Information for Visitors
If you are looking for some help with planning your trip to Rathlin then this is the place to be! We can help with travel information, accommodation and eating out. Learn about the Island's history at the Boathouse Visitor centre and get your own Rathlin postmark at the island Post Office.
1 Harbour Café 2 Island Shop 3 Rathlin Island Seafoods 4 Playground 5 Public Toilets
6 McCuaig's Bar 7 Bruce's Kitchen 8 Island Treasures Gift Shop & Post Office
9 Boathouse Visitor Centre & Museum 10 Emma's Chip Ahoy
The Rathlin Development & Community Association has drawn up a code to encourage visitors and residents to be able to have a clean, safe and enjoyable experience of Rathlin Island.
The code is intended to ensure that some of the issues that have caused concern in the past will be addressed, and that island residents and visitors alike can have as enjoyable an experience as possible, during the tourist season and year round as well:
We want Rathlin Island to be a clean, safe and enjoyable place for residents, visitors and wildlife.
- Please help us by:
- Enjoying the Island and respecting its life and work
- Taking your litter home or using the bins provided
- Taking care on the roads - drive carefully, cycle on the left, walk on the right
- Guarding against all risk of fire
- Avoiding damage to walls and fences
- Keeping your dogs on a lead
- Protecting all domestic animals, wildlife, plants and trees
- Respecting the residents’ privacy and property
- Leaving Rathlin as you found it – or better!
- Visiting respectfully
- - and you will be welcome!
In the unlikely event of an emergency, simply dial 999 as you would on the mainland. Rathlin is well served for emergency responses, with a resident district nurse, and volunteer Coastguard, Fire Service and First Responder (defibrillator) teams. The PSNI will also respond if necessary and can be on the island within 30 minutes. There is also a non-emergency police number: 0845 600 8000.
The nurse's station is in the Tithe Barn (the building housing the Richard Branson Centre to the right of the Manor House, through the arch and opposite Rathlin Island Seafoods), with public hours of 12.00-1.00 and 4.00-5.00, Monday to Friday. Saturdays and Sundays and on Bank Holidays, 12.00-1.00. Outside of these hours please call 078 4149 5875. In case of emergency, call 999 or the Doctor Urgent Care phone line on the mainland: 028 2566 3500.
ICE - In Case of Emergency. If you store the word ICE in your mobile phone address book and against it enter the number of the person you would want to be contacted 'in case of emergency' then, should such a situation occur, the emergency services will be able to contact your named person quickly, on your behalf. For more than one contact person enter ICE1, ICE2, ICE3, etc.
Discover Northern Ireland's Rathlin page, Fáilte Ireland's page, and Moyle District Council's tourism website, with pages for the island in general, the Boathouse Visitor Centre, and the RSPB Seabird Centre. The Ballycastle Tourist Office's details.
Rathlin is approximately five miles long east-west, and three and a half miles long north-south. The wildlife and scenery are famously excellent, and there are several beautiful walks both on and off-road. Most of the land on the island is privately owned farmland, and there are several off-road walks on publicly accessible land that we encourage you to enjoy! When walking off-road, please be mindful of the Rathlin Code, and also during the summer, please be particular careful of ground-nesting birds.
One of the most popular walks with visitors is from the harbour at Church Bay to the RSPB Seabird Centre at the West Light. Walk NI have a very good guide to the walk, and the very helpful map reproduced below. The walk takes you through the Kebble nature reserve, on land owned by the NIEA. This is at the westernmost end of the island, near the West Light and is an area where you can walk off-road.
Again, Walk NI have published a very useful walk guide, and a very detailed map reproduced below for the very popular Roonivoolin walk, which combines the road to the Rue Light and a good portion of off-road walking, mostly on land owned by the RSPB.
Another popular location to get off the road is at Ballyconagan, which is mostly on National Trust land. This walk takes you up to the beautiful north coast of the island, and includes the historic old coastguard hut, manned by island men during World War II, keeping lookout for U-boats and allied shipping in distress. This spot also has spectacular views of the Kintyre peninsular and Islay (visibility permitting!)
Wildlife and landscape photographer and Rathlin resident Tom McDonnell (Ph: 207 60080/077 2308 7668) offers photography workshops, with opportunities to photograph Rathlin's stunning land and seascapes, seabirds, birds of prey, seals and maybe even the very rare Rathlin golden hare. His photographs are available in the Boathouse Visitor Centre on the island, several outlets in Ballycastle, and from his website.
There is a a bicycle hire company on the island run from Soerneog View Hostel (Ph: 207 63954). The hostel and bike hire business is now shut for the winter, and will re-open on 14 April 2014. Bicycles can also be brought over by ferry (booking advisable) - on both the MV Canna and the MV Rathlin Express for only £3.20 return.
Two private companies run minibuses to and from the RSPB Seabird Centre, operating from the harbour during the season, picking people up off the incoming ferries in the morning - £5 return for adults, £3 for children. The journey takes about 20 minutes each way, and the bus companies usually leave passengers at the Seabird Centre for about an hour. If you would like to walk one of the ways, you might want to consider getting the bus up to the Centre, and walking the return leg.
The RSPB Seabird Centre will be closed for the 2014 season for major refurbishment, and will re-open in time for the 2015 season. More information about the refurbishment programme is available here.
These birds spend most of their lives at sea, and only visit sites like Rathlin for the brief summer breeding season. The seabirds start leaving the island to head back to sea from mid-July, with razorbills and guillemots going first, followed quickly by the puffins. The kittiwakes and fulmars will remain for most of August. The birds will start returning to Rathlin from March onwards.
RSPB staff and volunteers are on hand to welcome visitors, explain and answer questions. Binoculars and telescopes are provided for visitor's use free of charge. Souvenirs, snacks, teas and coffees are for sale. Admission free, but donations are very welcome.