Skomer Island Puffins & Wildlife in Pembrokeshire, Wales (inc. Videos)

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Skomer Island Puffins & Its Wildlife [Updated 2024]

I don’t know about you, but the idea of seeing puffins in real life made me very excited. And our visit to see the Skomer Island puffins in Wales far exceeded our expectations.

These colourful little characters kept us completely enthralled as they busied themselves around Skomer Island.

And Skomer Island is one of the few places in the world where puffin numbers are increasing. Wardens counted over 42,000 puffins in May 2023, which was a record high, increasing from 2022’s numbers of almost 39,000.

What’s in This Skomer Puffins Article?

Puffin head shot
Skomer Island Puffin ©Lifejourney4two

Planning a Trip to the U.K.?

Our Skomer Island trip was part of our 3-day Pembrokeshire itinerary in early June and was an incredible experience.

Wild animal encounters and being out and about in nature are one of our favourite activities, but spending time with the Skomer Island puffins was one of our top encounters.

Just off the wild Pembrokeshire coast, you’ll find this amazing Nature Reserve, Skomer Island. The waters around it have been designated a Marine Conservation Zone and it is the only protected section of water in Wales.

You cannot help but be captivated by the thousands of puffins that inhabit this island for four months of the year.


Watch our fun snippet of these little cuties going about their puffin business on Skomer Island in Wales.

Skomer Island Puffins - Puffin Fun



Skomer Island, in Southwest Wales, is one of the most accessible and important seabird breeding sites in Europe.

This Nature Reserve is managed by the Wildlife Trust and is an incredible place to visit. The particular highlight of a visit to Skomer Island though, are the Skomer Island puffins.

READ MORE: Wildlife and bird lovers might like to read our article, Gannets Galore at Troup Head, Scotland, the only mainland gannet colony in Scotland, or our post on Handa Island, where, along with puffins, the largest colony of guillemots, in Britain, gather during the breeding season.

 The landing point for the boat at Skomer Island is at North Haven. If you haven’t spotted the puffins flying overhead or floating in the water as you arrive on the boat, then it is here that you are likely to get your first close-up view of these colourful little fellows.

We arrived in early June, but there may not be so many visibly around the island earlier, as the puffins will be concentrating on building their nests rather than feeding their chicks (which happens from early June).

Can’t make it to Skomer Island but love puffins? 

Then did you know that you can adopt Skomer Island puffins?

Find out how further on in this post.

Skomer Island – North Haven ©Lifejourney4two
Incoming puffin flight at Skomer Island ©Lifejourney4two

Skomer Island has a 6.5-kilometre walking trail around the island, as well as a trail that crosses through the centre of the island. Therefore, you can choose a longer or shorter route depending on your preference. 

If you choose to walk the full trail, as we did, it takes approximately 2.5 – 3 hours. It took us about 4 hours as we spent a lot of time stopping and taking photographs.

Skomer Island Puffins walking trails
Skomer Island puffin walking trails

The pink star shown on the map above shows the North Haven boat landing point. The blue star shows ‘The Wick’, a fabulous clifftop location where puffins launch themselves to sea returning with beaks full of sand eels, scurrying past your feet to feed their young in the nearby burrows.

If you arrive at Skomer Island by yacht, motorboat, diving boat or kayak then free visitor moorings are available at North Haven and South Haven. Strict regulations are in place which you may read about here.

Focused Skomer Island puffins ©Lifejourney4two


  • You MUST stick to the walking path.  There are thousands of burrows all around the island and stepping off the path, even slightly, could result in you crushing a bird or its chick.
  • There are steep steps to climb on arrival 
  • Wear walking shoes or boots – the paths are mainly flat but can be rough in places.
  • Wear enough layers as the island is exposed to the wind and the weather can change quickly.
  • Bring a packed lunch and water as you will be on Skomer Island for five hours and there are no refreshments available.
  • Take all of your rubbish with you – there are no rubbish bins on the island.

Please follow the guidelines set by the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales to ensure the preservation of this unique natural habitat.




  1. The Skomer Island Puffins are Atlantic Puffins
  2. Puffins live for about 20 to 35 years
  3. Puffins bond with one mate for life
  4. A puffin lays one egg per year
  5. A baby Puffin is called a Puffling
  6. The Puffins have sharp claws with which to dig their burrows
  7. A Puffin spends its first three years of life at sea


The puffins that you’ll find on Skomer Island are Atlantic puffins, which are the smallest type of puffin.

There are about 25,000 – 30,000 breeding puffins on Skomer. Luckily the puffin colony here is thriving, which is fantastic news because many puffin numbers and colonies elsewhere, such as in Iceland, are declining.


The puffin colonies in the North Sea, around Norway and Iceland, have suffered greatly in recent years with many not being able to find enough food to feed their chicks. As a result, thousands of chicks and eggs have been abandoned.

Marine environmentalists suggest that the lack of sand eels (the Puffin’s primary food source) is due to rising sea temperatures.

Therefore paying strict attention to signs and following the rules of Skomer Island will help protect these marvellous puffins.

Keep to the path sign on Skomer Island
Please stay on footpaths when visiting Skomer Island puffins ©Lifejourney4two


The Skomer Island Atlantic puffins live out at sea for the majority of the year and only return to land for nesting.

The amazing bright colours that we see on the puffins are not always so vibrant. In winter their beak and feet are a much duller colour as they wear their winter plumage.

Their average lifespan is about 20-30 years but some have been known to live up to 40 years. During that time they find a mate and that bond continues, with one egg being laid per year from the age of about three years.

The puffin’s sharp claws can be seen here on its webbed foot ©Lifejourney4two

Once on land, the puffin digs a burrow using its sharp claws on its feet, and its beak. The egg is laid in the burrow on a nest of feathers and soft grass.

Once the egg hatches, after about 40 days, the chick is fed regularly by the parents who can be seen returning to the burrow with mouthfuls of silvery sand eels. They catch on average about ten sand eels per trip, which is made possible due to their specialised beaks.

Puffin with a beak full of sand eels to feed its chick ©Lifejourney4two


A baby puffin is called a puffling – which in itself is adorable – but it is unlikely that you will see one. They remain in their burrow and when mature, leave the nest under cover of darkness to head out to the Atlantic Ocean to start their own life, only returning about 3 years later to begin the cycle again.

You can see a baby puffling being gently lifted out of its burrow here in this BBC Nature Video:

Cute Baby Puffin Sees World for the First Time! | World Beneath Your Feet | BBC Earth


The Puffins arrive on Skomer Island Nature Reserve in April to begin nesting and leave again at the end of July.

These amazing little seabirds are at their most busy between June and mid-July when feeding their chicks.

Puffin with a mouth full of Sand Eels ©Lifejourney4two
Puffin chatter ©Lifejourney4two

Best Places for Skomer Puffin Photography

You can see the Skomer Island Puffins almost anywhere on the island, but there are certain areas where they are more prolific.

‘The Wick’, on the southwestern side of the island, in a setting of cliffs perfect for Puffin photography, is the best place to capture airborne puffins. Here, puffins use the updraughts to take off from the land in their hunt for sand eels.

There are hundreds of birds here, both around the burrows, clustering on the cliff edge and in the air. The comings and goings are akin to that of Heathrow Airport.

Skomer Island - the wick- Cliff face reaching out into the sea
The Wick – Skomer Island ©Lifejourney4two

The returning Puffins have beaks filled with sand eels.  Once they land, there is no rest. They shuffle quickly to their nests to feed their hungry pufflings.

The cliff walkways are very close to the Puffin burrows and clifftop action so you’re in the perfect place to have these pass you by and for some fantastic Skomer puffin photography.

Sand eels, a favourite of Puffins ©Lifejourney4two


The Puffins can fly at about 80 kilometres per hour and their little wings flap incredibly fast. Standing near The Wick cliff face, you may feel like you are surrounded by hundreds of tiny dive bombers.

The blur of black and white, with a glint of silver (from the sand eels in their beak), may be all you catch before you see the Puffin clumsily land and waddle into its burrow with its catch.

Lars stood on path taking a photo of a puffin in the grass
Taking a photo of a puffin near The Wick ©Lifejourney4two


It is here at the Wick, that you will likely get your most up close and personal encounter with the Puffins.

Many of the Puffins seem happy to waddle between your feet and some appear quite intrigued by these rather large beings with their big zoom lenses that to them, may seem like oversized beaks. We caught this little fellow literally ‘on camera’.

Can I be on camera, please?  ©Lifejourney4two

We didn’t want to leave this area at The Wick, but it’s important not to spend too much time here so that the puffins don’t become overwhelmed and to make room for the other visitors who also want to experience these incredible creatures.

I couldn’t believe that I had the special privilege of watching these amazing creatures going about their everyday life so close to me.

You’ll get some great shots here, but it is really important not to move towards the Puffins when they are flying into land with their beaks full of eels.

If frightened, they may hover too long and fall prey to a gull or drop the eels and not have enough food for their chicks.

Puffin on Skomer Island ©Lifejourney4two

While you’re on Skomer Island, take your time to just simply watch the antics of the puffins. They are so interesting, whether you see a Puffin squirting poo, gathering grass for its burrow or showing affection to its mate by ‘billing’, there always seems to be plenty going on in these busy little fellow’s life.

Puffins on Skomer, in the process of ‘billing’ ©Lifejourney4two
Puffin collecting grass for its burrow ©Lifejourney4two
Hide ‘n seek ©Lifejourney4two


Yes, you can adopt a puffin!

Adopting a puffin will help with the ongoing conservation work of the island. You’ll receive an adoption pack and ongoing reports about your puffin.

It’s a great way to be involved and make a difference with these amazing birds.

Find out how to adopt a puffin and if you sign up you will receive:

  • Introductory letter
  • Personalised Certificate
  • Fact Sheet
  • Cuddly Puffin Soft Toy
A chatty bunch ©Lifejourney4two

 Skomer Island Birds

You might be surprised to learn that Puffins aren’t the only attractions on Skomer Island – although, in my opinion, they are the cutest!

When you arrive on the island, you will get a quick induction from the ranger who tells you all about the do’s and don’ts as well as the various wildlife sightings that you may encounter on your walk around Skomer Island.


There are several other seabirds, birds of prey and other wildlife to spot on your trip to Skomer.


One of the largest breeding populations of Manx Shearwaters, in the world, is found on Skomer Island. Around 350,000 breeding pairs nest there.

You are very unlikely to see one of these seabirds as they only leave their burrows at night avoiding their main predator, the Great Black-backed Gull.

You will, however, likely see the remains of a few scattered around the island.


As you get off the ferry at North Haven you will see many Razorbills and Guillemots nesting on the cliffs to your left and right.

Guillemots on Skomer Island ©Lifejourney4two
razorbills nesting in the burrows on the side of a cliff at Skomer Island
Razorbills at Skomer Island ©Lifejourney4two

Other Birds on Skomer Island

Along with Puffins, Guillemots, Razorbills and Manx Shearwaters, there are several other seabirds that you may spot on Skomer Island Nature Reserve.

Among them are Oystercatchers, Fulmars, Gannets, Shags, Cormorants, Kittiwakes, Herring Gulls and the Lesser and Great Black-Backed Gulls.

If you are lucky you might also spot Peregrin Falcons, Buzzards or Short-eared owls.


The peak flowering time for the Bluebells is during May but even in early June, we were lucky enough to see some of the late-flowering Bluebells and other wildflowers.

The puffins busy themselves amongst pink sea thrift and red and white sea campion, which makes for pretty photos.

Amongst the wildflowers on Skomer Island ©Lifejourney4two
White sea campion carpeting some of the island © Lifejourney4two

Grey Seals / Porpoises / Dolphins

On our arrival at Skomer Island, a Grey Seal lay nonchalantly on a rock close by. We didn’t take a photo as we assumed we would see plenty more but as it happened, that was our only sighting for the day.

You may also spot dolphins while watching the ocean from the clifftops.


Sharing the burrows around the island, and seemingly unperturbed by this annual influx of Puffins, are hundreds of rabbits.

We saw plenty of baby bunnies hopping around among the Puffins, all going about their business as one happy little community. There are estimated to be about 10,000 rabbits on Skomer Island.

Spot the odd one out! ©Lifejourney4two


The buying of tickets for Skomer used to involve queuing at Lockley Lodge super early to get a ticket for later that day. However, now there is an online booking system and tickets can be bought in advance.

Buy Your Tickets here. 


  • Tickets must be pre-booked and bought online (do this early as they can book out quickly)
  • The cost is £40 per person in April and July £44 in May/June, $40 in July, and £30 in August/September— the price includes boat fare and landing fee.
  • You will receive an email, normally before 7 am, if the Skomer Island boats are cancelled due to bad weather
  • Boats run from the 1st of April to the 30th of September at 10 am, 10.30 am, 11 am, 11.30 am and 12 pm.
  • There is a maximum of 50 people per boat.
  • The boat trip takes between 15 and 25 minutes depending on the sea state.
  • The island is closed on Mondays (except the Spring Bank Holiday).
  • Landing tickets are strictly limited to a total of 250 visitors per day.
Lockley Lodge Visitor Centre at Martin’s Haven
Lockley Lodge Visitor Centre at Martin’s Haven ©Lifejourney4two
Lockley Lodge Visitor Centre, Wales
Pretty seascape views at Lockley Lodge ©Lifejourney4two
Skomer Island Boat ©Lifejourney4two
Busy colonies of Puffins on Skomer Island ©Lifejourney4two


Do you fancy overnighting on Skomer Island? 

if so make sure to book plenty of time in advance as it’s a popular place to stay.  An old farm on the island offers three-star self-catering hostel accommodation with a communal kitchen, lounge area and library.


  • Between April to the 1st of September, overnight stays are two nights or three nights in duration
  • The Whitsun Bank Holiday in May is a 3-night stay only.



A great place, with very good reviews and ratings, near Skomer Island is The Lobster Pot Inn, in Marloes.

The Lobster Pot | ⭐️ 8.1/10 Ratings |🛏 Book Here

✔️ Ideal for visiting Skomer Island ✔️ Full English/Irish breakfast ✔️ Garden, restaurant and bar has plenty of accommodation options within the Skomer Island area to suit the budget of most travellers.
Skomer Island Puffin
Puffin on Skomer Island ©Lifejourney4two


Skomer Island is accessible by a 15-minute ferry ride from Martin’s Haven on the southwestern Pembrokeshire Coast in Wales.

Tickets can only be bought online.

You need to check in at Lockley Lodge at least an hour before departure.  


Lockley Lodge is at Martin’s Haven, near Marloes in Pembrokeshire, Wales. 

When you reach Marloes, drive through the village and continue for approximately two miles before parking in the National Trust car park on your left.

For satellite navigation, the postcode is SA62 3BJ which gets you within 300 metres of Lockley Lodge Visitor Centre.

There is a National Trust car park at the Visitor Centre, free if you are a National Trust member or £5.00/ per day for non-members.

After paying, you can come and go during the day using the same ticket.


To get to the Visitor Centre using public transport, the newly formed on-demand transport operator ‘ Fflecsi Pembrokeshire‘ is now available. The service operates in both the north-west and south-west Pembrokeshire anytime between 7.30 am and 6.30 pm (Monday to Saturday). 

Customers book by downloading the Fflecsi App (available on Apple and Android devices) or by phoning 0300 234 0300 (Monday-Saturday from 7 am to 7 pm and on Sundays: 9 am to 6 pm).

In April 2023, the ‘Puffin Shuttle’ Bus no.400, which previously serviced the area, was permanently cancelled.  

FAQs about Skomer Island Puffins

When is the best time to see Puffins on Skomer Island?

The best time to see Puffins on Skomer Island is between April and September, with the very best being in June, when the puffins are feeding their pufflings. During this period, the island becomes home to over 25,000 breeding Puffins, making it an ideal time to witness these adorable seabirds in their natural habitat.

How can I get to Skomer Island?

To reach Skomer Island, you can take a ferry from Lockley Lodge, at Martin’s Haven near the tip of Marloes Peninsula. The ferries run from 1st April to 30th September at various times in the morning. Booking must be done online and includes the price of the boat trip and the landing on Skomer Island.

Can I pre-book tickets for Skomer Island?

Yes, tickets for Skomer Island can be pre-booked online through Pembrokeshire Island Boat Trips, run by Dale Sailing. It is recommended to secure your tickets in advance, especially during peak seasons, to ensure availability and guarantee your spot on the ferry.

What other seabirds can I see on Skomer Island?

Besides Puffins, Skomer Island is home to a variety of other seabirds, including Guillemots, Razorbills, Shearwater Manx, Kittiwakes, Fulmars, Oystercatchers, Herring Gulls, Black-backed gulls and Chough. These diverse bird species make the island a haven for birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts.

Are there any restrictions for visiting Skomer Island?

As Skomer Island is a protected wildlife reserve, access may be restricted during certain times or due to weather conditions. It is advised to check with the ferry operator for any updates or restrictions before planning your visit.

What camera gear is recommended for photographing Puffins on Skomer Island?

For capturing stunning shots of Puffins and other seabirds, a camera with a telephoto or zoom lens is recommended. The Puffins can be found at various distances from visitors, so a lens with good zoom capabilities will ensure you can get up-close shots without disturbing the birds.

Can I spot Puffins in other locations in Pembrokeshire?

While Skomer Island is one of the prime locations to see Puffins in Pembrokeshire, you may also spot them on other islands and coastal areas in the region. Some additional spots known for Puffin sightings include Skokholm Island and the coastal cliffs along the Pembrokeshire Coast Path.

What facilities are available on Skomer Island?

Skomer Island is a nature reserve with limited facilities. No shops or cafes exist, so visitors are advised to bring food and water. There is a small farmhouse/museum and one toilet block.

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Skomer Island Puffins Pinterest pin

Skomer Island Puffins … That’s a Wrap

Our visit to see the Skomer Island Puffins was an experience beyond compare. These charming little creatures kept us completely enthralled as they went about their daily routines on the island.

From witnessing their delightful poses to capturing their adorable antics on video, we were mesmerized by these cuties.

Skomer Island itself, with its 6.5-kilometre walking trail, offers breathtaking views and a chance to spot other wildlife like Manx Shearwaters, Razorbills, and Guillemots.

As we marvelled at the puffins’ colourful plumage and watched them tending to their burrows and chicks, we couldn’t help but appreciate the dedicated conservation efforts in place to protect these precious creatures.

If you have the opportunity, don’t miss the chance to encounter these Atlantic puffins on Skomer Island—it’s an experience you’ll treasure forever.


These are some of the travel resources we use when planning our trips.

For a more thorough list visit our Travel Resources page here.


Photo of author


Shelley, a former primary school teacher with a law degree, and her husband Lars co-own Lifejourney4two. Their adventure began in Perth, Australia, and has since taken them through Europe and Africa in motorhomes and bush campers. Shelley's travel guides combine practical advice with engaging stories, mirroring their shift from 'One Day' to 'Day One'. Together, they aim to inspire others to embark on their own travel dreams.

3 thoughts on “Skomer Island Puffins & Wildlife in Pembrokeshire, Wales (inc. Videos)”

    • It is absolutely mesmerising watching the puffins Edel and the environment is beautiful. Such a wonderful experience, for kids and adults alike. Thanks so much for reading 🙂


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