On board our 12-seat RIB (rigid inflatable boat), you will travel to the Isle of May National Nature Reserve, which is owned and managed by Scottish Natural Heritage. The Isle of May is the largest Puffin colony on the east coast of Britain (see puffins from April to July) and a quarter of a million seabirds breed on the island. During your trip, you will also travel past the Bass Rock, the world’s largest colony of Northern gannets.
Having travelled from Dunbar or North Berwick you will dock in Kirkhaven harbour on the Isle Of May. You will then have the opportunity to take a guided tour of the Isle, for approx 2 hours. The visitor centre is a wonderful place to sit and enjoy the view or take a picnic and enjoy the outdoor picnic tables (outwith the Tern season !) but please take all litter back to the mainland and dispose of it properly.
There are toilets facilities on the island. For safety and so as not to disturb the local wildlife, please keep to the paths on the island at all times.
Approx. 4 hours, incl 2 hours on the island
Adult £45, child £35 (age 5+ only)
Visit 3 fascinating lighthouses!
Local expert guides on every trip!
Departure Time vary depending on Tides and Weather.
The Isle of May
At times called the ‘Jewel of the Forth’ the Isle of May just 1.5km long and 0.5km wide is bursting with history, mystery, and wildlife.
Approaching the island from East Lothian the impressive Stevenson built lighthouse stands on top of the magnificent volcanic cliffs with arches and stacks, gullies and caves where smugglers once hid their ill-gotten gains. During breeding season, the cliffs are alive with whirring wings, the distinctive calls of each species that vie for space on tiny ledges or crevices. As the boat sails slowly around toward Kirhaven harbour and the land slopes downward toward rocky shorelines, often grey seals can be spotted lazing on rocks preserving energy. At times heads pop out the water as if on underwater trampolines, inquisitive eyes watch, as you sail slowly by. You know you are arriving somewhere very special.
The May is managed by Scottish Natural Heritage and visitors are warmly welcomed by the enthusiastic reserve manager and team, their passion and knowledge infectious. Each month brings changes as the seabird breeding season comes to a close and the seal breeding season is a few weeks off. As you walk from Kirkhaven the ruins of the priory are visible, the former lighthouse keepers accommodation, Heligoland traps, evidence of wartime history, you begin to realise you not just walking in the footsteps of early pilgrims that sought sanctuary, but that there are many layers of history stretching back over 4000years. The fact there are three lighthouses (including the first coal fired beacon of 1636) tells a story in itself of the treacherous waters surrounding the May. In more recent times the May is home to the oldest bird observatory in Scotland with records dating back to 1934. Migration time and easterly winds can bring immense excitement should any rare birds turn up.
The May is one of the most studied islands above and below the sea, with Seabird research having being undertaken for over 40 years, and sea mammals studies since the early 80’s. There is little that is not observed on this fascinating island.
The visitor centre with its ‘living roof ‘ is the ideal place to learn more and with the archaeological exhibition housed within the main Stevenson lighthouse now open daily, 3hrs is seldom enough time. You are drawn back again and again to absorb and enjoy more of this ‘Jewel of the Forth’
Learn more about the Isle Of May:
Isle Of May National Nature Reserve – https://isleofmaynnr.wordpress.com/
Isle Of May Bird Observatory – http://www.isleofmaybirdobs.org/
Scottish Ornithology Club – http://www.the-soc.org.uk/
Centre for Ecology and Hydrology – https://www.ceh.ac.uk/our-science/projects/isle-may-long-term-study