Some of Hampshire's best beaches are on Hayling Island, awarded the prestigious Blue Flag for their cleanliness and facilities. Hayling Island was the birthplace of windsurfing, and is still a leading centre for the sport. Stretches of coast on Hayling and between Portsmouth and Southampton, are backed by farmland, or nature reserves. Stokes Bay at Gosport also meets the exacting quality standards for sea-water cleanliness.
Among the most attractive beaches are those at Calshot and Lepe where the Country Park is surrounded by nature reserves. Here the views take in all the shipping passing in and out of Southampton Water, and sailing craft from Hamble and Cowes. At Netley, the Royal Victoria Country Park overlooks the approaches to the port, as well as the dramatic Fawley Oil Refinery. Further beaches can be enjoyed at Milford on Sea and New Milton, opposite the Needles, a dramatic series of sea-ravaged chalk outcrops off the Isle of Wight.
Hampshire's estuaries and harbours are also full of interest. Langstone Harbour contains an important bird reserve. The Hamble contains great contrast, with the upper reaches free of the marinas for which the river, lower down, has become famous. The Beaulieu River also contains relatively few sailing boats and can be enjoyed by river cruises in the summer months. While the Lymington River has many boats moored and ferry boats crossing to the Isle of Wight, otters have returned to the reed beds of the nature reserve upstream.