One of the great places that my husband and I visited recently is Bournemouth. Bournemouth is located in the south coast of England in the county of Dorset. There is one thing that is very interesting about this place I found out, all the beaches are full of golden sands. So different than some other beaches here in England which are full of pebbles and even rocks.
Bournemouth is accessible by cars, coaches, trains, and planes. We used our car to travel to Bournemouth simply for convenience and saving money. We find that trains are so expensive to use and because we come from Sussex, it is easier to use our car and have the convenience as well of not rushing to catch a coach or train and we are not tied to a timetable of travelling. We can also stop and have a break when we want along the way and enjoy the scenic way to Bournemouth as well.
On our way to Bournemouth, we passed the lovely New Forest with lovely trees and panoramic views. It was fantastic to see.
Places to Stay in Bournemouth
Bournemouth offers a wide variety of small and big hotels, B&B's, self-catering places and guest houses to stay in. If you like posh hotels, there are so many to mention, there's the Hermitage Hotel near the Pier which is in a very good location because you are just a few minutes away from the Pier and the Bournemouth main shopping centre.
If you like a small but nice hotels, there are so many a little farther away from the main shopping area but you have to be prepared to walk before you find the main shopping centre in Bournemouth. There are buses and taxis that offers good service as well. There is also a train station, Asda supermarket and Bournemouth airport near the Lea Hurst Hotel in Frances Road where we stayed.
Lea Hurst Hotel is a very nice, clean and compact hotel, owned and run by a young couple-Kat and James who were very nice hosts. They made sure we had a pleasant stay with them. Full English breakfast was included in the amount we paid for the hotel. Breakfast was delicious and enough to keep us full until supper time. There is also a choice of light breakfast food like cereals, fruit salads, boiled eggs, butter and marmalade, toast, orange juices, fruit jams and other fruit juices, coffees and teas.
The rooms are very clean and have en suite showers or bathrooms and toilets. They also provide tea and coffees in the rooms, so we can have tea or coffee anytime we want and also some shampoos and soaps. They were also very kind to give us some guides about the places to visit and where we can find them.
The only snag with this hotel is that, it is a little faraway from the main shopping centre. But if you like walking, then there is no problem. There is a 20 minute walk to find the main shopping centre of Bournemouth. I am not complaining but just pointing out the downside to this hotel.
The walk provided us with the exercise that we don't do normally and it is part of the fun exploring the place. I suppose after eating a good full English breakfast it is good to walk and stretch a little bit, enjoy the fresh air of Bournemouth and discover where everything is. It was a pleasant walk anyway.
Shops, Cafes and Restaurants in Bournemouth
Bournemouth offers varied and interesting shops, cafes and restaurants but you have to be prepared to go around and walk a lot to find them. It is kind of going up on a hill or going downhill where the shops are located. Be prepared to do a lot of walking and exploring. I suppose it is a good exercise because it gives you the appetite to try the different mix of restaurants and cafes as well as shops of different merchandise.
I must say Bournemouth caters for everyones' taste as it has lots of English, Indian, Chinese, Italian, Mexican, Brazilian, Polish, American restaurants and many more places to eat. Lots of small and big cafes or restaurants along each shopping places, so you have somewhere to stop and have a cup of tea or coffee or a pizza before you carry on to the next shop.
Shopping is like an adventure itself in Bournemouth as you will have to either climb a hill or go down a hill to shop. But it makes it more interesting and fun because you discover shops that you have not been to anywhere in England before like the Beales. I never seen one in Brighton before.
Bournemouth's Main Shopping Centre
From our hotel, we walked about 20 minutes to find the Bournemouth main shopping centre. It was a good walk to the level where there are small shops, post office and restaurants then down the hill again with more shops and more restaurants and cafes.
Then we found some banks, restaurants and more shops until we found the level where most of the shops and restaurants are located. We saw pizza places, restaurants and bus stations with lots of yellow buses which is located near the main shopping centre in Bournemouth. There is a big café on the level where everyone seems to be chilling out watching some Charity Event that was going on at the time to raise money for their charity.
Then you have to climb up the Hill for more shops and restaurants. Loads of different shops that caters for everyone's need. I mean you really have to walk up the hill or down the hill if you want the shops and restaurants there. Then just five minutes away from the main shopping centre is the Bournemouth Pier where it is loaded with lots of activities for both young and adults. Bournemouth is very well known for its golden sandy beaches
Bournemouth Aruba Pier
Bournemouth Pier is located about five minutes walk from the main shopping centre. It is called the Aruba Pier on the front of the pier. Probably, this is the busiest part of Bournemouth apart from the shops as it has so many activities that are happening here like the Bournemouth Big Wheel, the Oceanarium, amusement arcade, Bournemouth's golden sandy beach, Land train, water fountain, Rock Reef adventure, relaxing on the beach, walking on the sandy beach, Zipwire activity and many more to do here on the Pier.
Bournemouth Big Wheel is found at the front of the pier. This big wheel is open for the summer season from May 10 to September 5 during the year from 10am to 10pm daily. It offers fantastic sea views at the top of the wheel when you ride on it. The only time the wheel will not operate is when there is very bad weather conditions. The admission charge is quite reasonable and fair.
Prices of admission Tickets for the Wheel:
- Adults – £5
- Child – £4
- Family ticket(2 adults & 2kids) – £16
- Student(with valid ID) – £4
- BH residents discounts of 10% with valid proof of residency
Senior citizens – £3.50
To the right of the Pier at the entrance is the Oceanarium which is Bournemouth's Aquarium with lots of sea creatures to see like Penguin, turtles, otters, crocodiles, sharks, stingrays, fishes and other sea creatures. This is a good attraction for a family with children. The kids love watching the sea creatures as well as adults. I think the penguins are great.
After entering the Aruba Pier, you will find the amusement air-conditioned arcade, where there are gaming machines including slot machines, then after this there is a ticket booth where you get tickets to enter the Pier. I was a little surprised because in Brighton Pier in Sussex, we don't pay to get into the pier. It costs us £1.20 each to get in which is quite reasonable. But you can use it all day and all year to get in the Pier.
To be honest Brighton Pier is better and longer than Bournemouth Pier but Bournemouth Pier has golden sandy beaches to offer which is a national treasure and makes the place more interesting. Brighton has pebbly beach and also a lovely place to visit especially during the summer. Anyway both seaside towns has loads to offer in many different ways.
Ticket type —Ticket tariff
Adults day/season pass – £1.20
Family day/season pass – £3.50(2 adults & 3children)
Junior day/season pass – £0.80
Under 5's, 1 carer and disabled person are free to enter the pier.
Bournemouth Aruba Pier is open from January 1 to December 31 during the year. There are shops at the front and at the left hand side of the pier where you can buy ice creams, soft drinks, pasties and souvenirs for your loved ones or friends.
After walking further from the ticket booth, you will find the Rock Reef adventure place, the Pier Cave adventure, Key West bar and Grill, Zip Wire adventure and children's rides at the end of the Pier.
The Rock Reef adventure is a climbing challenge using the "Clip and Climb" concept. This adventure is more like for youngsters really with lots of energy to climb. I did not give it a try because I know I can't climb.
Pier Cave Adventure includes three levels of challenge and the Highline obstacle course.
Key West Bar and Grill is found near the end of the Pier. It is open all year round and serves hot food and hot drinks like tea, hot chocolates and coffees. A place to enjoy a hot cup of tea and some scones. I find that this place is a little bit pricey. The Aruba bar and restaurant is also located above the Pier providing beautiful sea views. The sea view is fantastic on a very sunny day from the Pier. Everywhere you look, there's golden sands on the beach and deep blue water on the sea. It is beautiful to see.
At the end of the Pier is the Zip Wire Challenge where you hang on a rope with safety belt and hat of course and slide down the wire to the Beach at the front. I did not have the courage to hang myself(not literally) and slide along the wire. So I just watch people do it. For those who are up for this challenge, it must be exciting for them as they slide along the wire from the end of the Pier to the Beach near the front entrance. At the end of the Pier are some amusement rides for the children as well. The view from the end of the Pier is fantastic. The golden sandy beach looks wonderful and the blue water on the sea as well.
Land Train – A train that runs along the Bournemouth coastlines sandy beach from the Pier. You can take this train to visit Poole and on the other direction, the train runs from Bournemouth Pier to Boscombe Pier, the Beach Lodges, and onto Boscombe Chine Gardens and Boscombe High Street. Or if you feel energetic you can walk on the sandy beaches and explore.
There are deck chairs, sunbeds, parasols and windbreaks for hire when you just want to enjoy a good rest on Bournemouth's golden sandy beaches. There were also a few fountain of water bursting from the pavement on the front of the Pier. I saw lots of children enjoying it. It must be a good cooling agent during the hot weather for the kids.
Bournemouth Pier is definitely one of the must see places when you go and visit Bournemouth. Lots of activities and competitive adventures here which caters for both young and adults.
Bournemouth Aruba Pier
Bournemouth Lower Gardens
Bournemouth Lower gardens – are only five minute walk away from the main shopping centre of Bournemouth, the golden sandy beach and the Bournemouth Pier. There is a large rock garden which was built in the 1930's. I saw lots of people are chilling out here. There are lots of big trees, tropical plants and some lovely flowers. There are other gardens in Bournemouth which I have not visited, maybe next visit.
Bournemouth Hop On-Hop Off Tour Bus
Bournemouth offers a tour bus that takes tourist or people around the whole town of Bournemouth. I recommend going on a tour bus especially if you have not been to Bournemouth before. As I have said earlier, the place is a little bit hilly and the shops, cafes, restaurants are scattered everywhere you go.
So with the tour bus, you can hop on and hop off the bus as many times as you like to explore the places as long as you a ticket. It cost from £12.00, it depends on which ticket you want to buy. There is a 24 hour ticket and a 48 hour ticket. This Hop On-Hop Off tour bus has 25 stops which give you the opportunity to visit the places you like to see most.
Bournemouth also have very colourful yellow buses that serves the whole town. So if you get tired walking up the hills, you can take the yellow bus. There are also other coloured buses which might belong to other companies. There is the taxi as well if you want a different transport other than the buses.
St. Peter's Church in Bournemouth
As I was going down to the shops this church caught my attention. It is a beautiful church with stained glass windows and can be found at the back of Beales. It is a lovely church close to the town centre. I found out later it is called St. Peter's church.
Would you consider visiting Bournemouth?
Map of Bournemouth, England
© 2018 Linda Bryen