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The rise of sauna culture on the Dorset coast

Ritual relaxation in harmony with nature—meet the Nordic bathing tradition nurturing social belonging and individual wellness on the Dorset Coast.

A place to recharge and reconnect

Reported as “the happiest country”, Finland has drawn its people and communities together through sauna culture for thousands of years.

Regular sauna use is a restorative practice that blends relaxation and wellness with the social benefits of mixing with others—for connection and camaraderie. 

The wood-fired steam, or löyly, supports mental and physical health, while the sauna itself provides a third place away from work or home life, where individuals can meet and form healthy social groups. It’s much the same as Brits gathering at the pub over a few pints, but as we move towards a more wellness-conscious society, community spaces that are healthy and accessible are growing in popularity. 

The Saltwater Sauna at Sandbanks, often called “Britain’s Best Beach”, is one of the social hotspots focused on individual wellbeing cropping up along the South Coast. Communal sauna sessions are hosted regularly, bringing groups of eight together for sixty-five minutes to share a relaxing, social experience. Stripped of status and, more literally, stripped down to swimwear, all backgrounds, ages, shapes, and sizes are bonded together without phones or distractions. Visitors commune in the warmth and intimacy of the sauna, enjoying panoramic views of the beach and sharing awe-inspiring sunrises, thunderstorms, and starry night skies. This practice offers the chance to recharge and reconnect with nature, ourselves, and others.

Win a Nordic bathing experience at The Saltwater Sauna in Dorset, enter our competition here

The rise of sauna culture on the Dorset coast The rise of sauna culture on the Dorset coast
The rise of sauna culture on the Dorset coast

For the mind, body, and soul

From improved cardiovascular health and metabolism to better quality of sleep and reduced anxiety; saunas provide a holistic wellbeing experience. 

As the heat relaxes the muscles, which, in turn, relaxes the mind, sauna visitors settle into conversation that often surpasses the day-to-day, allowing for true, meaningful connection. This is important because people are social creatures, and science tells us that regular interaction helps boost mood, confidence, and emotional resilience. But alongside social belonging, which is essential to nurture in the U.K.’s current climate of loneliness, the individual benefits for sauna visitors don’t stop there. 

With regular use, heat therapy can improve low mood, stress, anxiety, chronic pain, sleep quality, and even decrease your risk for Dementia and Alzheimer’s. As the body registers the elevated temperature, endorphins are released, acting as natural painkillers and antidepressants, which, over time, can lead to increased brain functioning. Additionally, the heat from the sauna forces your body into an adaptive response to stay cool—heart rate increasing, blood vessels opening—much like during light to moderate exercise. This supports cardiovascular health, blood circulation, and aids in tissue and muscle recovery. 

The benefits of sauna use are elevated when used in combination with cold water immersion in what is known as “contrast therapy”, such as at The Saltwater Sauna. Here, visitors dash to and from the heat after dunking into the cold of the open ocean. It’s total rejuvenation for the mind, body, and soul.

The rise of sauna culture on the Dorset coast
The rise of sauna culture on the Dorset coast The rise of sauna culture on the Dorset coast

Research into ecotherapy has shown that physical activity, social contact, and being close to nature can help support lifelong happiness. 

It’s no coincidence that wellness initiatives such as saunas are thriving on the Dorset coast. Benefitting from some of the U.K.’s most beautiful scenery—verdant forests, rolling hills, and stunning beaches—this is a tranquil place to take a seat and take a deep breath. 

So, whether you’re looking for a mood boost in the cold winter months or a new after-work activity in the warm summer evenings, why not try out sauna culture for yourself? Connect with nature, reap the benefits of contrast therapy, and find a new sense of belonging in a warm, welcoming community of like-minded individuals. 

Discover The Saltwater Sauna.

Blog written by Rebekah Miron