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Outdoor activities at Studland Bay

Visitors kayaking on the sea past the Old Harry Rocks, Purbeck Countryside, Dorset
Kayaking near Old Harry Rocks at Studland | © National Trust Images / Ben Selway

Studland Bay is a haven for anyone who loves outdoor activities, whether on land, in the sea, on two wheels or on a horse. There are endless opportunities for adventure in this corner of Poole Harbour. Exploring the beach and nearby countryside on horseback is an unforgettable experience. Meanwhile, the sheltered bay is ideal for water sports, such as swimming, sailing, kayaking and paddleboarding.

Cold-water swimming

Studland is an outstanding beach for swimming, thanks to its clear waters, few waves and soft sands. However, safety is important and while we want you to enjoy your visit, please make sure you take all the necessary precautions.

The RNLI has put together an open-water swimming guide to help people stay safe.

Cycling at Studland

Studland has a variety of trails that cyclists can use to explore the Purbecks. From the Rempstone ride to the Corfe loop, getting around on two wheels is a fun and sustainable way to see the local area.

For a full list of cycle routes, check out the Dorset Council website.

Visitors cycle along the path through Godlingston Heath near Studland Bay, Dorset
Cycling on Godlingston Heath | © National Trust Images / Ben Selway

Horse riding

There’s a network of bridleways crossing the heathland and chalk ridge, which horse riders can enjoy all year round. Parking for horse boxes is in the left-hand pay-and-display car park at Knoll Beach, and is free for our members.

Riding on Studland beach

Horse riders need permits to ride on the beach at Studland. There are daily or annual permits and those interested should please fill in the application form. Before completing the form, however, it’s worth calling the team at Knoll Beach on 01929 450500 to determine the availability of permits.

Once on the beach, riders are asked to respect other beach users as well as the surrounding environment. Please stick to the tide line, don’t gallop and don’t ride in the dunes.

Beach permits

Riding on the beach is permitted between 1 October – 30 April. All horse riders need a valid permit (see above to apply).

Studland Stables

The nearby Studland Stables can also arrange beach rides as well as other routes in the surrounding countryside. Find out more on the Studland Stables website.

Water sports at Studland Bay

Thanks to the sheltered waters, Studland Bay is an ideal spot for water sports. Visitors can hire equipment or bring their own before taking to the water for some swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding, kite surfing and diving.

Safety guidelines

  • Knoll Beach and South Beach both operate swimmers-only zones in the summer, but please look out for swimmers in other areas while exploring the water.
  • Be aware that jet skis and motorboats over 20 horsepower are not permitted to launch.
  • Be aware of weather and tidal conditions. The sea temperature is posted daily at the Knoll Beach information hut.
  • There’s no lifeguard service at Studland. Look out for beach safety signs.

Staying safe on the water

It’s important to stay safe while exploring the waters around Studland on a canoe, kayak or paddleboard. Always let someone ashore know your plans, only venture out with other people and make sure to carry some means of calling for help.

Wear appropriate clothing, including a personal floatation device and it’s worth checking the tide and weather before heading out. Pay extra attention to offshore winds. If you get into difficulty, stay with your craft, as it provides buoyancy and visibility, and dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.

Find out more about about safety on the water in Poole Harbour on the Dorset Coast Forum website, where you’ll also find advice leaflets and maps to download.

Two people swimming in the sea at Shell Bay, Studland, Dorset
Taking a dip at Shell Bay, Studland | © National Trust Images / Ben Selway

Wildlife safety

While Studland is a great place to explore from the water, it’s also a home for many birds. Disturbing these birds can lead to them abandoning their chicks or reducing their energy reserves right before long migrations.

Some things you can do to help include keeping noise to a minimum, landing your vessels at designated landing points and avoiding large groups of birds.

Learn more about how to keep Poole Harbour a special place for birds and other wildlife on the Dorset Coast Forum website, where you can also download a leaflet specifically about Canoeing in Poole Harbour.

Kite surfing

A kite surfing zone has been set aside between Shell Bay and Knoll Beach. A permit is required to kite surf here so please email us on or call 01929 450500 to get a permit, which you shoudl then hand into the Studland beach office along with a £5 fee.

Water sport providers

There are a few water sport providers along Studland Bay. Fore adventure at Middle Beach offer kayaking and kayak fishing. They also have sit-on-top kayak BCU courses, guiding, tours and equipment hire for all ability levels as well as expert tuition, including one-to-one sessions.

Visit the Fore Adventure website or call 07933 507165 to find out more.

Studland Watersports at Knoll Beach offer sailing, windsurfing, kayaks, paddle boards and pedaloes. They’re also the place to go for powerboat-based activities, including wake boarding, water skiing and banana rides. Find more details on the Studland Watersports website or call 07980 559143.

Boat park

People can store and launch boats at Studland Bay from £22 per day – or £130 for weekly rental. Booking is essential and call 01929 450500 to find out more.

If you’re interested in long-term storage, a waiting list opens annually on 1 April for one month. Call 01929 450 500 for more details.

An aerial view of the beach at Studland Bay in Dorset in spring

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