Activities & Days Out, Beaches & Coastline, Days Out in Dorset, Hampshire & Wiltshire

Sandbanks, including Shore Road and the Sandbanks Ferry

This beach has held coveted Blue Flag awards for 30 years, and deservedly so. There’s loads more to Sandbanks than Harry Redknapps house, besides he no longer lives here!

Sandbanks is the end point of a long beach, which starts at Hengistbury Head. Its possible to walk this whole beach front it should take around 3 hours to do this. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants along the promenade.

Shore Road tends to be busy with teenagers in the summer holidays, lots of music and laughing and big groups gather, especially after exams have finished!

BCP council have launched an app for you to check how busy the beach is before you head out. Download it for free here.

There are BBQ’s you can use on the beach itself, and ping pong tables set into the sand and volleyball courts also set into the sand. Visit the Borough of Poole website for all the info – –  the website will list all the activities that are council run, you can visit the beach office for further information. You can rent chairs, and windbreaks, and umbrellas daily from the beach office. This is where you would pick up keys for beach hut rentals too.

There are beach huts available for rent all along Poole’s beaches. You can rent for a day or a week. All the information is on the Poole council site –

Sandbanks beach has a large play park for children, all on sand. It’s not on the actual beach, its adjacent to the carpark.

There’s a crazy golf course here too.

There are restaurants both on the beach and nearby. There’s a large cafe on the beach at Sandbanks (Banks Road carpark end).There’s a Tesco express at Shore Road end, and Rick Steins restaurant at the Banks Road end of the peninsula.

I wouldn’t recommend Jazzys Cafe at Shore Road, we have had terrible service and terrible food here over the years.

There’s a lovely cafe next to Rick Steins place Le Cafe. Open all year round, this is a firm favourite of ours. Great for breakfast, there are some seats outside, and a take away service.

Car parking is limited at Sandbanks, so either arrive early or get the bus – – the no 50 bus will take you all the way from Bournemouth to Swanage (via the ferry) however, in busy times it’s a great way to Sandbanks without waiting for a car park space for 2 hours…!!

Car parking is an issue, and traffic can be terrible. It’s definitely a place to get to early if you can. Sandbanks & Poole Harbour are world-class water sports activity centres. There’s lots of watersports activities run from here, both the harbourside and seaside. Some of the companies are;

The Watersports Academy

Land and Wave

Poole Harbour Watersports

These companies offer every sort of water-based activity – kayaking, windsurfing, kitesurfing, sailing, paddle boarding, power boating and yacht charter amongst them. They offer lessons, hire, and equipment for sale. You can rent bikes from them too.

During the school holidays, they run day & weekly activity groups for children of all ages. My son and his friends have been on Land & Wave days out in the holidays for years. I can recommend them. They run great holiday clubs. They also offer activities further afield for both adults and children. The Land & Wave base is at the Banks Road car park. Book ahead as these groups get busy.

The rest of the coastal & water activities are generally in The Purbecks. Land & Wave offer coasteering, kayaking around Old Harry Rocks and bushcraft courses. For these activities you need to get the ferry over Poole Harbour to Studland bay.

The Sandbanks ferry is a must do on a trip to Dorset.

There has been a ferry running across Poole Harbour since 1923. It is a chain ferry and holds around 50 cars. It takes you to the National Trust owned Studland peninsula.

The road through Studland leads you to quite a few of the Dorset pubs I have recommended, Corfe Castle, Dorset Waterpark and onto Swanage and the rest of The Purbecks.

Our most favourite restaurant is over on the Studland peninsula – if you feel like a treat The Pig on the Beach. Just heavenly!

The Purbecks are an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Jurassic Coastline starts here at Old Harry Rocks. This whole area has such huge historic importance, and you can visit many beaches along here and go fossil hunting. You should always be able to find at least one.

Recommended by

Dionne Bell