Sandbanks looking towards Bournemouth with Hengistbury Head in the distance.
The distance from Sandbanks to Hengistbury head on foot is about 10 miles (16 kms), an easy, flat walk, mostly on a wide promenade with cliffs on one side and Bournemouth Bay on the other.
However, cycling on much of the promenade is forbidden at peak times of the day during summer months.
It’s also enjoyable to take an open-top bus (regular, not a tourist special) through to Bournemouth centre where you can change to head to Hengistbury Head.
Sandbanks sand is the finest of all Bournemouth beaches though a short distance across the water (via car ferry) Shell Bay and Studland sand is arguably softer and whiter.
Silly-money Sandbanks is the finest and farthest west stretch of sand on Bournemouth Bay and runs up to the Poole Harbour ferry that clanks over to Shell Bay every 20 minutes, giving easy, invigorating access to spectacular Studland beaches.
Sand along the bay ranges from occasional pebbles around the east (Hengistbury) sector through fine beige around Bournemouth Pier and very fine light gold sand around Sandbanks – quite appropriate considering the cost of property around there.
Those houses vaguely visible are very pricey, in fact, before the crunch this small piece of real estate was the fourth most expensive land by sq metre in the world. But you can still laze and bathe here! (If you can find a parking spot).
There is a useful kid’s playground next to the massive Sandbanks car park (but get there early if the weather’s good) and all the facilities a beach bum could ask for.