The inner harbour, in the western arm of Sneem Harbour, affords complete protection to a vessel in a range of anchoring locations plus visitor boat moorings. The harbour requires normal navigation in daylight owing to low and shelving shores, with the mountains behind them making the shore indistinct at night.
Keyfacts for Sneem Harbour
SummaryA completely protected location with attentive navigation required for access.
Position and approaches
Haven position51° 48.565' N, 009° 53.750' W
In the Northeast inlet of Garinish Island locally known as ‘The Bag’
What is the initial fix?
What are the key points of the approach?
Not what you need?
- Ardgroom Harbour - 2.1 miles SSE
- Kilmakilloge Harbour - 2.1 miles SE
- Ballycrovane Harbour - 3.9 miles SSW
- West Cove - 4 miles WSW
- Mill Cove - 5.8 miles S
- Castletownbere (Castletown Bearhaven) - 6.1 miles S
- Darrynane Harbour - 6.1 miles WSW
- Adrigole - 6.2 miles SE
- Dunkerron - 6.2 miles ENE
- Dunboy Bay & Traillaun Harbour - 6.6 miles S
How to get in?
Image: Burke Corbett
Lying on the north shore, opposite to Ardgroom and Kilmakilloge, Sneem Harbour is easily identified by a channel between Sherky Island, which stands out nearly to the middle of the river, and Rossdohan Island. The inner capacious harbour, in the western arm of Sneem Harbour, affords complete protection to a vessel in a range of anchoring locations plus visitor boat moorings.
Approaches are available in southwestern Ireland’s Coastal Overview for Mizen Head to Loop Head .
From the initial fix the best approach is from the south between the 34 metres high Sherky Island on the west side and the36 metre high Rossdohan Island on the east.
Approach close to the southeast side of Sherky Island taking a middle course up the mile-wide gap steering 013° on the Parknasilla Hotel, a large conspicuous building on the mainland 2 miles north of Sherky Island.
When well past Inishkeragh Island (the third island on the port side that appears in the following order Sherky, Illaunanadan, and Inishkeragh Island) steer 318° on the northeastern extreme of Garinish Island to make for the inner harbour, in the western arm of Sneem Harbour.
When rounding the northeastern corner of Garinish Island give it a berth of 100 metres as there is foul ground off the shoreline.
Approaching from the west, come into the northwest of Sherky Island. The navigational width is reduced to less than 500 metres by Cottoner Rock that lies around the middle of Sherky Island approximately 300 metres off to the northwest. This is further reduced in bad weather when breakers will be found more than halfway across the cut. Hence this channel should be avoided unless visibility is excellent, conditions are settled and local knowledge is at hand.
Pass between Cottoner Rock (dries 0.3m) and Inishkeelaghmore keeping closer to the latter to avoid the rock, as Inishkeelaghmore is relatively clear on its southeast side.
Then keep about 200 metres off Potato Islet (400 metres northeast of Inishkeelaghmore on the port side) passing the submerged rocks called the ‘Murin Patch’ that extend northeast from the islet.
Make note of the Inishkeragh offshore rocks, lying 200 metres northwest of the island, on the starboard side.
Approaching from the East keep outside the 30-metre depth contour, or 500 metres offshore of ‘Bullig Point’ at the south-westernmost point of Rossdohan Island. The ground is foul here with a reef that can have breakers out to 20m even in a moderate swell.
Once inside the western arm of the harbour a range of excellent anchoring opportunities lie within the inner harbour, which affords excellent shelter and good holding in sand.
There is a particularly sheltered anchorage in the small bight on the northeast side of Garinish Island known as ‘The Bag’ offering depths of 2 to 3 metres. You may also anchor in 6 metres between ‘Goat Island’ and ‘Oysterbed House’ pier on the mainland north of Garinish Island. You may land at the Oysterbed House pier where you will always find 1.5 metres although it is not well set up for tethering a dinghy.
Image: Burke Corbett
Three seasonal mooring buoys for visiting yachts are laid in the bight in the northeast corner. The moorings are rated to 15 tons and are large, coloured bright yellow and labelled VISITOR.
Alternatively, in settled weather conditions, you may anchor in the harbours northeast bight in depths of 5 to 7 metres near the Parknasilla Hotel. Both shores of this bight are fringed by off-lying rocks, plus there is a rock marked by a 2m conical concrete beacon that dries situated approximately 500 metres south-southeast of the hotel. A vessel anchored in this location is welcome to land at a pier owned by Parknasilla Hotel to the east of the hotel. It is best to land on the beach at the outside of the quay.
You can travel upriver to Sneem village 2½ hours after low water. There is a Quay on the right near the hotel.
Why visit here?The name Sneem (Irish: An tSnaidhm) translates into English as "The Knot". This name is believed to be derived from the fact that Sneem village comprises of two squares, North and South. There is a bridge in the middle of the village which acts as a knot between the two village squares.
Image: Tourism Ireland
Located on the world renowned ‘Ring Of Kerry’, Sneem harbour is one of the jewels of Kenmare Bay. It is safe in any wind conditions with calm peaceful nights and trees coming right down to the water's edge in places. In the early summer, the bay area is covered in rhododendrons which add a lovely splash of colour.
The trip up to Sneem in a dingy is also a bit of fun, and a challenge if coming back in the dark to find the boat again, although it is the perfect way to see this picturesque little village. Although not a boating visitor, former French President Charles de Gaulle visited Sneem on numerous occasions and there is a sculpture commemorating this in the village. Another Sneem statue commemorates "Steve 'Crusher' Casey" the undefeated heavyweight wrestling champion of the world 1938-1947. Also unexpectedly of note is Thomas Melville, the first head of the British Secret Service, who was born at nearby Direenaclaurig Cross.
If you want peace and quiet, this expansive bay offers several possibilities for finding a quiet spot for yourself. As you make your search you will pass sunbathing seals, lovely wooded areas, rhododendron bushes, and mussel-covered islands as you find your way. Truly Sneem is one of the must boating visit locations in the Kerry cruising route.
What facilities are available?Oysterbed House pier has a water tap. There are basic provisions available in Sneem itself which is a good hour or two miles walk up the lane from the Oysterbed House quay. The national route N70 runs through the town so it has good connections.
You may alternatively take a dinghy trip up the Sneem River that flows into the inner harbour. This requires an outboard as it is a half hour or 1.5-mile trip, without taking any wrong turns. Discovery Ordinance Survey map 84 is recommended plus a compass. Sneem is only accessible by dinghy at half flood but it is a particularly picturesque trip and the best way to see the town.
Parknasilla Hotel is another good dingy run, and it has an excellent restaurant and bar. The staff welcome visitors but ask that you remove all yachting gear when in the hotel.
Any security concerns?Never a problem known to have occurred in Sneem Harbour.
With thanks to:Burke Corbett, Gusserane, New Ross, Co. Wexford.
Aerial view of Sneem Harbour
Add your review or comment:
Joseph Kiernan wrote this review on Jul 27th 2017:
You can travel upriver to Sneem village 2 1/2 hours after low water. There is a Quay on the right near the hotel.Average Rating: Unrated
Michael Harpur wrote this review on May 21st 2018:
Thank you Joseph,
I have now added that to the main body of the text.
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