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Outdoor activities at Brownsea Island

View of people stand-up paddleboarding from the water
Paddleboard your way along the South shore of the island | © National Trust Images / Ben Selway

As the birthplace of Scouting and Guiding movements, Brownsea Island is the perfect place to get outdoors in nature and start your very own adventure. In this article you can find out about the range of outdoor activities on offer and how to get here via your own boat or kayak.

The campsite

The Outdoor Centre and campsite is situated at the site of the first experimental Scout camp, set up over 100 years ago. Today, everyone is welcome to come and spend a night under the stars and experience the magic of Brownsea after hours. The campsite is open from April - September every season.

If you are visiting for the day, the Outdoor Centre is great place for a pit stop with toilets and drinking water available, and when the campsite is open, so is the reception and campsite shop. Our refreshment kiosk is also open through the warmer months offering a hot cuppa or cold ice-cream.


In partnership with The Watersports Academy we're delighted to be able to offer paddleboarding and kayaking for day visitors, campers and groups visiting the island. Head down to the Outdoor Centre and you'll find the Watersports Academy pop up stand, with wetsuits, kayaks and paddleboards for hire. Watersports hire is available from 29 March - 1 Oct.

The stretch of shoreline along Brownsea's south shore is shallow and usually fairly calm, providing the perfect place to explore the harbour safely. The Poole Harbour Paddler Power Map is a useful guide to follow.

Explore South Shore beach

There are lots of landing and picnic points along the south and western shores of Brownsea to enjoy, kick your shoes and socks off and paddle in the shallows. Or get your swimming gear on and get splashing around in the waters.

Natural Play Area

The Natural Play Area is located a 20 min walk from the Outdoor Centre, soar, leap and play like a red squirrel. Shaded areas with benches make it a great place to have a picnic and relax in nature.

Scouts pitching a tent on Brownsea Island
Scouts pitching a tent on Brownsea Island | © National Trust Images/James Beck

Celebrating Scouting and Guiding

Every year, thousands of Scouts and Guides flock to the island to celebrate their cultural heritage. A trip wouldn't be complete without a visit to the Scout stone, or a dive into the Trading Post to purchase a woggle or badge.

This year we have launched two new Scouting themed activity booklets, where Squirrels and Beavers can achieve their Explore Outdoors and Explore Activity badges. The activity booklets are availiable by clicking the links above or from the trail station at the Outdoor Centre campsite. On completion the badges can be collected from The Trading Post.

Other trails

All our free family activity trails are available from the Visitor Centre and Outdoor Centre trail station, including the popular tree climbing trail, the nature trail and the Scouting and Guiding activity booklet.

Coming to Brownsea Island by boat, kayak or paddleboard

We provide a warm welcome to any visitors who come to the island using their own boats, kayaks or paddleboards but there are some things you need to know about landing here. Please read our FAQs below.

Woman and girl kayaking on the sea with another kayak in the background
Kayaks can make their own way across the harbour to the island's South Shore | © ©National Trust Images/ Ben Selway
A close up of a red squirrel climbing a tree on Brownsea Island, Poole Harbour, Dorset

Discover more at Brownsea Island

Find out when Brownsea Island is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

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