Binoculars at the ready! It’s time to go puffin and wildlife spotting by booking a boat trip to the spectacular Farne Islands.

The Farne Islands are a group of islands off the majestic Northumberland coast. They’re home to a wide variety of birds, including puffins, Arctic terns, guillemots, and razorbills, as well as grey seals.

With more than 200,000 seabirds breeding here, it’s a magnet for wildlife photographers and bird watchers alike, and anyone else who appreciates the natural beauty of Northumberland. And, put simply, it makes an enjoyable day out with family or friends.

Inner Farne landscape

Inner Farne is the largest of these islands, located a mile and half from the mainland and it reopened to the public several months ago. It was closed to tourists for two years because of a bird flu outbreak, but the good news is that visitors can now explore the island again. Hurrah!

Its neighbour, Staple Island, remains closed to the public though, but you can still enjoy it from afar while coasting the waves onboard a boat.

Inner Farne island

Booking your boat trip

If you want to explore Inner Farne on foot, you’ll need to book a landing trip and these all depart from Seahouses.

We booked with Billy Shiel’s Boat Trips and you can find a full list of all the boat operators on the National Trust website. Don’t forget, all landings are weather and tide dependent.

To disembark, you’ll also need to pay a National Trust fee, which you must pay at their kiosk in Seahouses before boarding your boat. If you’re a National Trust member, you still need to visit the kiosk to flash your membership card and obtain a wristband.

As part of our boat tour, we spent an hour on the island (which was just the right amount of time) and enjoyed a cruise around several of the Farne Islands, with the whole adventure lasting three hours.

If you prefer, you can book a ‘sail around’ trip instead, where you’ll stay on the boat for the duration of the trip.

Farne Islands boat trip

Facilities and what to see on Inner Farne

If you do plan to disembark, I’ve rounded up a few things that will help you plan ahead.

Inner Farne has limited toilet facilities and there’s no shop on the island, so make sure you take your own snacks and drinks with you, but remember to keep these sealed and take all your litter home.

Unfortunately, dogs aren’t allowed due to the sensitive nature of the colony.

The island has a boardwalk, making it really easy to explore, and it means there’s less chance of your footwear getting muddy. The walkway meanders around the puffins’ burrows, so it’s best to find a good spot and have your camera at the ready.

There are some brilliant views of Bamburgh Castle and Holy Island out into the distance, so make sure you’ve mastered the zoom settings on your gadgets before you go!

Inner Farne boardwalk

It’s not just about nature and the great outdoors – Inner Farne is also steeped in history.

On the island, you’ll find a Victorian lighthouse, remnants of the three-storey Prior Castell’s Tower which was built for the Bishops of Durham, and the Chapel of St Cuthbert, once part of a larger monastic complex.

It’s estimated that around 43,000 pairs of puffins breed in the Farne Islands, and peak puffin season runs from May through to July.

You can expect to see cute little pufflings from June onwards. And as I mentioned before, there are many other seabirds and seals to photograph and admire.

Inner Farne puffin
Inner Farne lighthouse
Inner Farne beach
Inner Farne views

What to pack

Remember to layer up and take waterproofs, as the weather is extremely changeable, especially once you get out to sea. The water can also be quite choppy and spray up from the boat – I got a little drenched on the way back!

Binoculars, sunscreen and a soft hat (to protect yourself from dive-bombing terns!) are other essentials to pack.

Is Inner Farne worth visiting?

This was on my Geordie bucket list for a while so I was really chuffed to finally go, and we were super lucky with the weather on the day.

But, you may be reading this and thinking: ‘Where’s all the pics of the puffins in this blog post, Alexis?’

Well, we only saw a small number of puffins bobbing around in the sea and just one on the island mischievously popping outside its burrow. That’s because we visited at the end of March, well before the puffin season got underway – so a return visit is definitely on the cards!

For more information about exploring the Farne Islands, visit or watch my Reel for a peek at what you can expect.