It’s always worth checking the tide times and sea state for Swanage or Studland before heading to the beach for a swim, going fishing or taking your boat, paddle board or kayak out.

With plenty of beaches along the Isle of Purbeck’s coastline there are loads of different ways you can make the most of what the different tides offer in this natural playground.

The best way to plan your trip to the beach or seaside activity is to check the tide times first – remember there are two high and two low tides every 24 hours, and generally, depending on the weather, even when the tide is full in at Swanage there is still a good amount of sandy beach, so you should be able to easily plan a fun day at the beach in advance.

Wave crashing on shore of Swanage Beach

Gentle waves by Banjo Pier, Swanage

Make the most of a low tide

When the tide is out Swanage beach is great for a family game of beach volleyball or frisbee, or for the dog to burn off some energy (note that the main beach is dog-free during the summer months, but Monkey Beach welcomes dogs all year round. (You can check our Dog-Friendly Beaches page for more places around Purbeck to take your pup for a swim.)

Swanage, as well as nearby Studland Bay’s sandy beaches, is also the perfect place to test your sand sculpture and sandcastle-building skills. Hire a deckchair or sun lounger so you can get comfy for the day and watch the changing colours of Swanage Bay as the tide goes in and out as the children play.

You can also more easily explore Swanage’s interesting Peveril Point at low tide, along with a variety of coves and bays along the Dorset coastline. Try a spot of beach-combing at Worbarrow Bay when the tide is out, and of course a low tide is the best and safest time for a spot of fossil-spotting, which this area of the Jurassic Coast is famed for, at beaches like Kimmeridge and Chapman’s Pool. These can also be fantastic places for exploring the flora and fauna of rockpools. Kimmeridge also has a Discovery Centre to help you identify the sea creatures living in the water here. There’s also a Snorkel Trail at Kimmeridge, which is best discovered during neap tides in calm and clear sea conditions.

Things to do at high tide

When the tide is in and conditions are calm Swanage is perfect for a paddle or a swim, with its safe, gently shelving beach. There’s a dedicated safe-swimming area in the summer, with lifeguards on duty during the day. You might also find it easier to launch a boat or kayak as the tide is coming in or going out, to save you walking down the strand.

If there are gentle waves, you can grab a body-board from one of the beach shops in town and have some fun on the water. You can also hire a pedalo, kayak or paddle board from Swanage Beach.

Check for rising tides at Swanage for fishing from the beach, Banjo Pier or Swanage Pier. There’s a handy angling shop both in Swanage and in Wareham for bait and supplies.

And in stormy, winter weather when the sea is crashing against the shore, there are some great spots for a bit of wave-watching in Swanage, such as from a safe distance from the stone quay.

People have been taking advantage of the coastline and tide here for generations, one of the best examples being the small tidal bathing pool blasted out of the rock at Dancing Ledge Victorian times. Dancing Ledge is a great place to visit and a special beauty spot, but attempting to get to the pool, and especially swimming in it, is recommended only for strong walkers and very experienced wild swimmers.

Today’s tide times

The following websites give handy tide predictions for Swanage as well as graphs and visuals allowing you to quickly see high, low, spring and neap tides: