Visiting Brownsea Island: what you need to know

Looking out onto the harbour from Brownsea Island

In this article you’ll find everything you need to know about how to get here, what's open and what to expect from your visit.

In this article:

 

Opening dates 

Brownsea Island will be open 21 April to 31 October 2021.

Ferries to Brownsea

We can't wait to welcome you to the island, but things may have changed since your last visit so this information is here to help you plan your visit:

  • If you're planning a trip to Brownsea, then you'll need to catch a foot ferry which runs everyday from Poole Quay. The Sandbanks service is suspended until further notice. 
  • You can now purchase a single ticket which combines the ferry fare and island admission. If you are a National Trust member, you will only need to pay for the ferry. You will need to bring your membership card with you.  Prices can be found on our homepage.
  • There are a limited number of walk on spaces per ferry.  If you would like to visit booking is required to guarantee your place.
  • If you'd like to pre-book, you can purchase tickets via the National Trust website. Walk-in visitors will need to pay on the day on the day, and tickets will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis.  Please see 'walk-in admission' further down for more details.
  • The island admission and ferry fare is free of charge for under 5s, but you are still required to book a space for them so we can manage numbers on the ferries.
  • The ferry is operated by a third party company, Brownsea Island Ferries.  Both pre-booked and same-day walk up visitors will need to report to the yellow ferry kiosk on Poole Quay on the day of your visit.  From October 4, Greenslades Pleasure Boats will be running the service from the orange kiosk on the Poole Quay.
  • Assistance dogs permitted only.

Ferry timetable 

Ferries run back and forth to the island every hour.  The crossing takes approximately 20 minutes. You will only need to book an outbound ferry which depart Poole Quay every hour between 9:30 and 13:30.  You will be able to catch any returning ferry off the island.

When you purchase your ticket you will be given a 15 minuite arrival window in which you must arrive.

Ferries from Poole Quay to Brownsea Island

  • 09:15 - 09:30 arrival window. Boat departs 09:30
  • 10:15 - 10:30 arrival window. Boat departs 10:30
  • 11:15 - 11:30 arrival window. Boat departs 11:30
  • 12:15 - 12:30 arrival window. Boat departs 12:30
  • 13:15 - 13:30 arrival window. Boat departs 13:30

Return ferries from Brownsea Island to Poole Quay:

  • Boat departs 10:00, arrives Poole Quay 10:20
  • Boat departs 11:00, arrives Poole Quay 11:20
  • Boat departs 12:00, arrives Poole Quay 12:20
  • Boat departs 13:00, arrives Poole Quay 13:20
  • Boat departs 14:00, arrives Poole Quay 14:20
  • Boat departs 15:00, arrives Poole Quay 15:20
  • Boat departs 16:00, arrives Poole Quay 16:20
  • Boat departs 17:00, arrives Poole Quay 17:20

The last ferry of the day can be busy, so we advise catching an earlier ferry off particularly at weekends. 

Accepting walk-in visitors

We are now able to accept a very small number of walk-in visitors from Poole Quay. You will need to head to the ferry company kiosk to enquire about availability. Tickets will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis. Payment for the ferry and admission is made at Visitor Reception on the island, and we accept card and cash payment, although card payment is preferred.  To guarantee your entry, you are required to pre-book your visit.  

Ferry service for campers

If you have a booking to stay at Brownsea Island's campsite, please note that the timetable above does not apply. You are not able to arrive on the ferries listed above as they will not have capacity to take you. A separate service will be provided for your stay. Once you have booked to stay at the campsite, please check your booking confirmation for details on how to reserve your ferry. Further details can also be found here.

How to find the ferry 

Departure point address to September 20 - October 3

Brownsea Island Ferries (yellow kiosk), Poole Quay, Poole, Dorset, BH15 1HJ

Departure point address October 4 - October 31

Greenslades Pleasure Boats (orange kiosk), Poole Quay, Poole, Dorset, BH15 1HJ

Closest parking to quay

If you are travelling by car follow signs to the Quay visitors multi-storey car park, where you can use pedestrian signage to locate the quay - a 5 minute walk away. 

Other parking further afield

For a car park slightly further afield that provides the option for a stroll along Baiter Park to Poole Quay, there's the Harbourside car parks. Walking from here will take approx. 15-20 mins.

Upon arrival at Poole Quay you will need to head to Brownsea Island Ferries' yellow kiosk.  From October 4, Greenslades Pleasure Boats will be taking over the ferry service so you'll need to head to the orange kiosk. If you have pre-booked you will need to show your booking form to the member of staff which can be done via your phone or print out.  After you are checked in, you will be asked to join the queue and await boarding.

Staying safe onboard and at Brownsea

The ferry company staff, crew and skippers will all adhere to the Government guidelines on recommended health and safety and hygiene practices

To help keep everyone safe, please pay attention to instructions from the crew whilst boarding, on board and alighting the ferry. 

If you’re showing any of the symptoms of coronavirus, or if you've been in contact with anyone that has the virus in the last 14 days, please don’t visit. 

Once seated we will ask you to remain there for the duration of the crossing. Passengers will be able to sit both outside on the upper deck and inside on the lower deck. Please bring waterproofs with you as if it rains, we won't be able to guarantee everyone gets an indoor seat.

What's open?

  • All countryside areas, including the natural play area are open
  • Toilets are open across the site
  • The Visitor Centre, free family trails and daily guided walks are all avaliable 
  • Villano Café will be serving a full menu with indoor seating available.
  • The Outdoor Centre campsite and bunkhouse are all open to book an overnight visit. The Trading Post is a great place to pick up a Scouting souvenir located at the Baden-Powell Centre buildings
  • Holiday cottages are open
  • Sadly our island shop has closed. 

Group visits

Day visiting groups

The booking system will allow groups up to 20 to pre-book their tickets in advance.  We advise all groups to pre-book their visit, however there are no group rates currently available.  

Residential group visits

Sadly, we cannot accomodate any residential group visits to the campsite in 2021.  We are however, happy to honour pre-existing bookings where possible. 

South Shore Lodge is open for public bookings.  

Dorset Wildife Trust members 

If you are a member of the Dorset Wildlife Trust, you can book as a National Trust Member, and you will only be asked to pay the ferry fare.  When you land, you'll go through our recpetion and be asked to head directly to the Dorset Wildlife Trust area.  If you'd like to explore the National Trust area, you'll need to pay an admission fee if you are a non-member. 

Cancelling your visit

On occasion we have to close the island due to bad weather.  In this instance we will make the decision to close by 3pm the day before and all those with pre-booked tickets will then be contacted via email and offered a refund.  If you have any questions, please contact the box office on 0344 249 1895

How to book

Please note all visitors will be asked to pay the ferry fare, but island admission is free for members, so please bring your membership card with you. Please follow the guidance below if pre-booking your tickets. 

  • Please book one ticket per person. Under 5s will be free, but you still need to book them a ticket so we can manage numbers on the ferry 
  • Tickets are for your use only and are not available for resale
  • We'll send your booking confirmation by email. Please make sure you fill in your correct email address when you book to ensure you receive your confirmation email and any notice of cancellation in the event of exceptional weather.
  • Tickets are released throughout the working day on a Thursday.  Sales will end by 8am on each day in question, so supporters can book right up to this time.
Brownsea Seahorse bringing wheelchair users to the island

Accessibility

The Brownsea Seahorse is a landing craft, purchased by the National Trust in 2016 to support a variety of essential island operations but primarily, it enables wheelchair users that are unable to access the the island via the public passenger ferry, to visit the island. Here you will find more information on access for wheelchair users as well as information regarding pushchair access and assistance dogs.