Steamer Point Beach (Christchurch)

Steamer Point Beach (Christchurch) - Dorset
© Mike Faherty and licensed for reuse under this Licence

Steamer Point is a dedicated Local Nature reserve (LNR) between Friar’s Cliff and Highcliffe Castle on the Dorset Coast.  The 24-acre site offers outstanding views from the cliff tops to the beach below and out over Hengistbury Head in one direction and the Isle of Wight in the other. 

As well as trails through the woodland, and two ponds, there are picnic areas with benches overlooking the sea.  An award-winning information point offers fun activities for children. There are quite a few dead but standing trees in the reserve, which may look a little messy, but provide an excellent environment for woodpeckers and other wildlife to thrive.

The sand and shingle beach below the cliffs is generally fairly quiet and remains largely undeveloped.  At low tide a good expanse of sand is exposed.

The beach can be accessed either from Highcliffe Castle or by taking the mile-long path from Friar’s Cliff Beach. For much of the length of the beach a raised promenade runs along the base of the cliffs. 

The site of the nature reserve was once part of the gardens and grounds of Highcliffe Castle.  It was once planted with exotic plants from around the world, but in modern times, efforts have been made to replace exotic species with native plants and trees.

Around 1830 Lord Stuart de Rothsay had an old paddle steamer beached in an inlet on the beach, to use as a site office for castle builders. This is why the beach is called Steamer Point. Today nothing remains of the paddle steamer except its legacy.

Type of beach

Sand & shingle

Lifeguard service


Dogs friendly beach?

Dogs allowed

There are no dog restrictions on the beach itself. However, please make sure to keep your dog on the lead when you cross the Steamer Point Nature Reserve behind the beach.

Dorset dog friendly beaches »


  • Kayaking/canoeing
  • Jet-skiing
  • Swimming/bathing
  • Wind surfing


  • Promenade

Nearest town



BH23 4JQ

OS grid ref.

SZ 1975 9281


Pay parking for 200 cars including disabled.

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Steamer Point Beach (Christchurch) Reviews

Beautifully wild

Jan 11th 2020

Quiet, wide and wild stretch of sandy beach popular with walkers and dog walkers, flanked by steep banks of trees and plants. This is especially green and beautiful in spring and summer, with honeysuckle, blackberries and more unusual plants too. There is also a small, hidden pond and California poppies and chamomile on the rocky groyne next to the sea. I love this part of the beach and is my favourite stretch along with Friars Cliff, both just pipping the less interesting but beautiful Avon beach.

Favourite beach

May 21st 2020

Lovely beach. Stones and sand and great for walks or a picnic

Aug 03rd 2020

The Nature Reserve is not dog friendly as it is a “Nature Reserve” so should be on a lead unless you have close control of your dog. The picnic areas are lovely and the trails are great fof kids.  The beach is good and is dog friendly although mainly shingle. Not much sand unless low tide. Loads of space for everyone and safe swimming.  Cafes and toilets at Highcliffe Castle and The Beach Hut cafe both a short walk away by the car parks.


May 30th 2019

Horrible beach, so many better beaches nearby!