In his latest cruising feature, Peter Cumberlidge picks out the best remote island destinations you can easily reach from the UK by boat

Raz de SeinÎle De Sein, Brittany

Size: 1½nm long
Population: 200
Watering holes: ‘La Case de Tom’ café looks right across the harbour

Île de Sein lurks three miles seaward of the Raz de Sein, a short but crucial tidal gate off Brittany’s west edge.

Few passing crews notice this low, often hazy island, yet Sein is easy enough to visit on a quietish day if you set careful waypoints. The east approach, used by the Audierne ferry, is best at HW slack.

From among the outer reefs, the village appears as a straggle of pitched Breton roofs, gable ends and shuttered windows, clustered around a church of yellow stone.

Keep Sein’s black-topped lighthouse bearing west before turning in behind a white pyramid on a tail of rocky islets.

The inner harbour dries, but you can anchor beyond the ferry jetty in a tongue of deepish water. Land at a slip near Men Brial lighthouse.

Sein - inner harbourIn summer weather the waterfront (picured above) is as picturesque as many small Brittany harbours, but when the sun goes in you notice a weathered drabness caused by long exposure to the sea.

The cottages seem to huddle together against Atlantic storms. A sandy track leads out to the main lighthouse, which soars 50m above the grassy common. Here you can gaze out to the Saints reefs stretching seven miles into the Atlantic past lonely Ar Men tower.

At dusk the four lighthouse beams turn slowly above Île de Sein, flickering on cottage walls and guano white reefs.

Don’t miss: Dinner at the Hôtel Ar Men, on the Atlantic side of the village

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Sark, Channel Islands
  3. 3. Yeu, The Vendée
  4. 4. St. Martin’s, Isles of Scilly
  5. 5. Skomer, Wales
  6. 6. Cape Clear Island, Ireland
  7. 7. Île De Sein, Brittany
  8. 8. Île de Groix, Brittany
  9. 9. Coll, Scotland
  10. 10. Houat, Brittany
  11. 11. Vlieland, Netherlands
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