Puffins in Pembrokeshire

posted in: Blog, UK | 18
Puffins on Skomer Island
There were puffins nesting on the island!

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.

At St Justinian's lifeboat stationWe 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!

Robert on the boat with Thousand Islands expeditions
Robert on the boat!

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.

Birds near Skomer Island in Pembrokeshire
Birds near Skomer Island in Pembrokeshire

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.

birds flying around and on on Skomer island
birds flying around and on Skomer Island


Puffins on the water around Skomer island
Puffins on the water around Skomer island

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.

Ramsey Island, Pembrokeshire
Ramsey Island,

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.

Country Kids
More fun in Pembrokeshire:

Read an overview of our fabulous holiday in Pembrokeshire

A trip to Folly Farm

Read what Robert thought of Heatherton World of Activities

Pembroke Castle (a must-visit!)


18 Responses

  1. Trish

    I’m not a great fan of little boats too but sometimes it can be so worth it. I love that photo of the puffins bobbing about in the water. So pleased Robert had fun – he always looks so happy. What a lovely lad x

  2. Nell (Pigeon Pair and Me)

    I grew up not far from here, but I never made it to Skomer. I’ll have to go one time when we visit Mum. Sounds as though you all had a lovely time. I enjoy boat rides – the more choppy the water, the better. Like you, though, I burn very easily when I’m on them. I ended up with a bright red face the last time we went out to sea…

  3. Cathy (Mummytravels)

    How amazing it would be to see puffins – I visited the Isles of Scilly and Pembrokeshire at the wrong time to see then but would love to try a boat trip like this to have that experience, however bumpy.

  4. Claire at Tin Box Traveller

    What a fabulous add on to your holiday. I love boat trips and Mr Tin Box is a bit of a twitcher. I think I’d leave this type of trip for a few more years until both our girls were old enough to sit still for a while. Our nature watching can happen from the beach until then 😊

  5. Annette, Four Acorns / Quatre graines de chêne

    Puffins are just adorable – these were my son’s words when we first saw some at close range on a day trip to the Great Saltee island, off the southeastern coast of Ireland, last year. How wonderful that you got to see them too!
    On a side note, I once went to St David’s to rock climb on the sea cliffs outside the town – my only time in Wales!

  6. Fiona Cambouropoulos

    Ah how wonderful there are so many puffins there. Such an amazing sight. I’m like you and not mad on boat rides but this would definitely be worth it. We have a little island off the coast of Cornwall here that we call Puffin Island as the puffins congregate there too. It is years since I’ve been out there on a boat but your post makes me want to do it again.

    Thank you for sharing with me on #CountryKids

  7. Anne

    what an amazing trip, it’s great to be able to get up close to wildlife, even if you do have to endure a bumpy boat ride.

  8. Zenbabytravel

    Puffins are lovely and could not help checking your Norfolk & seals posts – we’ve been about 6 years ago at Blakeney point and we were incredibly lucky in terms of weather, I ended up swimming with them! Very playful and curious. Thanks a lot for sharing, I love Wales and I reckon is so underrated, it’s just a lottery in terms of weather…#countrykids

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