Title: Discovering the Beauty of Garnish Island in West Cork

Visiting Garnish Island from Glengariff ? I went on a little solo mission to Garnish Island off the coast of Glengarriff and I was blown away by the beauty there. Coupled with the fact that Cork was experiencing clear blue skies and actual sun, I felt like I was in Italy! Once you step foot on that Island you do feel like you’ve been transported somewhere else (depending on the weather – when it’s raining there, it definitely feels like Ireland!).

Have you heard of this place?  Visiting Garnish Island from Glengarriff

So Garnish Island or as some locals call it, Garinish Island is tucked away in a gorgeous region of West Cork. This island has become a bit of a must-visit for nature lovers, history fans, and those seeking a peaceful escape (that’s why I went!!). So let me guide you through Garnish Island, from how to get there to the activities and facilities available.

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A Bit About Garnish Island:

Garnish Island, is also known as Ilnacullin. It’s a small island off the harbour of Glengarriff in West Cork, Ireland. It’s also very close to the border of Kerry. This hidden gem spans approximately 15 hectares and is known for its stunning gardens, diverse plant life, and rich history. The island is home to a range of flora, including rare and exotic species, thanks to its mild microclimate.

How to get on Garnish Island – Glengarriff, Co Cork

You reach the island by ferry. Two ferries operate from Glengarriff to get you to the island:

Harbour Queen Ferry

Blue Pool Ferry

I got the Blue Pool Ferry – there is a little ticket box in the middle of Glengarriff Village. I loved the ferry ride over. It only takes 15 minutes or so but you get gorgeous views of the mountains and even better – THERE ARE SEALS IN THE WATER. We got quite close to them and it was so fun.

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When I was there, the island was only accepting cash transactions.

How to Get to Garinish Island from Cork, Dublin, and Galway:

Cork to Garnish Island:

If you’re starting your journey from Cork, you can take a scenic drive along the N71, which will lead you to the charming town of Glengarriff. From there, catch a short ferry ride to the island, which operates during the tourist season.

Kenmare to Garnish Island

It’s actually not difficult getting from Kenmare to Garnish Island, even though you’re going from Kerry to Cork. You can drive directly to Glengarriff on the N71 which takes about 30 minutes. It’s a gorgeous route, talking you through the Caha Mountain Pass, one of my favourite drives in Ireland. Then you just get your ferry pass from Glengarriff.

If you need to get public transport from Kenmare to Glengarriff that’s not too difficult either. You can get the Bus Eireann 270 from Killarney to Skibbereen which stops in Kenmare and Glengarriff. Glengarriff is the next stop from Kenmare. See the full timetable here.

glengarriff seals

Dublin to Garnish Island & Galway to Garnish Island

If you’re traveling from Dublin or Galway, you can follow the motorway for a lot of the way. However you know who will be your best friend on this trip? Google Maps.

You can also get public transport as far as Kerry or Cork and find smaller local busses to Glengarriff but honestly, I think this might be a bit of a pain.

Garnish Island Facilities – Visiting Garnish Island from Glengarriff

Firstly, the island has well-maintained walking paths that lead you through the gardens. Be warned though, there’s some steps and one of the paths is on a big incline.

There are toilets/restroom facilities close to the entrance to the island.

Keep in mind that as the island is a natural sanctuary, some areas may be inaccessible or have limited accessibility for wheelchair users (the areas with steps/inclines).

There is a cafe on site too – but please note, I think it takes cash only.

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Things to Do on Garnish Island:

Walk. Walk walk walk! I walked the gardens twice on my visit. First I walked it to familiarise myself with the island and then I did the loop around to really appreciate everything. My favourite part of the Island was the Italian garden, it is so god damn beautiful! I spent an hour sitting there as the birds on the island are very tame. I had a robin stealing my lunch from my hand!

There are a few other must-see parts of the gardens, the Martello Tower, a historic stone fortification that offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

How Much Does Garnish Island Cost – how much does it cost to go to garnish island

To visit Garnish Island, there is an admission fee that helps maintain and preserve the gardens and facilities. When I visited it was 5 euro but be sure to check the official website.

You also have to pay for the ferry which I believe cost me 12 euro at the time.

I found it was well worth paying to visit because I spent most of the day there.

How Long Do People Spend on Garnish Island:

The amount of time visitors spend on Garnish Island depends on personal preferences and interests. I spent half of the day there as I walked it twice and spent time sitting in the Italian garden for a bit. I also stopped at different viewpoints where you can see out across the water. You should absolutely make the most of being there! On average though, people probably spend around two to three hours exploring the gardens,  walking the paths, and soaking in the peaceful ambiance. A lot of people are there on tours so their time is limited.

Other FAQS:

Who owns Garnish Island?

Let me give you a brief run down of the history of Garnish Island – although it’s currently owned by Jacqui Safra a Swiss Investor.

In 1855 the Island was purchased by Edwin Wyndham-Quin, some earl! He purchased it to be a holiday retreat – could you imagine!!

In 1950 it was bought by Reginald Browne, who restored the gardens and buildings. It was bought by Jacqui Safra in the 90s.

How big is Garnish Island? Visiting Garnish Island from Glengarriff

The island is 15 hectares (37 acres).

Is there a cafe on Garnish Island?

Yes, there’s a cafe and toilets on the island.

Can I pay with credit card?

No at the moment the island only accepts cash but check the website for further details.

Things to do near Garnish Island

  • Drive the Caha Pass
  • Visit Kenmare Town
  • Drive the Healy Pass on the Beara Peninsula
  • Visit Glengarriff Nature Rerserve or
  • Derreen Gardens (so gorgeous)

So, if you are visiting Garnish Island from Glengarriff, I hope this post has you covered.



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