Cork Whale Watch, Union Hall

#2 of 89 in Outdoors in County Cork
Must see · Dolphin / Whale Watching · Nature / Wildlife Tour
Cork Whale Watch offers wonderful opportunities to observe whales and dolphins and a host of other marine wildlife in West Cork. These productive coastal waters provide critical feeding habitat for a diversity of species including cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises), basking sharks, seals and sea birds, along with prolific fish life.

If you've seen film footage or natural history documentaries on whales from anywhere in Co. Cork or Waterford, the chances are it was filmed with Colin Barnes from the MV Holly Jo. Among these contributions are RTE's "Wild trials" series over several years since 2002, "Wild Journeys", "Living the Wildlife" and in recent years Colin has worked with both BBC Autumnwatch (2011) and Winterwatch (2012) and most recently BBC's "Great British Year" (2013) to film large whales along the Irish South coast.

As a former fisherman of 40 years experience observing whales in West Cork, Colin is Ireland's longest established and most experienced whale watch operator and has been enthralling whale watchers and wildlife enthusiasts in West Cork since 2001. Colin has contributed to and co-authored scientific publications on fin whale photo-identification and humpback whale distribution (2014) with the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, and contributes to the All-Ireland Cetacean Sighting Scheme, by reporting sightings directly to IWDG. Colin is a rare breed of conservationist, who has evolved from the fishing industry, his passion and understanding of local marine ecosystems is second to none.

We operate out of Reen Pier, just 5 minutes outside of Union Hall. So, if you are staying in Skibereen, Leap, Rosscarbery, Clonakilty, Bandon, Kinsale or Cork City, then Cork Whale Watch are your nearest whale watch operator, offering plenty of free car parking space within easy walking distance of the pier, ensuring you start your whale watch trip fresh and "stress free".

Colin is available for longer filming and research charters during summer and winter.

Summer Timetable (Trips are a minimum 4 hour duration)

Our rates are as follows:

• Adults €50

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

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

Trip times: April - September (4-5 hours duration, subject to weather & demand)

10.30am to 2.30 pm

3.00pm to 7.00 pm

Winter Timetable October - March (Trips generally 4 hrs+ duration)

10.30am to 3.30 pm

How to get to Reen Pier?

Go into Union Hall and drive through the main street until you reach the church (St. Brigid's) on your left (heading away from village). Take left at the church, where Reen Pier is signed. Take 1st right after 200 mts (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 5 minute drive from Union Hall to the car parking area. A local map showing Reen Pier is available on our website in the "Frequently Asked Questions" section. We have additional street signage from Leap and Union Hall.

You can book your place by:

1. Phone: +353 (0)86 3850568 or 353 (0) 86 3273226

2. email:

3. On Facebook
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Cork Whale Watch reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 5.0
596 reviews
  • Such a wonderful 4 hours on the sea. Dolphins, seals, porpoise and whales we saw them all. Magical experience  more »
  • We went on this trip on the 29th August 2020. Collin is the captain and worked tirelessly for the 4+ hours we were out. He was constantly on the lookout. We didn’t spot whales but saw lots of...  more »
  • So great! Knowledge crew that make the trip that much better. We were lucky to have Christopher to point out all there was to see.
  • Fantastic day out. The captain really loves his job and that makes you enjoy it all the more. One suggestion though. Use the bathroom before you board. The head on board is very small and if there's choppy seas very difficult to use. Especially if your a little larger, like myself.
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