Sea Kayaking in Skerries
The waters off Skerries provide thrilling sea kayaking excursions. From the town’s harbour, you can embark on a scenic tour around nearby islands with flocks of seabirds, including the Skerries Islands and the Rockabill Lighthouse. The route is best suited for experienced paddlers and features open sea crossings, circumnavigations, tidal races and cliff faces. Plan to spend a half-day to full-day kayaking this route. Although the island where Rockabill Lighthouse is located is off limits unless you obtain permission from Birdwatch Ireland (www.birdwatchireland.ie), the Skerries islands can be explored on foot.
The three uninhabited Skerries Islands are between 1 and 2 kilometres east of the town centre and make up a protected nature reserve. Shenick’s Island is the closest to the mainland and features Palaeozic rocks including Ordovician volcanic, siltstones and shales. St. Patricks’s Island and Colt Island complete the trio. As you kayak out to the islands you can see a number of seabird species, including Great Black-backed Gulls, Fulmar, Cormorant, Herring and Shags. Barnacle and greylag geese, as well as oystercatchers, golden plover, lapwing, curlew and owls also frequent the islands during the winter. Rockabill Lighthouse sits about five kilometres from the coast or seven kilometres from the Skerries Islands. Completed in 1860, the lighthouse is a breeding site for a large colony of roseate tern. Common terns and other seabirds can also be spotted on the rocky island.
For advanced paddlers wishing an adventure on the open sea, venturing towards Lambay Island is an excellent full-day sea kayaking excursion. Situated to the south, Lambay Island is about ten kilometres from Skerries. The largest island off Ireland’s east coast, artefacts from the Neolithic Age, early Bronze Age and Iron Age have been found on Lambay. The island has the only Grey Seal colony on the east coast, and supports several species of seabirds. A herd of Fallow Deer and a small number of wallabies also call the island home. Circumnavigating the island is an adventure for the strongest of kayakers. Since Lambay is a private island, landings are generally not permitted.
Kayaking in Skerries is best during the summer months, although conditions are excellent year-round. Approaching the islands around Skerries can be tricky during the breeding season and it is best not to land near breeding seabird colonies. Based in Howth south of Skerries, Shearwater Sea Kayaking (www.shearwaterseakayaking.ie) organizes kayaking courses and excursions. Guided trips to the Skerries and Lambay depart from Skerries, while additional trips also leave from Howth. More information about kayaking in Skerries can also be obtained from the East Coast Sea Kayaking Club (www.ecskc.eu).