Swanage Bay sweeps from the Old Harry Rocks to the north, round to Peveril Point in the south. It faces east and is protected by Peveril Point from major southwesterly storms, while the Isle of Wight provides a degree of shelter from easterly storms. As such, the bay is ideal for swimming, sailing, fishing, diving and other watersports.
It’s a sandy bay and an extremely popular place to spend a day on the beach. The sea remains shallow for quite a way out, making it easy for children to play in the water. During the summer there is a section that is patrolled by the RNLI lifeguards and a designated swimming area.
The sea in the bay, consistently meets the highest European standards and is monitored by the Environment Agency between 15th May and 30th September each year.
Around the southern end of the bay there are low cliffs and banks of Purbeck limestone, which have largely been built over as part of Swanage Town. To the north, there are cliffs of soft yellowish and brownish sands and clay. This area is very prone to erosion and there are regular landslides, which have left many properties close to the top of the cliff.
The chalk Ballard Cliff to the far northern end of the bay, ends with the dramatic Old Harry Rocks, a group of chalk stacks, arches and caves.