Brownsea Island is a nature reserve just off Poole, jointly run by the National Trust and Dorset Wildlife Trust, It is reached by a ferry which runs hourly from Poole Quay and takes 20 minutes to reach the island.
There is a campsite on the island, located close to the site where Lord Baden-Powell held the first ever Scout camp in 1907; and a lodge, which sleeps up to 24 people in bunk bed accommodation. There are also two holiday cottages, each sleeping up to five people. The Villano Cafe is open during the day, serving snacks and light meals to visitors.
Brownsea Island is one of two places in Wessex with a population of red squirrels, the other of course being the Isle of Wight. Daily squirrel walks are organised by volunteers. Also resident on the island are sika deer, a species originally introduced from Japan around the turn of the 19th century. Stags have sometimes been spotted swimming from the mainland in order to mate with the island's does!
Bird species include spoonbills, avocets, sandwich terns and nightjars. The latter are a rare visitor from Africa, which are on the amber list for conservation concern in the UK.
You can now buy a single ticket which covers both the ferry and admission to the island, with discounts for National Trust or Dorset Wildlife Trust members, See the National Trust website for more details.