Inishbofin is an island off the west coast of Ireland, west of Killary Harbour and at the joint of the counties Galway and Mayo. It is a world apart from the hustle and bustle of city life; the many sail boats and tractors reflect the true pace of life. With little mobile or internet coverage, transport or supplies, it is a perfect place to get away from it all. There are beautful views all around the island: of the mountains on the mainland, the nearby islands and north towards Clew Bay. Club trips to the island are usually a week long. The diving is plentiful and superb. With kelp often growing up to twenty metres down, the diving is mostly sports diver diving in the 25m -35m range, though depths of more than fifty metres are easily found on many dives. It’s all round good, clear water, lots of life and spectacular walls, gullies and pinacles.
Eoin Kearney took the most recent trip to Inishbofin in July 2010. Previously Catriona Mclean did a trip here in 2006. In 2010 we dived off John McCabes hardboat 087 2227098 or http://www.islandswest.ie/ John gave us a great deal and provided cylinders, fills and weights and weight belts. John also provided extra fills for night dives at no extra cost. Aidan Day has also been used by the club in the past and has always been good.
We’ve only done chartered hardboat diving through John McCabe and Aidan Day on Bofin. It’s probably quite a bit of work to bring a RIB out here but it has been done.
The area is not very tidal for the most part (except for the Stags of Bofin) and we dived at random stages of the tide.
The water is usually very clear at any of these sites. Visibility can be more than twenty metres. Many of the sites are wall dives.
There is more info and a map of the island on the Dive Ireland guide.
Wall dive down to just past thirty, with gullies. Plenty of fish life. Nice easy dive for the beginning of the week.
Glassilan / Glasilaun, cave
This is a fun little cave dive. There’s a map in the Underwater Ireland book. The cave itself isn’t very long, with probably only a minute or two where the tunnel is completely submerged but it’s quite black inside so a torch is a must! It gets very shallow towards the back, at which point you turn right. It gets very shallow here, you may even have to surface. Continue on and you’ll pass beneath a sea-arch (above water) and the depth drops of to fifteen or twenty metres again. It’s a nice little potter here with lots of life hiding among boulders and the cracks in the walls.
Maol An Dubh / Mweelandhu
This site is next to Spotted Rock and also completely submerged. It’s an impressive wall covered in sponges, anenomes and dead man’s fingers with depth from roughly ten to forty metres at its deep side.
Dun Na Hinine / Dooninaheena
A wall dive / slope where you can pick your depth. It’s nicer below twenty metres where it’s a bit kelpy. Down the bottom around thirty five metres there are boulders and clear white sand. We saw a lot of life on this site, shoals of pollock, and plenty of wrasse and ling.
Buachaill / Bouchal Rock
Buachaill Rock, to the west of Inishark, rises fifty metres out of the water and drops, sheer in places, to beyond fifty metres. Make sure you descend quite close to the rock or you may miss it and then have nothing beneath you for fifty metres. The right hand side of the wall (from seawards) seems to be the sheer part. Further left it goes down in shelfs, still to fifty odd, while if you round the corner to the left it bottoms out around thirty. One of the most spectacular dives in the area, there’s lots of life on the wall. Leave this one for mid-week when people are dived-up!
We dived close to Pigeon Cove. More of a second dive really, it was pretty kelpy so more for a leisurely wander. That said, there’s was life to see, with big crayfish, lobsters, shoals of minnows and lots of fish. There’s also supposed to be the remains of a wreck but none of us found it.
High Island was voted the best dive of the 2006 trip, with everyone having a superb dive. We returned the second time. Like almost all of the sites there were congers, ling, crayfish and loads of fish life. The drop-offs to beyond forty were particularly spectacular here though with great visibility. Caitriona and I did a dive where I had sheer walls either side of us. There’s also rumoured to be a cave with entrances at 30 metres and 20m metres. Andy T and I found a cave entrance at 37 metres but it was very narrow, silty and not entirely obvious that it went anywhere so perhaps we missed it. You’d have to try hard not to have a cracking dive on this site.
Stags of Bofin
A very dramatic dive off the north-west of Inishbofin. Exposed to the swell and tide this can be a little more challenging. We dived on the point itself. Many people spoke of dropping straight into gullies, some only wide enough for a single diver. It’s a really beautiful dive with cliffs, drop-offs, and gullies everywhere, all covered in sponges and dead-man’s fingers. Down to whatever depth you want really.
Maon Mor shoal / Mweenmore Shoal
Quite a bit out, but well worth the journey if you get the weather, the dive had more gullies, cliffs and walls. Very pretty scenery with the usual abundance of fish life, crayfish, lobsters. Sports divers need to be careful where they are dropped in though as it’s possible to miss the rock (or the section within the sports diver range) if you descend too slowly or drift off. Another first-class dive.
Sunfish Rock breaks the surface on a low tide and you can usually spot breakers otherwise. A little shallower than the other sites, it makes for a pleasant second dive, though you can still find thirty. There’s a sheer wall, with lots of gullies, overhangs and nooks to poke one’s head into.
We dived on the side of the island facing Inishbofin, probably the north side. It was a lovely dive with a lot of life, lovely clear water and nice drop offs down to beyond thirty five. There was a little less kelp in the shallows here. Deeper, there were big boulders, teeeming with crabs, lobsters, ling and blennies. Very nice dive.
You will probably need to bring your own O2 and possibly 1st Aid Kit. Useful numbers:
- Clifden Coast Guard Radio
- VHF channels 16, 67, 26, DSC 70
- Recompression chamber
- Galway, 091 524 222
There is a new dive centre dive centre on Inishbofin, run by John McCabe, 087 222 7098 where you can get air fills. He also has a boat and takes divers out. Other than that, bring lots of spares. Not much fun being stuck on an island with a damaged drysuit!
In July 2010 we rented a 6 bedroom house that has 11beds (3 doubles) from Noel 0868551880 or http://www.inishbofin.com/Fawnmore/rooms.html It was a great house only 15mins max to the pier and had 5 toielts and 4 electric showers and Noel was very friendly and helpful. In July 2006 we rented two cottages on the hill by the pier from Agatha Burke. You have to book months in advance – probably around Christmas.
There’s a list of people letting accommodation on Inishbofin.com, Agatha Burke’s details available by following the accommodation and then self-catering menus.
You can order things that won’t keep like bread, meat etc from the shop by the pier. You can then buy them on the day you need them once the ferry has arrived in (around midday as of July 2006). It’s best to bring the rest yourself as there’s little to buy on the island. Bring enough cash to last the week too.
There are several beautiful beaches around the island and you can rent bicycles to travel around. We went to Day’s pub a few minutes walk from the pier and there’s also the hotel close by.
You can get more information about the area from the following sources:
Leave Dublin down the quays and out via Heuston Station. Take the N6 to Galway. From Galway take the N59 through Clifden, on towards Westport. There is a left turn for Cleggan about ten or fifteen minutes out of Clifden. The ferry goes from Cleggan to the island. Aidan Day may also be happy to take you across in his boat.
There are ferry times on inishbofin.com under ‘How to get?’.