Those who travel to Pembrokeshire tend not to come for theme parks, packed out beaches and wild night life, but to escape to the coast for lazy, tranquil days exploring the coast line and watching vast arrays of wildlife in their natural habitat. Skomer Island is a place I would describe as being the pinnacle of what Pembrokeshire represents and offers, completely breath taking, unspoilt natural beauty away from the crowds.
The 15-minute boat ride to Skomer Island leaves from Martins Haven which is a small cove just 2 miles from Marloes village. The boat runs three trips a day, one at 10am, 11am and 12noon, and each one takes 50 people. Landing tickets for the island are unable to be booked in advance and are sold on a first come, first serve basis. On a sunny day in June, we arrived at 8am to join the end of the already long quuee and managed to catch the last boat of the day! Be prepared - a day trip to Skomer involves a very early start if you want to ensure you get a ferry ticket.
I recommend getting to the ticket office in Martins Haven early, at around 7.30am, buying your ticket and then heading into Marloes village for breakfast at the beach hut. Once you’re sufficiently fuelled with pastries and coffees have a wander along the coast path before your ferry, if you have time and are getting a later one.
The boat runs Tuesday to Sunday (and bank holiday Mondays) and tickets are £22.00 return for adults and £12.00 return for children. Your return ticket gives you 5 hours to explore the island before heading back to the main land.
The adventure began as soon as we jumped aboard the ferry and made the pretty 15-minute trip across to the island. The initial views as you look back towards the Pembrokeshire coastline are spectacular and simply set the tone for the day ahead. The island is located less than a mile from the Pembrokeshire main land and is home to an abundance of wildlife, from the famous puffins who roam the island in their masses to Razorbills, Gannets and Fulmars. The waters surrounding the island are also full of inhabitants such as Dolphins, Atlantic Grey Seals and Harbour Porpoises.
There is something quite special about seeing such a variety of fascinating animals, not in a landlocked zoo, but in their natural habitat. Having only seen Puffins in photos I was very keen to watch them potter around their stomping ground and was fascinated to find how hilarious and friendly they were. Another wildlife highlight was spotting the seals bobbing around the edges of the island and basking in the afternoon sun on the rocks below.
Visiting Skomer truly is the perfect day out for anyone interested in animals, birds, the sea, nature, photography or simply great open spaces and natural beauty. As you depart the boat and wander across the island you lose yourself and disconnect from daily life as you explore different routes and footpaths. In June, the purple sea of bluebells that lay before us was completely breath taking against the vivid blues of the sea and sky. We were lucky to enjoy the island in such beautiful weather, but it is hard to imagine this island not being spectacular, whatever the weather.
Every corner is the perfect backdrop for a picnic and choosing a spot to sit and enjoy a flask of coffee and a sandwich became the biggest decision of the day.
Food and Drink
One of the wonderful things about Skomer is that it has remained true to its natural habitat and respects the animals who call it home, meaning that there is no café on the island. The fact that this beautiful spot has not been spoilt with anything that is purpose built to entertain the masses, in the form of restaurants or cafes, is what makes it so special.
Bring a delicious picnic, load up on the water and enjoy the adventure and endless photo worthy lunch spots.
U s e f u l L i n k s
About Skomer and the other surrounding islands (including travel information).
To find out how you can stay the night on Skomer and all events happening on the island.
Photography: Jacques Boissevain