With the first set of islands Cruit, Arranmore and Tory being permanently inhabited and with very easy public access. The second set of islands are a small step up the ladder in the terms more difficulty to access. These islands only have summer residents in holiday homes and a summer-only ferry. Gola and Owey Islands have an incredible amount of quality rock climbing on their granite sea cliffs. Both Islands have been climbed on since the 90's with Owey over the last few summers getting a rebirth with a lot of hard new routes being climbed at up to E7 on it's higher and steeper seaward faces. Owey currently holds huge potential for new routes of all grades.
The final set of islands each present a totally unique experience and of course, each has it's own unique access complications. Access to all these islands involves either sea kayaks or you hire a boat and captain to get you out and back. For many reasons the sea kayak option is the easiest but will require a reasonable amount of nautical wisdom for safe access to these more remote islands. In these guide pages, I have described the access to each island using the nearest exit point from mainland Donegal usually public piers and slipways.
The Islands of Umfin, Inishfree lower and Illancrone are all uninhabited and require a certain amount of nautical knowledge and each are beach landings. All three of these require open water sea passages and all three have various mainland exit points to choose from.
The following are very remote and harder to reach with over 5-kilometre sea passage from mainland Donegal and no human inhabitants at all. Stags Rocks and Roan Inish both providing very different far distant island experiences. The Stags are very rarely visited and landed on as they are tiny and steep side lumps of rock, they are also open to every ripple of motion south through to the north.
Roan Inish is a full 5-kilometre paddle from Port Noo, but once you arrive at the island, it has an effortless sandy beach landing at the eastern end of the island. It is also a very easy amble from one side of the Island to the other with a small lake and tiny sheep flock to keep you company.
The daddy of island visits and spectacular days out is a visit The Stags of Broadhaven off the north-west coast of Co Mayo. This archipelago of five 50 to 100 metre high islands sit at the very southern tip of the Donegal Bay. I don't think anything can prepare you for a visit here it really is a quite surreal place to be.
This island guide is most definitely a work in progress I have yet to visit all the Islands, so any islands not listed means the photos I took were awful or I've yet to make a visit. :-)