That galaxy far far away? Yeah, it’s in Ireland.
Guided vacations company Brendan Vacations has put together a travel package that lets Star Wars fans visit the actual earthly location that stands in for Luke Skywalker’s hideout introduced at the very end of The Force Awakens when Rey (Daisy Ridley) meets Skywalker (Mark Hamill), and featured in The Last Jedi, out now.
The “Isle Awakens” vacation package is an 11-day self-drive vacation that allows travelers to explore Star Wars filming locations as well as other popular sites, while learning about the history and culture of Ireland. The main draw of the package is getting to visit 400 million-year-old Skellig Michael, the Irish isle that stands in for Skywalker’s refuge.
The earliest historical reference to the islands dates back to 1400 B.C.; the Skelligs were home to one of the earliest monastic settlements in Ireland — a fitting detail with regard to its appearance in Last Jedi and Skywalker’s arc in the film.
Those eager to explore the location should plan accordingly, as the island is only accessible May through September, when the weather conditions permit. And those interested in getting a good look at the island’s most photogenic migratory visitors, puffins, should plan to visit in the month of August.
“Our Brendan Vacations ‘Isle Awakens’ trip was created specifically with Star Wars enthusiasts in mind,” says Melissa da Silva, president of Brendan Vacations, who notes, “There are no guided tours that take you to the island, and the number [of visitors] is strictly controlled for preservation purposes.”
Da Silva adds that only a handful of vessels are even permitted to access the island.
“There are only 13 boats that are licensed to make the journey to Skellig Michael, taking off from the pier in Portmagee,” da Silva says. “You can book directly with boat operators through the Valentia Island Tourist Office, but it’s all dependent on conditions as the water tends to get very rough prohibiting boats from docking.”
Once the boat is docked, there’s still some hard work ahead for visitors, depending how high they’re willing to climb. In order to get to the isle’s sixth-century monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage site, for example, travelers have to climb the 670 steps. But the views, overlooks, and other high points on the island seem well worth finding.
Brendan Vacations’ 11-day excursion isn’t all about Skellig Michael, of course. There are a bunch of other Star Wars filming locations included in the trip.
“There are eight locations across Ireland that were scouted for the film,” says da Silva. In addition to the island, there’s “Loop Head in County Clare, Planet Ahch-To at Malin Head in County Donegal (the northernmost point in the country) and Headland of Ceann Sibéal on the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry.”
Prices for the “Isle Awakens” trip start at $1,190, per person – including accommodations, full daily breakfast, rental car and itinerary, though you can get $200 off airfare per couple if you book by Jan 11.