We woke up at 3 am many months ago in order to try and book this trip. The government only allows about 180 people a day onto the Skellig Michael and it is booked well in advance. We couldn't get 2 spots together on the boat for the days we wanted so we actually changed our entire Ireland itinerary to fit this trip in. It cost was about $100 each for the boat ride to the island with about 2.5 hours to explore.
We arrived at 8 am and had the opportunity to check out some of the viewpoints near Portmagee. There is also a visitor center that discusses the history of the island. 12 or 13 monks lived on the island and helped construct the monastery since at least the 6th or 7th century. The vikings attacked in 823 and 838. The monastery was eventually abandoned at the end of the 12th century. It was eventually purchased in the late 1800's and 2 lighthouses were built.
Our tour left around 10 am and we set off to Little Skellig. It's an island a short distance from Skellig Michael and houses the 2nd largest northern gannet population in the world. The island is white from birds and houses a population of more that 60,000. The sound and smell definitely hits you as you approach. There were also seals relaxing on the shore. We did a lap around the island as we had to land at a specific time on Skellig Michael.
We approached Skellig Michael around 11:30. There are over 600 steps to climb and obviously no handrails. 3 rangers stay on the island during the summer (15 days on, 6 days off) to brief the tourists on safety and to give tours at the top of the Monastery. We the made our trek up to the top. It is crazy to think that 1400 years ago, men were laying the steps by hand. There are 3 stairways up and along the way there are countless puffins hanging out.
We made it to the top and saw the beehives the monks lived in, the Monastery and the cemetery. It is also a filming location for the last 2 Star Wars movies. It is truly amazing that these simple structures have stood there for well over a millennia.