A few months after we reached the UK that we heard about Skomer Island for the first time – at least that’s as far back as we can remember. It was amazing that there is this beautiful place brimming with wildlife. What’s more – we can visit the island on specially organised boat trips and enjoy incredible views of birds, especially puffins.
As birdwatchers, Puffins were on the top of our wish list of ‘lifers’. We had seen some stunning pictures of this magnificent bird and couldn’t wait for that moment when we will see and photograph one for ourselves.
(If you ask a birdwatcher which bird would you like to photograph, you will probably get Puffin as the answer. Such is the popularity of this cute bird among the birdwatchers and photographers, especially back home)
So, among other things we learned in this new country, we came to know that Skomer is an island off the Pembrokeshire coast where puffins come to breed every spring. That got us excited, and we began to research how to reach the island. We came to know that public can visit Skomer only for a limited duration – a few months from spring to early autumn. We also came to know that to visit the island you have to queue up early in the morning for tickets because there were very limited places on the boat every day.
For us, at that time, it seemed impossible. We knew we couldn’t go all the way to Pembrokeshire, stay somewhere close by, get up early in the morning to queue up. Even after that, there was no guarantee that we would be able to book tickets for Skomer. So we decided to let it go until it is practically possible for us to undertake such a trip.
Years flew by and every spring we wistfully looked at pictures and stories shared by photographers and birdwatchers who’ve visited the place. Skomer was still a very distant dream – it could be one forever. So it seemed when the pandemic struck. It placed the entire country under lockdown. Now, getting out of the house itself started feeling like an impossible dream.
The year seemed to pass slower than ever. Weeks felt like months and months, years. It was a terrible time for people the world over – lockdowns, restrictions, isolations, quarantine. Life seemed to be just about that until we saw some light at the end of the tunnel in the form of vaccines. Slowly things started getting better and although social distancing and masks became a part of life, things took on a positive turn with places opening up.
It came to our knowledge that they moved Skomer boat booking online this year and so we tried to book our tickets. It thrilled us beyond words when we finally managed to get hold of tickets for the first weekend in July. However, the uncertainty over covid restrictions still hung over our heads like ominous dark clouds… Since covid rules differed from country to country, even if England opened up, Wales might not and vice versa. Still, we clung to hope.
Finally, the government lifted all the restrictions and we eagerly awaited the day our dream will be true. But then, did it mean everything will be smooth? Well, not really. There was another catch. We would know if the boats to Skomer will run only on the morning of the trip by 8 am. We had to start from Liverpool latest by 5 am if we hope to reach Martin’s Haven by 10.30 -11.00.
Will We be Able to Visit Skomer Island?
So, there was no way we could wait until 8 to know if the boats were running, especially if we had to report an hour before departure. Hence, we started from home by 5 am as planned and spent an anxious three hours on the road until we saw the tweet saying Skomer boats are running today. That sent us in a euphoric mood and we couldn’t wait to get there at Martin’s Haven to collect our boarding passes.
Soon, we arrived at Martin’s Haven, parked the car, and climbed down to the visitor’s centre, Lockley Lodge. There, we collected the boarding pass, bought a souvenir, and started walking down towards the jetty. We had another 30 minutes or so before we could board the boat. We clicked pics and recorded videos. As we waited for the boat along with our co-passengers, we noticed a sudden commotion and excitement among people.
That’s when we saw a seal near the shore. We felt a child-like excitement and happily clicked some pics. Just like that, it was time for us to board the boat. We boarded the boat and soon it sped away to our dream destination. The captain of the boat gave us all the safety instructions to follow in case of an emergency. Then, it was time to enjoy the sight of sea and seabirds – several gulls were cruising above us, taking advantage of the air currents to stay afloat with minimum effort.
Skomer Island – the Dream Getting Closer
The closer we got to Skomer, the higher the number of seabirds swimming past and flying past us. Hundreds of Puffins were swimming in the sea, along with Guillemots and Razorbills. Someone in the boat shouted ‘dolphin’, but only a handful of the passengers saw them. Most of us were looking all around us with excitement as Puffins flew past us in what seemed like a surreal scene from a movie.
Fifteen minutes after leaving Martin’s Haven, we landed on Skomer – and none other than Puffins welcomed us! It was a dream come true moment, where everywhere you looked, all you could see were these cute little birds.
What happened next? Well, you can read it all here
Watch our Skomer trip video here
If you wish to know more about boat trips to Skomer or book tickets, click here