Poole Harbour

Poole Harbour

Poole Harbour is Europe’s largest natural harbour and the perfect destination for visitors looking to enjoy a mix of world class beaches as well as unspoilt countryside and coastal walks.

Aerial view of Poole Harbour showing the Sandbanks Peninsula in the foreground, Brownsea Island in the middle of the harbour and Poole Quay and Poole in the background. On the far left of Sandbanks you can just see the Sandbanks Ferry at the entrance to Poole Harbour. The large car park for Sandbanks Beach is towards the bottom right of the photo.

As you would expect, there are plenty of opportunities for adventure activities and watersports including kayaking, paddleboarding and sailing. The water inside the harbour around Sandbanks remains shallow for a long way out and is a particularly good place to learn windsurfing or kiteboarding safely. There are also some superb mountain biking routes around the harbour and through the Purbecks and along the Jurassic Coast.

Poole has an excellent tourist information office located within the Poole Museum (free to enter) on Poole Quay. Their official website can be found at https://www.pooletourism.com and is a great resource to help plan you visit to Poole and surrounding area.

The map above shows Poole Harbour and surrounding areas of interest. Poole Quay lies at the northern edge of the harbour. Brownsea Island can be seen in the middle of the harbour. To the east lies the Sandbanks Peninsula famous for its stunning beaches. The Sandbanks Ferry takes you across the entrance to the harbour to Shell Bay on the the Studland Peninsula.

Aerial view of Brownsea Island taken from roughly above Sandbanks Shore Road Beach (from an aircraft not a drone). The ferries to Brownsea Island stop at the jetty near the castle which can be see to the far left of the island. The much smaller island directly behind Brownsea Island is Furzey Island and the one behind that is Green Island. Over towards the right is the RSPB Nature Reserve at Arne. There are some nice walks there and a pretty beach.

The Purbeck Hills are a ridge of chalk that extend from Old Harry Rocks in the east to Lulworth Cove in the West. There is a gap in the ridge at Corfe Castle. The whole region from Studland, Swanage and Corfe Castle across to Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door is known as the Isle of Purbeck or the Purbeck Peninsula. Wareham, a historic market town, lies on the banks of the River Frome that flows into western corner of Poole Harbour. Wareham is frequently referred to as the gateway to the Isle of Purbeck. You’ll also hear about the Jurassic Coast. This is a World Heritage Site that stretches from Studland Bay all the way along the Dorset Coast to Exmouth in East Devon, a distance of about 96 miles. This coastline is of outstanding value for its rocks, fossils and landforms – a geography teachers paradise. The South West Coast Path follows the entire length of the Jurassic Coast and then continues along the Devon and Cornwall coastline for another 534 miles to Minehead in Somerset.

Aerial view of the Studland Peninsula looking SW. The Sandbanks Ferry departs from the bottom right of the photo. The long stretch of beach running left from the ferry is Shell Bay. The beach then turns around the headland becoming Studland Naturist Beach and them becoming Knoll Beach at the top left of the photo. The large lake in the middle of Studland Peninsula is called Little Sea and is part of the Studland and Godlingston Nature Reserve
Aerial view of Sandbanks Beach. You can see the large car park towards the right of the photo. To the right of the car park is a children’s pay area and a Crazy Golf course. To the top left of the car park is a little parade of shops which includes Rick Stein’s Seafood Restaurant, CAFF coffee shop which do great breakfasts and Fluid beach fashion.
Aerial view of Poole Harbour taken from above Studland Bay looking NW. You can clearly see the entrance to the harbour with Studland Peninsula on the left and Sandbanks Peninsula on the right. The Sandbanks Ferry runs between the two peninsulas with departures every 20 minutes (between 7am and 11pm). The island in the middle of the harbour is Brownsea Island. Poole and Poole Quay lie behind Brownsea Island.

Related Pages: Poole Quay / Poole Old Town / Boat Trips from Poole Quay / Wareham / Sandbanks / Sandbanks Ferry / Brownsea Island / Sandbanks / Studland