Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland, UK

Nature rules on Rathlin, located a few miles off shore from Ballycastle. The island is home to Northern Ireland’s largest seabird sanctuary, with huge colonies of nesting puffins, kittiwakes, gannets, razorbills, and guillemots. Eight crisscrossing trails offer dramatic views of sea cliffs, rocky coastline, and springtime fields bursting with yellow gorse blossom and purple heather. Around 150 people live on Rathlin today, although archeological evidence reveals it was inhabited as far back as the Stone Age. The island’s rocky shoreline and strong tides made it difficult for ships to land here, however, and some 90 wrecks lie offshore; the HMS Drake, which sank in 1917, is now a popular diving site. Three lighthouses were built to prevent future shipwrecks; the Rathlin West Lighthouse, an engineering marvel built into the cliff’s edge, is commonly known as the “upside down” lighthouse.