Studland beach is a 10 minute drive away and is very beautiful and has the added benefit of rock pools and lots of crabs. There are three National Trust car parks to reach different parts of Studland beach - South beach is the 'sailing' beach - lots of boats, not much sand, but you can reach the rock pools from here. Middle beach has a café, shop, loos, the rock pools and can be very crowded! Knoll beach is towards the ferry and is flat and sandy, more exposed than Middle Beach and there is also a shop and café here. Studland is very safe and shallow, can be a bit seaweedy at times, definitely warmer than Swanage, but you have to walk miles to swim.
Shell Bay is on Poole harbour, the other side of the road from Studland beach. This is very shallow (no good for adult swimming, perfect for child swimming) warm and sheltered, but a very small beach and with lots of boats. There is an excellent restaurant right on this beach. The beach time is the highlight of any holiday we have in Swanage.
The Swanage Lifeboat, sailing (in Swanage and Poole Harbour) rock pooling, sand castling and generally hanging out is our beach time.
Shorter walks, more attractive to younger members, include a potter down to the beach via the swings and slides in Swanage or to see the band in the bandstand!
A bit further afield, there is the historic town of Wareham, lots of other National Trust properties, Poultons Park and Broadlands. We have also visited open days on local farms and other local seasonal events. There is a wide programme of activities throughout the summer and Tourist Information is by the beach in Swanage. As you have probably gathered, it is well worth being a National Trust member. The car parks at Studland are £2.50 a day otherwise, and there are lots of other NT things around.
The following websites will give you more information on attractions and things to do in the area:
and Swanage Resort Guide -
details of attractions at Swanage, Wareham and Corfe Castle