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Important Information

geotagged geo:lat=55.208104 geo:lon=-6.241608
25 or 45min crossing available
Booking Essential. Adult return crossing - ¬£11.20 Child return crossing - ¬£5.60 Family DAY Return - ¬£30.00 Senior Citizens with valid N.I. Smart Pass ‚Äď FREE
See ferry timetable
Walking shoes
Yes - There is a playground on the island
Cell only

Rathlin Island

Rathlin Island, Ballycastle, County Antrim, BT54

Explore one of Ireland‚Äôs most beautiful, wild and rugged wonders of the world ‚Äď the tranquil Rathlin Island.

Enveloped in never-ending tales of myth and legend, the ‚ÄėL‚Äô shaped island is home to a small population.

Steeped in rich history, the island possesses many a hidden treasure including the Iron Age Fort, a 14th century castle and a 16th century tower house.

Take a ferry ride and let your mind wander as you breathe in this six-mile long and one mile wide stretch of unfolding beauty.

A Special Area of Conversation, its towering limestone and basalt cliffs are home to tens of thousands of seabirds, and is a  popular choice for birdwatchers, with a Royal Society for the Protection of Birds nature reserve offering spectacular views of Rathlin’s bird colony.

Northern Ireland’s only breeding pair of choughs can also be seen during the summer months, after the RSPB successfully managed the natural habitat to facilitate the return of the Red-billed Chough.

Seals ply the shores and an abundance of shipwrecks make the waters here ideal for wreck diving.


First inhabited back in 6000 BC, over the centuries Rathlin Island grew rich, exporting axe heads and sea kelp, and later became a haven for smugglers.

Of the many myths and tales of Rathlin Island, the most famous tells of Robert the Bruce. In 1306, the Scottish King was driven from Scotland by Edward I of England and took refuge on Rathlin. While he was on Rathlin, it is said that he watched a spider persevering again and again to bridge a gap with its web. Eventually it succeeded. Robert the Bruce took heart from the spider’s efforts, raised fresh forces and returned to Scotland to fight for his kingdom. He too, eventually succeeded and in 1314, regained the crown of Scotland. Later, a cave on the island‚Äôs cliffs, which stand at an impressive 230 ft tall, was named after him and is now known as ‚ÄėBruce‚Äôs Cave‚Äô.


Regular ceilis and festivals take place throughout the summer, as well as model yacht racing.

The visitors’ centre at Church Bay is open from May to August, with minibus tours and bicycle hire available. The island is also popular with scuba divers, who come to explore the many wrecked ships in the surrounding waters.

In the harbour is the Boathouse, where visitors can learn¬† of the island’s extensive history as well as present day island life, and see some artefacts from shipwrecks around the island.

A short distance away at Mill Bay there is a colony of seals, which makes for some interesting viewing.


Rathlin Island lies six miles off the Antrim coast and access to the island can be obtained  through Rathlin Island Ferry Ltd. They operate two ferries  Рthe regular MV Canna,  which ferries cargo and 100 passengers on a 45-minute journey, and the new fast ferry service which does the crossing in 20 minutes.