Brownsea Island, the largest of the islands in Dorset’s Poole Harbour, makes for a great day trip. Access to the island is by public ferry or private boat from Sandbanks, which is a five-minute drive from us.
Owned by the National Trust, Brownsea Island offers beautiful areas of woodland and heath, as well as gorgeous beaches, stunning cliff top views across Poole Harbour and the Isle of Purbeck, and a wide variety of wildlife. Because non-native grey squirrels have never been introduced to the island, it is one of the few places in southern England where indigenous red squirrels live. There is also a small population of peacocks and a large population of non-native sika deer.
Since 1964 the island has been host to the Brownsea Open Air Theatre, one of the biggest theatrical projects in the south, and every summer they perform a work of William Shakespeare. It’s worth getting your tickets early because performances can sell out months in advance.
Brownsea Island is also a great destination for experienced campers and people who love nature and the great outdoors. In 1907, the island was the location of an experimental camp that led to the formation of the Scout movement in 1908. These days, there is a Scout camp at the south-west of the Island, which features an outdoor centre and a trading post shop focused on the Scout movement.
There are various events happening on the island throughout the year such as the round-the-island swim of 4.5 miles held by the RLSS Poole Lifeguards in July. There are also regular guided walks exploring the island’s history or wildlife, and other events. Visitors should also check out the island’s visitor centre and museum and the lovely shop and cafe.