The best spots for sea swimming in Dorset

Dorset is full of stunning beaches and seaside locations, most with plenty of cafes and restaurants around for refreshments; perfect for setting up for a day of sunbathing and swimming. Here are our favourite locations for beach days;

Swanage Beach

Swanage beach is a traditional, long stretch of golden sands, set within the quaint town. It’s perfect for families, as you’re never far from a cafe, shop or restaurant (try the Fish Plaice for the best fish and chips in town!) There are regular Punch and Judy shows during the summer for a nominal cost, and the views back to the Isle of Wight and Bournemouth are stunning. Make a day of it by walking to Peveril Point to enjoy some even more spectacular views, or by visiting the railway station and taking the steam train up to Corfe Castle.


This beach is another very popular tourist beach, and for good reason as well. With the traditional Georgian buildings surrounding the esplanade, the sights to be seen include donkeys on the beach, and more Punch and Judy shows to watch. The town itself has lots of cafes and restaurants, there’s also live music and fireworks displays throughout the summer. The sand is soft and the waters are fairly shallow, so it’s a great one to visit with smaller children.


The beaches at Studland are split into distinct areas; South Beach, Middle Beach, Knoll Beach and Shell Bay. Each one is good for swimming, however it is worth noting that there is a short stretch of the beach designated to naturists, so please make sure you follow any signage where appropriate. Knoll Beach is probably the best for setting up for the day, with sands which gradually slope into the water, along with watersports equipment for hire. There’s also cafes for refreshments, and an ice cream kiosk for when that craving hits! Studland can be accessed from Swanage by car or bus, and can be easily reached from Corfe Castle or Langton Matravers by car.


Bournemouth is across the chain ferry from Studland, so is around a 45-60 minute drive from Swanage and the Purbecks. It’s a hugely popular resort, with good reason too, the 7 miles of golden sands, surrounded by vibrant town centre shops, restaurants, and cafes means you’ll need plenty of time to explore. The main beach has lots going on year round, with events throughout the year, as well as the pier and it’s attractions. There are several things on the pier of interest, including RockReef (all-weather climbing and obstacle courses), as well as a zipline down the pier, and an indoor caving area – perfect for children.


Known as the home of many of the UKs rich and famous, Sandbanks has the 4th highest land value in the world (by area). Besides that however, it’s also a lovely stretch of sand, and has been recognised with the Blue Flag award countless times over the years, showing how safe it is for swimming. There’s a wide selection of watersports equipment to hire, as well as a crazy golf course. There’s shops, cafes, and restaurants, including Rick Stein’s which is great for fine dining. Sandbanks is just a short journey from the Purbecks over the chain ferry.

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