Relax on an award-winning beach, spot rare reptiles on a remote island and soak up the sun in Europe’s largest natural harbour.

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Poole’s vast coastal inlet has put it on the map for centuries. Everywhere you look, you’ll see brilliant blue waters. Add eight islands, the largest natural harbour in Europe, top quality seafood and an amazing variety of wildlife, and you’ve got the perfect coastal escape. The area is also home to more watersports than any other UK resort. The safe shallow waters of Poole Harbour make it the perfect place to learn everything from sailing and windsurfing to kayaking and paddle boarding. 

Over 100 special events throughout the year, on land and sea, make the most Poole’s unique environment, including the UK Beach Polo Championships, Folk on the Quay Festival, summer fireworks and iconic motorbike and car events.

Don’t miss the exclusive area of Sandbanks which is home to Britain’s best beach, awarded more Blue Flags than any other UK resort and is also the gateway to UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Jurassic Coast. The blissful beach is made even more appealing by a selection of summer events and a fine dining scene found along the water’s edge, adding to the lively continental atmosphere.

Food and drink

With one of the longest coastlines, thanks to the 110 miles of inland harbour and fabulous sandy beaches, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to dining options, whatever your budget or taste. Choose from laid back cafes, vibrant bars, luxury restaurants and cosy pubs, many of which serve freshly-caught seafood and are perched along the waterfront.

Walk on the wild side

Enjoy a harbour cruise from Poole’s traditional working quay, or stop off and explore the National Trust’s Brownsea Island to see red squirrels and sika deer, watch migrating birds on the lagoon and spot lizards on the heathland. Boat trips to the island run from March to the end of October. 

A hotspot for wild birds, Poole Harbour has 18 sites of special scientific interest and is one of the best places to experience the awe-inspiring sight of mass bird migration. From Bird Boat cruises with RSPB experts to guided walks that reveal rare native reptiles in internationally important heathland, there are plenty of ways to get out and discover wildlife in its natural setting.    

Rainy day ideas

If it clouds over, see a show at the Lighthouse – the largest centre for the arts outside London or stop by the world-renowned Poole Pottery to pick up one-of-a-kind items. For the more energetic, the Tower Park complex includes a 16 screen cinema, bowling, children’s soft play, exhilarating water rides and a huge choice of restaurants.

Glorious gardens

From rare heathland and the exquisite Italian gardens of Compton Acres to the formal gardens and woodland of Upton Country Park and its early 19th Century merchant’s house, Poole spoils you with plenty of award winning parks and gardens.

Where to stay

Poole has a vast choice of charming B&Bs, boutique properties, five-star caravan and camping sites and glamorous beach-front hotels – all providing a room with a view for every budget. 

For more local tourist information:

SSandbanks Beach & Poole Harbour, Dorset. © Poole Tourism

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