Island Hopping

Visiting The Saltee Islands

The Saltee Islands, situated just 5 kilometres off the coast of Wexford, are as rare as they are beautiful, and are a must-see when visiting this part of the country.

The two unoccupied islands, The Great Saltee and Little Saltee are unspoiled nature reserves which provide a sanctuary to one of the largest bird colonies in Ireland, and a thriving population of breeding grey seals.

Although the islands are private, you can take an arranged boat trip from Kilmore Quay to view the islands from the sea beneath, and even hop off to explore the Great Saltee at your leisure.

The stunning scenery, crystal clear waters, flora and fauna, abundance of tree varieties and incredible sea views everywhere you look make for a photographer’s paradise! A walking trail hidden beneath the shrubbery will take you on an hour’s walk around some of the best parts of the island, which was a base for pirates, wreckers and smugglers, and the result of several historic ship wrecks, some of which can be found submerged on the rocks. A throne, flag-staff and obelisk pay homage to the family of the islands’ first owner, Michael the First, a self-proclaimed Prince of the Saltees.

The Great Saltee is in fact the most famous bird sanctuary in Ireland, with over 220 species of birds recorded in recent years. Vast numbers of migrant birds pass through the area in Spring and Autumn, and most day trippers will easily spot Gannets, Puffins, Guillemots and Razorbills amongst many sea bird colonies nesting and feeding on the cliffs, providing a spectacular sight (and sound!)

Wildlife is also in abundance, as the islands are a popular destination for grey seals, who come here to breed and rest on the rocks.

Make sure to bring a good wind breaker, a camera, and even a pair of binoculars to make the most out of this memorable day trip!