The town of Ballycastle has become a popular sea-side location but still retains much of the local character and feel which has made it so popular. Like most of the communities which live along this coast, the sea has been an ever present source of food, trade and a highway for transport, especially to and from Rathlin, Northern Ireland's only in habituated island which lies just six miles offshore. Rathlin Island is six miles long and just one mile wide and is famed for its bird colonies, specifically Atlantic Puffins which dominate the steep sides of the island from April through to July. Rathlin Island rises sharply out of the sea and offers just one sheltered bay by which to access the Island. A small marina has been built here and ferries from Ballycastle make the short journey to and from each day. The marina is popular with local fishing and sightseeing boat tours also. Just a short walk from the marina is Mill Bay, where a colony of seals live.
Moving off shore the sea bed around Rathlin is home to a wealth of marine life. To the north of the Island, a deep trench offers an ideal home for many marine species and is such an important habitat is a proposed Marine Coastal Zone. The waters south of the Island, towards Ballycastle are no less abundant in sea life. The sea floor has become home to a few unfortunate vessels, which in turn were quickly colonised and are now very popular with divers. Ballycastle Marina is larger and houses both small scale commercial fishing boats, privately owned boats and sail boats and power boats which run tours and can be chartered to explore the waters in the area.