Discovering Bournemouth’s Hidden Gems

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This is a collaborative post; our spending money was gifted by Hotels.com, but all views are my own.

Last weekend we decided to make the most of the sunshine we’ve been having and head down to Bournemouth to enjoy the beach. It’s a bit of a drive for us, so we’ve not explored the area much before, but it’s a great place to visit, with lots of beautiful spots to visit and there are plenty of hotels in Bournemouth if you decided to stay over and make a weekend of it.

We were asked to check out some of Bournemouth’s hidden gems, so I did a bit of research to take us away from the tried and tested places and came up with Compton Acres, which is a bit further out from Bournemouth’s centre, near Poole. This place is right up our street! When you first park up, it appears to be just a little cafe and garden centre, but tucked away behind it are a series of little gardens that extend for miles. Each garden is a separate area, so you have a formal Italian garden, a woodland garden, a Japanese garden, a heather garden, and a water garden. It’s a beautiful place to wander.

The entrance to the garden centre at Compton Acres. A brick wall is covered by a vine, and a red acer stands in a pot in front of the wall.

We headed into the Italian garden first, where we got off to a rocky start when Max managed to fall over and scrape his knee! After some tears, some cuddles, and a well placed plaster, we were on our way again.

View of the Italian Garden at Compton Acres. A long rectangular pond stretches out ahead, and in the foreground there are two statues of men, facing each other, as if they're ready to fight. The pond is filled with water lillies and lined with pretty red flowers.
View of the Italian Garden at Compton Acres. A long rectangular pond stretches out ahead, filled with water lillies and lined with pretty red flowers. At the far end of the pond you can see a tall fountain

The boys both loved the water garden, and we ditched the pushchair so that they could fully explore all the bridges that wound through the garden. They loved the huge fish that were so friendly (I think they were expecting to be fed!)

Little boy reaching out to touch pine-type tree, with lots of spiny branches

The wooded valley was a lovely cool place on a hot day, and planted with a huge variety of shade loving shrubs, all nestling beneath a canopy of Scots Pine trees. The were waterfalls to be found, a sabre toothed tiger statue, and lots of jungle-like sections.

Bronze statue of sabre toothed tiger, nestled in foliage, at Compton Acres
Little hands investingating fuschia bud

The heather garden wasn’t quite at the right time of year to really see it at it’s best, but Max loved the winding paths, and pretending to be a statue.

Little boy running along path surrounded by heather
Two grey statues of a man and woman in 18th Century dress, with little boy stood in between them, looking up at them

The final garden we discovered was the Japanese Garden, and it was definitely one of the highlights. I loved the stepping stones across the water, where you could look down and see the huge fish swimming beneath.

Little boy stood underneath archway in Japanese garden
Red tea house in the Japanese garden at Compton Acres. The house is covered in wisteria (not in bloom) and overlooks a pond with lillies
Little boy walking across concrete walkway over pond in the Japanese garden at Compton Acres
Little boy walking away from the camera over a red Japanese bridge.
Little boy standing on stepping stones across a pond in a Japanese garden. Orange koi carp can be seen swimming in the pond below
Little boy crossing the stepping stones in a Japanese garden, looking down at the orange koi carp swimming below

After a morning of exploring, we were all ready for lunch, so we headed down the road to a Pizza Express (always a hit with our boys!). We’d promised them a beach day for the afternoon, so the beach it was! Rather than heading to Bournemouth beach or Sandbanks, both of which I knew would be heaving, we headed to Alum Chine, which is just between the two and never as busy. It also has the benefit of a pirate themed playground, and a tropical garden which backs onto it, meaning that there’s plenty to do should you get bored of the sand and the waves.

It’s also beach hut central, with loads of pretty pastel coloured beach huts lining the promenade.

Pastel coloured each huts at Alum Chine beach
Alum Chine beach, with row of blue beach huts in the background, with cliff behind
Close up of row of navy beach huts at Alum Chine beach, with cliffs behind, covered in purple heather

Both the boys absolutely loved the beach, and would happily have played there for hours on end, just collecting buckets of water from the sea and tipping it over the sand.

View of the sea, with sandy beach in the foreground and turquoise sea behind. A little boy is running towards the sea, holding a blue bucket
The edge of the sea at Alum Chine beach. A toddler is padding in the sea, holding a red bucket and wearing yellow dungarees. His hand is held by his dad
Father and toddler son, holding hands and walking towards the sea. The little boy is wearing yellow dungarees and holding a red bucket
Seaside scene at Alum Chine beach, with little boy walking back from the sea, carefully holding a bucket which is clearly filled with water

We also took with us a little Fish and Chip stand which we were kindly sent by Great Little Trading Company. Who doesn’t love fish and chips at the beach?

We headed home with sandy toes and two very tired little boys. We had high hopes of getting fish and chips from the local fish and chip shop once we got home, but sadly we found it was closed!