West Cork Offer

Summer Country Show at The West Cork Hotel

The West Cork Hotel is delighted to announce the Summer Country Show on May 26th.

With Musical Legends such as Declan Nerney, Paddy O' Brien, Patrick O' Sullivan, Kathy Durkin, Louise Morrisey & John Hogan - we can guarantee a night of great music, great entertainment and great craic.

click here!

Cork Whale Watch

(back to our Whale Watching West Cork site)

Your boat the MV “Holly Jo”


The “Holly Jo” is a purpose built 36ft twin- engine catamaran, licenced by the Irish Dept. of Marine. Our stable and dry vessel is fully equipped with life jackets and a 16 person life raft. She is very comfortable when searching offshore in open sea conditions. She has ample deck space with 360 degree views, including access to our roof platform (with skippers consent), and of course has a toilet on board and a large wheel house for your comfort.

Boat Holly Jo Daniel Lettice Dolphin Watch


Our rates are as follows: (Easiest option is to pay Colin at the end of your trip. We have no credit card payment options on board). 

  • Adults €50
  • 3rd level student €40 (valid student card), 

  • Children (under 18 years): €40 1st child, €30 (2nd child) €20 others

  • We ask groups of 6 or more to pay a €150 booking deposit via the Paypal link on www.corkwhalewatch.com. This is fully refundable if your trip is cancelled to weather.


What you might see

The species we record most frequently during the year are: harbour porpoise, common dolphin, minke whale and fin whale.  At any time of year we may have occasional sightings of bottlenose and Risso’s dolphins.  April-June is the best time to see the planet's second biggest fish, the basking shark and can also be good for Ireland’s smallest rorqual whale, the minke.  September to December is peak period for some of the planet’s largest creatures, namely fin and humpback whales, which may on occasion be seen in good numbers right up to Christmas in West Cork. Late winter to early spring is our “low season” and February - March are the quietest months for sightings, and we remain available for trips during this quieter period. West Cork offers potentially world class whale watching for up to 10 months of the year.


As the biggest single influence on what we see on any given day is the weather, it is important that you keep an eye on the weather forecast in the days running up to your trip. The better the weather, the more you will see. Wildlife watching can be a bit of a lottery, and whale watching is no different. But rest assured that if there are whales around, there is no whale watch skipper in Ireland with the reputation Colin Barnes has for finding them and there is no skipper who will work as hard to find whales for you. So when we say are going whale watching, our promise is that we will prioritise our time in covering as much ground as possible searching for marine wildlife.


Species summary for 2016

  • Cetacean sightings on 98.5% of trips of at least one species
  • Dolphins were recorded on 80% of trips, almost all of common dolphin.

  • Whales were recorded on 66.6% of trips 

  • Large whales (fin and/or humpbacks) were seen on 23% of trips

  • >1 whale species were recorded on 21% of trips 

  • The following 7 cetacean species were recorded in 2016: harbour porpoise Phocoena phocoena, short-beaked common dolphin Delphinus delphis, Risso’s dolphin Grampus griseus, Bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus, minke whale Balaenoptera acutorostrata, humpback whale Megaptera novaeanlgliae and fin whale Balaenoptera physalus.


Your Re-confirmation is essential


Please note that all bookings must be re-confirmed by you 1-2 days before your chosen sailing date; and any bookings remains provisional until this time, when we should be able to say with greater certainty what the weather will be like and exact departure time etc. This is also your opportunity to confirm that you still wish to join us, as travel plans do change, and you may have some last minute questions for us. 

If you don’t re-confirm your booking with us, we may offer your place(s) to others 24 hours before our sailing date, which could mean you losing your place(s); or you may not learn if your trip has been cancelled to weather and you could risk a wasted journey to Reen Pier. Nobody wants to be left standing on an empty pier, so your pre-trip confirmation is essential.  This can be done by Ph.: 353 (0)86 3850568, email: info@corkwhalewatch.com or by messaging us on our Facebook page.

We’d also ask that you leave us your most reliable mobile phone number that you will be using for text messages, just in case we need to send you an SMS message regarding any updates that may impact on your trip.  But the onus is on you to stay informed of any changes.

Please note that we have a 24 hour cancellation policy. A charge will apply to any “No Shows” or bookings cancelled at the last moment without good reason.


Suitability for young children

While in general we’d have to say yes, our trips are suitable for families, and we offer “family friendly” rates to encourage families to engage with our wildlife; we’d add a proviso. Our trips are generally a minimum of 4 hours duration and some children get easily bored, so you are the best judge as to whether your child is suitable for such an adventure in the North Atlantic. Please note if your child gets sea-sick, bored, wet and/or grumpy, it is up to you to entertain them for the remainder of the trip, as turning back to port will not be an option. 


How to get to Reen Pier by car 

Reen Pier is 4 Kilometres outside of Union Hall, and just a 15 minute drive from Skibereen. Approaching from the Skibereen direction take the turn (right) at St. Bridget’s church; Reen Pier is signed at this point.  Take 1st right after 300 metres (again signed for Reen Pier) and stay on this road, keeping the lake on your left, and you can't miss Reen Pier. It's a 4-5 minute drive from Union Hall to our car parking area. With beautiful Castlehaven Bay to your right, the car parking area is marked by a “Cork Whale Watch” sign on the low wall, and is about 200 mts before the pier itself; here you will find plenty of free, and safe car parking. GPS co-ordinates for our car parking area at Reen Pier are 51.5318 N -9.1658W.


Other services

Colin is also one of Ireland’s foremost deep-sea angling experts, and will have fishing rods on board for anyone interested in trying some fishing and bringing home supper. There is no additional cost for this.  Whether Colin stops for a spot of fishing will very much depend on how the whale-watching is going, time available and sea conditions on the day etc.  Please note there is a Centra supermarket in the middle of Union Hall, called Fullers.  This is your last chance to stock up on refreshments for your trip.


You can contact us by:


Phone us on 353 (0) 86 3850568 (Pádraig) or 353 (0) 86 3273226 (Colin)

Email: info@corkwhalewatch.com or follow our daily posts on www.facebook.com/CorkWhaleWatch

Website: www.corkwhalewatch.com

Check our 5 bubble review rating on TripAdvisor.