fleet lagoon chesil beach

Find your break

close search


The Fleet Lagoon

The Fleet Lagoon is a picturesque body of water that separates Chesil Beach from the mainland. It is 13km long and stretches from Ferry Bridge near Portland to Abbotsbury in the west. The tidal lagoon is the largest in the country and the marine life is internationally protected. The water is brackish and empties into neighbouring Portland Harbour twice a day.

We highly recommend visiting the Fleet Lagoon during a camping or caravan holiday at one of our award-winning Dorset holiday parks. This unique landscape offers a tranquil escape from the busier towns and villages along the Jurassic Coast. It’s popular with visitors looking to escape the hustle and bustle and enjoy a day surrounded by nature. Enjoy a picnic, scenic walk along the coast path or spend an afternoon wildlife watching. It’s also the ideal place to enjoy a sunset and watch the fading light reflect on the water!



The Fleet boasts a variety of habitats, both within the water and along the shoreline. It has been awarded Site of Special Scientific Interest status and holds a variety of designations to protect the marine life and prevent development in the area. The lagoon is particularly popular with bird watchers who flock to the area in to catch a glimpse of native and migrating birds. A variety of species can be seen throughout the year and can include oyster catchers, little egret, dunlin and ringed plover. There’s even a breeding colony of little terns on the beach in the spring.

Chesil Bank forms a natural wind break, which shelters the Fleet from prevailing winds. Consequently, the sheltered waters create the perfect environment for bass, bream, smelt and mullet to breed. The conditions are also excellent for farming oysters, which can be sampled at the Crab House Café just a couple of meters away.

Wild Chesil Centre

The Wild Chesil Centre is situated on the beach at Ferry Bridge. It is free to enter and provides visitors with plenty of information about Chesil Beach and the surrounding area. There’s a café, shop and interactive displays on local history and the different species that can be found in The Fleet. The centre is family friendly and encourages younger members of the family to spend time exploring the great outdoors.

They host various nature themed events throughout the year and children can borrow a nature backpack to go exploring. In the spring and summer months you can join a 1-hour trip on the glass bottom Fleet Explorer boat. The knowledgeable guide will point out various plants and marine life along the way. It is sometimes possible to see lagoon shrimps, sandworms and seagrass.

Abbotsbury Swannery

Abbotsbury Swannery is located at the opposite end of the Fleet Lagoon and is home to the only managed colony of nesting mute swans. It was originally established by Benedictine monks and swans have lived on the site for more than 1,000 years.

The sanctuary is around 25 acres in size and offers plenty for visitors of all ages to see and do. You can help the rangers hand feed over 600 swans at 12 midday and 4pm daily or spend time exploring the willow maze. Our favourite months to visit are May and June. If you time it right you will get to see the cygnets hatching as you walk through the nests!

There’s also a play area, café and quality gift shop.



The Fleet Lagoon is steeped in history and has played an important role in preparing allied forces for combat. Due to the low population in the area, the Fleet was used for machine gun training and testing the Bouncing Bomb during the Second World War. Pillboxes are dotted at strategic positions along the shoreline and remains of anti-tank blocks can be found towards the Abbotsbury end of Chesil Beach.



We’re often asked whether you can swim or kayak in the Fleet Lagoon. Visitors are permitted to enter the water in certain areas, but there are a number of important restrictions in place to prevent the disturbance of birds.

You can only kayak or paddleboard from Ferry Bridge to Mid Fleet – the area up to Langton Herring. Swimmers are discouraged due to the unpredictable strong tides.


Walking around the Fleet

The South West Coast Path extends along the landward shoreline and promises a scenic walk for all the family. The majority of the route is flat and easy, with just a handful of stiles to negotiate along the way.

Dogs are welcome, though owners are kindly reminded to keep them under close control and on a lead around wildlife.

Excellent views of the Fleet Lagoon can be enjoyed from the Olympic Rings Sculpture outside the Portland Heights Hotel on the Isle of Portland. It can also be seen on the Jurassic Coast Road as you travel from the west of the county to Weymouth.

Where to find The Fleet Lagoon

The Fleet Lagoon
Map icon

18.5 miles from Highlands End and Eype Beach

20.6 miles from Golden Cap

15.3 miles from Graston Copse

15.0 miles from Sandyholme

* Place data from Google, including opening times is correct at time of publication. We always recommend checking with the destination attraction.

Similar things to see and do

Glastonbury Tor

Glastonbury Tor is a spiritual and iconic landmark and a great place for a day out.

Maiden Castle

Maiden Castle is the largest Iron Age hill fort in Europe and covers an area of 47 acres.

Tout Quarry Sculpture Park

A sculpture park and nature reserve in an old abandoned quarry - a great free place to visit

Eggardon Hill

A 2,500 year old hillfort with some of the best views anywhere in Dorset

Hambledon Hill

An iron-age hillfort with spectacular views across North Dorset

The Marshwood Vale

A beautiful area of deep Dorset countryside, surrounded by iron age hillforts

Thorncombe Beacon

Thorncombe Beacon, near Highlands End Holiday Park, is one of the highest clifftops on the Dorset Coast, offering amazing views

Ninesprings Country Park

A beautiful wooded valley with footpaths, springs, waterfalls, grottos and lakes to explore, with plenty of wildlife.