A trip to the Farne Islands begins at the little fishing village of Seahouses. We stayed a few miles away in Bamburgh, although you could easily do this as a day trip from Newcastle.
There are several different boat operators offering to take you out to the islands. Your choices include Billy Shiel and Serenity, who both offer a range of different tours. You can choose to visit Inner Farne or Staple Island, or just take a boat trip without landing on either.
Unless you're a National Trust member, you'll also need to buy a landing pass. This can be done when you arrive in Seahouses, but allow some time for queuing. Current landing fees in peak season are £6 for a child or £12 for an adult.
(A quick warning about coronavirus. Both islands have both been closed during the pandemic, although you can still sail around them without landing. Inner Farne should reopen in summer 2021, whilst Staple Island won't reopen until 2022. Be sure to check the latest information before you go).
So, which island should you visit? Here's more information on each:
This is the island we visited. It's the largest island and has toilets and a little shop.
When you set foot on Inner Farne, you'll probably be welcomed by arctic terns, which are notorious for dive-bombing tourists. Visitors are advised to wear a hat, as the terns will try to peck the top of your head. Your best bet is just to walk past them as quickly as possible, as they leave you alone once you get beyond their nesting area.
The island is crisscrossed by wooden walkways, taking you right through the puffin colony.
Unfortunately, we weren't able to visit this one, as the sea was too rough.
Our guide told us that we'd see all the same birds on Inner Farne, so we didn't feel too disappointed.
I did manage to learn a few useful things about Staple Island. Apparently, it's quieter than Inner Farne, so you'll have a better chance of avoiding crowds. Whilst I didn't feel especially crowded on Inner Farne, there were certainly a lot of other tourists around.
Photo taken on Inner Farne, but there are plenty of puffins on Staple Island