Seal Island Trip, St Ives, Cornwall

The St Ives boat trip to Seal Island takes you to a small rocky island 6km west of St Ives, and this is the largest island in The Carracks, a group of small rocky inshore islands 200m offshore. It does not take a wildlife expert to understand why the island gets its name as it’s the home to a colony of Grey Atlantic seals.

As you walk around St Ives harbour, you will often be offered a boat trip to seal island from St Ives, and most offer the same packages, all that differs is the departure time and boat details like size or covered area. The boat trips operate throughout the season in good weather, and it depends on the tides as to where you depart. When we travelled, the tide was on its way out, and we departed from the main harbour wall and, on return, were ferried by a small boat back to the harbour.

Seal Island boat trip from St Ives, Cornwall

The boat trip takes just over an hour, and you get to see some incredible scenery, from the St Ives sandy beaches of Porthgwidden and Porthmeor to the stunning coastal cliffs. Of the overall trip, we probably spent just over 10 minutes close-up to the seals on the island, which is plenty of time to get some great photos as the seals are not alarmed by the visiting boats.

One word of caution is that you should be prepared to get a little wet from the spray.

Although we just saw the grey seals on our trip, you may get to see Common and Bottlenose Dolphins and, if you are fortunate, the odd Basking Shark.

Check our Coast Radar video below that shows footage of the seals. Sorry for the shaking, but the boat goes up and down a lot. I have also tried to show the view of the main St Ives beaches on the return to the harbour.

Seal Island Trip Video

Other trips on offer

As well as the popular St Ives Seal Island boat trip, many of the boat companies also offer trips to Godrevy Lighthouse, dolphin watching, fishing trips, and private charters.

For those of you that are divers, in 1916, the Enrico Parodi, a 103 m long (339 foot), 3,818-ton steel vessel, struck Gurnard’s Head during thick fog, and whilst it was being towed, it sank off The Carracks, and its remains are a popular diving attraction.

For more information on the area around St Ives, check and the area out our Penwith Peninsula pages.

All the trip companies have a disclaimer saying they “can’t promise a seal sighting,” but from our experience, we think you’d have to be very unlucky not to spot any.

If you have a powerful set of binoculars, you could take the coast path ramble from St Ives and view the seals from the cliffs.