Studland Bay, Studland, Dorset
Semi-sheltered open water location that can be quite tidal. Waves at times but often flat in summer.
Water states across Studland Bay can often be moderately choppy but do get days where it’s idyllically flat. If a big swell’s running up the English Channel then set can sneak in and break, giving fun SUP waves. For days when a blow’s in effect windsurfers and kitesurfers see fit to do battle here with stand up paddling being a no go (usually).
Studland Bay lies close to the entrance of Poole Harbour and as such can have quite a bit of boating traffic during high season. There are lots of paddle boarders in warmer months as well as other watersports enthusiasts all vying for their spot on the water. The beach itself can get super busy as well. Studland is tidal so due care and attention should be given. And the rocks towards the right hand side (leading out to Old Harry) should be approached with caution.
Access is very easy with approaches from both Poole and Swanage sides being simple to navigate. The entrance to Studland’s beach car parking is managed by the National Trust so it’s a very tidy set up.
Studland Bay can be slightly quieter than its neighboring Poole/Bournemouth/Swanage beaches, although it still gets pretty busy at peak times. Winter can often see minimal activity. 5-10 depending on time of year.
Studland Bay’s car parking is well managed with plenty of space, toilet facilities and a beach café/shop selling all manner of kiss me quick goods. There’s a watersports centre towards the right where stand up paddle boards, kayaks and other watersports kit can be rented. Lessons are also available. Head back towards Swanage or Poole for busier choices of eateries, refreshments and further expanses of sand.
Studland Bay resembles many French style beaches – particularly those along the SW coastline of Francais. A fir tree lined car park entrance gives way to moderately high sand dunes with walkways between the steep sections. Beach grass grows tall which as you approach the blue hues of the south coast sea the vista is extremely pleasing. Once on the expanse of fin white sand it’s a case of picking your spot to pitch up.
From here you can see out to Old Harry Rocks – a now iconic stand up paddle board route that many a SUPer has chosen to tackle. With calmer weather in effect it’s a fairly simple jaunt out to the white chalk stacks. Just make sure you’re aware of the tides and weather that’s in store for the day. Getting caught out offshore, and having to battle back against a headwind won’t be the wisest move. The truly intrepid can choose to carry on paddling round to Swanage. But, again, make sure your skills, experience and gear’s up to it if this is your choice.
At certain times stand up paddle board friendly waves roll into Studland Bay making for a quieter SUP surfing experience than the more headline locations of Bournemouth/Boscombe pier. Studland can also be a good put in for downwinding in Sly breezes with the rolling swell and gusts huffing back towards Poole.
Studland Bay sits on National Trust land and offers points of interest all the way along its length. The sand dunes, small lakes and wildlife attract tourists right through the year – more so in summer. As you get closer towards the Sandbanks chain ferry you’ll find other put ins for the backside of Poole Harbour, which can be slightly more sheltered than Studland’s open sea launches.
The amount of SUPing (and general watersports) choices in this part of the world are extensive. If you’re a multi disciplinarian then it pays to have all your toys when visiting Studland. And be open to changing venue should the weather not play ball. All in though Studland Bay is a great base for stand up paddle and watersports.
See more of the McConks bitesize stand up paddle board travel guide here –