Our holiday to Pembrokeshire was wonderful for many reasons – for the natural beauty of the countryside, for the fact that we actually got to relax, because everyone we met was lovely and because of all the brilliant things we did (from visiting Pembroke Castle to climbing trees at Heatherton World of Activities). But it was also brilliant because of the puffins.
When I found out that I would be able to see puffins if I visited this part of Wales, I knew I had to go. I love seeing animals in their natural habitat and, having walked along Horsey beach in Norfolk last year and been overwhelmed by the beautiful seals there, I was very taken by the idea of seeing puffins for the first time too.
So, we were lucky enough that the concierge service offered by Coastal Cottages, who organised our lovely cottage in Little Haven, included a trip by thousand Island Cruises to Skomer and Ramsey Islands where we would see puffins, guillemots, kittiwakes, Manx shearwater and all sorts of other birds too. Plus, we saw some Atlantic grey seals sunbathing around Ramsey Island too.
We caught our boat near St David’s – the smallest city in the UK which is absolutely gorgeous. If you go, leave time to mooch around here and visit the cathedral – at the St Justinian’s Life Boat station. This is a fair walk away from the centre of St David’s and we drove to a nearby car park, and then walked to the life boat station. There are a number of steps on the way, so it’s probably not suitable for small children or those who aren’t very mobile.
We were given warm, thick waterproofs to wear, and although it was grey on the way out, the sun did appear and I (who am always neurotic about sunscreen) did get burned. So, another warning, wear lots of sunscreen!
I’m not a great fan of boats, but the puffins were a real lure for me, so we soon set off and I admired the scenery as we zipped along. We saw some birds on the way and the occasional seal too, but it wasn’t until we neared Skomer that it got really exciting! There we saw hundreds and hundreds of birds, including those gorgeous puffins, blanketing the sea and the cliffs. It was a truly amazing sight.
Skomer is the largest of Pembrokeshire’s islands and only around a mile off the coast. It’s home to a huge variety of wildlife. We did not disembark to look around, but we could still see so many nesting seabirds – particularly guillemots and razorbills lining the cliff ledges. Along with neighbouring Skokholm Island it is the largest breeding puffin colony in Southern Britain.
Our guide pointed out the birds we could see and told us about them too which was great as we aren’t really that knowledgeable. I found it all absolutely fantastic – and not like anything I’d ever seen before.
The engine of the boat was turned off so as not to frighten away the wildlife, and we stayed there for around 15 minutes or so. Then we turned round to go back to the coast, but we drove around Ramsey Island which is beautiful, and looked into the caves.
As a non-boat lover, I found the bumpy journey back a bit hairy – although my son loved it! But I wouldn’t have missed the trip for anything. It was an absolute highlight of our holiday.
Disclosure: Our trip with Thousand Island Expeditions was arranged through Coastal Cottages’ concierge services. It would have cost £48 per adult and £20 per child, but were given it on a complimentary basis in order to write about it. However, neither company had any input into this blog post.
Read an overview of our fabulous holiday in Pembrokeshire