On one of the rare bright sunny days this summer on the Isle of Anglesey, I booked a tour around Puffin Island by Seacoast Safaris. The excitement to see Puffins was pulsing through all the passengers waiting to board the vessel, including me. Although I didn’t get the pleasure of seeing Puffins (missed them that day), we saw every other animal native to the area. Here is everything you need to know about a Puffin Island Cruise to get the best possible chance to see Puffins.
The boat journey leaves from the Beaumaris Pier daily between April and October. It is best to check the website for times before you show up. Although you can book tickets online, you can also purchase them in the kiosk at the beginning of the pier, which is what I did. Seacoast offers several different cruises, such as the Puffin Island, Menai Strait, and Adventure Rib Cruises. The ticket price for the Puffin Island Cruise is £10.95. The Puffin Island Cruise itself lasts 90 minutes. But, it is highly recommended to show up for your time slot early. Lines queue up fast for the seats at the back of the boat. If you don’t get the back, don’t worry, the boat turns around, so everyone gets a good view. A guide on board to regales you with humor, history and point out all the wildlife, so you don’t miss anything.
The Menai Strait divides the Isle of Anglesey from the Wales mainland. It is 16 miles long and used to be a busy slate shipping route. Today it is a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) supporting all its wildlife and colonies of soft corals and sponges in the strong tidal currents. The journey takes you past beautiful coastal scenery for the Isle of Anglesey, along with some impressive landmarks.
Along the boat ride, you sail past the Penmon Priory. This looks like a fantastic ruin to explore. It is a historic monastery from the 6th-century and a 12th-century church. And the walls near the well next to the church may be part of the oldest remaining Christian building in Wales. Cadw preserves the site, and you can visit the ruins, church, Holy Well, Dovecot & Monastic fish ponds. If you are interested in visiting Penmon Priory, you can take the Anglesey Coastal Path or drive 3 miles east of Beaumaris.
The Trwyn Du Lighthouse (also known as Penmon Lighthouse) is between Black Point near Penmon on the Isle of Anglesey and Ynys Seiriol or Puffin Island. It was built in 1838 after a tragic shipwreck of the Rothesay Castle that lost 130 lives. Now, it shines a light on the North entrance of the Menai Strait. The lighthouse is solar-powered, unmanned, and has the last operating fog bell in the United Kingdom.
Puffin Island (Ynys Seiriol in Welsh), the ninth-largest off the coast of Wales, is also a Special Area of Conservation. This is due to the most significant coastal colony of breeding cormorants in the United Kingdom. The uninhabited island is home to the remains of a 12th-century monastery and, of course, Puffins, all varieties of birds, and Atlantic grey seals. The best time to see puffins is from late April to August, but June and July are the best months to see them. Also, the best time to see them is first thing in the morning or the evening. This could be why I didn’t see any. My tour happened to be in the middle of the day.
The black cormorants were out in force the day I toured around the island. They were perched on every rock and ledge just watching us sail past. Also, flying around the island was the Shag, Guillemot, and Razorbills. if you are a bird watcher, this is the tour to go on.
The one thing that I enjoyed thoroughly on the Puffin Island Cruise is seeing the seals. There were three playing in the water on the north end of the island (see photo above). Atlantic grey seals are a common sight around Puffin Island. But, you might also see bottlenose dolphins and harbor porpoises if you are lucky.
Even though we didn’t see any Puffins, the animals we did see were wonderful. Everyone on the boat had smiles on their faces all the way back from the island. I do want to try this again after learning the best times are in the morning to catch the Puffins. Maybe this year I’ll be able to get a photo of these elusive Puffins to add to my collection.
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