Bacon and eggs, gin and tonic, Ant and Dec, marshmallows and campfires; these things are all perfect pairs, often greater than a sum of their parts. We think sea swimming and campervanning should be on this list of matches paired in perfect harmony, complimentary activities that somehow seem to just magically enhance each other.
Open water swimming, whether in the sea, lake or river, has surged over the last 18 months. Many people rediscovered the joys of swimming outdoors whilst pools and gyms were closed due to the pandemic, getting hooked on the cold water buzz.
There are many physical and mental health benefits of open water swimming. Swimming outdoors is a fantastic way to exercise and get away from the stresses of everyday life, connecting with nature, spending time by the water associated with increased wellbeing. Cold water swimming can decrease our response to stress and reduce inflammation, and the freedom of swimming outdoors, whatever the season, leaves many people feeling happy, relaxed and invigorated.
Team Shore Campers love it too – Jane sea swims regularly, all year round. She’s an open water swimming coach, swimming teacher, surf lifeguard, and a volunteer coach and member of the local surf life saving club. Last year Team Shore Campers had a fantastic break camping in Finn at Durdle Door Holiday Park, where we were able to have some great swims nearby. With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of some of our favourite places to swim wild around the Dorset coast and also noted a few campsites you could check out nearby.
Places to swim and stay in Dorset
Our list of swims go from west to east, so pick your van up from Shore Campers campervan HQ in Bournemouth and head west to Portland, then the swims gradually get you closer back to our HQ. Always check the conditions and make sure you are swimming within your ability. Get out before you feel you need to, with a smile on your face!
Church Ope Cove, Portland – lovely surroundings of cliffs, castle ruins and scattered beach huts. Wear your swim shoes, stay close to the shore line.
Newton’s Cove, Weymouth – a usually sheltered cove very popular with outdoor swimmers; go down the steps at high tide.
Greenhill beach – favoured by the Weymouth Bay Swimmers. Shallow, gently shelving, sheltered beach with amazing views of the rolling hills and cliffs along the Dorset coast.
Ringstead Bay – rural shingle beach, enjoy a walk, look for fossils and take in some views after your swim.
Durdle Door/Man o’War bay – a tourist hotspot during the summer, Durdle Door is Dorset’s most iconic landmark. Only swim here if you are confident understanding the conditions due to the shelving beaches, submerged rocks and strong currents. Join an organised swim for peace of mind.
You couldn’t get a closer campsite than Durdle Door Holiday Park, we love it there.
Lulworth Cove – beautiful cove protected from the wind and the waves. Take your snorkel to explore Stair Hole.
Mupe Bay, Worbarrow Bay – hidden gems that are a bit trickier to access, involving a bit of a climb/scramble. Check that the firing range walks are open.
Kimmeridge for snorkelling – instead of your goggles, take your mask and snorkel and follow the wonderful snorkel trail. Head to the Wild Seas Centre to pick up your laminated guide to the trail. Open May to September.
Chapman’s Pool – quite a steep climb down to the beach but a great spot to swim. Stop off at the Square and Compass for a refreshing beverage and a look at their fossil collection.
Dancing Ledge – little tidal pool in the rock ledge. Make sure the tide is out. It’s a bit of a hike to get to (wear sturdy shoes).
Acton Field Campsite and California Campsite are other options for camping nearby.
Studland Bay – another sandy, gently sloping, family friendly place to swim. Sometimes can be a bit seaweedy! We like Knoll Beach with its National Trust cafe and walks amongst the dunes.
Poole and Bournemouth – From Shore Road, Sandbanks, to Hengistbury West, there are plenty of great spots to swim. In general the waves tend to be bigger towards the Hengistbury Head end, but it will always depend on the wind direction so make sure you check before you head to the beach.
Seas the day
Always swim with someone else, be visible, acclimatise slowly and stay within your capabilities. Make sure you check the forecast and the tides, it’s always good to speak to locals if you can. Seek out local groups to swim with, there are lots of swimming coaching and free groups in the area. Check out Wave 23, Jurassic Coast Swimming, local Bluetits Chill Swimmers groups, Beyond the Blue and more…
The Outdoor Swimming Society has lots of useful information about staying safe in the water too. Feel free to get in touch with any questions. Or talk to us about our adventure packages including some sea swimming!
Enjoy the freedom of the open road and the open water; feel that fresh coastal air, take in the vitamin sea… Happy wild swimming!