Our Carrick-A-Rede sea safari is one of our most popular trips along the North Coast and is a firm favourite for children and those who prefer a gentle sheltered cruise. It is also a photographer’s delight, due to being away from the busy crowds that flock to Carrick-A-Rede, and offering a different perspective of the rope-bridge, the fisherman’s cottage and the caves below.
Our trip commences from the harbour in the small coastal town of Ballycastle (from Irish: Baile an Chaistil, meaning “town of the castle”). From here we take in the spectacular coastal scenery of the North coast, getting up close to the Mermaid’s Tears Waterfall, the Mermaid’s Seaweed Bath and the Smuggler’s Cave. After travelling a little further we stop to contemplate the sight and history of Kinbane Castle which lies on a long, narrow limestone headland projecting into the sea. Kinbane is a two-storey castle and was built in 1547 by Colla McDonnell, brother of Sorley Boy MacDonnell.
Next we navigate our way to the iconic Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge. Unlike the foot tourists above us there is no queue or 1.4 mile walk. You will enjoy the stunning rope bridge itself, the caves, the fisherman’s bothy, and the rocky cliffs abundant with the noisy seabird colonies.
From the Scottish Gaelic ‘Carraig-A-Rade’, meaning the rock in the road, the island served as an obstacle for migrating salmon, giving fishermen a chance to enjoy a rich haul. The first rope-bridge was constructed in 1755 after over one hundred years of fishing at Carrick-a-Rede and Larrybane. Sadly the fishing industry no longer flourishes here but the rope-bridge and fisherman’s bothy remain as testament to the industry.
As well as appreciating the history of this unique place and the spectacular scenery, there is also a chance of seeing porpoises, dolphins or even a basking shark in these crystal clear waters. The seals love to enjoy a fish or two here, especially if it’s stolen from the fishermen’s lobster pots. When they hear a boat they will often pop up to see if it’s a fisherman about to catch them thieving. We will pause here a while to enjoy exhilarating views of Rathlin and the Scottish Isles as you relax on the tranquil turquoise waters around Carrick-A-Rede.
This is a sheltered location and if it is calm you can swim here. This is a bit of a bucket list item. It can be quite refreshing so we recommend that any children swimming wear wetsuits. We provide personal buoyancy aids for adults and children but do not provide wetsuits or towels.