Choose from 2 Fun Things to Do in Poole
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With ancient woodlands, windswept heathlands, and freshwater lakes hemmed in by grassy sea cliffs and sandy beaches, Brownsea Island crams a startling variety of scenery into its small landmass. The mostly uninhabited island, which is run by the National Trust, is the largest of the islands in Poole Harbour.
The most popular way to explore Brownsea Island is on a day trip from Poole—it’s a short ferry ride from the mainland. Alternatively, a sightseeing cruise around Poole Harbour affords spectacular views of Brownsea Island, as well as the surrounding islands and mainland attractions such as the Sandbanks, Old Harry Rocks, Corfe Castle, and the Purbeck Hills.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The weather on Brownsea Island can be wet and windy even in summer, so wear layers and bring a raincoat.
- Getting around the island is only possible on foot—vehicles and bikes are not permitted on the ferries.
- The Brownsea Island Visitor Centre, a short walk from the ferry port, has restrooms, a café, and a shop.
- Wheelchair-accessible ferries are available, and you can rent all-terrain wheelchairs on the island.
How to Get to There
Brownsea Island is only reachable by boat. Regular passenger ferries set sail from Poole Quay or the Sandbanks and take around 20 minutes to reach the island. From Poole, buses and taxis run from Poole train station to Poole Harbour.
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When to Get There
Brownsea Island is open to the public from March to October and on selected winter weekends, depending on the weather. In peak summer season (July and August), book your ferry tickets in advance to avoid disappointment.
Exploring Brownsea Island
The Brownsea Island Nature Reserve covers the whole island and offers nature trails and wildlife such rare red squirrels, sika deer, wild peacocks, and birds (avocets, black-tailed godwits, and wildfowl). Additional highlights include the beachfront Brownsea Castle, which dates back to the 16th century; the Brownsea Open-Air Theatre, which hosts performances throughout summer; and electric buggy tours, which traverse all the island’s most scenic viewpoints.
Address: Brownsea Island, England
From $ 13
A large natural harbor along the coast of Dorset, Poole Harbour is the centerpiece of its namesake town, flowing into Poole Quay and Upton Lake. With miles of rugged coastline and beaches, the harbor is a hotspot for water sports like windsurfing, kitesurfing and stand-up paddleboarding, while Poole Quay is home to an atmospheric promenade, lined with shops, cafes and restaurants.
Poole Harbour is also the starting point for ferries to nearby Brownsea Island, as well as boat cruises along England's UNESCO-listed Jurassic Coast, affording spectacular views of natural wonders such as Old Harry Rocks, Studland Bay and Swanage bay along the way. For the full experience, you can even combine a cruise to Swanage Bay, with a ride on the Swanage Railway heritage steam train and explore the dramatic Dorset coastline from both land and sea.
Poole Harbour is located on the south coast of Poole on England's south coast.
Address: Poole, England
From $ 13