Visiting Brownsea Island: what you need to know

To ensure the safety of our visitors, staff, volunteers and residents, we've reduced the number of people we can welcome at one time and you’ll need to book your visit in advance. 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:

Ferries to Brownsea

If you're planning a trip to Brownsea, then you'll need to catch a foot ferry which run daily from Poole Quay only. The Sandbanks service is suspended until further notice.  Things are a little different now and you will only need to purchase a single ticket which will be your ferry and island admission rolled into one. This single ticket is only available to purchase through the National Trust's online booking system. Members will only be asked to pay the ferry fare at point of booking, not the island admission fee.    

Ferry timetable

Brownsea Island Ferries will be running an hourly service, departing Poole Quay everyday on the half hour between 09:30 and 13:30.  Each visiting slot will be 3.5 hours and this will include your ferry to and from the island.  You must travel on your designated ferry so that we can maintain social distancing for all. Each sailing takes about 20 minutes and seating will be on a first come, first serve basis.  

Visiting slots:

Here are the details for each visiting slot.  You should arrive at Poole Quay 15 minutes before your ferry departs:

  • 09:30 slot: Ferry departs at 09:30 returning at 13:00
  • 10:30 slot: Ferry departs at 10:30 returning at 14:00
  • 11:30 slot: Ferry departs at 11:30 returning at 15:00
  • 12:30 slot: Ferry departs at 12:30 returning at 16:00
  • 13:30 slot: Ferry departs at 13:30 returning at 17:00

Accepting walk in visitors

On ferries that are not fully booked by pre-booked visitors, we are now able to accept a number of walk in visitors from Poole Quay only.  Prices can be found here and tickets will be issued on a first come, first serve basis.  If you are in the area and would like to come and have not pre-booked your ticket, you are welcome to come down to Poole Quay and enquire whether there is space on any of the day’s sailings. Our National Trust member of staff on Poole Quay will be able to check numbers booked and let you know whether we have capacity to take you.  Payment is made on island, and we accept card payment only.  

How to find the ferry 

Departure point address:  Brownsea Island Ferries kiosk, Poole Quay, Poole, Dorset, BH15 1HJ

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 five minute walk away.  

Upon arrival at Poole Quay you will spot a member of the National Trust staff team who will be standing near the Brownsea Island Ferries yellow kiosk. 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 at all times we will ask you to maintain social distancing.

Staying safe onboard and at Brownsea

The ferry company staff, crew and skippers will all adhere to the Government guidelines on health and safety and hygiene practicies.  The ferries will be cleaned down in between each run.  This will either be when it docks alongside either quay, or when the ferry is travelling to and from the island with no visitors on board.

As well as social distancing and in line with Government guidelines, you will need to wear a face covering for the duration of your ferry crossing. This could be a mask, snood or scarf.  Children under the age of 3 should not wear face coverings. Children aged from 4 to 11 can wear face coverings, but they are not rewuired to. 

Once you've found your seat we will ask you to remain there for the duration of the crossing. Please bring waterproofs with you as if it rains, we won't be able to offer everyone indoor shelter if we are to maintain social distancing.  

To help keep everyone safe, please follow social distancing and government guidance when you visit. 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. 

Here's a short film about the new visitor journey

You can find a transcript to this film here: Brownsea Island welcome back video transcript 2020 (PDF / 0.1MB) download


The Seahorse landing craft service is now available to book for wheelchair users.  Enquiries can be directed to 01202 707 744.  More information about the Seahorse landing craft service can be found here.

Unfortunatley, the all terrain wheelchairs and buggy tours are not currently available.

Assistance dogs only are permitted on Brownsea Island, and should be clearly identifiable.

If you have a specific access requirement please call us on 01202 707 744 and we will glady help you as much as possible. 

What's open?

All countryside areas, Outdoor Centre toilets and courtyard toilets are all open.  The Villano Cafe is also open.

To ensure the safety of visitors, Visitor Reception, the Engine Shop and the Visitor Centre remain closed until further notice. 

The Dorset Wildlife Trust area is open, but all bird hides are closed.  

Sadly, the Outdoor Centre and campsite will remain closed for the rest of the 2020 season.  South Shore Lodge will be closed until the end of September 2020 and the decision beyond that will be made in due course. Those who have booked stays are being contacted.

Group visits

Currently the booking system and conditions of transport mean we cannot accommodate group bookings at this time. If you have any particular questions in relation to group bookings, please contact us at

How to book

All visitors must book a ticket in advance, including members. 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 book one ticket per person. Under 5s will be free, but you still need to book them a ticket so we can count heads 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.
  • Every Friday we'll release new bookings for visits the following week. You can book up to 18 hours before a timeslot. 
  • Due to limited spaces, we’re asking that you only book once a week to allow others a chance to visit.

Help support key workers

To say thank you to our nation's key workers and all they have done for us, we're encouraging visitors to keep the first and last slots of each day free for key workers to use. While we are unable to 'reserve' these slots exclusively for key workers, we hope you will join us in thanking them by leaving these times free. If you or someone in your group are a key worker, please take the opportunity to book these early and late timeslots.

Upcoming events

Timed entry to Brownsea Island (21 Sept -27 Sept)

Wed 23 Sep 2020
Book your timed visit to Brownsea Island. Ferries depart via Poole Quay only. All visits last 3.5 hours with a fixed return ferry time.