Visiting Brownsea Island: what you need to know

We're looking forward to welcoming you back. All countryside areas are open and ready for you to explore from Thursday 23 July. 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 (the big yellow ferries) will be departing Poole Quay everyday on the hour and half hour between 10:00 and 13:30 and you must book a ticket via the National Trust's online booking system. Each sailing takes about 20 minuites and seating will be on a first come, first serve basis.  Each visiting slot will be 4 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. 


Visiting slots: 

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

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


How to find the ferry 

Departure point address:

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 ferry 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 following each trip. 

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. 

You will be shown to your seat and 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 short film about the new visitor journey


The Seahorse landing craft service will be available to book for wheel chair 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.


What's open?

All countryside areas and toilets are open.  

To ensure the safety of visitors, Visitor Reception, the Villano Cafe, the Engine Shop and the Visitor Centre remain closed until further notice. We’re working hard to get these open as soon as it is safe to do so.  

The Dorset Wildlife Trust area will be open, but all bird hides will reamin 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 
  • You’ll need to choose a visiting slot which is 4 hours for the day you want to visit
  • 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.
  • There is no provision to take ferry bookings on the day at the kiosk.  
  • 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 (10 August - 16 August)

Mon 10 Aug 2020
Book your timed entry to visit Brownsea Island