7 Best Skellig Island Tours (2023): The Ultimate Guide to Exploring Ireland’s Hidden Gem

Are you looking for the best Skellig Island tours? Look no further!

I have recently been to Skellig Island from Portmagee and in this post, I will tell you all you need to know to take the tour.

Skellig Island is a breathtaking hidden gem known for its stunning beauty, rich history, and unique wildlife, making it a must-visit destination for travelers seeking an unforgettable experience.

There are different tours to visit Skellig Island but there are a few things you should know before booking.

Here I have selected the most highly rated ones to have the best experience.

Close up view of the Skellig Island.

Best Skellig Island Tours

1. Ultimate Skellig Coast Tour

5.0 ⭐️ 23 Reviews

For the ultimate Skellig Island tour, embark on this captivating tour along the Skellig Coast with a knowledgeable local guide to immerse in the stunning scenery and learn more about this fascinating island hassle-free.

The tour includes pick-up meeting points from various spots, making it easier for all, and then, the tour will take you on an unforgettable experience through fascinating stories and facts about the area. 

Wonderful boat tour on Skellig Bounty with Brendan. Would highly recommend. Saw lots of wildlife and The Skelligs were beautiful. Was great to see up close.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ A Tripadvisor Reviewer, Jul 2023
People lining up in one of the Skellig Island tours.
Visit the Skellig Island on this tour!

2. The Classic Ring of Kerry and Skellig Tour

5.0 ⭐️ 59 Reviews

Skellig Island is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful destinations along the scenic Ring of Kerry route.

So, to immerse yourself and learn more about this beautiful hidden gem, join a private tour and create a personalized road trip.

Specifically, travel in the luxury of an air-conditioned vehicle and explore as you please along the stunning 111-mile route of breathtaking ocean views.

You will also see notable landmarks like the majestic Torc Waterfall, the grandiose Muckross House, the ancient Cahergal Ring Fort, and the folk Kerry Bog village. 

This was the best value and way to see the Ring of Kerry. The pace was not rushed. We got to see roads/sites that were not seen by the buses. And, it was nice to relax… We would enthusiastically recommend Mary!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ A Tripadvisor Reviewer, Aug 2023
Beautiful view of Skellig Island.
Skellig Island

3. Ring of Kerry and Skellig Ring Private Tour (Wild Atlantic Tours)

5.0 ⭐️ 52 Reviews

To make the most of your time in County Kerry join this private full-day tour of the stunning Ring of Kerry and Skellig Ring.

Specifically, with this tour, you can go on an incredible adventure along one of Ireland’s most breathtaking scenic drives, and get enchanted by picturesque views of historic sites, charming villages, and dramatic coastal cliffs throughout the tour.

Furthermore, with this tour, you’ll have the opportunity to discover local landmarks such as the impressive Cahergall Fort, the beautiful Valentia Island, the serene Ballinskelligs Beach, and the stunning Kerry Cliffs to marvel at the beautiful Skellig Island. 

Tour guide was very friendly and knowledgeable. Weather held up for a good part of the day. Beautiful scenery everywhere, couldn’t stop taking pictures! 😍

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Sandra_B, Aug 2023
Amazing view of the Skellig Island.
Have your private tour of Skellig Island here!

4. Ring of Kerry and Skellig Ring Private Tour (Dingle Slea Head Tours)

5.0 ⭐️ 15 Reviews

If you want to experience everything the Ring of Kerry offers, including Skellig Island, join this comprehensive and hassle-free private full-day tour.

You’ll be picked up from the address of your choice in Kerry and venture on an unforgettable personalized journey where you can visit iconic landmarks, admire stunning landscapes, and learn about the rich local history and folklore from your knowledgeable guide.

And, of course, this tour will take you along the Skellig Ring to explore the enchanting coastal beauty of the Iveragh Peninsula. So, with the freedom to sit back and relax, enjoy a journey to Skellig Island without the stress of logistics and research.

Unbelievable tour! This is a 10-star trip!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Lucy, Jul 2023
Birds flying around the Skellig Island.
Skellig Island

5. Luxury Photography Day Tour on Ring of Kerry and Skellig Ring

5.0 ⭐️ 12 Reviews

Are you a photographer or love to capture beautiful moments while traveling?

If so, this photography day tour of the Wild Atlantic Way is perfect for capturing the breathtaking beauty of Skellig Island and other beautiful areas on the Ring of Kerry route.

In fact, with the flexibility to customize the itinerary based on your interests, you can leave the typical tourist path to venture to off-the-beaten-path destinations with a knowledgeable local guide and access stunning places specifically chosen with photography in mind. 

We’re glad that we booked this private tour! Our guide Bertie was the best!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Jennifer_S, Jun 2023
A man on a boat in Killarney Lake.
Killarney Lake at Ring of Kerry

6. Mini Bus Tour of the Ring of Kerry and Skellig Ring

5.0 ⭐️ 6 Reviews

Join a minibus tour to enjoy a picturesque journey along the rugged coast of the Ring of Kerry and Skellig Ring.

This tour allows you just to sit back and relax while admiring the stunning scenery along the Wild Atlantic Way.

You will be immersed in the beauty of significant highlights such as the intriguing Cahergall Stone Circle, the awe-inspiring Kerry Cliffs, the Skellig Islands’ beauty, and the picturesque Valentia Island.

Furthermore, with the help of a local, knowledgeable guide, you can explore the magnificent Killarney National Park, a must-visit destination for all nature lovers. 

It was a fantastic road trip around Ring of Kerry.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ E_K, Jul 2023
View from one of the boat tours in Skellig Island.
Skellig Island

7. Private Full Day Tour from Killarney – Ring of Kerry/Skellig

5.0 ⭐️ 5 Reviews

If you’re staying in the beautiful town of Killarney, the best way to make the most of your time in the Ring of Kerry is this private tour that departs from Killarney.

A private driver will pick you up at the address of your choice and take you on a full-day adventure filled with history, breathtaking landscapes, and charming villages.

Specifically, with this tour, you’ll drive along iconic landmarks in the stunning Wild Atlantic Way at your own pace and create a personal itinerary of stops of your choice to admire ancient sites, cultural attractions, and picturesque coastal views for an unforgettable experience. 

What a fabulous tour around the Ring of Kerry/Skellig we had with Kingdom Guided Tours. You will not go wrong choosing to spend the day with Annie. She is so knowledgable and eager to share the beauty of the area with you.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ A Tripadvisor Reviewer, Sep 2023
The stunning view of the Killarney National Park in The Ring of Kerry Ireland.
Visit the Ring of Kerry and Skellig Island on this tour!

Is Skellig Island Worth Visiting?

Skellig Island, without a doubt, is absolutely worth visiting for anyone seeking a unique and unforgettable experience. 

Skellig Island is a secluded and mystical island with unparalleled natural beauty, archaeological wonders, and significant cultural attractions.

Specifically, it is home to the iconic Skellig Michael, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you can explore the fascinating ruins of an ancient monastic community atop steep cliffs, as well as home to rugged terrains, dramatic coastlines, and vibrant wildlife, such as rare bird species, seals and dolphins.

Therefore, this beautiful island makes the perfect destination to explore incredible nature and step back in time to discover Ireland’s rich history and culture.

Choosing the Right Skellig Island Tour

👉🏽 Budget

When choosing the right Skellig Island tour, budget is an essential factor to consider. But no worries because several options are available to suit different budget ranges. 

If you’re looking for a more affordable option, consider group tours or shared boat trips to reduce costs.

These tours often offer a good balance of cost and experience, allowing you to enjoy the beauty of Skellig Island without breaking the bank. 

Alternatively, if you have a larger budget and prefer a more intimate experience, go for a private tour.

It may be a pricier option, but a private tour allows flexibility and a personalized itinerary with a dedicated guide. 

However, regardless of your budget, ensure that the tour of your choice is reputable, licensed, and adheres to safety regulations.

👉🏽 Group Size

There is a limited daily availability to actually land on the island and you need to book way in advance to find space.

So groups are small by default because the area on the island is limited and the trails are narrow.

👉🏽 Itinerary and Interests

An essential part to consider for a tour along Skellig Island is the itinerary and whether it aligns with your interests.

For instance, some tours may focus on various aspects of the island, while others focus on specific elements such as the historical monastic site, the wildlife, or the scenic beauty. 

If you’re a history enthusiast, look for tours that provide in-depth insights into the ancient monastic settlement and its significance. 

For nature lovers, prioritize tours that offer opportunities for birdwatching, seal spotting, or exploring the diverse marine life. 

Some tours may offer additional stops or activities, such as exploring nearby coastal villages or participating in water sports. 

So, assess your interests and ensure that the tour’s itinerary will create a fulfilling and tailored experience that suits your interests.

👉🏽 Customer Reviews

Generally, when selecting a tour, customer reviews are essential to gain valuable insights and make an informed decision.

Specifically, reading reviews from those who have already experienced the tour can give you a sense of the quality, reliability, and overall satisfaction of previous customers. 

So, when selecting a Skellig Island tour, look for reviews that highlight the expertise and friendliness of the guides, the condition of the boats, the organization and efficiency of the tour company, and the overall experience of visiting Skellig Island. 

But be sure to pay attention to both positive and negative reviews to get a balanced perspective. 

Still, remember that everyone’s expectations and preferences differ, so consider multiple sources and consider your opinions accordingly. 

Tour boats near the Skellig Island.
Skellig Island

Things to Do and See on the Skellig Island

✔️ Skellig Michael

One of the main highlights of Skellig Island is the awe-inspiring Skellig Michael, an ancient monastic site perched high atop a steep cliff.

Accessible only by boat, the journey alone to Skellig Michael is an adventure. And then, as you step foot on the site, you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported to a medieval fantasyland. 

Skellig Michael features the remains of an early Christian monastery dating back to the 6th century and well-preserved stone beehive huts showcasing the skill and determination of the monks who once called this remote island home. 

Furthermore, as you climb the steep stone steps to reach the monastery, you will be rewarded with sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean and the surrounding rugged coastline, creating a sense of awe and wonder. 

To get on this island you need to book way in advance at least two or three months and book a specific trip that has authorization to land. It’s usually done in the morning.

However, remember that the water conditions can be rough, and only on the day of the tour, the local guides, who live on the island, will communicate to the boat if it’s possible to land.

So be prepared that your tour can be cancelled, due to weather conditions.

✔️ Birdwatching on Little Skellig

For avid birdwatchers, a visit to Skellig Island would not be complete without exploring the remarkable Little Skellig.

This imposing rock stack, located just beside Skellig Michael, is home to one of the largest gannet colonies in the world. 

Once you arrive at the island, you’ll notice thousands of gannets covering every available surface, with their white feathers contrasting against the rugged cliffs.

And frankly, these graceful seabirds in their natural habitat are a mesmerizing sight. From the intriguing calls to the intricate courtship rituals, observing them is so fascinating. 

Additionally, while at Little Skellig, you may also spot other seabirds, such as puffins, razorbills, and kittiwakes, making it a little haven for birdwatchers.

Beautiful top of the Skellig Island.

✔️ Hiking and Scenic Views

Skellig Island offers plenty of trails for hiking enthusiasts and those seeking breathtaking scenic views.

The rugged terrain and dramatic coastline are home to exhilarating hiking trails winding their way across the island, offering glimpses of stunning scenery at every turn. 

In fact, while hiking across the island, you’ll be surrounded by its raw beauty of steep cliffs, jagged rocks, and crashing waves below.

And with each step, you’ll discover hidden coves, tranquil beaches, and secluded viewpoints that provide unparalleled panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean. 

So, whether you hike to the summit of Skellig Michael or explore the lesser-known paths on the island, you’ll find yourself immersed in a world of natural wonder and majestic landscapes. 

✔️ Marine Life and Diving

Skellig Island is not only a haven for history buffs, nature enthusiasts, and hikers but also a paradise for underwater explorers. 

The surrounding waters are home to unique and beautiful marine life, offering extraordinary experiences to diving enthusiasts for delving into the underwater wonders. 

Specifically, the crystal-clear waters provide excellent visibility, allowing divers to marvel at the vibrant marine species that call these waters home.

From colorful fish and graceful sea turtles to playful seals and majestic basking sharks, the marine life on Skellig Island is diverse and captivating. 

Furthermore, by diving around the island’s dramatic cliffs and hidden caves, you can discover mesmerizing underwater landscapes with vibrant coral reefs, kelp forests, and fascinating rock formations. 

Also, whether you’re an experienced diver or a beginner, you can easily explore the marine world around Skellig Island.

✔️ Skellig Michael in Star Wars 

If you’re a Star Wars fan, you’re in for a treat. Skellig Michael appeared in the Star Wars film series, while the island’s rugged and otherworldly beauty served as the setting for the stunning Jedi Temple in the movies. 

Therefore, visitors can walk in the footsteps of their favorite Star Wars characters as they explore the ancient monastic settlement that was transformed into the fictional home of the Jedi Order. 

Immerse yourself in the same breathtaking scenery that captivated audiences worldwide, and gaze out at the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean from the very spot where Luke Skywalker stood in the films.

A resting sea lion at Skellig Island.

Planning Your Skellig Island Adventure

👍🏼 The Best Time to Visit

Before embarking on a trip to Skellig Island, it’s essential to consider the best time to visit to make the most of your experience. 

The only time to explore Skellig Island is during the summer months, from May to September when the weather is milder and the sea calmer.

These months also offer longer daylight hours, allowing for plenty of time to appreciate the island’s natural beauty and explore its many attractions. 

However, Skellig Island is a popular destination, meaning numerous travelers visit during peak summer months.

Therefore, if you prefer to avoid crowds, consider visiting in shoulder seasons such as late spring or early autumn. 

Still, remember that weather conditions can change abruptly on the Irish coast, so it’s always wise to check the weather forecast and sea conditions before planning your trip.

👍🏼 Getting to the Skellig Islands

Skellig Island is accessible only by boat, with Portmagee as the primary departure point.

Generally, licensed boat operators offer regular tours during the high season, typically from May to October.

The boat journey takes approximately 45 minutes to an hour, depending on sea conditions. 

However, it’s important to note that access to Skellig Michael is limited and regulated to protect the fragile ecosystem and historic structures, so it’s essential to book your boat tour well in advance. 

Still, some boat tours also offer the opportunity to view the islands from afar without landing on Skellig Michael, allowing you to appreciate its beauty from the comfort of the boat. 

If you have a rental car, drive to the town of Portmagee, park your rental car at designated parking areas, or arrange for long-term parking if needed, and then embark on a boat tour that will take you to Skellig Island.

👍🏼 Packing Essentials for Skellig Islands

When preparing for a trip to the Skellig Islands, there are several packing essentials to consider. 

First and foremost, ensure you have appropriate clothing for varying weather conditions.

With the islands exposed to the Atlantic Ocean, it’s important to have layers, including waterproof and windproof outerwear, to protect against potential rain and strong winds. 

Additionally, comfortable and sturdy footwear is essential for exploring the rugged terrain on the islands, as well as a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses to shield yourself from the sun, and a refillable water bottle to stay hydrated. 

Last, don’t forget your camera to capture Skellig Island’s stunning landscapes!

👍🏼 Book Tours and Permits in Advance

Before arriving at the Skellig Islands, having already booked tours and permits is crucial to ensure a seamless and hassle-free experience. 

As mentioned earlier, the number of visitors allowed on Skellig Michael is strictly limited, and demand is often high.

So, booking your boat tour well in advance is essential to secure a spot and avoid disappointment. 

Additionally, Skellig Michael is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and access to the island requires a permit.

These permits are also limited, so it is crucial to apply for one early to ensure entry on your desired date. 

By booking your tours and permits ahead of time, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that your visit is confirmed, and you can fully enjoy the beauty and history of the Skellig Islands without any delays or uncertainty.

Mountain arch in Skellig Island.

Skellig Island Safety & Conservation Tips

When visiting Skellig Island, it is essential to prioritize safety and conservation to preserve its natural beauty and historical significance. 

📌 Firstly, be mindful of the rugged terrain and unpredictable weather conditions. Wear appropriate footwear and clothing to ensure stability and protection against wind, rain, and sun.

📌 Also, follow the guidance of tour operators and abide by safety instructions when exploring the island. 

📌 Furthermore, respecting the delicate ecosystem is vital. For instance, do not disturb or remove any plants, wildlife, or artifacts.

📌 Additionally, adhere to designated paths and avoid venturing into restricted areas.

📌 And be sure to practice responsible tourism, such as supporting conservation efforts, by packing out any litter and avoiding leaving any trace of your visit. 

📌 Lastly, always listen to your guides, as they are familiar with the island and can provide valuable information on safety precautions and conservation practices. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is Skellig Island Located?

Skellig Island is in the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 13 kilometers off the southwestern coast of the Iveragh Peninsula, and belongs to County Kerry, Ireland. 

Where is the Best View of Skellig Island?

The best view of Skellig Island is from the Kerry Cliffs.

Located near Portmagee, they offer a spectacular panoramic view of Skellig Michael, rugged beauty, towering cliffs, and the ancient monastic site.

Skellig Island top.

Why is Skellig Island Famous?

Skellig Island is famous for various reasons.

Specifically, it’s famous for its ancient UNESCO-listed monastic settlement, Skellig Michael, its stunning and otherworldly landscapes that appeared as the setting of the Star Wars film series, and the island’s rich marine life. 

How Long is the Skellig Landing Tour?

The Skellig Landing tour includes the exploration of Skellig Michael and lasts about 2.5 to 3 hours.

Flock of birds flying around Skellig Island.

Is Skellig Michael Difficult?

Skellig Michael can be challenging, considering that it involves climbing about 600 stone steps and hiking through uneven pathways that do not include handrails or safety barriers.

Therefore, while visiting Skellig Michael, it is necessary to be cautious.

How Scary is Skellig Michael?

Skellig Michael may feel intimidating to some visitors due to its remote location, rugged terrain, and challenging ascent.

However, by following the instructions and guidance of the tour operator and practicing caution, Skellig Michael can be an exhilarating experience. 

Arch in Skellig Island.

What Age is Skellig Suitable for?

Skellig Island has age restrictions to ensure the visitors’ safety and the site’s preservation. So, most operators require visitors to be at least 12 years old.

Who Owns Skellig Island?

Skellig Island is owned and managed by the Irish State. 

Skellig Island covered with green grass.

Final Thoughts: Skellig Island Tours

Exploring Skellig Island is an unforgettable experience that should be on the bucket list of any traveler visiting Ireland

Whether you’re a history buff, a nature enthusiast, or a Star Wars fan, you’ll surely find a tour to suit your interests, preferences, and travel style. 

So, what are you waiting for? Embark on a journey to Skellig Island, soak in the rich history, and immerse yourself in the stunning landscapes of this enchanting and captivating island.