John Bean Boat Trips Review

common seals on the beach, one looks like he/she is winking
by Anisa // 0 Comments

Blakeney Point is one of the best places to see seals in Norfolk, but you need to take a book to get there. It’s not a problem because there are several companies that run boat tours.

We recently did a boat trip to see the seals with John Bean Boat Trips and thought I would share our experience. Keep reading for my John Bean Boat Trips Review.

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closeup of seal on blakeney point
Seeing the seals on Blakeney Point is a special experience.

About John Bean Boat Trips

John Bean Boat Trips started out in 1938 Eales and Beans. Trip and Kitch Bean along with Ted Eales would ferry passengers to and from Blakeney point as seals were not a tourist attraction.

In 1978 when seals were added to the protected species list, Kitch and his son John turned the boat trips into seal watching, much like the tours they offer today. John’s grandson Josh, the fourth generation of Beans, joined the family business in 2011.

Today, John Beans Boat Trips is still run by Josh and his father, Steven. Josh’s wife Dacious and the fifth generation of Beans – Lilly, Molly, Charlie, Lola, Archie and Peggy – also help with the business.

In addition to the daily seal trips from Morston Quay, they also do charters for special events such as stag and hen parties, educational school trips, ash scatterings, and TV media and photographer trips.

calm water with a few boats in the background
Expect a relaxing ride out to Blakeney Point.

Booking the Seal Boat Trip

If you are interested in doing a boat trip to see the seals, you need to book in advance to avoid disappointment. With John Bean Boat Trips, you need to call (01263 740625) or email johnbeanboattrips@gmail.com to make the reservation.

No payment is required until the day of the tour. If you can’t make it for any reason, they ask that you let them know as soon as possible.

You should aim to get to Morston Quay 30 minutes before the seal tour departs. It’s best to plan on paying in cash as the signal at Morston Quay makes using a credit card difficult.

dock with boat that is white with blue trim at morston quay
John Bean Boat Trips leave from a dock at Morston Quay.

Our Experience with John Bean Boat Trips

We arrived at the Morston Quay National Trust Car Park about 30 minutes before our boat was scheduled to leave. As National Trust members, we used our membership card in the machine to get free parking. For non-members the parking charge is £6 for the day. (Learn more about the benefits of National Trust membership here.)

Just past the refreshment kiosk at Morston Quay, I saw the sign for John Bean Boat Trips. I headed there so that I could pay for our trip.

Josh (the captain for our tour and owner of John Beat Boat Trips) was there and explained that the tide was slow coming into the Quay so we would probably be leaving 15 minutes late. He also pointed out the dock where we would board the boat (it was only a couple minutes walk away).

boats at low tide in morston quay
Morston Quay fills up only when the tide comes in.

As it got closer to the time we were going to depart, a queue formed by the dock. Our group was a little slow getting organised so we ended up towards the end.

Since we were the first boat of the day and the tide was a bit low, it was a big step down onto the boat. it was manageable though with assistance from Josh.

By the time we got on the boat, the only seats left happened to be in the back. This ended up being a blessing in disguise, as we were seated next to the spot where Josh would stand to drive the boat.

white boat with blue trim and morston written on it in the water
It’s a scenic ride out to see the seals at Blakeney Point.

No matter where you sit on the boat, you will get a good view of the seals. Since we were sitting close to Josh it was easy to hear his commentary and ask him questions. He taught us about the different types of terns (birds similar to a seagull).

As we moved away from the dock, there was a safety briefing and overview of the tour. While we didn’t have to wear life jackets, John explained where they were. He also told us that when we got to the area where we could see seals they would circle around so everyone could see them.

It was a smooth ride out to Blakeney Point. On the way, we passed by countless boats and the Blakeney Lifeboat House, which is now home to rangers who look after the nature reserve.

blakeney lifeboat house, uniquely shaped green building on the beach
We had a nice view of the Blakeney Lifeboat House.

I was scanning the water for seals but didn’t see any until we were almost to Blakeney Point. It wasn’t long after that that we could see the seal colony.

There were probably around 30 common seals laying on the beach. While Josh said he had seen pups (baby seals) the day before, there weren’t any during our tour.

lots of seals lying on the beach at blakeney point
There were lots of seals on the beach at Blakeney Point.

We circled the area a couple times so that people sitting on both sides of the boat would have an unimpeded view. The seals were laying on the beach for the most part, but some of the seals wiggled up to a higher point on the beach and a few even waved to us.

Then it was time to head back to the dock at Morston Quay. The ride back was smooth and peaceful just like the ride out. The seal tour with John Bean Boat Trips was a lovely way to spend an hour.

Overall Review of John Bean Boat Trips

We enjoyed our trip to see the seals at Blakeney Point with John Bean Boat Trips. Not only did we get to see the seals, but we also learned more about them and some of the birds we saw thanks to Josh.

closer view of common seals lying on the beach at blakeney point
Even when the seals are not doing much, they are fun to watch.

It was clear that Josh loves his work and takes pride in running the family business. He was knowledgeable not only about the wildlife but also the history of the local area and happy to answer any questions.

It was convenient that you could pick up your tickets right by where you catch the boat. I appreciated that we were told that the tour would be a little late along with the reason why. When you depend on Mother Nature some things are outside your control.

Read more reviews of John Bean Boat Trips on Tripadvisor here.

You might also like to read our review of Bishop’s Boats, who also do seal boat tours to Blakeney Point.

John Bean Boat Trips FAQs

How much are the John Bean Boat Trips seal tours?

John Beans Boat Trips tours are £20 for adults and £10 for children 14 and under. It is free for any kids under 2.

Is a John Bean Boat Trips tour worth it?

I do think £20 for adults (£10 for children 14 and under, free for kids under 2) is a bit pricey for a one hour boat tour, but that is the going rate. We had fun on our trip and saw lots of seals, which wouldn’t have been possible without a boat.

When do the John Bean Boat Trips tours run?

John Bean Boat Trips offer seal boat tours all year long. The times change daily based on the tides, so it’s best to check the timetable here.

several seals lying on the beach at blakeney point, one is looking at the camera
The seals have such personality.

How long are the John Bean Boat Trips?

The seal boat tours last around an hour.

Are John Beans Boat Trips seal tours good for kids?

Yes. Kids will enjoy being out on a boat and seeing the seals. (If you need more ideas for the whole family, check out our list of things to do in Norfolk with kids.)

Are dogs allowed on John Beans Boats?

Yes, they allow well-behaved dogs. There was actually one on our boat trip.

Is there food or drink sold on the boat?

No, but there is a refreshment kiosk at Morston Quay.

Are there toilets on the boat?

No, but you can find separate ladies and gents toilets and an accessible toilet at Morston Quay.

Will the seal boat trip go ahead if there is bad weather?

The boat tours operate as long as it is safe to do so. It would have to be extreme weather to cancel or delay a tour. You should be prepared to be on an open boat in the rain.

What do you need to bring when you go on a John Beans Boat Trip tour?

You don’t have to bring anything, but be sure to dress appropriately for the weather. You might also want to bring a camera, binoculars, and sun cream. This time we brought our big lens and you can definitely see a difference in the quality of our photos.

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