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Skellig Michael

A few questions for those who have actually traveled to Great Skellig.... I've been to the website and know what to expect in general, but I'd like to hear from someone who have actually been recently. We are going in May next year.

  1. My wife is greatly concerned about the lack of toilets. If absolutely necessary during the 2.5 hours, would we be able to use the toilet on the boat?

  2. Is it still as terribly popular as it was during the Star Wars film? We'd like have a somewhat calm, meditative experience. ;)

  3. I've read that the museum is not really worth visiting, even if the weather makes a personal visit to the island unavailable. Does anyone have an opinion on this?

  4. Any other thoughts on the trip? We can't make reservations yet, but will do so when our date is made available on their calendar.

Thank you to any responses!

Posted by
445 posts

We were there on a Friday in mid June of 2019.

1) There are no toilets as you mention. The boats do have a toilet, but the boat is not there while you're ashore. They make a quick approach to the quay, offload, and leave, to make room for another operator. You're only choice at that point is behind a rock. There are resident docents/rangers that might arrange a trip to their facility but I have no idea if that's a possibility. You might hear from someone else...

2) In 2019, you could detect the coming arrival of Star Wars fans, as many shops were bringing out their life-size cardboard photos of Han Solo and storm troopers for photos, but the craze was in remission in June. There are 15 boats, each with 12 people, so the 180 folks are staggered over the entire day. The climb up the stairs to the beehives is tiring, so it can get a little crowded as you try to pass people that are slow (or fast people pass you). The trip down is much faster except there are people headed both directions and they sometimes knot up.

3) We didn't even know there was a museum. I guess if your trip is cancelled by bad weather, the museum would be an alternative. There are docents on the island to answer questions.

4) The best part of the trip is visiting with the puffins. You see lots of varied species from the boat, but if you sit on a rock, the puffins come right over and start interacting. They stay a foot or so away, but they are SO CUTE. My wife did a cursory visit to the beehives so she could spend most of the trip with the puffins. She set her scrunchie down for a moment to straighten her hair and a puffin ran up and stole it. Of course they are only there in the spring but they should be there in May.

Skellig Michael was the #1 highlight of that trip. Without the puffins, difficult to rank.

Posted by
2 posts

Hello, jjgurley from the mountains of S. Oregon,

Thank you for your amazing and amusing reply. We'll make sure to bring along plenty of biodegradable scrunchies for the puffins. No one has ever shared such a story online before.

To be honest, Skellig Michael was an afterthought and wasn't initially appealing until doing more research. Living in Southern California, we have plenty of wildlife, but NO PUFFINS! (Except at the aquarium.) You have given us another excellent reason to make this part of our two-week trip a priority.

My wife will have to build up her bladder capacity over the next six months. And her endurance to climb 600 steps. The latter won't be a problem, but the former...?!

Thank you for your valuable insight on Skellig Michael. Glad to hear it was the highlight of your trip.

P.S. We're working hard on our Irish and are enjoying learning (for the most part) and plan to visit a Gaeltacht area.

Posted by
445 posts

Good news! I mentioned your post to my wife, and she said that when she asked the docent at the base of the stairs if there were any facilities, she pointed at a secluded port-a-toilet a ways down the "private" trail. She stated that having people use the rocks would be a accumulating disaster!

BTW, the docent wasn't surprised, but didn't encourage, scrunchy exchanges.

I'm planning a future trip to Ireland, and we're NOT re-visiting Skellig. There are better puffin experiences involving fewer logistics (we just surpassed Skellig in Shetland this summer), so although one excursion is definitely recommended because of the added beehives and fun boat trip, a second might be less exciting.