Visiting Brownsea Island: what you need to know

Brownsea Island is open until 31 Oct. To ensure the safety of everyone, 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:


Opening dates 

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

Ferries to Brownsea

Things may have changed since your last visit so this information is here to help you plan your visit as we welcome visitors once again.

  • If you're planning a trip to Brownsea, then you'll need to catch a foot ferry. This year will see a ferry service daily from Poole Quay only. 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.  Prices can be found on our homepage.
  • The majority of our visitors are pre-booking their island admission in advance online, but you can now show up on the day and pay on arrival (see 'walk-in admission' further down).
  • 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.  You will need to report to the yellow ferry kiosk on Poole Quay on the day of your visit.

Ferry timetable and fare 

The service is hourly, departing Poole Quay every day between 9.30am and 1.30pm.  See timetable below.  Each visiting slot will be 3.5 hours and this will include your ferry to and from the island.  You must travel on the designated ferry slot on your ticket to and from the island, so that we can maintain social distancing for all. Each sailing takes about 20 minutes and seating will be managed by the crew.

  • 09:30 slot: Boat departs at 09:30 returning at 13:00
  • 10:30 slot: Boat departs at 10:30 returning at 14:00
  • 11:30 slot: Boat departs at 11:30 returning at 15:00
  • 12:30 slot: Boat departs at 12:30 returning at 16:00
  • 13:30 slot: Boat 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 able to accept a number of walk-in visitors from Poole Quay on the day.  Tickets will be issued on a first-come, first-served 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 as to whether there is space on any of the day’s sailings. The ferry company will be able to check the numbers of those already booked to come to the island and let you know whether we have capacity to take you.  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. 

How to find the ferry 

Departure point address: 

Brownsea Island Ferries (yellow 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 Ferrie's 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.

Brownsea Island ferry kiosk on Poole Quay
Brownsea Island ferry kiosk
Brownsea Island ferry kiosk on Poole Quay

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 practices.  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 required to. 

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. 

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 if we are to maintain social distancing. 

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 some indoor seating available.  We have an additonal snack van located at the Outdoor Centre serving hot and cold drinks and snacks
  • 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 Powel Centre buildings
  • Holiday cottages are open
  • Sadly our island shop has closed permenantly

Group visits

Day visiting groups

Currently the booking system and conditions of transport mean we cannot accommodate day visiting groups at this time.  However, we are keeping the situation under review and hope to welcome groups who wish to visit for the day, later in the season.

Residential group visits

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

South Shore Lodge is open for small, single household groups.  

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

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 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.
  • Every Friday we'll release new bookings for visits the following week. You can book up to 18 hours before a timeslot. 

Upcoming events

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

Wed 23 Jun 2021
Book your timed entry to visit Brownsea Island