Back when I started this blog three years ago, the Saltee Islands was one of the places I was really excited to see. However, due to its distance from other sites I was interested in and the potential difficulties in reaching it, I quickly cut it from our planned 2016 itinerary. But it’s still an interesting place worth considering, especially if your travels take you to the region.
The Saltee Islands, both Greater and Little, are located about 5 kilometers (3 miles) off Wexford’s coast and are best known for their resident sea bird populations. Like the Cliffs of Moher, they provide ideal nesting habitat for over 200 species, including gannets, manx shearwaters, and puffins. The Greater Saltee was also home to a bird observatory from 1950-63, allowing ornithologists to gain valuable information about Ireland’s migratory seabirds.
But seabirds aren’t the only sight found here. The island serves as one of only a few breeding sites for grey seals in Ireland, with up to 20 pups born each year. Visitors can also catch glimpses of whales and other marine life in the waters around the island, making it an interesting stop for nature lovers of all ages. And with traces of forts and other structures from its thousands of years of human activity, there’s something to see for just about everyone.
The main reason I’m hesitant to plan on seeing the Saltee Islands is simply the task of getting there. Although the visitor’s information page says nothing about a charge to step foot on the island itself, it clearly states trips must be arranged from Kilmore Quay, with no recommendations to contact. Scrolling through TripAdvisor leads me to believe many people wait until they’re in Kilmore to charter a boat, though several people recommended Declan Bates, the only person I’ve found a definitive price for who will take you directly to the island. The cost is €30 per person, and it’s best to remember there aren’t toilets or man made shelters on the island, so the four hour stay on the island can be unpleasant if the weather turns bad.
Alternatively, I did find one charter tour that loops around the islands for €20 per adult and €10 per child, with whale watching trips also available.
Additional Links & Resources:
The Golden Book: Ireland, page 47