Skomer Island is my most favourite place to be in the summer months when the puffins come back to breed. They arrive sometime in early April and leave from mid July onwards. Outside of these times there’s still a lot to see on the island with seals, passing porpoise and dolphins, passage birds, fulmars, guillemots and razorbills, short-eared and little owls and one of the largest manx shearwaters breeding populations in the world (although you won’t see these in the daytime). In May the bluebells and campion are at their best.
It’s less than a mile offshore so only a short boat ride away. Boats don’t tend to run in northerly winds as it’s too rough to then get across Jack Sound and land safely. To buy tickets head to the National Trust carpark at Martins Haven at about 8am and queue at Lockley Lodge which opens at 8.30am. If you stay at http://www.monkhaven.co.uk/ they’ll take the pain out of the early morning queue and get your tickets for you.
The West West Wildlife Trust manage the island and more information can be found here https://www.welshwildlife.org/skomer-skokholm/skomer/ You can stay on the island but this needs booking in October for the season ahead. Sometimes during the year there are cancellations so you may be lucky and get a last minute slot…
The first boat leaves at 10am so after buying your ticket why not take a walk up into the Deer Park ( no deer have ever been kept here) and check out the views towards Skomer Island and see a great choice of birds, e.g. whitethroats (below), stonechats, linnet, chouch etc etc….
On the boat trip you’ll soon start to see the birds on the water and may even see porpoise feeding on the tidal rush in Jack Sound (keep your eyes peeled for diving gannets as they’re often feeding in the same place). There are steep steps to walk up on the island so it’s not suitable for disabled visitors or small children. There is a boat ride around part of the island most days so small children and less agile visitors tend to enjoy this experience without having to do the steep climb.
If you’re camping there’s a site just above Martins Haven http://www.westhookfarm-camping.co.uk/ This is just a hop, skip and a jump away from Lockley Lodge and you’ll have time to go back for a coffee and then walk down the coast path to catch the boat. You’ll be on the island for 5 hours so take water and food. You can hire binoculars on the island for £5.
The nearest villages to Martins Haven are Marloes and Dale with several b & bs and a pub in each village. This area is a little off-grid so make sure you bring enough cash to last through your stay – there are no cash dispensing machines in either village and not every business will accept cards but there is a post office in Marloes. Public transport is sparse but the coastal shuttle bus does pass through daily in the season. After a long hot day on the island it’s lovely to sit and watch the boating activity from ‘the wall’ in Dale. The pub here is called the Griffin and has good food – worth checking their opening times to avoid being disappointed. http://www.griffininndale.co.uk/menus/
Here are some images taken in May on Skomer Island. It changes every month with the most puffin activity being in late May and June/early July. I hope you enjoy this island as much as I do…. If you like these images and would like to see more photographs please hop across to my website http://www.pembrokeshiremoments.co.uk