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 07885 834398) email –

Visit Charges

Each Visit to the Island incurs a visit charge and is subject to weather and minimum numbers.

Each Visit to the Island costs £30 per adult and £20 per child regardless of the length of stay. This includes return boat fares from and to the mainland and overnight accomodation. Different prices are arranged for organised day trips as these do not require an overnight stay.

A Family charge of £60 is available and applied to two adults and any number of accompanying children.

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.

As an incentive to return to the Island we have brought back by popular demand our “Islander Visit Charge”. This entitles members to only pay for four visits each year with the fifth and subsequent visits being free of charge.

With the exception of Day trip Visitors all visitors to the Island must first join as Members of the Observatory. More details on our membership options can be found on the “join CBO” page here