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'Another world of sea, sky and shore'

Both NiRunning and BAC are indebted to the residents of Rathlin Island for the welcome and hospitality we receive each and every year, and also their helpfulness in the run up to and on race day - without this, the race would not be possible.

We would encourage everyone to visit Rathlin Island and sample the amazing experience it offers.  To find out more about the island please visit the Rathin Island Community website HERE.

About Rathlin Island

Rathlin Island is situated off the north east coast of Ireland, and is the only inhabited offshore island in Northern Ireland. Because of its geographical position, Rathlin has long had associations with both Ireland and Scotland, and it once lay at the heart of the ancient kingdom of Dal Riada.

The island is six miles long, one mile wide, "L" shaped and home to a slowly increasing population of around 140 people. The island has County Antrim to the south, the Inishowen peninsula in County Donegal to the west, the island of Islay in the Hebrides to the north, and the Mull of Kintyre in mainland Scotland to the east. Today, Rathlin has modern transport and tourist facilities, and a steadily rising permanent population of around 150 people.

Rathlin Island has a long and eventful history, and some of the most breath-taking scenery anywhere in Ireland or Britain. It offers unspoilt environments and is renowned for its wildlife, particularly its seabird breeding colonies. The island offers relaxing peace and quiet, as well as the friendliest of welcomes.


There are two ferries run by Rathlin Island Ferry Ltd, they leave Ballycastle on the North Antrim Coast throughout the day . The car& passenger ferry, MV Canna; the crossing takes 45minutes. The passenger ferry, MV Rathlin Express; the crossing takes 30 minutes.

Please contact the ferry office for the latest fares and any last minute date/time changes . There are a range of options and concessions available . 

Passengers must arrive at the ferry terminal at least 30 minutes before sailing time.

Accommodation on the Island

Rathlin has a range of different accommodation options to suit every budget.

For rates, availability and bookings please contact the accommodation providers directly.

  • Arkell House
  • Coolnagrock
  • Kinramer Cottage
  • Manor House Hotel
  • Rathlin Island Hostel
  • Soerneog View Hostel
  • Camping (in designated areas ONLY)

Visitor Centre

The island visitor centre and museum, the Boathouse, situated a short walk from the harbour in Church Bay, contains a wealth of artefacts, photographs and information about Rathlin's history and life on the island. Souvenirs and island-related books for sale. The island resident staff are on hand to answer your questions and to help make your visit as enjoyable as possible.

The Rathlin Boathouse Visitor Centre will reopen for the tourist season on Friday 14th April 2017, and is open season seven days a week, 10.00am – 5.00pm during the season. Closed for lunch 12.30 - 1.00pm. Admission free. Disabled access limited. Telephone 077 0886 9605 during the above opening hours only.

For further information about ferry crossings or what to do on Rathlin Island contact Ballycastle Tourist Information Centre on 028 2076 2024.  The Boathouse closed for the season on Friday 30th September 2016, and will re-open in April 2017.

Rathlin's Lighthouses

East Light

The oldest of Rathlin’s lighthouses sits high above Bruce’s Cave at Altacarry Head. It has been flashing a warning to shipping since 1856 and is a vital component of the traffic separation scheme in the North Channel.

West Light

This upside-down light was a major feat of engineering when it was built, between 1912 and 1917. The top of Kebble Point was too high for the light to be effective, so it had to be placed some way down the cliff. The works needed a cable tramway and a pier, as well as the road across Kebble. The work cost £400,000 in 1912, equivalent to an amazing £17million today.

Rue Point

Sitting at the southern tip of Rathlin, only 2.5 miles from Fair Head, this light has been operating since 1921. Only 35 feet above sea level, it is now fully automated and has a 14 nautical mile range.


During the summer these comical creatures share the cliffs at the island’s west lighthouse with thousands of other seabirds, from kittiwakes to fulmars, but they are undoubtedly the star of the show.

Every year visitors from all around the world make the journey to Rathlin and the West Light Seabird Centre, which is run by RSPB NI, to enjoy stunning views of these birds. As well as the visual spectacle, the sound and smell is pretty crazy too! Between April and July the birds are hard at work raising their young (which are known as ‘pufflings’) and by August, the puffins and their charges are back off to sea.