On the other side of the headland of Ballard Down at the northern end of Swanage Beach lies the spectacular Studland Bay. Comprised of four miles of sandy beaches and acres of heathland and sand dunes to explore, Studland Bay and Nature Reserve has something for everyone.

Boats and people in the water at South Beach Sand dune and beach at Shell Bay Fore/Adventure hut and kayaks on Studland's Middle Beach Kayakers at Old Harry Rocks Poole Harbour view from Swanage Viewpoint

Studland Bay is home to a thriving watersports scene as well as important heathland and wetlands habitats, which support an array of wildlife – including all six British reptiles.

Its four beaches offer something different for everyone – from family-friendly sections with café and toilet facilities to rugged and unspoilt areas perfect for escaping it all. 

A unique part of the Jurassic Coast with access to Old Harry Rocks and the start of the South West Coast Path, Studland Bay can be easily reached from Swanage and Wareham, as well as from Poole and Bournemouth via the Sandbanks Ferry.

The beaches of Studland Bay

Knoll Beach

Knoll Beach is Studland Bay’s largest and most popular beach. Backed by sand dunes to explore and woodland to wander, Knoll Beach provides a full and varied day out. 

People in the sea at Knoll Beach in Studland

Knoll Beach looking toward Old Harry Rocks

Studland Watersports is based at Knoll Beach, offering kayak, pedalo and paddle board hire; or for the adrenalin-junkies, wakeboarding, waterskiing and banana rides.

There is also a National Trust shop and cafe, along with a discovery centre, which hosts regular activities.

Dogs are welcome in the outside seating area of the cafe.

SatNav for Knoll Beach: BH19 3AQ

Shell Bay

Shell Bay marks the start of South West Coast Path – the longest National Trail in England.

South West Coast Path sign at Shell Bay

Start of the South West Coast Path at Shell Bay

It is also where the Sandbanks Ferry docks, bringing passengers to and from Poole and Bournemouth several times a day.

There is also a dedicated kite surfing area between Shell Bay and Knoll Beach.

SatNav for Shell Bay: BH19 3BA

South Beach

Studland Bay’s smallest and most rugged beach, South Beach has a safe swimming area, small cafe and a waymarked pathway to Old Harry Rocks.

People on south beach Studland

South Beach, Studland

Its safe, shallow water is popular with paddle boarders and kayakers.

SatNav for South Beach: BH19 3AU

Middle Beach

Middle Beach is fairly sheltered due to the cliffs that rise behind it and boasts the calm, shallow waters and rugged nature of South Beach.

couple walking along Middle beach Studland

Middle Beach, Studland

With a cafe at the beach, as well as kayak hire, paddle boarding tuition, snorkel tours and arranged foraging expeditions with Fore/Adventure there is plenty for the whole family to enjoy.

Call in advance to check availability with Fore/Adventure or to book a session with a qualified instructor:  01929 761515.

SatNav for Middle Beach: BH19 3AX

Naturist Beach

A 900m stretch of Knoll Beach has been officially allocated for the use of naturists. It is one of the most well-known naturist beaches in Britain.

Users must adhere to the British Naturism beach code: https://nt.global.ssl.fastly.net/studland-beach/documents/british-naturism-beach-code.pdf

The beach is a half-hour walk from the main beach, so naturists and non-naturist visitors are unlikely to cross paths.

Studland Bay dog rules

Two dogs in the seaDogs are allowed on the beaches of Studland Bay all year, however they must be on a lead between 1 May and 30 September.


Parking at Studland Bay

  • All four beach car parks are open between 9am – 5pm
  • Parking is free for National Trust members
  • Overnight parking and camping is not allowed

Safety information

National Trust High fire risk sign along Ferry Road in Studland


  • Barbecues are not allowed due to the high risk of wildfires in the area
  • Lifeguards are not on duty in Studland Bay