Wednesday, December 19, 2018

My 5-Day Wild Atlantic Road Trip Guide: Itinerary, Photos + Loads More

Stop 1 – Sneem for coffee and a stretch

After waking up and rejoicing at the clear morning, I quickly dressed, checked out, and pointed my car in the direction of Sneem.

Sneem is a little village on the Iveragh Peninsula in Kerry that’s always worth a visit.

sneem county kerry
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

There’s something incredibly special about the view that greets you as you drive into the town.

I grabbed a cup of coffee and went for a stroll.

o'sheas pub sneem
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Stop 2 – a random corner of Kerry

My favourite part of any Irish road trip is the unexpected delights that you never plan, but that act as the secret sauce to every great adventure.

They’re the places that you never knew existed, and never imagined visiting.

After leaving Sneem, I hopped on the N70, and just happened upon the place below.

random road in county kerry
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

The sun had been swallowed by a big, grey cloud, but that just seemed to make the scene even more perfect.

I’m not sure where this is, but I spent a good 25 minutes sat here, admiring the view, and grabbing pictures.

Stop 3 – the sandy shores of Derrynane Beach

My next stop was a beach that I’d heard people ranting and raving about for as long as I can remember.

You’ll find Derrynane Beach just two miles north of Caherdaniel on the Ring of Kerry.

The minute I stepped out of the car and started to soak up the view, I could see why so many people had recommended that it be added to the 5-day Ireland itinerary.

Derrynane Beach is beautiful.

Derrynane beach from above.

A post shared by Keith O’Hara 🍀🍀 (@keith_ohara) on

It’s reasonably sheltered and boasts a natural harbor, and there’s a lifeguarded on duty during the summer months.

On the day that I was there, there were only three other people walking along the beach.

A great little spot to clear the head.

Stop 4 – Waterville

I never need to plan a visit to Waterville.

It’s like my subconscious arranges every trip to Kerry so that one way or another, I just end up there.

An amazing friend who is unfortunately no longer with us took me here many years ago and the place holds an abundance of happy and sad memories for me.

I’m drawn to it constantly. And always will be.

Whenever I visit Waterville I always nip into An Coran for a bite to eat (the steak sandwich is unreal).

It’s a pokey little cafe/restaurant and the people working there are beyond warm and friendly.

Stop 5 – Valentia Island

Ah, Valentia Island – easily one of my favorite places in Ireland.

Connected to the little town of Portmagee by the Maurice O’Neill Memorial Bridge, Valentia Island is one of Ireland’s most westerly points.

Here’s a guide, and a tonne of photos, of Valentia Island – visit it, it’s deadly!

My first stop-off was the car park near Bray Head.

I was highly aware that rain was en route, so I didn’t attempt to squeeze in the Bray Head Loop Walk (definitely something you should consider).

I kicked back and admired the view out towards the Skellig Islands.

I didn’t manage to take a photo here on this visit, but here’s a shot from this time last year.

bray head valentia island
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

From here, I made my way up to the Geokaun Mountain and Cliffs, and after paying a €5 entry fee, I made the steep ascent (it’s insanely steep – keep the car in first gear the entire way up) towards one of the best views in Ireland.

I’ve done a reasonable amount of travelling outside of Ireland, and there are very few places that I’ve been to that offer a view as spectacular as the Geokaun Mountain and Cliffs.

valentia island cliffs
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Kick-back, relax and just soak up what lies before you.

One of the things that I’ve always wanted to do out this direction is take a ferry over to Skellig Michael – it wasn’t to be on this trip.

If you’re interested in learning more about Skellig Michael, it’s history, the Star Wars connection and the tours you can take of the island, click here.

Stop 6 – Dingle for sunset

I left Valentia Island at around 5:30 p.m. on the evening of day two and was faced with a lengthy hour and 45-minute drive to reach my destination for the night – Dingle.

It was just after 7 by the time I arrived in the town, so I checked into my B&B, dropped off my bags, and headed out into Dingle.

dingle kerry sunset
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

I strolled down towards the harbor area and arrived just as the sun was beginning to set.

After admiring the sunset for a bit, I made my way to John Benny’s Pub for food and chilled after what was a long aul day of driving.

Day 4 – The magnificent Slea Head and so much more

Here’s a look at where day 4 is taking us (click the little ‘5’ below the map to check it out).

Day 4 – Soaking up (literally #DamnRain) the many wonders of Slea Head

I woke up bright and early on day 4 to the sounds of rain hopping off my window.

In the hope that I was hearing things, I whipped out the weather app and saw that we were due for rain from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. but that we’d get clear weather from then on.

Now, I was in a unique enough position in that I was traveling on my own and had nowhere booked to stay for the night, so I was happy to play the waiting game with the weather and see what happened later in the day.

Stop 1 – The absolutely mental road at Conor Pass

It’s rare that a road bothers me in any way.

I love the narrow country roads that you encounter across Ireland, and I’m never (normally) in any way apprehensive about driving along them.

Conor Pass was different.

conor pass in dingle
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Conor Pass runs from Dingle out towards Brandon Bay and Castlegregory, and is one of the highest mountain passes in Ireland, standing a whopping 410 m above the sea level.

The tight, narrow road snakes alongside the mountain and weaves its way along sharp cliff faces on one side and an enormous drop to the other.

driving conor pass county kerry
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Driving the Conor Pass was one of my highlights from the trip.

Yes, had a semi oh-shit moment when I met a van coming towards me with no intention of stopping and I had to reverse back around the mountain on a road barely wider than the car, but it was amazing.

Stop 2 – a soaked Slead Head Drive

In hindsight, I should have left Conor Pass until later in the day, as I ended up driving through it twice, but I was in no rush so it didn’t really bother me.

I pointed my car in the direction of Slea Head and went off on my (momentarily) merry way.

When I arrived at the beginning of the Slea Head Drive the weather was beyond horrendous.

I decided to drive part of it but then thought better and nipped into the Blasket Island Centre for something to eat and a bit of shelter.

Stop 3 – Playing the waiting game at Dun Chaoin Pier paid off

After an hour or so of reading, gulping down coffee and eating (I ordered the meat lovers baked potato – 1/5…) I had itchy feet and decided to head on down towards Dun Chaoin Pier.

I threw on the rain gear and attempted to make my way out to the pier.

It was covered in mist…

At a time like that, you can either give up and head on, or you can wait it out – I grabbed a book and sat for an hour and a half reading and hoping the mist and rain would clear.

THEY DID!!

dun chaoin pier kerry
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Dun Chaoin Pier is the departure point for the Blasket Island Ferry, and you’ll find it at the northern end of a small secluded bay enveloped by rocky cliffs.

You can take a stroll down the pier itself or admire the view from above (be careful – the cliff side is unguarded).

Stop 4 – battling the wind at the magnificent Coumeenoole Beach

After leaving Dun Chaoin Pier I headed back towards Coumeenoole Beach, a place I’d been to many times before.

If you’re planning your Irish Road Trip, please add this to the itinerary – it’s a fantastic little beach that’s surrounded by jagged cliffs and spectacular coastal scenery.

beach from the movie ryans daughter
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

For any fans of the movie ‘Ryan’s Daughter’, you may recognise Coumeenoole Beach as it was one of the locations used in the film.

What you won’t get from the images above and below is the power of the wind that was gushing over me constantly, rocking me from side-to-side and making holding a camera virtually impossible.

beach in kerry ryans daughter
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Stop 5 – Chilling in the sun and admiring the view of Dunmore Head

You’ll find the lookout point for Dunmore Head a short distance from Coumeenoole Beach, so make sure you keep an eye out for it.

This is clear proof that Irish weather is mental; from rain and galeforce winds, to dull and cloudy weather to this… in minutes…

dunmore head kerry
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

When I arrived at Dunmore Head the sky just opened up and cleared completely.

After a day spent hanging around in the car as the rain bounced off the roof, this had an almost double-shot-of-espresso effect on me.

What a view… honestly

I’d decided to spend 20 minutes kicking back here and taking it all in.

Stop 6 – in search of a bed

I ended up completely forgetting to book a room for the night, and the battery in my phone was about to KO, so I headed back to Dingle to get a bite to eat and a charge.

I stopped off at John Benny’s near the Harbour and ordered a stew to heat the body after the day that was in it.

After charging up, I decided that I wanted to head towards Galway for Day 4, and Tralee would be a handy place to kick off from the following morning.

I finished my dinner and hit the road again.

I used this interactive map here to find a place to stay in Kerry – I went for the Ballyroe Heights Hotel.

If you’re in search of a place to stay in Tralee, consider staying here – the value for money was just incredible, and the view from the room (obviously this will depend on where your room faces) was sensational.

Day 5 – Connemara, Achill and loads more

In hindsight, I made a number of mistakes when planning (or not planning) day 5.

I decided to skip County Clare as I’d been there recently, but I should have just taken it easy and not put myself under the immense pressure that I did to get up to Achill that evening.

If you’re debating visiting Clare, please do it – it’s a fantastic county.

Here’s a video from a recent 2-day road trip around the county.

OK, so here’s the route that I actually took – the amount of driving that took place over the course of the day was insane.

It was a long day, but amazing nonetheless.

Click the little ‘6’ below the map to check it out.

Keith
Howaya! The purpose of this site is to inspire and guide you on an Irish adventure that’ll give birth to a lifetime of memories. No spam. Clickbait. Or boll*x. Ever. Keith

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