I’d argue that Sherkin Island is one of the most slept-on places to visit in Cork.
A haven for artists and musicians for many years, Sherkin Island bristles with a creative spirit and the kind of scenery that’ll knock you off your feet.
In the guide below, I’m going to show you why a visit to Sherkin is up there with the best things to do in West Cork – dive on in!
Some quick need-to-knows about Sherkin Island
A short, 10-minute ferry ride from Baltimore, Sherkin Island is a fine place to escape the hustle and bustle for a day or 3.
Although a visit to Sherkin is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Sherkin Island is an island situated just off the southwest Cork coast. Its close location to the mainland and the simple ferry links mean that it’s one of Ireland’s most accessible islands.
Almost 5km long and 2.4km wide, it’s not a particularly large island and is actually perfect for walking around and giving the legs a stretch! Especially if the sun’s out! The population of just 111 gives the place a calm feel (despite all the events), as if you have the island to yourself.
3. A mighty spot in the summer
Summer spots don’t come much better that enjoying a creamy pint on the outside patio of Sherkin Island institution the Jolly Roger pub. But that’s not the only activity during those warm months – there’s also three beaches here, the Sherkin Regatta festival, sea safaris and music festivals too.
4. The island of the arts
With artist retreats and workshops all part of life on Sherkin, it’s transformed into a serious home for the arts in Cork. Inspired by Sherkin’s dramatic land and seascapes and the shifting palette of colours created by its wild Atlantic light, there’s a vibrant art community on the island and there’s even guided art tours available too.
Getting the Sherkin Island Ferry
Don’t let the fact that you have to take a ferry to the island put you off from visiting – the journey over on the Sherkin Island ferry is grand and handy.
Where the ferry leaves from
The Sherkin Island Ferry leaves from Baltimore harbour. Baltimore is around 1hr 30mins drive from Cork. See the up-to-date Ferry services information.
How long it takes
The Sherkin Island ferry takes a mere 10-minutes from Baltimore. Yes. It takes just 10 Minutes to get across to Sherkin!
How much it costs
The price for adults is €12 and for children it’s €4. You’ll save a couple of euros if you take the ferry as a family of two adults and two children (note: prices may change).
When it leaves
There is a minimum of 7 crossings every day except on Sundays (when there’s 5). The ferry leaves Baltimore every day at 09:00, 10:30, 12:00, 14:00, 16:00 and 17:30, with a crossing at 07:45 between Monday and Friday. There’s also a late crossing on Friday evenings at 20:30 (note: times may change).
Things to do on Sherkin Island
There are plenty of things to do on Sherkin Island that make it a great day-trip destination and an even better spot to spend a weekend.
Below, you’ll find everything from beaches and island walks to pubs, places to grab a bite to eat and much more.
1. Explore the island on foot
As I mentioned earlier, Sherkin isn’t a big place which makes it ideal for exploring on foot. From strolling its stunning secluded beaches to wandering the quiet lanes, it’s a pleasure to explore and you’ll get a picture of why so many artists like to call the place home.
2. Take a load off and enjoy a spot of fishing
For more relaxing way of experiencing Sherkin Island, how about sitting by the shore and enjoying a spot of fishing? This was of Ireland’s busiest fishing areas in the late 19th century and with the abundance of fish filling its waters you’ll see why. Pollock, Bass, Mackeral and Trout are some of fish you might catch!
3. Visit Dún na Long castle
Built by Fínghin O’ Driscoll in the mid-15th century, Dún na Long (Fort of Ships) was one of a number of castles in the area belonging to the O’ Driscoll clan. Known locally as The Garrison, its ruins include a tower and some outer walls. Parsley growing wild on the walls and other herbs nearby are perhaps relics of the castle’s former inhabitants.
4. The then old Franciscan Friary
Located close to the shore on the east side of Sherkin Island, the elegant ruins of the old Franciscan Friary date from around the 1460’s. A place of worship and centre of learning, it’s one of the most recognisable sights on the island and a picturesque spot for a few photos. The monastery continued to operate until 1796, when its last friar died.
5. Keep an eye out for dolphins and whales
The fish I mentioned earlier aren’t the only interesting inhabitants of Sherkin’s waters! Keep your eyes peeled from the shores for the amazing sight of dolphins and whales – or go one better and jump on one of the Cork whale watching boat trips from either Baltimore or the slightly further out (but no less charming) harbour of Schull.
6. Walk the artists’ trail
Want to see what inspires so many artists to call Sherkin Island home? Get your walking shoes laced up – it’s time to conquer one of the best walks in Cork.
Follow the artists trail by looking out for the signs on the road and, if you plan ahead, you may even be able to arrange a visit to an artist’s studio! They’ll explain their processes and how the gorgeous Sherkin landscape stirs their creativity.
7. Explore the coast by kayak
While on Sherkin, why not explore the amazing coastline by sea kayak. These speedy craft allow you to access tiny beaches, islands and caves in a way that no boat can.
Visit the thriving seal colony and watch oyster catchers, terns, curlews and black backed gulls.
You may also spot otters, porpoises, dolphins and maybe even whales or basking sharks. Here’s more info on the tour.
Sherkin Island accommodation
There’s a decent bit of accommodation on Sherkin Island, from B&Bs and guesthouses to camping and glamping.
B&Bs and guesthouses
With its stunning windswept scenery, ancient history and artistic heritage, it would be remiss not to spend a night or two on Sherkin to get a true feel of the island.
Thankfully there’s a couple of class B&B’s who’ll be happy to put you up! Click here to check ’em out.
Sherkin Island camping
There are few places to go camping in Cork that rival Sherkin. If you fancy a night away with a difference, visit the folks at Sherkin North Shore. The facility boasts a camp kitchen and dining area with views out towards Mount Gabriel and Mizen Head.
Sherkin Island Pubs
The Jolly Rodger is the only pub on Sherkin and thankfully it’s a mighty one at that! Showcasing regular music events and some of the freshest lobster dishes in Ireland, the Jolly Roger is deadly spot for a pint and a bit of seafood.
After a day of walking and exploring this beautiful landscape, drink it all down at a fine traditional pub with great coastal views and Baltimore harbour twinkling in the distance.
FAQs about visiting Sherkin Island in Cork
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from are there many things to do on Sherkin Island to how to get there.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
Is Sherkin Island worth visiting?
Yes. Sherkin Island in Cork is 100% worth a visit. It’s a 10 minute ferry ride away and the island is home to plenty to see and do along with scenery that’ll knock you sideways.
Are there many things to do on Sherkin Island?
Explore the island on foot, visit Dún na Long castle, see the old Franciscan Friary, keep an eye out for dolphins and whales or walk the artists’ trail.
Where do you get the Sherkin Island Ferry from?
The Sherkin Island Ferry leaves from Baltimore harbour. Baltimore is around 1hr 30mins drive from Cork. The Sherkin Island ferry takes a mere 10-minutes from Baltimore.