DAY 1 09:00 Recently voted the best beach in Britain, it’s a splendid setting for a break.
First stop, and your base for the day, is the quintessential British Beach Hut, available to hire from £34 per day during July and August. Just down the road at Boscombe, the stylish Beach Pods are £190 per week. Designed by Wayne Hemingway, these trendy huts will provide you with oodles of retro beach nostalgia, as well as offer some much-needed shade.
11:00 A few hundred yards’ walk along Undercliff Drive will lead you to the Bournemouth Surf School. Take a lesson for £35 or hire a wetsuit and board for £10 for two hours and a try out the town’s artificial reef.
13:00 After all that strenuous activity, refuel at Urban Reef, located at the rejuvenated Honeycomb Beach, with a crab wrap for £8.50 and smoothie for £3.60.
14:00 Continue the action with a bike ride. Hire some wheels at Front Bike Hire from £5 for the hour (or £15 for 24 hours) and ride east past Boscombe Pier and the quiet Fisherman’s Walk beach to the Bronze Age site of Hengistbury Head. Here you can see an abundance of local wildlife, plus the historical ‘double dykes’.
15:00 Head back to your beach hut and take the land train (01202 451 781) from Boscombe Pier to Bournemouth. The train leaves every 20 mins during peak season and costs £2 one way or £5 for a day pass. Explore the seafront and grab an ice cream from the arcade entrance as you stroll along the Victorian Pier. If the weather is a little inclement, push past the kids at The Oceanarium for a £9.95pp underwater aquarium experience where you will learn the secrets of the ocean.
17:00 Take a walk through the blooming marvellous Bournemouth Gardens, pull up a deck chair and listen to the big tunes at the band stand. Grab a putter and have a go at the Crazy Golf (01202 451 781) circuit for £3.30pp.
19:00 Just a bit further north through the lower gardens is the Bournemouth Balloon. This permanent fixture rises to the height of 150m and gives a 360-degree panoramic view. Tickets cost £12.50pp.
21:00 Grab a classic burger for £6.95 and a beer from £3.10 at hipster bar Sixty Million Postcards. Check out the local musos and keep eyes peeled for a visit from famous alumni.
23:00 Finish the night off by hitting ‘the strip’ for a well- deserved boogie. Walkabout is a popular choice with the locals for a bit of cheese or Chilli White for posing and pulling. Hit Camel Bar for a shisha in the underground garden and party on until 6am.
10:00 You may be feeling a little delicate, so head to Norwegian Wood (1 Glen Fern Road) for a humongous traditional English breakfast.
11:00 Escape the sun and browse around The Russell-Cotes Museum for £5pp. This museum holds artefacts collected during the 1800s by locals Merton and Annie Russell-Cotes on their travels around the world.
13:00 Take the M1 or M2 bus from Bournemouth Square to Poole bus station. From here, it’s a five-minute walk to Poole Quay, where you can sip an ale from one of the seafarer’s inns. The Poole Arms (19 The Quay, Poole) serves great locally caught seafood. Then, for a scenic view, hop aboard the Bournemouth Belle for £10.50pp return to see the world’s second-biggest natural harbour (after Sydney) taking in the mega-rich, celebrity hideaway of Sandbanks.
15:00 Catch the ferry to the pretty Brownsea Island for £9.50pp. The island is the last outpost of the native red squirrel.
18:00 Return to the throng of Bournemouth and shake your thing at Pavilion Dance. Lessons range from showgirl to west coast swing for £5pp.
20:00 Recharge your batteries at the top-notch Westbeach for sumptuous seafood. Mains start at £12.50, and wine from £19.95 per bottle. Chill out to soulful tunes as you watch the sun set.
22:00 You may be feeling full so don’t stray too far. 1812 is the right side of grown-up cool with classy cocktails with live jazz at the weekends.
National rail from London Waterloo to Bournemouth from £16 one way with Southwest Trains: southwesttrains.co.uk. Coach from London Victoria with National Express from £4 each way: www.nationalexpress.com.