Poole with its natural harbour and miles of award-winning sandy beaches is a popular tourist resort on the Dorset coast and a departure point for ferry services to the Channel Islands and France. Sailing, boat trips to Brownsea Island, charters, fishing trips and a variety of watersports are all widely available from the stunning Quayside. Down on the quay you'll also find the Poole Pottery Studio with shop selling the full range of quality gift and tableware. Around the Quay, the Old Town retains a strong sense of its seventeenth century heritage. Modern retail centres also feature in the town including Dorset's largest indoor shopping centre, The Dolphin Shopping Centre and the developing array of shops and discount outlets on Poole Quay. Poole's Blue Flag beaches are great for families and include best British beach Sandbanks with nearby Treasure Island play area and the gentle shelving Branksome Chine beach.
A one stop shop for all your shopping needs, the Poole Quayside complex is popular with visitors and locals alike, and contains a variety of retail outlets, some with designer brands at discount prices. If you walk further north from the Quay and the Old Town you'll come to Poole's town centre for shopping where there are avenues and indoor shopping centres with a wealth of independent shops and high street names. Weekly markets are also held in the centre of the shopping area of Poole. Poole Quay is the centre for tourist attractions - both old and new. Its tall and varied buildings have retained the historic character of a seventeenth century port. The Quay is great for a promenade in the sun watching the luxury cruisers. There is a good choice of bars, restaurants and cafes in both the historic buildings and stylish modern complexes lining the Quay.
Don't miss a visit to the world famous Poole Pottery with its beautiful handmade painted pottery. Poole Quay is also a popular spot for many events including the weekly Thursday Dream machines Bike Meet - the UK's biggest and best weekly bike meet. In the Old Town that lies behind the Quay you'll find plenty of beautiful historic buildings from Poole's seventeenth century trading heyday. Follow the Cockle Trail to find out more about historic Poole or visit one of the museums clustered in the medieval buildings in the Old Town.
The coastline around Poole is surrounded by a variety of beaches that are predominantly fine sand and include Blue Flag beaches with safe stretches of sea for swimming. Sandbanks beach is the longest stretch of sandy beach and joins Bournemouth beach. Poole Harbour is an ideal location for all types of watersports. The naturally formed harbour provides ideal conditions for sailing, windsurfing, kite surfing, wakeboarding, canoeing and kayaking.
Poole Harbour is one of the largest naturally formed harbours in the world after Sydney in Australia. It is dotted with eight islands that are only accessible by boat. The most famous of these is Brownsea Island where Baden-Powell first started the Scout movement. You can pick up boat trips to the islands from Poole Quay. The majority of these will take you to Brownsea Island but some boat trips are available out to the Studland Peninsula to see sights such as Old Harry Rocks. Poole also has a cross-channel ferry terminal with services to France, Jersey and Guernsey in the Channel Islands. Fast ferry crossings make these some of the faster Channel services from the UK.
Poole is famed for its premier golf courses, located centrally and in the surrounding countryside. Many are on heathland for which Dorset is particularly renowned. All courses welcome visitors and offer a wide range of golfing challenges and experiences. Just inland from the beach is the traditional heathland course of Parkstone Golf Club. It's a beautiful 18 hole course which is also an important wildlife resource providing valuable habitat for sand lizards, Dartford warblers, silver studded blue butterflies and a range of specialist heathland plants. Bulbury Woods Golf Club is at Lytchett Minster to the east of Poole. It has an 18 hole parkland course surrounded by ancient woodland with views out over the Purbeck countryside. Broadstone (Dorset) Golf Club is to the north of Poole. It's an extensive 18 hole heathland course that was first established in 1898 by Lord Wimborne. Also north of Poole is Knighton Heath Golf Club, another 18 hole golf course where the fairways are lined with heathland.