Walking, camping, birdwatching, rock climbing, boating, sea-fishing are all available on Gold Island.
Gola Island is easily explored in a few hours of pleasant walking by following Slí Ghabhla, which forms part of Slí an Eargail (The Errigal Way). Slí an Eargail is one of four main waymarked walks in the Donegal Gaeltacht, known as Bealach na Gaeltachta. The island terrain is mildly hilly with many bog roads and sheep paths.
On Gabhla, you will have splendid views of surrounding islands, reefs and the mainland. Its many beaches and secluded bays attract large numbers of tourists throughout the year.
The islands of Inis Meáin and Inis Oirthir are located to the north of Gabhla, while to the south can be seen the islands of Uaigh and Inis Fraoigh Íochtarach. Sheep and some shy goats are seen along the cliffs, while the island’s deserted village and kitchen middens will interest history buffs.
Slí Ghabhla is signposted from the pier at Tráigh na mBláthán. The route is shown on a display board at the island pier.
Many people visit the island to go camping, which makes for a great family day out – or a few days’ blissful break-away for the more adventurous.
Interesting ground-nesting species include the rare corncrake, heard calling in the fields. Another Irish speciality, the chough, a beautiful slender crow with red legs and bill, also nests on the island. Terns and waders, including Arctic tern and ringed plover, nest on the south coast near Port an Chruinn and the schoolhouse.
The sea-cliffs along the western side of the island support colonies of cliff-nesting seabirds, including razorbills, guillemots, cormorants, kittiwakes and others. Waders and eider ducks are seen along the shores.
Sea-watching can reveal passing gannets, shearwaters, skuas and petrels, particularly in August. It is likely that rare migrants from America and Siberia make landfall in Gabhla in autumn. An opportunity here for birdwatchers to break new ground!
Watch marine animals:
Basking sharks, porpoises and grey seals are seen around the island, which is well positioned to look for whales and dolphins migrating along the Irish coast. The rock-pools teem with marine life, including crabs, shrimps, blennys and sea anemones.
Gola Island is one of the best sites in Ireland for rock climbing.
Guide: Rock Climbs in Donegal
(Alan Tees, Mountaineering Council of Ireland 2002)
Enquire about chartering a local boat, if necessary, to drop and collect a group of 8-12 people plus gears.
Boat trips to neighbouring islands are available by arrangement. Contact; Seod Ghabhla (Gola Island Ferry Service).
M: 087-660 7003.
Family/group rates are available.
A festival is held each year during the last week in July.