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Skomer Marine Conservation Zone, near Milford Haven

A unique area of water with underwater seascapes rich in marine plant and animal life. Visit by boat or come overland to Martins Haven

View of Skomer

Overview

This area just off the coast of Pembrokeshire is so rich in plant and animal life that it has a unique status in Wales.

The waters around Skomer Island and Marloes Peninsula have been designated a Marine Conservation Zone. This is the only stretch of water in Wales to have such a protected status and it is managed by Natural Resources Wales.

Skomer Island itself is a National Nature Reserve, famous for its seabird colonies and wildlife. It is managed by the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales and you can find out more about it on the Wildlife Trust’s website.  

What is a Marine Conservation Zone? 

Picture of a reef topMarine Conservation Zones were set up to protect nationally important marine wildlife, habitats, geology and geomorphology in offshore waters.  

Thanks to the amazing abundance of sea creatures that live in the waters around Skomer Island and Marloes Peninsula, this area has been designated a Marine Conservation Zone.  

Here in the varied underwater terrain, plants, crustaceans, fish and mammals depend on one another in a complex food chain.  

This food chain ranges from simple plankton to the grey seal for which the rocky shores and sheltered bays provide sanctuary. 

Grey seals come ashore during the autumn to give birth and you may catch a glimpse of them on remote beaches around the Marloes Peninsula. 

Many other marine animals also call the water around Skomer home.  These include over 100 different sponges, 40 species of anemone and soft coral, and even 65 types of sea slug! 

Find out how Skomer's wildlife is protected

Visiting Skomer Marine Conservation Zone

You can arrive at the Marine Conservation Zone by boat or overland to Martins Haven. 

However you chose to visit, please help protect habitats and wildlife from damage and disturbance. 

  • give priority to wildlife at all times
  • minimise any damage or disturbance you cause, however unintentional
  • if you do disturb seabirds or seals, withdraw promptly and quietly
  • keep noise to a minimum
  • do not discard rubbish of any kind 

Arriving overland to Martins Haven 

The car park in Martins Haven is operated by the National Trust. Please use this car park (do not attempt to drive onto the beach!) and then follow the short but steep lane down the towards the beach. 

On the way to the beach, you pass our marine exhibition centre at Fisherman’s Cottage. Here you can learn more about the marine life in the Marine Conservation Zone and find out which are the best places to watch for seals and porpoises

You can explore the pebbly beach and rocky shore at Martins Haven beach or head for the area known as the Deer Park which sits at the end of the Marloes Peninsula. The Deer Park is managed by the National Trust and it has a waymarked circular walk and some wonderful viewpoints towards Skomer Island and across St Bride's Bay. 

Walking

The National Trust provides waymarked walks on the land it manages on the Marloes Peninsula. Two of these walks can be started from the Martins Haven car park. 

  • Follow the pink signs for the four mile Marloes Peninsula walk.  This is a circular walk and can also be started from the Marloes Sands car park
  • Follow the orange signs for the one mile circular Deer Park walk. Originally part of the Kensington estate of St Brides, this area has never actually contained any deer despite its name

Pick up a walks leaflet from the car park attendant when you arrive or find out more on the National Trust website

Boat trips to Skomer Island 

Boats depart from Martins Haven for Skomer Island which is about one mile off the coast from Easter to October. You can either take a trip to land on the island or go on a cruise around it. 

All the boats pass through Skomer Marine Conservation Zone and you can often see puffins, guillemots, razorbills, gannets, and seals on the rocks. If you are lucky you may also spot porpoises, common dolphins and sunfish. 

You can only buy tickets for boat trips to Skomer Island from the Wildlife Trust's Lockley Lodge Visitor Centre which is situated at the top of the lane in Martins Haven. 

Arriving by boat (yachts, motor boats, diving boats and kayaks) 

Skomer Marine Conservation Zone is a great place to visit and explore on the water.  

The visitor moorings at North Haven may be used free of charge.  

You can also anchor on the northward side of the moorings and in South Haven.  

Please: 

  • be aware of restricted areas during seabird breeding and seal pupping seasons and avoid disturbance
  • observe the user regulations which have been developed to allow all users to enjoy the site and to minimise disturbance to wildlife

Divers

From tide-swept reefs to sheltered bays and wrecks, there are many fantastic sites to dive in Skomer Marine Conservation Zone. 

All divers should: 

  • read the diving safety information which includes predicted slack water times for sites and emergency procedures
  • adhere to the user regulations which have been developed to allow all users to enjoy the site and to minimise disturbance to wildlife
  • follow the Skomer Marine Conservation Zone scallop bylaw. Go to the Welsh Government website for details

Clubs are welcome to dive here but should plan their diving using the safety information and user regulations. 

Martins Haven is also a popular shore diving site. As this area is busy with boats, please use a surface marker buoy. 

Sea angling 

Please park in the National Trust car park in Martins Haven. You can then access several popular angling sites on the Marloes Peninsula. 

  • For tips to help you minimise tackle loss when fishing at Martins Haven, see the Angling Tips leaflet.This was produced by Neptune’s Army of Rubbish Cleaners, a voluntary group of divers with a passion for keeping the underwater environment in Pembrokeshire pristine
  • Please don’t leave any rubbish behind – there are angling bins for lost and broken tackle at Martins Haven
  • Please adhere to the user regulations

Opening times 

The marine exhibition centre at Fisherman’s Cottage, Martins Haven is open 9.00 – 5.00 daily from Easter to the end of October. 

Scheduled ferry services to Skomer Island depart from Martins Haven from Easter to October (subject to weather conditions). 

How to get here 

Martins Haven is three miles east of the village of Marloes. 

Download a location map

The OS grid reference is SM 761 090. 

The car park at Martins Haven is operated by the National Trust. There is a charge for car parking. 

Directions 

Take the B4327 from Haverfordwest. After about 12 miles, take the minor road to the village of Marloes. Go through the village and follow the road for a further two miles to Martins Haven. Park in the National Trust car park. 

Please use the car park - do not attempt to drive onto the beach. 

Public transport 

The Puffin Shuttle route 400 goes from St David’s to Marloes. For timetables go to Pembrokeshire County Council's website.

For more details about public transport visit Traveline Cymru.

Find out more 

Contact details 

Skomer Marine Conservation Zone office is in Fisherman’s Cottage, Martins Haven. 

Tel: 01646 636736 or 0300 065 3000 

Email: enquiries@naturalresourceswales.gov.uk

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