The Wild Atlantic way is an epic journey covering 2,500 km of coastal road. It covers nine counties with unforgettable coastlines and breath-taking wildlife.
The West Cork Islands
Shaped by the Atlantic waves and their unique island histories these are fascinating places to experience West Cork’s pure exhilarating beauty and the drama of the Wild Atlantic Way.
The Islands of West Cork are a haven of beautiful wildlife.
Some of Irelands most dramatic scenery, and abundant wildlife, including birds, dolphins, and whales, are on or around the our offshore islands. There is a little something for everyone, be that history, folklore, fauna, flora, the freshest of air or the craic!
Visitors to our Wild Atlantic Way, especially here in the heart of the “Carbery’s 100 Isles”, can experience the thrill of seeing local wildlife in a truly unique setting. You may spot majestic whales, playful dolphins and cute seals. Then there are the abundance of seabirds and the small, fascinating creatures that make the seashore their home.
The coastal waters in West Cork are a summer feeding ground for a number of whale species – commonly seen are both Fin Whales and Mink Whales, whilst Humpback Whales make a slightly later, yet spectacular entrance. The most frequently sighted species is the Short-beaked Common Dolphin and the Bottlenose Dolphin. These are resident around Ireland and may be seen all year round off the south and west coast. Whale watching in Ireland is some of the best in Europe because of the clear, unpolluted waters. In recent years, over 12 cetacean species have been spotted in the wild waters. There are some opportunistic sightings of Killer Whales (Orca) and Long-finned Pilot Whales.
The West has its own resident populations of Common Dolphins and Harbour Porpoises. They are boat friendly and acrobatic making them a popular sighting amongst the many visitors who come dolphin watching. There are frequent sightings of dolphin species at different times throughout the year including Bottlenose Dolphins and Risso’s Dolphins, White Beaked Dolphins and even Atlantic White Sided Dolphins.
Over 20,000 birds visit West Cork each winter, escaping the harsh conditions of their northern breeding sites. Breeding sea birds include the Chough, Arctic Tern, and Common Tern. More marine species such as Storm Petrel, Gulls, Guillemot, Fulmar, Gannet and Razorbill breed on off shore islands.
Seals in Ireland include two species, the Atlantic Grey Seal and the Common or Harbour Seal. Resident populations of both species occur along the West Cork coast and may be seen at any time during the year. Grey Seal pups are born during the later part of the year during September and may be seen during the autumn months hauled out on rock ledges. Common Seal pups are born during the earlier months of the year around May. A mixed colony of both Atlantic Grey Seals and Common Seals occurs on the outlying islands off the West Cork coast where we are afforded excellent views on animals both on rocks and in the water.
Schull is located in West Cork – the far South-West of County Cork, Ireland – about 100km/60 miles south-west of Cork City. Schull or Skull (or An Scoil) name derives from a medieval monastic school, of which no trace remains. Schull is one of the finest villages in West Cork, Ireland. It is set in the centre of an area of outstanding natural beauty, an idyllic place to stay or visit along the Wild Atlantic Way. The prevailing south-westerly winds blow over 2000 miles of open sea thus providing air which is both clear and clean.
The safe, sheltered and welcoming harbour, the many islands off-shore and the Atlantic Ocean beyond, provide an excellent base for recreational boating. The area, on the peninsula leading to Mizen Head.