Days Out: Family Trip to the Saltee Islands

The Saltee Islands lie off the South Wexford coast, visible from Kilmore Quay and the main Wexford – Duncannon road. I’ve seen them regularly them since I was a child but they were like a mythical place to me that I’d never been to.

We finally got there this summer, booking a spot on the 9am ferry one Saturday morning in June.

We took the Saltee Islands Ferry from Kilmore Quay, texting to book and paying cash on the boat for the fare. The weather really wasn’t on our side and the seas were a little on the rough side but we had a fantastic experience.

The attraction of the islands is the wildlife and the scenery. Puffins and gannets in particular (there are hundreds, though the puffins migrate in July).

The first point of interest is “The Throne”, a large stone, well, throne.

On the island you arrive to a small beach and go up a steep stone staircase. You’ll pass some ruins and the house on the island, owned by the Neale family.

The puffins nest in the cliffs to the right of the throne and if you continue right towards the end of the island you’ll find the gannet colony.

You’ve plenty of time to take a lot of photos and walk around and enjoy the scenery, and that’s all there is to do.

It’s a great daytrip (or 3.5 hours) for older kids and able adults. I emphasise the able part as you need to be able to get from boat to dinghy for a wet landing (you could be up to your knees in water) and then across rocks and up steep steps.

What you need to know

The activity on the island is hiking, enjoying the wildlife and scenery. It’s unspoiled so the ground can be uneven and overgrown and there are no safety railings etc – wear appropriate footwear and take care, and guard young children closely.

– There’s free parking in the village
– There’s absolutely no shelter on the island so bring layers and wet gear
– There are no facilities on the island (yes, I mean toilets too)
– Book the ferry by texting 087 252 9736 – pay in cash on the boat – €30 per adult, €15 for kids under 12 – it’s busy in the summer months so book ahead
– We brought snacks but not a picnic. Remember anything you bring you have to bring onto the dinghy
– Not suitable for buggies or wheelchairs

The ferry trip involves a transfer to a dinghy and a “wet landing” (you could be up to your knees in water) so you have got to be physically fit. If you have a second pair of shoes or waterproof rock shoes or reef sandals bring them and wear them on the boat and you’ll be ready for landing. Flipflops work too but you’d need to be able to pull your trousers/shorts up. We got SOAKED on the boat trip back to Kilmore Quay, so keep spare clothes in the car!

One Comment

  1. Thanks for the amazing write up! We’re taking our two year old in a couple of weeks, and I’m super nervous about doing it with her. We have a carrier so my OH who is fit can wear her on his back for climbing up the steps and when the terrain is rough. Just wondering is the steps portion pretty rough/long? Thanks so much for all the info, I’ll guess we’ll figure it all out on the day, but your tips are so handy!

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