Palm trees line the seafront and you might even spot a lizard darting under a rock – tropical isle? Nope, Bournemouth!
The golden sands are a given, but what else is there to do besides sitting on the beach?
Here are 8 more ways to make your Bournemouth trip even better, courtesy of photographer Diana Jarvis.
1. Cycle along the prom
The best thing about cycling by the seaside here is that the land is perfectly flat and you can roll for miles without really feeling the strain. From Bournemouth you can get as far as Hengistbury Head to the east and Sandbanks in the west – a 9-mile stretch in total – without having to venture on to the roads. Or take your bike on the chain ferry at Sandbanks and continue right on to Dorset’s Purbeck peninsula. Rent a bike from Front Bike Hire, right on the seafront.
2. Experience an ‘End of the Pier Show’ with a difference
There was a time when ‘End of the Pier’ meant a band of merry musicians, a theatre troupe and a bit of magic, but these days even the wooden helter-skelter has gone. It’s all about adrenalin now and in Bournemouth you can get your nine seconds of buzz from the latest pier addition, Rock Reef PierZip, the world's first pier-to-beach zip wire.
3. All aboard the Land Train
If all that activity is just a little bit too much, why not opt for the Land Train instead? You can happily access the quieter seaside spots, as well as the surfer hang-out of Boscombe, without having to walk all the way.
4. Jam with the musical trail on Boscombe pier
Wander down Boscombe pier to find a number of interactive sculptures that are, in fact, musical instruments! It's fun for kids and adults alike and on a blustery day you might find yourself jamming with the wind as it whistles along the pier.
5. Eat at the Urban Reef, Boscombe
Want to try some fresh, local and seasonal produce? Boscombe’s Urban Reef is the place to head. They offer huge plates of fish and chips and burgers, but it’s the tapas-style small plates where you’ll find the most innovative concoctions – Dorset crab paté on sourdough or crayfish cocktail with guacamole, anyone?
6. Hang out with the penguins at the Oceanarium
And the jellyfish, the graceful turtles, the myriad tropical fish, the sharks, the stingrays and the rest of the sea-creature gang – all present and correct at the fabulous Oceanarium.
7. Marvel at Art Nouveau opulence at the Russell Cotes Museum
Lucky wife Annie Russell-Cotes was the recipient of a rather lavish gift from her husband, Merton Russell-Cotes – a cliff-top house designed in Art Nouveau style, now the Russell Cotes Museum. The former town mayor chose this spot for his exotic seaside villa, which he and Annie then filled with glorious artworks and other treasures.
8. Watch the sunset from Hengistbury Head
Just a short drive (or bike ride) along the front will take you to a spit of land known as Hengistbury Head. Here you can scramble up the dunes or walk along the shingle beach to see geography in action, as the shifting sands move the the land ever seawards. On a clear day you can see both Boscombe and Bournemouth piers and beyond to the Purbeck peninsula.
Diana Jarvis is a freelance travel and outdoors photographer. You can see more of her work at Diana Jarvis Photography
All images by Diana Jarvis