Blasket Islands

Nestled off the western coast of Ireland in County Kerry, the Blasket Islands offer a unique charm and beauty that is truly captivating.

In this post, I will take you on a journey to discover the location of the islands, how to get there, what the weather is like, and the fascinating life on the island.

I will also explore the Great Blasket Guided Tours, the wildlife you can encounter, and the various activities available to make your visit unforgettable. So, let’s dive in and uncover the wonders of the Blasket Islands!

Location of the Blasket Islands

The Blasket Islands, also known as Na Blascaodaí, are a group of rugged and remote islands situated off the stunningly beautiful western coast of the Dingle Peninsula.

These islands have long been regarded as a hidden gem, captivating the hearts and minds of locals and visitors alike with their incredible natural beauty and rich cultural heritage.

Stretching over six miles in length, the Blasket Islands offer a truly unique and immersive experience for those who venture to explore them.

With their dramatic cliffs, pristine sandy beaches, and crystal-clear waters, they provide a picturesque backdrop for an unforgettable adventure. The remote location of the islands adds to their unique charm and beauty.

How to reach the Great Blasket Island.

The Sleeping Giant (The Great Blasket Island)
The Sleeping Giant (The Great Blasket Island)

To reach the Great Blasket Island, you have to take one of the Blasket Islands Ferries. One of the most popular ways is to take a ferry from the charming town of Dingle. The ferry ride itself is a treat, offering stunning views of the coastline and the sparkling blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Another option is to depart from Dunquin Pier, near Slea Head, a picturesque spot nestled on the edge of the Dingle Peninsula. The journey from this quaint pier is equally enchanting, as you sail across the sea, surrounded by breathtaking scenery.

When you are parking the car near Dunquin Pier don’t under any circumstances drive the car down onto the pier. You will get stuck and there is no chance of getting down and there is nowhere to do a 3-point turn. You will only ruin your car by scraping it off the sides of the walls that lead you down to the pier.

If you prefer a slightly different route, you can opt to depart from Ventry. This charming village offers its unique charm and is a perfect starting point for your Great Blasket Island adventure.

Unfortunately, my wife experienced seasickness during our trip to the Great Blasket Island. Considering her discomfort, she would prefer not to be on a boat in bad weather conditions.

However, I assure you that this should not discourage you from visiting this beautiful destination. Opting for the route from Dunquin Pier is the most direct, ensuring that you spend the least amount of time on the boat. It is a 4 km sea crossing.

Weather on the Blasket Islands

The weather on the islands can be quite unpredictable, so it’s important to be prepared. The island experiences strong winds and frequent rainfall, making it essential to dress appropriately. It is advisable to bring waterproof clothing and sturdy footwear.

Due to the rough weather conditions, there may be instances when the boats cannot dock on the island. It is recommended to check the weather forecast before planning your visit to ensure a smooth journey.

Life on the Island

The Blasket islanders lived a self-sufficient lifestyle, relying on fishing and farming for their sustenance. With no electricity or modern amenities, the islanders embraced a simple way of life that centered around community and survival.

What a bedroom was like in the Blasket Islands, Kerry
What a bedroom was like in the Blasket Islands (Blasket Centre)

The island’s isolation meant that the residents had to be resourceful and resilient. They worked together to overcome the challenges of living in such a remote location, and their strong sense of community was evident in their close-knit relationships and communal activities.

Despite the hardships, the islanders found joy in the beauty of their surroundings. Surrounded by stunning landscapes and the raw power of the Atlantic Ocean, they had a deep appreciation for nature’s wonders.

They also had a rich cultural heritage, with a strong tradition of storytelling, music, and folklore that was passed down through generations. For the Irish readers “Peig” was from here.

Picture of Peig Sayers taken on the Blasket Islands
Peig Sayers (Blasket Centre)

Visiting the Islands offers a glimpse into this unique way of life. As you explore the island’s abandoned cottages and paths, you can imagine what it was like to live in perfect harmony with the rugged beauty that surrounded them.

OPW Guided Tour of the Blasket Islands Village

The OPW (Office of Public Works) offers visitors the incredible opportunity to embark on a detailed and captivating guided tour of the enchanting Blasket Island Village. Immerse yourself in the rich history and captivating stories that have shaped this unique and picturesque location.

The knowledgeable guides from the OPW will lead you through the narrow grassy paths, lined with charming traditional cottages that have stood the test of time.

During your tour, you will have the chance to explore the quaint homes of the island’s former inhabitants, gaining insight into their daily lives and the challenges they faced in this isolated community.

Mock-up of the Blasket Islands
Mock-up of the Blasket Islands

From ancient tools and fishing equipment to traditional crafts and artwork, you will gain a deeper understanding of the island’s rich history and traditions.

Throughout the tour, the guides will regale you with captivating tales and anecdotes, bringing the history and culture of the Blasket Islands to life.

Learn about the island’s literary legacy, as it was once home to a vibrant community of renowned Irish writers who captured the essence of this unique place through their words.

The Great Blasket Island Walk

This popular hiking trail offers magnificent views of the island’s rugged coastline and allows you to immerse yourself in the stunning landscape.

The walk is well-marked showcasing the raw beauty of the Blasket Islands. As you explore the trail, keep an eye out for the diverse wildlife that calls these islands home.

During the walk, you will come across picturesque viewpoints where you can pause to take in the panoramic vistas of the Atlantic Ocean and the surrounding islands. These spots are also excellent for birdwatching, so don’t forget to bring your binoculars.

The Blasket Island Walk is suitable for hikers of all levels but be prepared for some steep and uneven terrain. Make sure to wear appropriate footwear and bring a walking stick for added stability.

You will encounter historical remnants of the island’s past, such as old ruins and abandoned cottages. These remnants offer a glimpse into the lives of the island’s former inhabitants and add a sense of mystery to the walk.

Experience the wonder of an Eco-Friendly Day Trip Tour!

The Blasket Islands, a group of six stunning isles off the western coast of Kerry, offer a unique and eco-friendly adventure for nature enthusiasts. This boat tour ensures minimal impact on the islands, allowing visitors to admire their beauty without setting foot on them.

Seal lions on the Blasket Islands
Seal lions on the Blasket Islands

The journey begins with a scenic boat ride from the mainland, providing breathtaking views of the rugged coastline and crystal-clear waters of Dingle Bay.

As you approach the Great Blasket Island, Beiginis, Inis Tuaisceart, Tiaracht, Inishnabro, and Inishvickillane, the untouched natural splendor becomes increasingly apparent.

While you won’t be stepping ashore, you can still appreciate the islands’ rich biodiversity and cultural heritage. Knowledgeable guides will share fascinating stories about the islands’ history, wildlife, and traditional island life. Don’t forget your camera and binoculars.

Seabirds

The cliffs and coastline of the Blasket Islands provide ideal nesting spots for various seabird species.

Keep an eye out for graceful gannets, magnificent puffins, manx shearwaters, storm petrels, auks, elegant razorbills, and stealthy fulmars as they soar and dive around the cliffs. Their distinctive calls and aerial acrobatics provide an awe-inspiring spectacle.

Grey Seals

The surrounding waters of the Islands are inhabited by a thriving seal population. With a bit of luck, you might catch a glimpse of these adorable creatures as they lounge on the rocky shores or playfully swim in the sea.

Dolphins

If you’re fortunate, you may be treated to a spectacular display of dolphins swimming and leaping alongside the ferry during your journey to the Islands. These intelligent and playful creatures never fail to captivate visitors.

Minke Whales

Minke Whales are smaller in comparison to other whale species. They can grow up to 35 feet long and, although not the biggest whales, they are still impressive.

These whales have slender bodies and pointed heads, which help them swim efficiently. The Dingle Peninsula has abundant food for Minke Whales, which brings them here.

Deer

You might even encounter deer while sailing past Inis Island, although it remains a mystery how they ended up there. If you’re curious, you can inquire about it with the Skipper.

The eco-friendly tour offers an unforgettable experience, allowing you to immerse yourself in the untamed beauty of the Islands & marine life while preserving their delicate ecosystem.

What is there to do on the Great Blasket Island?

On the Great Blasket Island, there are few activities to keep you entertained and immersed in its natural beauty. Here are some things you can do:

  • Explore the deserted ruins of houses: Take a walk through the abandoned houses and get a glimpse into the island’s rich history.
  • Enjoy the scenic landscapes: Take in the breathtaking views of the rugged coastline and picturesque surroundings.
  • Birdwatching: The island is a haven for bird enthusiasts, with opportunities to spot various seabird species.
  • Photography: Capture the stunning landscapes, wildlife, and unique charm of the island through your lens.

No matter what you choose to do, they offer a peaceful and unforgettable experience immersed in nature.

Is it possible to stay on the Blasket Islands?

Yes during the tourist season, 4 self-catering cottages are currently available for rent on the Great Blasket Island, providing visitors with a truly unique chance to experience the island’s tranquility firsthand.

These charming private cottages offer basic amenities such as head torches and candles, toilet paper, all bed linen, and cooking utensils.

However, it’s important to note that certain items are not provided, including food and drinks for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, large towels for showering, fuel for the fire, insect repellent, etc.

It is important to note that availability may vary, so it is recommended to check in advance for availability and make reservations. Unfortunately, pets are no longer allowed in the cottages.

Facilities on the Blasket Islands

As the Great Blasket Island is inhabited during the tourist season, visitors can enjoy the convenience of a coffee shop during their stay.

Whether you need a caffeine boost or a snack to keep you energized during your exploration of the island, the coffee shop provides a welcoming spot to relax and refuel.

The Spanish Armada

The Spanish Armada, a fleet of ships sent by King Philip II of Spain, faced a disastrous storm in 1588 while attempting to invade England.

As the Armada sailed along the treacherous western coast of Ireland, it encountered fierce winds and powerful waves. The ferocity of the winds and waves battered the ships, causing them to crash against the sheer cliffs and rocky shores.

Legend has it that one ship, known as the San Juan, sought shelter in Black Sound (the water between The Blasket Islands & Dunquin Pier). The sailors, already exhausted and disoriented from their ordeal, faced a grim fate as they desperately tried to survive amidst the wreckage. Many perished due to injuries, exposure, or drowning.

The tragic fate of the Spanish Armada seeking shelter in the Blasket Islands stands as a poignant reminder of the brutal power of nature and the sacrifices made by those who ventured across treacherous seas in pursuit of their ambitions.

In 1988, Dunquin proudly unveiled a stunning monument in honor of the mighty Spanish Armada.

5 Travel Tips for Visiting the Blasket Islands

When planning your visit to the beautiful islands, here are five essential travel tips to ensure a memorable and enjoyable experience:

  1. Check the weather forecast and dress accordingly: The Blasket Islands are known for their unpredictable weather, so it’s important to check the forecast before your visit. Be prepared for strong winds and frequent rainfall by bringing suitable clothing such as waterproof jackets, sturdy shoes, and warm layers.
  2. Book your ferry tickets in advance: To reach the Great Blasket Island, you’ll need to take a boat trip from Dingle, Dunquin Pier, or Ventry. During peak tourist seasons, these ferries can get busy, so it’s advisable to book your tickets in advance to secure your spot and avoid any disappointment.
  3. Pack necessary supplies: As the Blasket Islands are remote, it’s essential to pack all the necessary supplies for your visit. Bring enough food and water for your stay, as well as sunscreen and insect repellent. There is only a small seasonal cafe on the island.
  4. Respect the island’s environment and wildlife: They are a haven for wildlife, so it’s important to respect the natural environment while exploring. Stick to designated trails to protect fragile ecosystems and avoid disturbing nesting birds.
  5. Be sure to pack insect repellent: While there are insects in Ireland, such as midges, they are generally not as abundant or problematic as in other countries. However, it’s always a good idea to use insect repellent when spending time outdoors, especially during the summer months when insects can be more active.

Conclusion

Visiting the Blasket Islands is a truly unique and unforgettable experience. Located off the western coast of Kerry, these remote islands offer stunning natural beauty, captivating history, and diverse wildlife.

While the weather can be unpredictable, proper preparation and planning can ensure a comfortable visit.

Whether you choose to stay in one of the island’s cottages or simply spend the day exploring, they are sure to leave a lasting impression.

So, grab your ferry ticket, pack your essentials, and embark on a journey to discover the wonders of the Blasket Islands.

Check out my web pages on the Ring of Kerry Drive, The Skellig Ring and Slea Head Drive.