Brownsea Island
Brownsea Island
4.5
IslandsNature & Wildlife Areas
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Monday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Tuesday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Wednesday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Thursday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Friday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Sunday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
About
Owned by the National Trust, Brownsea Island is dramatically located in Poole Harbour, with spectacular views across to the Purbeck Hills. Thriving natural habitats - including woodland, heathland and a lagoon - create a unique haven for wildlife, such as the rare red squirrel and a wide variety of birds, including dunlin, kingfishers, common and sandwich terns and oystercatchers. The Outdoor Centre invites you to come and follow in the footsteps of Lord Baden-Powell and the very first Scouts who camped here in 1907. Spend a night under the stars at the historic campsite and live life like a true Scout whilst you take advantage of the peace and tranquillity of the island when all other visitors have gone home. The perfect day's adventure - this island wildlife sanctuary is easy to get to but feels like another world from the moment you step ashore.
Duration: 2-3 hours
Meets animal welfare guidelines
Suggest edits to improve what we show.
Improve this listing
Tours & experiences
Explore different ways to experience this place.
What is Travelers’ Choice?
Tripadvisor gives a Travelers’ Choice award to accommodations, attractions and restaurants that consistently earn great reviews from travelers and are ranked within the top 10% of properties on Tripadvisor.

Top ways to experience Brownsea Island and nearby attractions

See what travelers are saying
  • Kevin Feather
    London, United Kingdom79 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Somewhere, I've always wanted to visit ever since I was a child in Scouting.
    We were lucky in that we had beautiful weather, which helped make this a fantastic day out. Parking at Poole Harbour Quay is close by and simple to find. Ferry across to the island runs every hour and is very professionally handled. Tickets are purchased on the island once you land - but you can fast track as we did and pay on board prior to leaving harbour. It meant we didn't have to queue at the other end. Island is beautiful and walked as much as possible, and we got to see the red squirrels - which is a plus as clearly not guaranteed.
    Visited May 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written May 23, 2023
  • laurence p
    Sandown, United Kingdom105 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Most Enjoyable
    Had a great time at Brownsea Island , The staff and volunteers were very helpful. We saw lots of birds . The best was watching the Terns , saw Common Terns and Sandwich Terns , and Black Headed Gulls with chicks , Shelducks , Mediterranean Gulls and the Forster Tern of which there was only one . We stopped off at the Cafe and had sausage rolls and Hot Chocolate with everything which were so tasty. A most enjoyable Day , Will visit again
    Visited May 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written May 27, 2023
  • Aj R
    2 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    A Scouts Dream come true
    As a Scout, I have always wanted to get to Brownsea Island, it felt quite spiritual for me. It is breathtaking, My husband and I hiked all the way out to the campsite to purchase the Brownsea Blue badges, and to feel a connection to our wider family of scouts. The boat ride out was fantastic, we were able to hire for free an all terrain pushchair for our little one who loved all the wildlife. We were having such a lovely time that we had three minutes to spare to get back on the boat.
    Visited May 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written June 3, 2023
  • Dula Duda
    Solihull, United Kingdom8 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Great day for relaxing with family
    Fantastic trip with family. Great for exploring walking and picnics. A lot of walking is involved therefore would recommend you bring buggy for children who will get tired. Excellent views and places to take photos. We brought our own food would recommend this as there is a lack of places to buy on island.
    Visited June 2023
    Written June 5, 2023
  • Rob & Caroline T
    49 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Reds and more!
    Our journey started with a warm, sunny and relaxing ferry crossing to the island from Poole Quay. All the NT staff were friendly, informative and helpful. The island is a beautiful place to visit but the added bonus was when we were able to watch two separate Red Squirrels plus deer and birdlife. A great day out.
    Visited June 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written June 20, 2023
  • Little Miss Clumsy
    112 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    A trip to spot red squirrels
    Very nice place to walk & we were lucky enough to spot 1 red squirrel! Nice boat trip over too. Take a picnic though as National Trust doesn't offer much & what they do is expensive.
    Visited June 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written June 26, 2023
  • adam_monty25
    107 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Wonderful day out
    We’ve been 4 times at it’s always a great day out; we’ve seen a few red squirrels each visit and the kids always enjoy the variety of wildlife. The staff in the visitors hut were so friendly, offering colouring and showing interesting videos from inside squirrel and birds nests. There’s also a great nature playground. It’s a great day out with the novelty of the boat ride thrown in
    Visited July 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written July 13, 2023
  • TJA950
    Gillingham, United Kingdom1,558 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Not your usual NT Visit
    There is little on the island in the way of buildings or places for you to shelter for that matter for you to visit, so lower your expectations in this regard. Enjoy the walks, the wildlife and sea birds because that is what this place is all about. It is a pretty island and there are many interesting areas to view. It has a small cafe and when busy, it struggles to be honest as it is not big enough for the volume of visitors. Make sure you check the prices before you go because you will be charged on landing and members do not get a free ferry ride
    Visited August 2023
    Written August 8, 2023
  • suemB8088MI
    Bedford, United Kingdom17 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    alright visit
    went over by ferry and that was a smooth journey, when docked went to the small church and saw a red squirrel, think it got fed up with me calling red squirrel, so came out. Had a slow walk to the pond, had some lunch at the cafe on way back. i found that more benches are needed to rest weary legs, i didn't think the visitors centre was up to much
    Visited July 2023
    Written August 14, 2023
  • Manny Minpin
    32 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Beautiful island
    Beautiful island and travelling by boat to get there makes it a real adventure. Lovely place to explore. Nice cafe. Boat fare and parking in Poole harbour do make it a more expensive NT place to visit though.
    Visited August 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written August 14, 2023
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

Popular mentions

4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles2,559 reviews
Excellent
1,837
Very good
550
Average
116
Poor
27
Terrible
29

quynhn
17 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2020
We booked tickets with the National Trust to visit the island via the ferry from Poole Harbour. First the good news. The ferry was expertly handled and took us to and from the island. The island was lovely and peaceful and the red squirrels were amazing. The NT cafe staff were great and refreshments much appreciated. Such a day can only be recommended.
Unfortunately there was dark cloud on the otherwise excellent experience that we enjoyed. The NT website informed us that full corona measures were being taken. They were not and it was a disgrace.
There was no social spacing between passengers on the lengthy queues to board the ferry
There were no masks worn at all on a previous ferry, while queuing to board, and whilst onboard.
The ferry was not cleaned between trips. As soon as the last passenger disembarked, the first on the new lots of passenger boarded. There was no time for any cleaning, which would have been impossible as there were was the helmsman and one crew member.
I raised the matter with NT who promptly fobbed me off with advice to contact the local NT. This I duly did, and they patronisingly told me that I could not see what went on behind the scenes. So I am left with the impression that HQ and local NT are not particularly concerned about Corona precautions and the safety of members and guests.
Written October 17, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Hi there. We're sorry to hear about your experience travelling to the island. We would highly recommend you contact us as soon as possible at brownseaisland@nationaltrust.org.uk with the details of your visit so we can look into the points your raise. We have strict social distancing and hygiene measures in place and we need to adhere to these in order to stay open and create a safe visit for everyone. Thank you.
Written October 20, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

JMBB12345
Esher, UK3,000 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2020 • Business
After seeing some dear dear friends, myself and a colleague decided to make the most of this genuinely charming area, by visiting Brownsea Island.

Ferry ride is quick, and considering the admission price, includes the ferry across, and back - £12.50 for an adult NT member is very good indeed.

As we traversed and reconnoitred this fabulous island, I had mulled that I had never seen a Red Squirrel ‘live’ before, in my life (I hadn’t seen one ‘deceased’ either, thankfully, as my colleague remarked that he thought I meant ‘what time would they be performing’ - a kind of ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks, if you will).

......but I digress. We saw several of the playful little scamps, and it was both cute and interesting to observe.

Some outstanding views of Purbeck Island to see!

Flora, fauna and majestic trees are everywhere, and it was a truly delightful sojourn!
Written October 13, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

111TWIGAMINHAAFRIKA
Bristol, UK7,801 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2021
Another excellent early morning organised ‘birdsong’ event at Brownsea Island.
Our ranger/guide John, collected the group from Sandbanks quay and then on the NT boat, we headed for the island(5 minutes).
We navigated the island on foot with John giving us the general insight to how Brownsea works, and excellent guiding with his inexhaustible knowledge on the birdsong.
This event was prepaid, a 0730am start, and included coffee/tea and a bacon, sausage and egg bap.
We decided to stay on the island after the event which concluded at 1015am and spent a further hour and a half exploring ourselves, finding quality time photographing several red squirrels at close quarter.
Excellent morning at Brownsea.
Written October 16, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Gourmandsouth
Southampton, UK878 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2020 • Friends
I first visited Brownsea Island as a child, by dinghy, in the 1950s when Mary Bonham-Christie owned it and wouldn’t let anyone land! This time I took my daughter and we had a lovely walk despite the drizzle. I was hoping to visit the bird hides, but sadly they were all closed, which was not mentioned on their website. We saw several red squirrels, which are beautiful, but no deer. Deer swim between the islands. The boats from Sandbanks aren’t running atm but those from Poole were efficient. Booking in advance is required during these strange times.
Written August 21, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Melanie G
6 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2020
My husband and I visited Brownsea yesterday and felt extremely safe and miles away from the current problems of the world. We took the first boat from Poole which was not very busy. We saw a lot of wildlife including red squirrels and deer. The paths are well maintained and well signposted. It is easy to walk from one side of the island to the other in the time allocated. We cannot believe that we have never visited the island before, but will certainly be back. We would recommend that anyone visiting Poole should include Brownsea Island in their itinerary.
Written October 16, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Kings and Queens London
London, UK962 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2020 • Couples
We booked a return ferry trip through national trust (17.50 each) for non members(5.00 cheaper if you are a member). because of covid you are given 3and half hour time slots.its gives you plenty of time to see a lot of the island.We were lucky with the weather chilly but dry.We saw two deer, three red squirrels, heard some wild pig in the forest and saw lots of birds.To the left of the island has a lovely walk by the beach.We have been to this island at least four times at different times of the year. It was nice to see the autumn colours , even saw some red mushrooms
Written October 28, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

booandkitty
Bridgend, UK57 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2022
Great family day out, we only spent a few hours here, but you could spend all day.
You need to pre-book the ferry to avoid disappointment, ideally going before 12 noon to the island as it does get busy. The ferry has a bar on board for refreshments and snacks.
The island itself is being 'repaired' after being left to go over wild leading to some areas looking like a large dinosaur has gone crashing through the trees, uprooting them, stripping them bare and snapping some in half ( my little boy thought it was a Gruffalo, but I'm sticking with a dinosaur)
We didn't get to see all the Island, nor any red squirrels, but it is very peaceful and quiet with lots to explore.
The church is really interesting as is the pump room with a second hand book section, and a history of the Island.
The cafe is good with a selection of hot/cold food, cakes, snacks and drinks
Written May 6, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Janet J
Bedford, UK327 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2020 • Couples
One of my favourite places ,unfortunately time is limited on the island because of this horrible pandemic but it is possible to walk round the island and have a quick picnic lunch in the time allowed.
The views from the cliffs are wonderful and just walking through the woods and looking for squirrels makes you forget all the horrible things that are happening.
The only downside was the chaos in the restaurant caused by their till not accepting credit or debit cards and cash not an option either!
The boat trip over and back is very pleasant although now you don’t get the extended tour and commentary on the way back.
Written September 18, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Stuart B
Northamptonshire, UK84 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2020
I visited with my two children at the end of August and even though the weather was a bit windy it was a great experience.
The ferry was really well organised with social distancing, face coverings required and a fun trip. When we were there we all found it a great day out.
The island is really lovely, with walks through the woods where the kids were able to just run about (without worrying about having to stick to paths etc). We saw peacocks and a glimpse of a red squirrel.
A real gem of a place, well organised and definitely somewhere to visit when in the region.
Written September 2, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

jeremyhale2016
London, UK7 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2020 • Couples
Parking at Poole Quay is hard with a tall car eg defender with roof rack. All car parks nearby are either 6.1 limited height or 3 Hours max. Ended up 20 minutes walk away and missed ferry. NT staff v helpf and we did get the next boat. But just a warning for other visitors
Written September 27, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Showing results 1-10 of 2,530
Is this your Tripadvisor listing?
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.
Claim your listing

Brownsea Island - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (2024)

Frequently Asked Questions about Brownsea Island


Restaurants near Brownsea Island: View all restaurants near Brownsea Island on Tripadvisor


All Poole HotelsPoole Hotel DealsLast Minute Hotels in Poole
All things to do in Poole
Amusement Parks in PooleDay Trips in Poole
RestaurantsFlightsVacation RentalsTravel StoriesCruisesRental Cars