Swanage is a small coastal town in the south east of Dorset, England. It is situated at the eastern end of the Isle of Purbeck, approximately 10 km south of Poole and 40 km east of Dorchester. Nearby are Ballard Down, Old Harry Rocks and Studland Bay to the north and Durlston Country Park to the south.
The town was a small port and fishing village until the Victorian era when it became a seaside resort. It also has a long history in quarrying along the cliffs to the south at Durlston, and was one of the largest producers of Purbeck stone and marble. Today, tourism is the main industry, employing many who live in the town, while some 40% of the workforce commute to Poole. Swanage has several pubs in proximity to the town square. The square itself has three takeaway restaurants, though only one has a seated dining area.
The town has a wooden 19th century pier with two branches; one was refurbished in 1999 and the other is derelict. Sightseeing and angling boats operate from the new pier. Scuba diving takes place under the piers and at nearby coastal wrecks. Indeed Swanage is considered by many to be the home of British Scuba divingas not only is it one of the most popular sea water training sites for dive schools and clubs to take trainee divers due to the sheltered conditions within the bay, but the dive shop still situated on the pier was the first dive shop ever to open in Great Britain. There is a sandy beach, on Swanage Bay, along the edge of the town. The beach was improved by construction of new greenheart timber groynes and the placement of 90,000m of sand as beach nourishment . In the summer jet skis and pedal boats can be hired from the beach. Cliffs to the south-east of the town are used by climbers. The town is a gateway town for the Jurassic Coast, a popular world heritage site, and because of this it is a popular destination for educational field trips and romantic meals. Swanage is one of the few towns in the UK to have a crater on Mars named after it. Swanage hosts a carnival at the beginning of August each year.
Since the turn of the century tourism has been a very popular holiday destination for the working class/middle class. Nowadays it attracts all sorts of people around Europe. Many GCSE and other school students come to Swanage for coursework or other pieces of school work.