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Things to see on the Farne Islands

Visitors on a boat trip around the Farne Islands, Northumberland
Visitors on a boat trip around the Farne Islands | © National Trust Images/Joe Cornish

Sail around the Farne Islands, a few miles off the Northumberland Coast, to see the thousands of animals that come here to breed each year. Get a close look at Atlantic grey seals and many species of seabird, including puffins, terns, guillemots and eider ducks.

Safety information

Due to the potentially devastating impact of avian flu (bird flu) on seabird colonies, visitor access to Inner Farne and Staple Island is restricted, with no landings for the 2023 breeding season. Visitors are still able to experience the magical wildlife of the Farne Islands from the sea by taking a 'sail around' tour.

Spot the islands from the boat

Hop on a boat at Seahouses, Northumberland, and see how many of the Farnes’ 28 islands you can spot on the trip.

The islands are divided into two clusters – the Inner Farnes and the Outer Farnes. When you get close to the former, look out for Inner Farne, Knoxes Reef, and East and West Wideopen (all of which are joined together at low tide); as well as Megstone. As you approach the Outer Farnes, look for Staple, Brownsman, North and South Wamses, Big Harcar and Longstone.

Weather permitting, boat trips run all year.

Find out more about booking a boat trip

Visitors on a boat trip from Seahouses to Inner Farne, Farne Islands, Northumberland
What will you spot on your boat trip? | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Witness the abundant wildlife

The wildlife on the Farne Islands is their biggest draw. Though the islands are most famous for puffins and seals, you’ll see many other species too. Depending on the time of year you visit, you could spot shags, kittiwakes, razorbills, eider ducks and guillemots.

Bring binoculars if you have some, to help you spot all the different species. You can buy wildlife guides specific to the Farne Islands in the National Trust shop in Seahouses.

Puffins on the Farne Islands, Northumberland
Puffins on the Farne Islands, Northumberland | © National Trust Images/Joe Cornish


Visit in the breeding season (May to July) and you’ll be able to see these endearing birds up close. During this period, the Farnes host up to 23 species of birds, including around 37,000 pairs of puffins.

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Time your visit with the wildlife

You’ll see different things around the Farnes, depending on what time of year you visit. We've put together a calendar to help you plan your trip around the wildlife.

Please note that all timings are approximate, as weather and other factors can affect migration, nesting and breeding times. If in doubt, call ahead to check what you’ll be able to see.

Farne Islands wildlife calendar


Firsts and lasts

Inner Farne and Staple are closed, but you can see grey seals and shags from the boats. Seals will be lolling around, digesting their fish supper, while shags are a year-round highlight.

It’s a time of firsts and lasts – will you spot the first puffins in the water, a fulmar migrating for spring, or the last furry white seal pups? You might also experience some of the tough conditions faced by past human inhabitants.

Try wildlife photography

Whether you're an expert or a novice, you’ll discover photo opportunities everywhere you turn. You can catch the seals popping their heads out of the sea or lounging on the rocks. If you have a better camera, it's worth bringing it, but bear in mind that it can get wet and windy out there.

Please note: We only allow photography for private, non-commerical use on the Farne Islands. Drones are not permitted, either over the Farne Islands or at any other National Trust site.

Have a family adventure

Have a look at the National Trust’s ‘50 things to do before you're 11¾’ and see which activities you might be able to tick off your list while you’re here – they're a great starting point for family outdoor adventures.

So many seabirds visit the Farnes, you’ll be able to go birdwatching without even trying.

Boy birdwatching at Inner Farne on the Farne Islands in Northumberland
Birdwatching on Inner Farne | © National Trust Images/Matthew Antrobus
A visitor photographing birds on the Farne Islands, Northumberland

Discover more on the Farne Islands

Find out how to get to the Farne Islands, where to park, the things to see and do and more.

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