The famous Sandbanks Peninsula is a thin stretch of land between the shallow waters of Poole Harbour and the open sea, in Poole, Dorset. It has to be one of the most varied and beautiful stretches of coastline in the UK, and is a wonderful place to paddleboard. But then we would say that, we’re from here! Read on for a local’s view on paddleboarding in Poole and visiting this outstanding area.
Poole Harbour is in Dorset on the South coast of England. It’s said to be the world’s second largest natural harbour, and it really is huge, stretching from Sandbanks up to the Wareham river, containing islands, a ferry port and many marinas full of luxury yachts. The Sandbanks peninsula is a thin stretch of land that separates the harbour from the open sea. Award winning golden-sand beaches are there for everybody to enjoy, with a backdrop of multi-million pound properties. A few minutes hop over the chain ferry takes you to Studland and the Isle of Purbeck, with its beautiful beaches and rolling countryside, or only a few miles in the other direction you have the bustling town of Bournemouth.
The options for paddleboarding in this area are extensive. Beginners should definitely head to Sandbanks, as the waters on the harbour-side of the peninsula are sheltered and shallow, only a few feet deep! It’s the perfect place to get to grips with paddleboarding. The harbour is very tidal, with a unique double-tide occuring each day (2 highs and 2 lows). On neap tides the water level doesn’t change massively, but on springs the shallow paddling area turns to sand, so it’s definitely worth checking the tide times to make sure you can get on the water.
On the other side of the peninsula is the lifeguard patrolled (in summer) sandy beach which is perfect for family fun. The sea does get deep fast here though so kids would need to be water confident if paddling on this side.
For those looking to go exploring, heading out from Sandbanks harbour-side on a tour around Brownsea Island is a great trip. Aim straight for the island, paddling out of the shallow waters. You have to cross the shipping channel to reach the island, marked by the large green and red channel markers. Always take the direct route across the channel and look carefully before heading out into the channel to make sure none of the big ferries are coming as they won’t be able to avoid you! The pull of the tide is more noticeable in the deep waters of the channel. When the tide is rushing in or out, especially on spring tides, it pulls very fast, especially around the harbour entrance, so try to avoid crossing at this time, or at least choose your crossing point carefully to allow room to drift with the tide. Paddling around Browsea is beautiful, with views across the harbour to the islands and countryside in the distance, it feels like you could be in Canada! You’re not allowed to land on the island, so best to keep moving. The trip could take anywhere between around 1-3 hours depending on your paddling speed, so take a dry bag with some water, snacks spare layers and a phone.
If you’re wanting to go further than this then adding a lap of Furzey Island and Green Island is a great call, you’ll see these when you’re on the South side of Browsea. There are loads of other SUP tours in this area, for example across the harbour to Baiter Park and Poole Quay, up the Wareham River or over to Studland.
Poole Harbour from Sandbanks
Paddling around Brownsea Island
There are plenty of places to hire paddleboards from right by the water’s edge, with The Watersports Academy at the Sandbanks Hotel offering the most well-established facilities, with a hire centre, school, shop, cafe, changing rooms and hot showers. Poole is the home to our own SUP store, SUP Inflatables. We’re the UK’s biggest online inflatable SUP store, so don’t have a shop front, but visitors are welcome by appointment to our warehouse in Poole where we stock a massive, massive amount of paddleboards, paddles, accessories and SUP wear. Check out supinflatables.co.uk and call us on 07545 882606 if you need anything.
Other things to do
There is just so much, I don’t know where to start! If the wind is up too much for paddleboarding, windsurfing and kitesurfing are the order of the day, with kit rental and lessons are available on Sandbanks. For some town-life head to Bournemouth only a few miles away with the usual selection of shops and restaurants. Poole town centre itself is, errr, well, let’s say Poole Quay is the bit to go to! Pies, pizza and cider at The Stable looking over the water to the busy Sunseeker factory is a great way to spend a couple of hours. If you like to get some miles under your feet, then head over the chain ferry to Studland to explore the Isle of Purbeck. Here stunning beaches meet rugged coastline as the Jurassic Coast can’t fail to impress. Walk the coast path, or take the high-route along the Purbeck Way to Corfe Castle. The towns of Swanage and Wareham are both close-by and worth a visit.
If you fancy heading a little further afield then Dorset offers some great days out. Try a vineyard tour at Langham Wine Estate to try some award winning Dorset Sparkling Wine, head to Shaftesbury for some nostalgia at Gold Hill (remember the old Hovis advert?!) or check out the Tank Museum, Monkey World or Falmer Palmers with the kids.
The Purbeck Way near Old Harry Rocks
If you’re looking for an incredible watersports destination that’s only two hours from London then Poole Harbour is the place to come. The paddlingboarding is sublime and the area offers so much when you’re not on the water. And I’m not just saying that because I live here. It really is awesome!
For more about visiting Poole, head to the Poole Tourism website. Visit Poole Tourism >