Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales
An island of sheltered bays, exposed headlands, offshore rocks and shaded inlets, all painted with the graduated colours of lichen.
The best location is the Wick; a sheer cliff carved with ledges that are ideally suited to nesting seabirds and easily viewed from the opposite cliff.
The Wick is also a great place just to sit and watch the puffins. They carry on their daily chores without a care and quite happily walk around you if you’re in the way! You won’t need your binoculars but a camera is a must.
In the centre of the island is the ruined farm. An education room and interpretation centre can be found here as well as accommodation space for up to 16 people in two twin rooms, one triple room, one family room (sleeping four) and a five bed room.
Staying over night is truly magical. Visit Pembrokeshire was lucky enough to spend 24 hours on Skomer last year. Discover how we got on.
If you stay overnight, you can witness one of the most remarkable natural events in the UK, the Manx shearwaters returning to their burrows under the cover of darkness. Stay up late and take a walk back to the boat embarkation point for a truly once in a lifetime experience. The noise they make is quite something else. The shearwaters brush your head as they make their way back to the burrow and then there’s the ‘thud’ as they land. Watch where you’re walking as they are designed for water not land and are very clumsy.
The island has a 'Shearwater Week' in late August where volunteers can help the island researchers with their invaluble work. This summer we were luckly to get a sneak peek behind the scenes at the work being done day, and night on the island. Read our interview with researcher Sarah as she talks about her Summer of Shearwaters.
Spring on Skomer Island is colourful affair with bluebells and pink campion carpeting most of the island. The colours are so vivid they can easily be seen from the mainland.
Catch up with the comings and goings on the island including the latest on the boat sailings on their Skomer Island blog.
How to get there:
The Dale Princess runs from Martin's Haven between Good Friday or 1st April (whichever is earlier) and 30th September. It runs Tuesdays to Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays and leaves from Martin's Haven at 10am, 11am and 12 noon and has return sailings from 3pm onwards.
Sailings may be disrupted by the weather - check by calling Lockley Lodge, an information point and gift shop run by the Wildlife Trust, or Dale Sailing. Parking is available in a National Trust car park at Martin's Haven.
The numbers of visitors to the island is carefully managed to prevent erosion and to control the impact of people on the wildlife. Landing tickets are strictly limited to a maximum of 250 per day.
Pre-booking of tickets is not permitted so to avoid disappointment it is recommended you arrive as early as you can to queue for tickets. Tickets are offered on a first come first served basis, and during peak times can sell out within the first hour/hours of Lockley Lodge opening.
Day trips to Skomer are oversubscribed during the peak season (May to Mid-July) and some people will not get onto the island. On the busiest days extra guided island cruises are operated and visitors have the option to see the island and the wildlife from the boat. Click here to find out more about the island cruises.