Poole Harbour & Beaches

Poole's naturally formed harbour & beaches

Poole’s naturally formed harbour & beaches

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.

Chine Gardens adjacent to Poole Beaches

Chine Gardens adjacent to Poole Beaches


Poole Beaches with their fine golden sands stretch all the way from the Sandbanks Peninsula along the coast to meet Bournemouth’s beach. There are a variety of access points with car parks that lead you out onto a promenade and the sand. Often there is a Chine stretching down towards the beach – a steep sided river valley which has traditionally been cultivated into gardens in the Poole and Bournemouth area. The majority of these access points have toilets, refreshment kiosks, beach cafes or restaurants and a Pay and Display car park. You can purchase a weekly parking permit for the beach car parks in Poole from Civic Centre Reception on Park Road or apply online.

Dog friendly beaches

Dog friendly beaches

Dog Friendly Beaches

There are specific dog free and activity zones on the beaches and dogs are banned from the main beaches from the beginning of May to the end of September – except at Branksome Dene and the west end of Sandbanks beach where dogs are permitted all year round. Lifeguards patrol the beaches between May and September. You can hire any one of over a thousand beach huts along Poole’s beaches on a daily or weekly basis. Beach hut hire is available at Sandbanks, Shore Road/Flaghead, Canford Cliffs, Branksome Chine, Branksome Dene and Hamworthy Park (site only).

Poole's fine sandy beaches

Poole’s fine sandy beaches

Sandbanks Beach

The largest of Poole’s beaches is Sandbanks beach, acclaimed as one of Britain’s best beaches! Sandbanks is three miles of clean fine sand and has retained its Blue Flag status over twenty years by maintaining the highest standards of cleanliness. The Sandbanks peninsula has become well known for its luxurious houses. Sandbanks’ safe waters and sandy beach means that it is considered one of the best beaches on the south coast, great for bathing, with canoes and pedalos available for hire. There is also a dedicated launch zone for windsurfers. Tuition is available for both windsurfing and catarmaran sailing at nearby Shore Road. The Beach Office is at Sandbanks from where you can organise short term hire of the beach huts. Deckchair, windbreak and parasol hire are also available here, as well as slightly further along the coast at Branksome Chine.

Branksome Chine & Dene Beaches

Deckchair, windbreak and parasol hire is available at Branksome Chine. The Chine gardens are a pleasant shady spot and the sea here is considered suitable for bathing. It’s a good spot for families, with stylish beach huts lining the waterfront.

Shore Road Beach

A popular beach for watersports, Shore Road Beach has golden fine sand and a range of watersports equipment hire outlets and activity schools adjacent offering a choice of tuition packages. If you’re a fan of kitesurfing, windsurfing and sailing, Shore Road Beach is where to head with its designated watersports zones.

Canford Cliffs Chine Beach

A peaceful haven, Canford Cliffs is accessed from Cliff Drive through the Chine, and is flanked by a steep sandy cliff face. Pretty Canford Cliffs, located just 800 yards from the Chine, features a wealth of quirky local shops and essentials including a beach office, toilets and refreshment outlets.

Hamworthy Park Beach

Hamworthy Beach on the northern shore of Poole Harbour, is south of Upton at the end of the B3068, about one mile west of Poole town centre. Hamworthy Park leads down to the beach where there is a small cafe for refreshment and ice cream during the summer. The sea here is a popular flat-water spot ideal for kitesurfing and windsurfing for all abilities. There are one hundred beach huts lining the shore that are available to hire.

Lake Drive Beach

Just further west of Hamworthy Park Beach is Lake Drive Beach. This is a sand and shingle beach where Ham Common Local Nature Reserve backs on to the shore. The higher ground is covered with heathland where the rare sand lizard and Dartford warbler are still able to survive.

Poole Harbour Watersports

Naturally formed Poole Harbour is excellent for all kinds of watersports including windsurfing, wakeboarding, canoeing and kayaking and kite surfing. There are specific areas designated for different watersports within the harbour. Kitesurfing and windsurfing are permitted at Whitley Lake with certain restrictions as well as the launches at Hamworthy Park, Shore Road and at Evening Hill and on the northern side of the Sandbanks peninsula. Pick up Harbour Guides from Poole Welcome Centre on the Quay.

Poole Harbour

Poole Harbour

Personal Water Craft like jet ski and waterbikes above the speed limit of 10 knots are allowed only in the designated area to the north of Brownsea Island and a Harbour Master’s permit is required. Waterskiing is only permitted to take place in the area designated to the North of the Arne Peninsula or the launches at Rockley, Harbourside Park or Cobbs Quay. Again a Harbour Masters Permit is required. Parascending is only allowed inside the Harbour with the permission of the Harbour Master. Information points on the Quay provide up to date detail on requirements and allocated zones.

You’ll find several places where you can book watersports tuition, buy or hire equipment. Tuition providers should be licensed with the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority (AALA) or check that the instructors are qualified to the required standard as set out by the relevant governing body such as Royal Yachting Association (RYA), International Kitesurfing Organisation (IKO), British Kite Surfing Association (BKSA), British Water Ski Forum and the British Water Ski Federation (BWSF).

Michelle is an experienced travel writer with iknow and has travelled extensively across the UK, Spain, Portugal and the USA. When she’s not busy writing for iknow she enjoys spending time touring museums and art galleries and seeking out the best independent shops in Manchester and Leeds.