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Your Essential Skellig Michael Survival Guide

Standing aloof in the Atlantic Ocean, 12km of the southwest coast of Valentia Island is the monastic island of Skellig Michael. Once the edge of the known world. Early Christian monks chose to live there in order to bring them closer to God. Shunning civilization & carving out a meager existence in order to achieve this holy union. Now known through out the world of archaeology as a prime example of a well-preserved early Christian settlement. It was given the title UNESCO World Heriage Site in 1996. More recently it was used as a location for shooting of the new Star Wars movie – The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.

From Skellig Michael with Skellig Beag (Little Skellig) in the distance.

From Skellig Michael with Skellig Beag (Little Skellig) in the distance.

Going to Skellig Michael

Going to Skellig Michael is truly a memorable experience. Numbers to the island are strictly controlled for preservation purposes. so to make sure that we can keep a space for you on the boats, you’ll need to let us know in advance! To help you make up your mind we’ve put together a survival guide to Skellig Michael.

View of Skellig Michael on the boat ride out.

View of Skellig Michael on the boat ride out.

Getting To Skellig Michael – Ferry / Boat Ride Over

The Boat journey to the Skelligs is an adventure. The boats that take us to the Skelligs are 30ft open deck vessels (with a front cabin) and are crossing the open sea to the islands. So if you are prone to sea sickness, you need to bring treatment for that. If you suffer very badly from sea sickness, we suggest not to go to the Skelligs. Also, if there are any waves, there is a good chance you will get wet in the boat. Poncho’s are provided in the boats, but you’ll still get wet! The trip is weather dependent, so we can’t always go out there anyway.

Boat ride over to Skellig Michael

Boat ride over to Skellig Michael

On the day of departure the boats will leave the pier in Portmagee around 9 am and return around 3pm.  The boat journey can last 40 minutes on faster boats and a little longer on slower ones. You’ll have about 2.5 hours to explore the island.

 

A view of Skellig Michael from the air.

A view of Skellig Michael from the air.

 

Landing on Skellig Michael

Landing on the Skelligs can also be an adventure also – The Skelligs Island landing place is very exposed to the weather, so even a small swell can make alighting from the boat onto the island quite tricky and requires a level of agility. It can be a leap of faith!

skellig michael survival guide

Looking back at the mainland from Skellig Michael

Toilet Facilities on Skellig Michael, (or lack of)

Going to the toilet can be an experience – There are no toilet facilities on the boats or the island. You will be away from the mainland for about 6 hours. No-one minds if you go behind a rock, but you need to be aware that there are no formal toilets for 5-6 hours.

Beehive huts on Skellig Michael

Beehive huts on Skellig Michael

Hiking Up the Steps on Skellig Michael

Climbing the Steps is definitely an adventure  – There are over 600 steps built into the rock that lead up to the monastery. Good walking boots are advised. None of the steps have a handrail and it is a steep climb. You need to be in good physical condition, have a good head for heights and be sure on your feet. People have died from falling on Skellig Michael.

skellig michael

There are hundreds of steps on Skellig Michael

Totally Worth it

But if you are an adventurous soul and you want to go (it is amazing!) then please let us know in advance of your tour. If you don’t want to go, your Vagabond guide will take you on a tour of the local area while others visit the islands.

skelligs boat ride

Boat ride out to Skellig Michael.

Best Time To Visit Skellig Michael?

Boat trips to Skellig Michael only operate mid May to late September. Even within those months it can be weather dependent. So boats trips can’t be guaranteed. If you’re hoping to see puffins, go before late August. As they’re nesting season on the island goes from April until early August.

Puffins nest on Skellig Michael from April until early August.

Tours That Go to Skellig Michael?

If you’re interested in going to Skellig Michael, you can on our 12 Day Giant Irish Adventure Tour, 8 Day Kerry UnCorked Tour and most of our 8 Day Wild Irish Rover Tours (please email us to find which ones).

Contact us on info@vagabond.ie for more information.

Vagabond Tours passenger on Skellig Michael

Vagabond Tours passenger on Skellig Michael

Skellig Michael Check List

  • Booked in advance – Before your tour you must let us know you want to go. As there is limited availability.
  • Bring your medication – Very important if you have any, as it can take time for emergency services to reach the island. This also includes seasickness tablets if you need them.
  • Suitable clothing – Waterproofs, warm clothes and good walking boats are a must. Skellig Michael is very exposed to the elements.
  • Snacks and water – Make sure to bring enough for several hours as there is no where to buy this on the island.
  • Camera – For all those breathtaking photos you’re going to take 🙂

Setting sail for Skellig Michael from Portmagee

Setting sail for Skellig Michael from Portmagee

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