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Rathlin Island Sea Safari2019-09-02T21:37:09+00:00

Project Description

Rathlin Island Sea Safari

Departing from Ballycastle you will enjoy a thrilling and beautiful cruise to Rathlin Island, the only inhabited offshore island in Northern Ireland.

Rathlin Island is six miles long, one mile wide, “L” shaped and six miles across the Sea of Moyle from Ballycastle.  It is a rugged and picturesque island steeped in a rich history, vibrant mythology, maritime heritage and diverse wildlife.

Rathlin has long associations with both Scotland and Ireland.  It once lay at the heart of the ancient Dal Riada KingdomRobert the Bruce, a 13th century Scottish King was exiled for fighting for his country’s freedom and took refuge in a cave on Rathlin Island.  While there he pondered his next move and was inspired by a tiny spiders determination to spin a web.  The spider tried 6 times to swing to a nearby rock to secure his thread and failed, just as Robert the Bruce had been defeated 6 times in his pursuit to free Scotland from the English.  On the 7th attempt the spider succeeded and Robert the Bruce resolved to return to Scotland.

Rathlin hosts three lighthouses, one of which is home to a Seabird Centre.  All three lighthouses, Bruce’s Cave, and many shipwreck sites can be seen on a full circumnavigation of Rathlin Island.

Upon landing on the island itself visitors will find a scenic harbour with a Boathouse Visitor Centre.  Here visitors can discover some of the exciting history of Rathlin and its people, learn about present day island life and see some artefacts from shipwrecks around the island. There are many walks on the Island  including along the shore to Mill Bay where you may see some of the resident seals basking or at play. Cycle hire is another way to enjoy the island or take a bus trip.

Close to the harbour there is a cafe, restaurant and public house where you can relax, dine and enjoy refreshments or even live music.  The local Co-Op also offers delicious freshly made snacks to go if you want to picnic on the beach or eat while exploring.

From April to July is puffin season and as well as seeing them from the sea, you can also visit the Seabird Centre which is open to the public from Easter and has the added bonus of being a real working lighthouse.  As well as Puffins other breeding seabirds include guillemot, kittiwake, razorbill and fulmar.  Rathlin Island is also home to Northern Ireland’s only pair of breeding chough and more recently corncrake.

Seals and seabirds are not the only non-human inhabitants of the island.  Rathlin is home to the beautiful Rathlin Golden Hare which displays a distinct genetic variation producing individuals with blue eyes. Whilst hare colonies in other locations in Ireland have declined, Rathlin remains a stronghold for Irish hares.

Rathlin also boasts a rich and varied biodiversity of which its residents are very proud and protective.  Much of the island and its surrounds have now been designated as Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSIs)Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Area (SPA). Rathlin is included in the Antrim Coast & Glens Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and a European Marine Site Management Scheme (EMSMS) was added in 2013.

Before leaving Rathlin visitors can peruse the beautiful locally made gifts and crafts in the Rathlin Gift Shop or drop by the ‘Breakwater Studio’ which features the work of local artist Yvonne Braithwaite.

We can tailor a private charter to Rathlin Island to your needs.  It may include;

  • Bruce’s Cave
  • Ushet Point
  • West Light Seabird Centre
  • Full Circumnavigation
  • Landing on Rathlin

It is also possible to add Fairhead or Carrick-a-Rede to your private charter.

Pre-booking is essential.  

  • Tour min time: 2h
  • Great for: Sight-seeing, family day out, adventurers, photographers, historians, video producers, wild-life enthusiasts
Rathlin Sunset

Message from Rathlin Residents

Message from Rathlin

+44 (0) 7864 684857

call or text Tim to book or make enquiries

Discover Abhainn Cruises Trips by Interest

Seeking a memorable day out? Would you like to explore World Heritage Sites without the crowds?  Our bespoke private charters offer you a chance to have a unique experience, see hidden gems, take photographs at inaccessible locations, see our sea-life in its natural habitat and appreciate the beauty and history that is part of our Northern Irish Heritage.

We can help create the perfect itinerary for your trip.

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