Brownsea Island - National Trust

Aerial photograph of the stunning Brownsea island castle


Please visit the website to find everything you need to know about how to get here, what's open and what to expect from your visit.

Brownsea Island is a wildlife sanctuary that’s easy to reach but feels like another world from the moment you step ashore. There is wildlife to spot and woodland to explore; outdoor activities to try and beaches to picnic on; birds to watch and trails to wander.

Things to see and do:

Tours, talks and trails
Make the most of your visit and join a free introductory talk, subject to volunteer availability, to learn more about the island or pick up a self-led trail at the Visitor Centre and unlock the secrets and history of Brownsea.  For the less-abled we also offer a free, bookable electric Squirrel Shuttle mini bus tours (June 2023). Booking advised.

Natural play area and free trails

Red squirrel-inspired agility course featuring balance beams, climbing frame, obstacles, see-saw and den-building area. Free family trails available from the Visitor Centre and Outdoor Centre.

Outdoor Centre

Sample the scouting life at the Outdoor Centre; spend a night under the stars, or learn about intriguing tales of survival and adventure at the Trading Post.

Wildlife haven

Famous for red squirrels, the island's habitats include heathland, woodland and a lagoon – internationally important for overwintering and summer-nesting birds. Wildlife spotters can follow waymarked routes through a wealth of different habitats from the sheltered lagoon and sweeping shorelines, to woodlands and heathland. 

Villano Café and Trading Post

Harbourside café serving hot and cold drinks, lunches, cakes and ice cream. Snack van (seasonal) at the Outdoor Centre where you’ll also find island souvenirs at the Trading Post.

Visitor Centre and Engine Room

Visitor Centre: Discover red squirrel stories and lift the lid on Brownsea's wildlife. Engine Room (near reception): meet the characters that have shaped Brownsea and browse our second-hand bookshop.

We have plenty of free and ticketed seasonal events for everyone from wildlife lovers to adventures with family.  For the full events programme, prices and information please visit the website.

Places to stay
There are two holiday cottages on Brownsea island, both located on the quay with stunning harbour fronted views and metres away from the water’s edge.  For more information please visit website and look under ‘places to stay’.

Campsite and South Shore Lodge

This unique campsite is nestled on the south side of Brownsea Island overlooking the rolling Purbeck hills and is located where Lord Baden-Powell held the first experimental Scout camp in 1907. There is something for everyone with a variety of camping options including bell tents, bring your own tent pitches, or you can hang out in style in one of the tree tents.

There are also dedicated group pitches for Scouting and Guiding associated groups.

South Shore Lodge provides bunk bed accommodation, a common room, kitchen facilities and a shower and toilet block. From here your group can explore the whole island whilst making the most of the tranquil and beautiful surroundings of the lodge.

Ferry trip

Your Brownsea adventure starts with a ferry trip. Head to the ‘Planning your visit’ section for information on getting here from Poole Quay or Sandbanks. Ferries depart from Poole Quay and Sandbanks Jetty.  

Please note access to the island is limited for disabled visitors please check with the boat company before travelling. The Brownsea Seahorse runs a pre-bookable service for wheelchair bound visitors running from Sandbanks to National Trust Brownsea Island on set days (subject to weather and tide).  Call 01202 707744 for dates and booking, Pick-up location is from the Sandbanks Yacht Company slipway (near Sandbanks Jetty). There is also a landing fee to pay for non National Trust members on top of normal boat fare. 

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Opening Times

Main Season Opening Times (12 Apr 2024 - 31 Oct 2024)
Monday - Sunday10:00 - 17:00*

* Boats leave from Poole Quay only and tickets must be booked in advance. Check the website for the most up to date information on opening times.

Dates and times marked with a '*' are provisional and may be subject to change
Via ferry from Poole Quay
BH15 1HJ
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Call direct on:

Tel01202 707744

Map & Directions

Public Transport Directions


Most visitors reach Brownsea Island via the foot ferries which run daily from Poole Quay and Sandbanks Jetty between11 March to 31 October.  These ferries are run by private companies and all visitors, including National Trust members, need to purchase ferry tickets from the ferry kiosks before they arrive.  

Travelling from Poole Quay

You no longer need to pre-book if coming from Poole Quay (pre-booking only applies to the Sandbanks service for the 2023 season). All ferries from Poole Quay will be a walk-in service.

Adult: £9.50

Child: £4.75

Family: £23.75

1 adult and up to 3 children (aged 5-17) £14.75

With the exception of large groups (15+), including groups staying on the campsite, there is no pre-booking facility for the Poole Quay service. If you are a group of 15 or more, please visit either the Group Booking guidance for groups or campsite visitors.

From Sandbanks

Brownsea Island Ferries runs a daily service from the Sandbanks Jetty near the chain ferry to Brownsea Island between 10am and 5pm (with no 1 or 1.15pm service), leaving every half hour and returning at 15 mins past and 15 mins to each hour. Journey time of approximately 10 minutes. Please note this must be pre-booked.

The fares from Sandbanks are:

Adult: £9.00

Child (5-17): £4.50

Child (under 5): Free

Please note that ferries may be operating a reduced service in poor weather - we'd always advise checking with them direct before your journey.

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