We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The Tripadvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Cork Whale Watch

Features Animals
Union Hall, Ireland
About Cork Whale Watch
Colin Barnes is Ireland's longest established and best known whale watch operator, and has been enthralling whale watchers and wildlife enthusiasts in West Cork since 2001. Cork Whale Watch offers wonderful opportunities to observe marine wildlife in West Cork. These productive coastal waters provide critical feeding habitat for a diversity of species including cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises), seals and sea birds, along with prolific fish life.If you've seen natural history documentaries on whales from anywhere in Co. Cork or Waterford, the chances are it was filmed from the MV Holly Jo. Among Colin's contributions are: RTE's "Wild trials", "Wild Journeys", "Living the Wildlife" and in recent years Colin has worked with both BBC Autumnwatch and Winterwatch and BBC Seasons to film large whales off the Cork coast. As a former fisherman of 40 years experience observing whales in West Cork, Colin may not have letters after his name, but those that do, know who to contact if they need to find, film or carry out research on whales and dolphins along the Cork coast. Colin has contributed to and co-authored scientific publications on both fin and humpback whales in collaboration with Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG), and contributes to the All-Ireland Cetacean Sighting Scheme, by reporting sightings data 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. Colin is available for longer filming and research charters year round.
Read more
What is Travellers’ Choice?
Tripadvisor gives a Travellers’ Choice award to accommodations, attractions and restaurants that consistently earn great reviews from travellers and are ranked within the top 10% of properties on Tripadvisor.
Travellers talk about

Cork Whale Watch
Booking unavailable on Tripadvisor

Want other options you can book now?
Traveller rating
  • 569
  • 32
  • 4
  • 1
  • 2
Traveller type
Time of year
  • More
Selected filters
  • Filter
  • English
Popular mentions
Melanie W wrote a review 8 Jun
Cork, Ireland1 contribution
I would highly recommend a trip on the Holly Jo with Colin Barnes of Cork Whale Watch. We saw seals, dolphins, minke and humpback whales. Colin is a great host and full of information.
Read more
Date of experience: June 2021
Anne S wrote a review 6 Jun
1 contribution
Hat a fantastic day , Colin is so professional and dedicated to finding as much wild life as possible. We saw seals basking ,dolphins playing under our boat, minke whale pods, a basking shark . It was a beautiful day the size of the sky and the vastness of the sea stays with me. Advice you need sunglasses and wrap up well you can always take layers off if your lucky and get a sunny
Read more
Date of experience: May 2021
Mrs_Pud1 wrote a review Apr 2021
Cork, Ireland1482 contributions239 helpful votes
Great start after a long lockdown. Having been out a few times over the past few years, this trip did not disappoint. Fantastic sunny weather for the most part. Saw lots of minke whales, common dolphins, a couple of humpbacks and a harbour porpoise and also a couple of seal when returning back to the pier. The ganets also provided a great show diving into the water to catch fish which the dolphins were rustling up. Would highly recommend a trip on the Holly Jo with Colin. I’ll definitely be back again.
Read more
Date of experience: April 2021
John M wrote a review Oct 2020
1 contribution
My family (Mom, Dad, 12 yr old girl, 14 yr old girl) went on 30th August. The weather was excellent and the sea not rough at all. The view of the coastline and of Castletownshend from Reen pier is worth a trip in itself. The boat is open, with no indoor shelter. There is a handrail all around and you can walk all around the outside for an excellent view. Colin was very knowledgeable and though they didn't make us wear them, explained the lifejackets and inflatable lifeboat that was on the boat. I did not feel unsafe at any time. We had an excellent experience - this in spite of not having seen any whales! However, we saw a large number of dolphins, who happily raced along with the boat, sometimes underneath, sometimes beside. It was also very interesting to watch them hunt together, with the sea birds taking advantage of the activity to dive into the water and feed. A small bit of advice would be to have plenty of layers of clothes, as eventually I felt fairly chilly. We intend to go again, sometime between April and May. Thanks....
Read more
Date of experience: August 2020
Response from corkwhalewatch, Associate at Cork Whale Watch
Responded 25 Oct 2020
Hi John Thanks for this nice review. You may have been enjoying the scenery and dolphins so much that you didn't notice that of course the Holly Jo has indoor shelter in the generous wheelhouse which also has plenty of seating in case of inclement weather. Of course on a wildlife trip and during this time of Covid everyone prefers to stay outdoors. We look forward to seeing you out with us again in the new season when we generally have lots of minke whales and the humpbacks have returned too. Till then CWW team
Read more
Mark D wrote a review Oct 2020
33 contributions8 helpful votes
Great day out enjoying the fantastic scenery and wildlife off the Coastline of County Cork. Shortly after leaving Reen Pier our Skipper noticed some action straight away and we were off in search of the whales. This was the theme for the day as there was plenty of sighting's during the 4 hours at sea. The boat had lot's of room on board and full of vantage points to enjoy the experience. I would recommend booking this trip and I would like to make a return visit at some point in the future.
Read more
Date of experience: October 2020