Beaches of Dorset

Deckchair naps and sand between your toes

Bring your buckets, spades, snorkels and windbreaker - there’s no shortage of golden sands in this idyllic corner of the world! Cast a sail into the wind out on the waves, or observe from beneath your sunhat as you chill in a deckchair. Here’s our guide to the best seaside spots around Swanage. 

Studland Bay beach huts Dorset

Swanage Bay

So much to see and do

Celebrated Swanage beach slopes gently into clean, shallow waters, consistently awarded a Blue Flag. With the town as its backdrop, refreshments and amenities are within easy reach, including car parking, disabled toilets and a first aid centre. Dogs are allowed from September to May, but outside those times you’ll need to head to Monkey Beach with your pooch. Choose your activity - there’s a pic ‘n’ mix of colourful beach huts for hire, as well as deck chairs. Or if you have energy to burn try a pedalo or kayak. Then there’s the chance to don your wetsuit and plunge in for a dive from Swanage Pier - just look for one of the local outfits.  Lifeguards will be there throughout the summer season.

South Beach


This 2km stretch of sand on the Studland peninsula is managed by the National Trust and is popular with parents as it has calm, shallow waters perfect for little ones to splash about. Hire out a beach hut as a base for your fun, then let them loose in the sand! Enjoy distant views of ‘Old Harry’, a striking chalk formation towering from the sea. Four legged friends can come along for a splash, but must be on a lead from April to September. There’s a popular cafe (with toys to borrow) and a car park a short walk from the beach. If you’re taking a break from the waves, there’s a network of paths through the sand dunes where you can enjoy breathtaking wildflower displays in the summer. There’s no lifeguard at this beach. 

Knoll Beach


At the south of Studland Bay this four mile stretch of sand is another National Trust beach, backed by dunes begging to be explored. Get those tails wagging - dogs are allowed all year round, although they must be on a short lead from 1 April - 30 September. Burn off some energy by trying your hand at slacklining, kayaking, paddleboarding, pedalo, sailing or power boating. Or hire out a bike and explore the area. There’s no lifeguard but you’ll find a cafe, toilets and car parking.  

Canford Cliffs

This long ribbon of caramel-coloured sand is backed by sloping cliffs, dotted with wooden beach huts, and has blue flag status. It’s a peaceful spot for an afternoon lounging, followed by a stroll into the village where you’ll find quaint cafes to refresh in. Or pick up your supplies at the shop or ice cream kiosk. Dogs are allowed from October to April, and there is nearby parking and toilets. Lifeguards are here in July and August.   

Kimmeridge Bay

Ditch your deckchair for a net and a seashore ID guide at this rockpooler’s paradise. Sitting within a marine Special Area of Conservation, Kimmeridge is alive with spectacular sea creatures, whether you find them sheltering under some kelp or seek them out on a snorkelling expedition. Try the summer snorkelling trail for the ultimate sea safari. Pop into the Wild Seas Centre to check out the exhibitions and aquarium or join one of their events: eco-friendly crabbing and rockpool rambles await. Access to the car park is via a toll road, and there are showers and toilets for your use. 

Lulworth Cove

The turquoise waters of Lulworth Cove twinkle within a UNESCO world heritage site. Plunge into the crystal clear waves, or enjoy the feeling of awe as you take in the spectacle of geological features like the Lulworth Crumple and Stair Hole. Do as much or as little as you like - coasteering, SUP, snorkelling, scuba diving, kayaking, mountain biking and hiking are all up for grabs. The Boat Shed cafe will keep your hunger satisfied, or branch out to the many local pubs and tea rooms in the area. A Tramper mobility scooter, accessible parking and accessible toilets are all available on site. Dogs are welcome from October to March.