The magnificent Skellig Michael, 13km off the South Kerry coast, is a true expression of the heroic, monastic spirit of medieval Ireland. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. In the 6th century monks built their monastery of stone huts 183m (600ft) above sea level. The monks traded with passing ships. Birds’ eggs, feathers and seal steaks were traded for tools and vellum. They fished and kept goats and sheep. Cereals and vegetables were grown in the garden. In the 12th century the monks left the island and moved to Ballinskelligs. The monastic settlement on the summit of the awe-inspiring Skellig Michael is well preserved and the views are well worth climbing the 630 steps to the top.
On the spectacular Small Skellig 27,000 pairs of Gannet nest on every available ledge making it the second largest gannet colony in the world.
The Skellig Islands have incredibly rich marine wildlife. Look out for seals, dolphins, puffins, Kittiwakes, Storm Petrels, Gannets and many other species.
Boat trips to the rock are available every summer from April until October, weather permitting. It is advisable to book at least 2 days in advance. The boat leaves Bunnavalla Pier (Caherdaniel
) at 10am and takes you past Deenish and Scariff Islands in the wildlife abundant Kenmare Bay
. The highlight of the trip is a 2.5 hours stopover on Skellig Michael. On the return journey you can take in close-up views of Little Skellig. If you are lucky, you may also be joined by curious dolphins, on the voyage home, while your skipper John O’Shea will often catch a few fish to cook and share.
A visit to the Skellig Islands may well be the highlight of your holiday!