THREE of the best beaches in the country are right here on our doorstep in Dorset, according to a new poll published today.

Hengistbury Head in Bournemouth, Sandbanks in Poole and Weymouth Beach have been named in the UK’s top ten beaches listed by the TripAdvisor company.

Chris Saunders, Bournemouth tourism seafront and business development manager, said: “Bournemouth Tourism is delighted that Hengistbury Head has been named fourth best beach in the UK and 16th in Europe by Trip Advisor’s Annual Travellers’ Choice Beaches awards.

“As a Special Area for Conservation, it is a stunning location for visitors and residents to see and spend time, with some great facilities including a cafe, watersports centre, and it will soon be home to a new £1.2m thatched visitor centre featuring interactive displays, which is opening this spring.

“We are extremely pleased that it has been recognised for the beautiful beach that it is, complementing Bournemouth’s seven miles of award winning beach equipped with fantastic facilities and attractions, which make the town a brilliant beach destination for all ages.”

Cllr Xena Dion, spokesman for Poole council’s leisure and culture said: “Our beaches are an extremely important part of our environment. “Not only are they a major attraction for visitors but they work to protect against coastal erosion.

“We work very hard to maintain our beaches to a high standard and it is fantastic that Sandbanks has been recognised as one of the country’s top 10 beaches in what is a very influential website.

“We are very proud that Sandbanks has achieved the most Blue Flags of any beach in the country and it is popular with both tourists and residents.

“It is great that Sandbanks has been recognised for the beautiful beach that we all know and love, as part of Poole’s three and a half miles of glorious sandy beaches.”

James Kay, TripAdvisor spokesperson, said: “These awards recognise the best beaches in the UK according to the travellers that have visited and given them the highest levels of praise.”

The awards are based on the quality and quantity of reviews over a 12 month period.

Top ten
1. Rhossili Bay, Gower, Wales
2. Woolacombe Beach, Woolacombe, Devon
3. Porthminster Beach, St Ives, Cornwall
4. Hengistbury Head, Bournemouth, Dorset
5. Perranporth Beach, Perranporth, Cornwall
6. Longsands Beach, Tynemouth, North Tyneside
7. Weymouth Beach, Weymouth, Dorset
8. Fistral Beach, Newquay, Cornwall
9. Sandbanks, Poole, Dorset
10. Nairn Beach, Nairn, Scotland