Studland - Shell Bay

Set at the very tip of the National Trust owned Studland Peninsula is the lovely Shell Bay. Depending on where you start this either the first or last of Studland’s beautiful sandy beaches.

There are two ways to reach Shell Bay; you can drive along the peninsula from the Swanage end or, alternatively, you can take the short ferry ride over from Sandbanks on the other side of Poole harbour mouth.

Most of the year the beach here is a haven of tranquility and the extensive dunes beyond give a feeling of wilderness. Summer is a different story though when the beach can become quite busy. There are plenty of facilities and the sea is generally safe so Shell Bay is popular with families looking to escape the usual bucket and spade brigade.

For those interested in such things (and avoiding them) there is a designated naturist area between Shell Bay and Knoll Beach beyond.

Positioned where it is, looking out over the entrance to Poole Harbour, Shell Bay is a good spot for watching the ships coming and going, including the impressive Condor Ferries to the Channel Islands.

The beach is named after the shells that were once common on this stretch of beach. However, when I visited I have to say there didn’t seem to be more shells than any other beach along this coast.

Across the road from the beach is the Shell Bay Seafood Restaurant, a Michelin listed eatery with fine views out over Poole Harbour and Brownsea Island.

Type of beach


Lifeguard service


Dogs friendly beach?

Dogs allowed

Dogs are welcome all year; 1st October - 30th April there are no restrictions. 1st May - 30th September dogs on a short lead (max 2m).

Dorset dog friendly beaches »


  • Good fishing
  • Sailing
  • Swimming/bathing
  • Wind surfing


  • Picnic area

Nearest town



BH19 3BA

OS grid ref.

SZ 0375 8637


A car park is close to the beach.

Water quality

Water quality star rating


Marine Conservation Society Recommended

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Studland - Shell Bay Reviews

Exceptional swimming beach

Jeff Dunster
Aug 02nd 2019

This is undoubtedly one of the top swimming beaches in the south of England. There are four miles of golden sands, backed for the most part by dunes, and the gently sloping beach is safe for swimming at all states of the tide.

What did we get wrong?