This part of the National Trust's managed seashore on Studland Bay is regularly named to Britain's top beach lists. The part of it, known as Knoll Beach, is the location of an officially recognized nudist beach. That beach too is ranked as top of its class, one of the best in the country.
The nude beach is a 900-meter long section of the four miles of white sand and is unique in being the National Trust's only nudist beach. According to the authors of Bare Britain, it is one of the UK's most popular and best known outdoor spots to sunbathe and swim au naturel. Its popularity led the National Trust to expand the designated nude area of the beach a few years ago. More of the adjacent dunes were included as a privacy buffer zone.
Studland also scores well for cleanliness standards. In 2020, the Marine Conservation Society's annual Good Beach Guide once again gave it a 5-star rating of "Excellent".
Studland is composed of fine sand, backed by dunes and a large nature reserve. The nudist area is well marked with green-topped posts and blue National Trust signs. The sea here is usually calm, making it suitable for children and, the naturist section regular attracts family groups as well as nudists and naturists of all ages.
- Keeping things safe: The Trust works with the Studland Beach Users Action Group, British Naturism, and the police to ensure that the beach remains safe for users and family-friendly. Inappropriate and indecent behavior, including some use of photographic equipment, is discouraged and may be prosecuted.
- Clothing optional: The nudist area of the beach is clearly marked and users should wear clothing when outside the designated area. A trail, the Heather Beach Walk, is available for other beach users who want to avoid the naturist section.
- Facilities: There is a mobile refreshment kiosk parked in the middle of the nudist section of the beach as well as a floating ice cream vendor who sails along the beach. Dress is optional for both. The Knoll Beach parking lot has a National Trust Visitor Center with showers, a shop, toilets, and a restaurant with a wood-fired pizza oven. These, by the way, are the nearest toilets and they are an estimated half-hour walk so do plan your visit accordingly. Balloon-tire wheelchairs are available for the beach.
- Warnings: This is an official nudist beach and National Trust Wardens patrol discreetly. There have apparently been reports of some unacceptable behavior in the dunes so nude beach-goers, especially family users, are advised to stay on the open beach.
- The car ferry from Sandbanks in Poole, Dorset, makes frequent crosses to Shell Bay throughout the day. The vessel is a chain ferry that crosses the entrance of Poole Harbour to the beach, cutting at least 25 miles off the road journey.
- Drivers can also head for Swanage on the A351, turning left toward Corfe Castle on the B3351 to Studland. Follow the signs to the Knoll Beach or Shell Bay car parks. The nude beach is a half-hour walk from these car parks and is well marked.
- The Wilts and Dorset bus route 50, also known as The Breezer 50, travels from Bournemouth and Poole or Swanage Rail Stations.
When you've had enough of nude sunbathing and swimming, don some clothes and head over to the main area of Knoll Beach where slacklining and beach volleyball are free. Pedaloes and kayaks are available and power boat trips can be arranged.
For a complete change of scene, catch The Breezer 50 back to the Sandbanks Terminal and then take a Brownsea Island Ferry to the peaceful island nature reserve in Poole Harbour. Brownsea Island, another National Trust property, is the largest island in Poole Harbour and a haven for wading birds, England's endangered red squirrels, deer, and other wildlife. Great for nature watching - though not naturism.