I wonder if there is any way to travel to an island (in my case: Ireland) without taking a plane or a boat.

My sister claims to be frightened of both, so is there a way for her to get there?

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    I'm voting to close this question because it is unanswerable. Ireland is an island. The only way to get there is by crossing water and the question forbids the only two practical ways of crossing water. – David Richerby Aug 7 '18 at 20:04
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    Sedatives might do the trick. – Paused until further notice. Aug 7 '18 at 20:58
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    Drive over the border from Norn Iron .... – Calchas Aug 7 '18 at 21:55
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    Your sister can wait for the next glacial period and simply walk over the glaciers and the land bridge with Europe. It may take a while, specially in the face of global warming. It will be advisable for her to bring a sweater. – SJuan76 Aug 7 '18 at 22:54
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    When I clicked on this in the "hot questions" area, I thought this was Puzzling SE – Luke Sawczak Aug 8 '18 at 0:26

11 Answers 11


Ireland is an island and there are no tunnels or bridges (or any other means) that would be suitable for cars, buses or trains.

Sorry, the only practical way to get to Ireland is a ferry or airplane ride. Both are relatively short: the plane ride is about an hour and the fastest ferry from Holyhead to Dublin takes about two hours.

You will have to choose between visiting this beautiful island and some travel inconvenience. Keep in mind; it's only a relatively short trip (from England) and many thousands of people do travel to Ireland every single day without any problems.

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    Also the ferry is pretty big and therefor stable. – user59310 Aug 7 '18 at 12:43
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    Your wording makes me curious: are there any tunnels or bridges that are not suitable for cars / buses / trains? – Nate Eldredge Aug 7 '18 at 15:11
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    @MichaelHampton: The Channel Tunnel doesn't run between Ireland and Great Britain, unless there's been some serious continental drift since I last checked. – Nate Eldredge Aug 7 '18 at 15:34
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    @NateEldredge there is a 24-inch gas pipeline connecting Scotland with Ireland. With enough money perhaps . . . – Weather Vane Aug 7 '18 at 15:55
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    @WeatherVane you mean a 1/5 scale hyperloop prototype, that someone just happens to have filled with gas? – Chris H Aug 7 '18 at 16:01

If she won't fly (I assume a chartered helicopter is as out of the question as fixed-wing aircraft; they're more dangerous), and she won't ride in a boat, there is only one way left, and I intend this answer with all seriousness, not as a joke: swimming.

The water is too deep to permit wading, and there are no bridges between Great Britain and the island of Ireland. (One can get to the island of Great Britain by train from the mainland of Europe, but this has only been possible since the 1990s.)

She simply won't be able to go unless and until a bridge is built, and while this is a technical possibility, it is not on any government's radar at the moment and these projects tend to take many years to fund, design and build. It seems unlikely that a trip to Ireland by land transport will be possible until at least the 2030s.

These people have swum the North Channel between Ireland and Great Britain, but they seem all to have been swimming specialists in extraordinary physical condition, so it is not a journey for the faint of heart - and assuming she doesn't intend to live out her days in Ireland, it would require a return journey via the same method.

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    If considering ways that require specialised training, then there are a few more that might be possible besides swimming: water-skiing, hang-gliding, para-sailing… – PLL Aug 7 '18 at 19:05
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    @PLL Fair point, although the latter two are really just small forms of unpowered aircraft in some ways. – Jim MacKenzie Aug 7 '18 at 19:48
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    kitesurfing came to my mind immediately, but pretty extensive training would be neccesary. A Jetski would be a very fine way, but then: if someone is scared of boats .. they are probably not to fond of the idea to ride a Jetski – Flo Aug 7 '18 at 21:51
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    @JimMacKenzie and technically water-skiing and kite-surfing are arguably small unpowered ships. Building a bridge is the only solution that does not involve travelling through air or on a floating platform. – Federico Poloni Aug 7 '18 at 23:55
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    And technically there is also walking on the bottom of the sea with a divesuit --- given the amount of weird creative answers that this question has attracted, I am surprised that no one has suggested it yet. :) – Federico Poloni Aug 7 '18 at 23:56

If parachuting is allowed, there are two options: a human cannonball (although the world record distance is only about 200 feet or about 60 metres; or by catapult, when an altitude of 300 feet or 90 metres has been achieved.

But more seriously, the most feasible means of transport are by airship or hot air balloon.

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    A catapult? Everybody knows the trebuchet is superior. – isanae Aug 7 '18 at 16:11
  • @isanae yes, but the human-fling record is by catapult, not trebuchet, although it is claimed to be a fake. – Weather Vane Aug 7 '18 at 20:00
  • @isanae that's not to say that the trebuchet wasn't used to fling captives back to whence they came... but for this purpose, the flingee must survive. – Weather Vane Aug 7 '18 at 20:05
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    Heck, I got more votes for my comment about a gas pipeline than I did about the realistic alternatives of airships and balloons, which no-one else has mentioned. – Weather Vane Aug 7 '18 at 20:46
  • I love the suggestion of using a hot air balloon :-D – John Aug 8 '18 at 0:50

There are several companies offering chartered helicopter trips, e.g. https://www.atlashelicopters.co.uk

An initial quote from them for flying London -> Dublin is about 7000 GBP, for two passengers. The price is heavily dependent on the time, and this particular stretch would be roughly ~2 hours. You can cut down on costs by finding a helicopter company closer to Ireland.

There are also many Hovercraft companies both in Ireland and England that could possibly allow chartering a trip between the islands, however for traveling over the open seas a large high capacity hovercraft would be required, and as there are no active routes catering to many persons, this would be very expensive. There used to be a hovercraft route to Isle of Man however, but this has been replaced by catamarans. The only active hovercraft route in the vicinity is by Hovertravel and goes between Portsmouth and Isle of Wight https://www.hovertravel.co.uk/

For getting to England, you can go by tunnel from mainland Europe (train, car, bus...).

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In principle, you could also charter a submarine or other submersible craft. But it would probably be even more expensive than chartering a hovercraft.

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  • Well, submarines are usually referred to as boats, following the historical convention of "boats are carried by ships" (submarines used to carried by ships), but if we go into those details, we could simply answer that OP:s friend can go in a ship, since ships are not boats... – a20 Aug 7 '18 at 19:05

Rent, buy or hire a hovercraft ferry.

There are some services in the UK that offer hovercraft vehicles.

One such company is (linked just as an illustration, no endorsement implied):


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Obviously, it is possible to swim.

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You could travel to the Republic of Ireland by crossing the land border with the United Kingdom.

Unfortunately, this would require either already being in, or travelling by boat or aircraft to, Northern Ireland.

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1) Learn to SCUBA dive. (You want to be deep enough you remain underwater even when the trough of a wave passes over.)

2) Make the crossing by use of dive torpedoes. You'll need a support ship because you'll need several to make the trip, not to mention air tanks.

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Water ski

The question doesn't explain why boats cause fright. If it's about being in control of the circumstances, then water skiing may offer a feeling that being on a boat doesn't.

Crossings between the UK mainland and Ireland are 12 to 50 miles long. Such a crossing would be feasible given the right equipment and a moderate amount of experience.

[Thanks to PLL for the suggestion.]

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Perhaps if you get lucky, you could board a passing by iceberg that may be floating by caused by global warming (if you believe such things). Icebergs can be many miles in diameter and would not likely cause sea sickness. You will have to construct some sort of apparatus to drive it over to Ireland though. Or if you two are patient, you could wait a few hundred million years and hope the tectonic plates will eventually connect you to Ireland. Maybe there will be a bridge before then though if you can't manage to live that long.

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