From now till December is prime time for whale watching. West Cork is the whale watching capital of Ireland. We were lucky enough to spot lots of activity on the water in West Cork last evening, courtesy of Colin Barnes of Cork Whale Watch, one of Ireland’s most authoritive expert voices on whale watching and all things sea related. Through his  telescope, just off the coast we saw the thrashing of large  tuna in a  feeding frenzy and sprays of foam from whales and dolphins blowing, while joining in the fun. What a sight as the late September sun set over the headland in the west. Whales have also been spotted off Baltimore in the last few days, with reports from local boatmen and visitors. Both whales and dolphins are around in large numbers right now in West Cork, so if you fancy an autumn break, now’s your chance to combine a seaside trip to remember with some great food.


If you are whale watching from land, choose a high point on the coastal headland anywhere from Kinsale to the Mizen, and train your eyes, or preferably your binoculars or telescope, on the ocean. Any kind of activity, be it a boat or trawler passing, gannets diving, or a bubbly surface on the water can be an indicator of something happening. Dolphins particularly love swimming in the wake of speed boats or ribs, so you can often sea them bouncing around in the waves as the boat motors by. Gannets diving indicates there is a food supply and that could be attracting whales and dolphins too. Once you spot the signs you’ll be amazed what you can see.

 Better still, avail of one of the fantastic whale watching trips.  There are very specific rules for being on the water to watch whales, and you need to be with a professional who understands the behaviour patterns of these magnificent sea creatures. It is wonderful to see them in their natural environment, but they are wild creatures and must be respected.  In West Cork ,Cork Whale Watch provides superb tours on the Holly Jo, skippered by Colin, who is an encylopedia of information on the subject. See the image above,  taken by one of his very pleased clients! Check out Planet Whale for operators elsewhere in Ireland. 

After a trip by the sea in West Cork, you definitely return home with an appetite. Try Kalbo’s Cafe in Skibbereen, or O’Connor’s Seafood Restaurant in Bantry. Kinsale members include Fishy Fishy and Jim Edwards – for food and accommodation.  Check this link for other West Cork members.