Lundy Island is a three-mile long, half-a-mile-wide wildlife haven, devoid of street lights and unmarred by roads, showcasing 4,000 years of human history and spectacular wildlife. With the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Bristol Channel to the east, the island boasts a milder climate than the mainland, owing to its isolation from roads, cars, or pollution. Nicknamed Britain’s own Galapagos, its habitat supports a variety of rare and spectacular wildlife above and below the surrounding waves.
Getting to Lundy Island
Set 12 miles off the North Devon Coast, Lundy Island is reached aboard the 1958 German-built MS Oldenburg, around two hours from Ilfracombe. Passages to Lundy Island run from the end of March until the end of October, to and from both Bideford and Ilfracombe on various days depending on the sailing timetable.
We departed on the 10:00 day trip from Ilfracombe Harbour, we were advised to collect our tickets at 09:15 am and be ready for boarding at 09:30 am. There was a cafe offering hot drinks, bacon rolls and cakes just before reaching the meeting point, we were fine to take these on board.
We were asked to be back at the ship at 4 pm for boarding, with a 4.30 pm departure from Lundy Island back to Ilfracombe harbour.
The ship itself offers passengers heated saloons, outdoor seating, toilets, a bar and a buffet with a selection of snacks. The interior features the original panelling. On board, you can purchase hot sausage rolls, cheese and onion slices and pasties from the buffet as well as hot drinks and a selection of chocolate bars and packaged pastries.
The bar saloon offered lager, ale, wine and Guinness all priced at £4, and spirits (£4 single, £8 double, £1 mixer) and a selection of soft drinks.
A word to the wise, even the most sea-worthy would be questioning their sanity. The outbound journey was extremely choppy, and as someone who doesn’t ordinarily suffer from seasickness, even I was overcome with nausea – that’s with a sea sickness tablet. Even the rainbows dancing in the waves did little to quell my mood.
There are plenty of sick bags provided complimentary on the ship, and it’s recommended to sit outside if you’re unwell. We initially sat inside on the lower deck, but after being overcome with sickness, we retreated outside and battled the wind and sea spray to make it through the 2.5-hour ride. The return journey was perfectly fine, I didn’t feel unwell at all as the waves were calmer.
Where to Park
We parked in the Larkstone Lane Car Park charged at £2.50 all day and a short 10-minute walk to Ilfracombe harbour.
What to Do on Lundy Island
As soon as we neared the island, the temperature warmed and the waters turned blue. It truly felt like a tropical destination, and while extremely windy, it stayed warm and dry during our time on the island.
The island begins with a sharp incline to reach the village and coastal walkways, but those with mobility restrictions or who are feeling unwell can be transported using the on-site land rovers, complementary, who will drive you to the village and back.
Guided Walking Tour
On arrival, there is the offering of a 2-hour free guided tour that begins when the boat arrives. You’ll notice a sign, as well as a guide dressed in Lundy Island attire, next to the building on the left as you arrive. As we were hoping to spot some puffins, we were advised to head to Jenny’s Cove which wouldn’t be reached by the tour, so we departed at an advised and reasonable point. The guides were very happy for people to join and depart as and when they wished.
The guided walking tour was interesting, however, the 3.5 hours soon passes so you may wish to consider taking your own trail around the island following the free map or just following the paths.
Buildings and Monuments
There is a general store, a museum, a church, a lighthouse and other ruins to see in the village and around the island.
The island itself is home to Lundy ponies, pygmy shrews, rabbits, Sika deer, Soay sheep, goats, Highland cattle, Gloucester Old Spot pigs and domestic sheep, puffins, Manx shearwaters and other sea birds. Some of which you can see by simply ambling around the island at your own pace.
Lundy Island Activities
Beneath the waves are grey seals and basking sharks, jellyfish, dolphins, whales & porpoises and corals. In the right weather conditions, visitors can participate in Snorkel Safaris, Rockpool Rambling. There is even the opportunity for diving, climbing, angling and paddleboarding.
The island has but one pub, the Marisco Tavern, that not only serves up food and drinks daily but is said to be the only building with lighting on the island after the generators have shut down. Arriving at peak time, and having upended our stomachs on the boat journey, we settled for a takeaway sausage roll and some crisps that we enjoyed on a bench, basking in the sun.
What to Take to Lundy Island
A waterproof jacket is recommended for the boat trip over and possibly during your time on the island. Of course, you are likely to be walking, so comfortable trainers or walking shoes are advised.
The wind was extremely strong both on the boat and on the island, so bring some lip balm to avoid dry, chapped lips. Bring some sea sickness tablets and bottle water – even if you think you may not need them, bring them just in case.
There was a small beach area during low tide before ascending to the village near the jetty, if you wish to have a little dip why not bring a swimsuit and a towel.
You are welcome to bring a picnic with you, or if you plan on dining in the village pub, pack some snacks for the journey there and back.