Everything You Need To Know Before You Go
There’s a number of things you’ll want to figure out before you arrive.
Booking Your Boat Tour
There are two types of boat tour. Most people are interested in Booking a Skellig Michael Landing Tour because the landing tour gets you out onto Skellig Michael itself. You get between two and two and a half hours to explore the island, including the ancient 6th Century Monastery at the top of the island. It currently costs about 80 euros per person but, believe us, it’s worth it. There is nowhere else on earth like it.
If you aren’t keen on heights but want to see the Skellig Islands up close, as well as the beautiful coastline, then Book A Skellig Islands Boat Tour which circumnavigates both Skellig Michael and Little Skellig. It currently costs around 35 euros per person and is a fantastic trip in and of itself. There’s often marine life visible from the boat such as the playful dolphins who sometimes race the boat, minke whales, seals and even a humpback whale, on occasion. There’s also plenty of bird life including 20,000 pairs of nesting gannets on Little Skellig as well as the adorable puffins of Skellig Michael.
When to arrive
The best time to come to land on Skellig Michael is during the official landing season, which is currently between May 15th and October 2nd. But there is a question that this might be extended in the coming years to account for the increasing numbers of visitors trying to get on the island.
Also, be aware that boat trips around the islands are generally available – weather permitting, of course – from April through to late October.
Where To Stay
One of the things we thoroughly recommend you do if you’re doing a landing tour or hoping to get a cancellation is to stay close by in the area. The situation in the morning is quite dynamic so you’re best bet is to stay close to the action. If you’re boat is leaving from Portmagee, we highly recommend the Moorings Guesthouse as it’s wonderfully comfortable with an unbeatable location literally 10 steps away from the marina where the boats leave. If your boat is leaving from Ballinskelligs, Portmagee is still very close by but Ballinskelligs also has some good choices. We strongly recommend you stay in Derrynane if your boat leaves from there as it’s quite a trip. Check out our Accommodation page for more details on the accommodation options in the area.
Car or Public Transport?
Hire a car. If you can at all. This will make everything easier. Public transport is ok but will only get you to Cahirciveen, 10 miles away. We strongly encourage you hire a car for at least this part of the trip because it frees you up to take in the stunning scenery in the area.
What To Pack
- Good Hiking Boots. Sneakers are ok but the rocks can get wet and slippy. Don’t risk your life over footwear. We use these when we’re on the island: Salomon Men’s X Ultra 2 GTX Hiking Shoe, Black/Autobahn/Pewter, 9 D US. So something in that vein is good.
- A good guide book on the Skelligs. We recommend Des Lavelle’s The Skellig Story: Ancient Monastic Outpost. You will get a talk on the island but, if you’re so inclined, doing some homework really adds to the experience because the book gives you a real insight into how the monks lived and what to see on the island.
- A layered, breathable, waterproof technical jacket. Don’t get us wrong, on a fine day, you can go up in a t-shirt, if you need to but having the option of insulating yourself from the elements and being able to react to the incredibly changeable Irish weather is a real plus.
- A sturdy, waterproof, medium-sized backpack to store water, lunch, extra layers and possibly camera equipment.
What to See
There are a huge amount of things to see in the area. Starting off with The Skellig Ring. From Valentia to Portmagee to The Glen and Ballinskelligs, this coastal road hugs some of the most beautiful coastline in the country. You will be stopping every three minutes to take a photo. To our minds, it’s possibly the most concentrated beauty in Ireland contained in a few short miles of driving.
Valentia Island is a spectacularly beautiful island connected to Portmagee on the mainland by bridge. It’s the site of the first Transatlantic Telephone Cable and home to lush sub-tropical vegetation thanks to its location in the heart of the Gulf Stream.