One of the largest natural features of its kind.
Poole Harbour is set amidst the beautiful Purbeck countryside adjacent to the busy town of Poole; the Harbour coastline of 100 kilometres (60 miles) surrounds 4,000 hectares (10,000 acres) of water and mudland with picturesque islands which individually and jointly are many things to many people. Throughout its exceptionally long history, the commerce of the Port has flourished and provided the prosperity upon which the town of Poole was founded and developed.
Today, in addition to the busy roll-on/roll-off ferry and conventional cargo services, the Harbour accommodates a diverse range of other marine activities. They include those that are generated from the off-shore/onshore oil production and exploration, the RNLI headquarters, the fishing, leisure and boatyard industries, plus a host of recreational pursuits; together with the special wildlife which the Harbour has a considerable capacity to attract. Harbour Leisure and Fishing Activities: The sheltered waters of the harbour are ideally suited for most marine activities particularly sailing, the principal sport and therefore Poole has become one of the prime yachting and board sailing centres of the country. Commercial fishing and angling have always been part of the Harbour’s history as a result of the warm shallows, which provide natural nurseries for flatfish and shellfish. Other activities include water skiing, canoeing, rowing, wild fowling and harbour cruising, while many people find their enjoyment from the visual beauty of the harbour and its abundant wildlife.
Enjoying Poole Harbour: Something like three quarters of a million holiday-makers and two and a half million day visitors are attracted to Poole and the Purbecks. Poole Harbour is undoubtedly one of the main attractions.
The natural beauty of the harbour is itself a major attraction. The harbour is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and is to become a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) under European legislation. Areas of the harbour are already designated under British legislation as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Heritage Coastline, Wetlands of International Importance and National and Local Nature Reserves. The harbour therefore gives great pleasure to bird watchers and those observing from the well known view points and open spaces many of which have a remarkable sense of remoteness. Beaches, which have been awarded the European Blue Flag annually since its introduction, with rolling sand dunes along the Southern and Western shores are ideally suited to swimming and bathing.
The Quay: The bustling Quay at the Old Town of Poole is very much a working quay and is the starting point for sightseeing, angling trips and ferries to Brownsea Island and Bournemouth. The background to the quay is a conservation area with many listed buildings along the waterfront, most of which originally had commercial port functions, but which now house shops, restaurants, museums and other tourist attractions.