Visiting Copeland

The Observatory doesn’t have a warden and is only manned when a suitably qualified duty officer is available. We try to man all weekends and as many weeks as possible during the periods of spring and autumn migration and the shearwater fledging time (late August to the end of September).

Access is by small boat from Donaghadee Harbour and most trips leave at 18:00 hours on Fridays and return at 16:00 hours on Sundays.

Visitors may book a place on a weekend or for a week. There are also four or five Day Trips each summer, usually on a Saturday. If staying overnight you should bring a sleeping bag, a sturdy torch with a strong beam, warm and waterproof clothing and food. Bring extra food in view of the slight possibility of being stranded due to bad weather and inform relatives that you may not get back at the expected time. It is much safer to stay on the Island than to bring a boat out in bad weather.

There is very good (4G) mobile phone service on the Island and a small number of solar powered plug sockets are available (weather depending!) to charge mobile phones.

Because of limited accommodation on the boat and on the Observatory you must book in advance through our bookings secretary David Galbraith (028 9338 2539 or 07934 416668) email –

Visit Charges

Each Visit to the Island incurs a visit charge and is subject to weather and minimum numbers. We charge a small fee to visit the island and 100% of your fee will go back into the running of the observatory.

Day Trips

Adult Day Visitor – £20

Under 18 Day Visitor – £10

Overnight Trips

Adult Overnight – £30 per night

Under 18 Overnight – £15 per night 

Student Overnight – £22.50 per night (with valid student ID)


Costs are per person and there is a maximum charge of two nights regardless of the duration of your stay. 


What’s Included?

  • Return Boat transfers to and from CBO on our fully licensed 8.5m RHIB “Copeland Shearwater” or with one of our experienced charter partners
  • An Experienced CBO Duty Officer on the Island during your stay
  • A local orientation tour on arrival
  • Participation in ringing activities
    • subject to experience and qualification
  • Sundries such as toilet roll, washing up liquid etc

Additionally, overnight visitors benefit from:

  • Use of all Observatory Buildings including a fully equipped kitchen
  • Mattresses, Pillows and Blankets
    • sheets and Sleeping bags recommended 
  • Gas and Electricity
    • electric is locally generated and limited to low wattage items such as phone chargers and not suitable for hairdryers etc.

Visit Charges are payable to the Duty Officer in charge of each visit before leaving the Island on the last day. Payments can be made in Cash or Cheque.

Have you considered joining as a member? Membership is available for a small annual or monthly fee and can represent a significant saving on your visits as well as a host of other benefits. It is available for as little as £3 per month, to find out more Just click here