Studland beaches, Dorset
Just over the ferry at Sandbanks is one of the best beaches in the UK, the three mile long, dune-backed Studland beach. Part of a Nature Reserve this huge stretch of sand is wonderfully scenic and natural, with shallow waters that warm up quickly and acres of rolling dunes that make a superb play pen enjoyed by kids, nudists and gays (different zones!), although some of the latter can be less-than subtle.
Get there by car/bus across the old-fashioned chain ferry at Poole Harbour entrance (car parking is available at both ends of Shell Bay/Studland beach if you're early enough or out of season) or bus to the ferry and walk across. n.b. Parking on the Sandbanks side is nearly impossible in season.
The chain ferry across Poole Harbour entrance, running every 20 mins from Sandbanks to Shell Bay/Studland beaches.
Studland beaches map. The ferry crossing is top centre.
Southwest Dorset Map including coast path | Studland pictures
Facilities are nil in the lengthy middle section but walks are excellent and the Reserve is home to many species of birds. Hikers frequently start/finish the South West Coast Path walk from the Shell Bay point pictured at top. A walk to curious Agglestone Rock - lower left on the map - is scenically very rewarding. Horse riding is also popular in this area.
Families often head for Knoll or Middle beaches where there are plenty of facilities to feed and entertain kids and no free willies to scare their pants off.
Shell Bay beach, conveniently near the ferry but less clean than the other beaches and with the possibility of currents when the tide is going out/in.
Studland dunes with the twitcher paradise Nature Reserve to the left and Bournemouth Bay and beaches in the distance. A cargo ship can be seen heading for Poole Harbour.
Studland beach seen from the naturist area (though you don't have to be naked to come here!), with Old Harry Rocks (Harry used to be a local smuggler) on the distant left.
Studland beach, the controversial naturist and gay middle zone.
Studland again, looking at Knoll/Middle beach, the discreet village and the visitor centre and above that the Purbeck Hills.
At the far end of Studland Bay is South beach, a friendly little sand/shingle cove (depending on which way the last storm blew!) embraced by chalk cliffs and South West Coast Path that leads round to Swanage town past the spectacular viewpoint of Old Harry Rocks. This area is known as the Purbecks and provides superb walking, horse riding. and pretty good cycling.
Studland village offers a shop and pretty good country pub, the Bankes Arms.
Continuing around the Dorset coastline on the Coast Path into West Dorset's 'Jurassic Coast', past Old Harry to Swanage, characterful little bays keep popping up, along with fossils, all backed by the lush and little-developed rural hinterland of the Purbeck Hills. All the beaches/coves between Swanage and Weymouth are rocky or stony.
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