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Home » How to visit the puffins on the Saltee Islands

How to visit the puffins on the Saltee Islands

How to visit the puffins on the Saltee Islands
Shoutout to ‘Johnnies.journeys‘ on Instagram for letting me capture incredible shots like this of the puffins on his camera!

Here is how to visit the puffins on the Saltee Islands this summer! Let me tell you all about this trip to Saltee Island in Wexford. It was honestly one of the best days I’ve ever had in Ireland. I can’t wait to share all of the information with you. If you’re not already convinced about taking a trip here, let me tell you why you should.

Where are the Saltee Islands?

The Saltee Islands are located about 5km off the Kilmore Quay in County Wexford.

The Saltee Ferry departure point is located at the start of the Kilmore Quay harbor.

Look out for the yellow gate that has a ‘Saltee Ferry’ sign on it. If the gate is open you can walk down to the port where the ferry will be waiting, if the gate is closed, you’ll just have to wait a couple of minutes for the captain to arrive.

If you’re traveling from Wexford: 

To get to the Saltee Ferry departure point, take the N25 road to Rosslare Harbour. Following on, 3km later, after the Drinagh roundabout, there will be a signpost for the R739 to Kilmore Quay. Here, take a right turn and continue on to Kilmore Quay going through Ballycogley and Kilmore village. Kilmore Quay is only 5km from Kilmore Village.

If you’re traveling from Rosslare: 

To get to Kilmore Quay from Rosslare, take the N25 to Wexford town. You’ll then go through Kilrane, Tagoat, and then through Killinick. 3km after Killinick, take a left turn onto the R739 for Kilmore Quay.

If you’re traveling from Waterford: 

If you’re traveling from Waterford, the directions are similar. Start off by following the N25 to Wexford. There is also the option to take the Passage East Car Ferry to Ballyhack. You could then follow the R733 through Arthurstown, Ramsgrange, and Wellingtonbridge. Continue past Wellingtonbridge for a few kilometers then turn right at the petrol station onto the R738. It is then similar to the directions above, follow the road until you come to Kilmore Quay. It is around a 40-minute drive from Ballyhack to Kilmore Quay.

If you’re traveling to Kilmore Quay by public transport:

Let me start off by saying that public transport to Kilmore Quay is very limited, however, it is not impossible. I definitely recommend driving where possible, it is by far the easiest option.

Getting to Kilmore Quay by train:

The nearest train stations to Kilmore Quay are;

  • Wexford O’Hanrahan Station in Wexford town. This station is approximately 30 minutes from Kilmore Quay.
  • Rosslare Europort train station. This is approximately 26 minutes to Kilmore Quay.

I recommend booking online with Irish Rail. It’s easiest if you’re opting to take a train, to then take a taxi to Kilmore Quay where the ferry departs from.

Getting to Kilmore Quay by bus:

Wexford bus just released a brand new route from Wexford town in January of this year, 2023.

It’s called the Route 390 bus and you can book it directly here. Their services operate Monday to Sunday and start as early as 7:00 am!

There are also daily bus services that run to and from Wexford town. Wexford town is approximately 28 minutes from Kilmore Quay. To find out the bus timetables, I recommend checking them on

You can take the bus by two routes to Wexford:

  1. The first route goes through Murrintown/Bridgetown.
  2. The second route goes through Drinagh/Ballycogle.

Can I stay in Kilmore Quay?

Kilmore Quay is a small little fishing village located in the South of Wexford. The are a few local air BnBs to stay in, or you could also stay in Wexford town.

During the summer, this little village is very lively. Located right across the road from the ferry port there are craft shops, a coffee shop, and a local fish and chips shop!

There is also the option to camp at Ferrybank Caravan and Camping!

Do I park my car before getting on the ferry?

Yes, you park your car right beside the port before catching the ferry. There are lots of options. There is free parking on the road just 30 seconds up from the harbor. Here, you’ll also find a playground for the kids! There is also a free car park for boat trailers located here too if you need it.

How do I book the ferry?

How to visit the puffins on the Saltee Islands, let’s start off with booking your ferry.

The best way to book your tickets is to book direct on the Saltee Ferry website, here is a direct link to it.

Saltee Ferry also has an email address which is:

Saltee Ferry’s office hours are from Monday to Friday, 9:30 to 12:00

They do not accept bookings via their emails, social media platforms, or by phone, so head directly to their website which is linked above.

What months can I book this tour?

The ferry tours run from the months of April right through until September. The ferry does not go during the winter, so if you’d like to go, it’s best to book soon! The best time to go is between May and July when the puffins are

How much is the ferry per person?

The ferry costs €30 per adult return. For children aged 12 and under, it costs €15.

How long does the ferry take to get to the Great Saltee Island?

The ferry from Kilmore Quay to the Great Saltee Island only takes approximately twenty minutes. It’s a wet landing meaning you’ll have to take your shoes off and walk a little bit from the dinghy boat to get on shore.

What time does the ferry leave the harbor?

It’s important to note that the ferry departs at different times depending on the month.

During the months of June, July and August:

The ferry runs four times a day as follows: 10:00 am, 11:00 am, 12 pm & 1 pm. No matter which ferry you take, your returning ferry will leave four hours later. So for example, if you take the 10:00 am ferry, your returning ferry will be at 2:00 pm.

During the months of April, May and September:

During these months, the ferry leaves Kilmore Quay at 1:00 pm and leaves the island at 4:30 pm. With the exception of some weekend departures at 11:00 am.

How many people can fit on each ferry?

Each ferry fits twelve people on it. What we did was book a ferry for ourselves, but of course, you don’t have to do this. You can of course just book one or two places on any of the ferries.

I went with the absolute best group of people which made my day ten times better. It’s hard to find such a nice group of people that appreciate Ireland as much as I do, so to have their enthusiasm there to see the puffins too made the trip even more fun for me!

How to visit the puffins on the Saltee Islands

How to visit the puffins on the Saltee Islands: When is the best time to visit?

I definitely recommend visiting Saltee Island before August when the puffins migrate back! One of my friends came last year during August when all the little puffins had migrated back so she didn’t get to see any!

What do the puffins do on the Saltee Islands?

These tiny cute puffins spend all year long along the Wild Atlantic Ocean. They then come onshore to Saltee Island during the summer months to create their nests. They then lay only one single egg each which both puffin parents will incubate for about 5 to 6 weeks.

Are the puffins protected?

Yes, the puffins are very protected. The Great Saltee Island is a private island with very controlled public access.

As mentioned above, entry to the island is a wet landing that forbids boats from disembarking.

There are no facilities at all on the island, meaning no toilets, no shops, and no cafes. This is to prevent the island from being damaged.

Camping on the island is also strictly forbidden!

Both of the Saltee Islands have also been granted the status of Special Protection Area to protect all of the wildlife that Saltee Islands is home to.

Even better again, the mainland coastline (east of Kilmore Quay) has also been designated as a Special Area of Conservation! If you’re into landscapes this area has so many large shallow inlets as well as bays, mud flats, and salt flats! As shown in my pictures the island has incredible sea caves and an incredible coastal line.

If you’re into wildlife, you’ll be in your element on this island. Not only will you see the adorable little puffins, you’ll also see much wildlife such as grey seals, fulmars, gannets, razorbills, guillemots, shags, and kittiwakes.

How long do you have on the island?

Once you’re on the island, you’ll have just under three and a half hours to watch the puffins, other wildlife and explore the island.  Your boat captain will give you time to be back at the departure area for the return trip to Kilmore Quay. It’s only a short walk from the shore to the main puffin-watching spot.

How to visit the puffins on the Saltee Islands: Is there anything else to do apart from seeing the puffins?

This island is absolutely stunning and even though the puffins in themselves are a good enough reason to visit it, there is so much more.

  • As mentioned above, this island has the most stunning coastline! Take a walk around it and take in all of the spectacular views.
  • Bring a picnic and chill out.
  • Watch all of the other wildlife that the island is home to.
How to visit the puffins on the Saltee Islands
Special thanks to Luke for always getting the best shots! Check out his Instagram here!

How to visit the Saltee Islands, extra tips:

  • As mentioned above, Landing on the island is by transfer to the dinghy and onto the shore. There can be Seaweed and the stones may be slippery. You may have to walk in shallow water and/or seaweed to get ashore.
  • During the summer months, it is advisable to book your place on the ferry well in advance, especially in July and August.
  • There are public toilets available at the Kilmore Harbor. To find them, follow the road toward the car park & playground. They’ll be on your left (the same side of the road as the car park).

How to visit the puffins on the Saltee Islands: Have I convinced you yet?

If you’re still not convinced, take a little look at this Tik Tok that sums up our day!

Are you new to my page?

For example, here is a full blog post on my glamping trip down in Cork. I stayed in Eyeires, a small little village in the West of Cork.


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