Path. © Lee via Flickr.com

Rebecca’s West Bay to Seatown Walk

Rebecca leads us on a walk from West Bay to Seatown.

Starting at the West Bay Discovery Centre, this scenic walk takes in Eype and Thorncombe Beacon before finishing in the gorgeous coastal village of Seatown.

Download our free walking guide, and watch the video below.

West Bay - Rebecca - West Bay Discovery Centre

Bridport

Bridport is a small market town in West Dorset which lies around two miles inland from West Bay. The town has a world-renowned rope and net making industry – and hence some of the widest streets in the country.

Lively street markets have been held there for over 400 years and still take place every Wednesday and Saturday.

Bridport - Phil Beard
Buckydoo Square in Bridport. © Phil Beard

Bridport Museum

Bridport Museum tells the story of the town, from Roman times through to the present day. The museum also features a Jurassic Coast Gallery, containing fossils found on the nearby stretch of coastline, and the partial skeleton of a Pliosaur discovered at Golden Cap in 2004.

bridport museum
Bridport Museum, home to some spectacular Jurassic Coast fossils.

Need to Know: Broadchurch

In recent years, West Bay has become best known as the setting for the popular TV drama Broadchurch. The spectacular cliffs have become a familiar backdrop for the series, and it’s even possible to take a Broadchurch-themed guided walk.

West Bay - support
Yacht sailing by East Cliff, near West Bay. © Steve Belasco - stevebelasco.net