One of the things I wanted to see on my Irish adventure was a puffin – I had never seen one in a zoo or safari park let alone in the wild, and after seeing several photos of these cute birds I just had to see some (or at least one) for myself. There aren’t many places you can see puffins but the Cliffs of Moher is (supposedly) one of them and since there were trips to the cliffs of Moher from Doolin harbour I needed to investigate further.
The lady selling the boat trips said the Cliffs of Moher was Ireland’s largest seabird colony and there were thousands of puffins nesting there. She also said May/June was the perfect time of year and that we were guaranteed to see some puffins. The literature and the blurb the lady gave me had pictures of puffins and strongly suggested we would see puffins, so me and the better half booked a trip to the Cliffs of Moher to see razorbills, guillemots and of course puffins.
Our trip to the Cliffs of Moher was on the way back from a trip to Innis Oirr, the smallest of the Aran Islands – on the #1 value for money combined tour. Approaching the Cliffs of Moher the number of seabirds (guillemots, razorbills and seagulls) flying around increased significantly, but there were no puffins to be seen anywhere. I carried on surveying the area in the hope of seeing some puffins when the ferry suddenly slowed down, turned ninety degrees and started travelling parallel to the Cliffs of Moher rather than travelling towards them.
The Cliffs of Moher were still a long (and I mean long) way off and it was impossible to see any birds nesting on the face of the cliffs. The better half took a pair of binoculars on the trip so she could see the nesting birds) and we weren’t even close enough with a 60X pair of Canon binoculars! We may have been close to Ireland’s largest colony of seabirds but we couldn’t see any of the nesting birds in that colony.
As we travelled parallel to the Cliffs of Moher we were treated to a commentary giving a history of the Cliffs of Moher (which I had already read in the Lonely Plant guide) and then carried along the coast and pulled in Doolin harbour. All the way I was hoping to see a puffin, and whilst there was no way I was going to see one on the cliff there was always the possibility I may see one close to the boat on the water or catch a glimpse of one flying past. Once again there were guillemots and razor bills (and lots of them) but the puffins remained elusive. I have since spoken to people who have seen puffins on this trip and they said they saw a puffin sitting on the water and admitted they were “lucky to be in the right place at the right time”.
The boat trip tour to the Cliffs of Moher was totally mis-sold to me and the lady selling the tours, once she knew I wanted to see a puffin, used this to entice me to buy a tour for me and the better half. I was led to believe we were going to get right up close and personal to the Cliffs of Moher and could look up and see all the nesting birds (not just the puffins) with the naked eye. I was not told how far from the Cliffs of Moher the boat travelled, and that it wasn’t possible to see the nesting birds - even with a pair of powerful binoculars. Had the lady selling the Cliffs of Moher trip been honest with me I wouldn’t have gone.
The Cliffs of Moher seem impressive but I didn’t get close enough to really appreciate just how big they are. That said, I am not bothered about rocks or cliffs and these don’t really interest me that much. It’s like the white cliffs of Dover – I am totally indifferent to them. The only reason I went to the Cliffs of Moher was to see a nesting puffin, which is never going to happen on this trip and we were well and truly cheated out of 40 Euros.
We booked our tour with The Doolin Ferry Co, and whilst I was more than happy with the trip to the Aran Island of Inis Oirr I was not at all happy with their Cliffs of Moher Tour.
If you want to see the Cliffs of Moher from a distance and don’t mind paying 20 euros to do so this trip is for you. If, however you want to get up close and personal to the Cliffs of Moher and see some nesting seabirds this trip is not for you so, please go steady. No matter how nice the lady (or man for that matter), no matter what the brochure they’ll stick under your nose is like and no matter how convincing they are, don’t rush in to this excursion (like I did) as you may end up very disappointed.
During the trip it seemed only right to take some video footage to show how close to the Cliffs of Moher we didn't didn't get, and also how many nesting birds (and birds in general for that matter) we didn't see. Check this out and then ask yourself - "Is this trip good value?"
About the author
A total motor home newbie with a six year camping background in a folding camper. A keen blogger sharing my experience of researching, choosing, buying and owning a motor home. and every thing that goes with it.
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