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Everything You Need to Know about Skellig Michael and Portmagee

Updated: Sep 13, 2019

Skellig Michael (Sceilg Mhichil) is an incredible island located 12 miles off the coast of Southern Ireland. The dramatic landscape and unique history have made it a must-see Unesco World Heritage site. It also helps that it was featured in one of the more recent Star Wars movies. The town has since seen a spike in tourism and with that, it is becoming harder to visit the island.

History of the Skelligs

It was first inhabited by Christians monks around the eighth century where they sought out remoteness for a more simple lifestyle. Against all odds and unforgiving weather, they created a monastery among the top of this scenic and steep island. The monks created iconic beehive shaped huts that could protect them from the elements. They lived out their days praying and fishing, enjoying the tranquility and calmness that only life on a remote island could provide.


Choosing a Tour

There are two tour packages available. The best thing to do is plan for the landing tour (you get to hike and climb the steps on the island) and then keep your backup plan as the eco-tour (they circle around the island, but you do not land). We had tickets reserved for our landing tour to Skellig Michael, but it was cancelled due to a delay in opening the tours (weeks of bad weather). The eco-tour is still well worth it; you can really feel what the journey back then must have been like.


When to Go

Summer is definitely the best time of year to visit the Skelligs. Seeing the islands is extremely weather dependent and it's never guaranteed for anyone that they will be able to land on the island. Even if the weather is sunny the day you go, the tour can still be cancelled or delaying if the island isn't prepared or ready. To increase your chances of going, plan your trip in the middle of summer (past the opening weeks which happen in mid-end of May.

Booking Tickets & Accommodations in Portmagee The easiest way to secure tickets is to stay at one of the featured hotels in Portmagee. We chose to stay at The Moorings Guesthouse which is situated right in the center of town. It also is directly in front of the port where the boats depart from.


If you're going in the summer, you can make a reservation through their site and reserve the 2-night Skellig Michael package. This includes your hotel accommodations there, a reservation for the landing tour (just a reservation spot, fee not included), an $80 voucher for dining in their bar, free breakfast, and a packed lunch sandwich for the day you go on your tour. The value is incredibly good, can you blame the Star Wars cast for wanting to stay there while filming?

Preparing for your Trip to Skellig

You should definitely pack sturdy hiking shoes that have a strong grip because the steps can be slippery at the island. It's also best not to eat a whole lot of food beforehand because the water can be choppy and the waves can be rough causing sea sickness. I don't personally get motion sickness, but my boyfriend got extremely sick after our ride.


Bring your camera, preferably a waterproof one as the waves can hit the boat in choppy weather. There is also plenty of dolphin watching; they followed our boat, jumping in the air along the entire way to the island! Enjoy the boatride and journey to the Skelligs, but remember that the island is protected site where thousands of birds live and breed, so make it a priority to respect the land as much as possible.

little skellig island ireland
Little Skellig Island, Ireland

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Hi! I'm Jackie and my dog is Sora. I work remote as an engineer, but I love to spend my free time in nature and by traveling to new places. I take my camera wherever I go, and sometimes my drone.

Somewhere With Sora is a Seattle-based lifestyle and travel blog that provides helpful travel and adventure tips for all kinds of trips, with or without the dogs.

Let me help you plan your next trip!

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