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The Atlantic Drive On Achill Island: Map + Stops

The Atlantic Drive On Achill Island: Map + Stops

The Atlantic Drive is a 55km scenic route that starts in Mulranny, travels across Achill Sound and takes in the best of Achill Island.

Arguably one of the best things to do in Mayo, this is a great road-trip-route for those with just one day to explore Achill Island.

It follows a logical route and it takes in panoramic views, outstanding beaches, historical sites and charming towns.

Below, you’ll find a map of the Atlantic Drive along with an overview of each of the stops. Enjoy!

Some quick need-to-knows about the Atlantic Drive


Before you jump in the car and head for Achill, it’s worth going over the essentials first, as you need to plan out your route to avoid missing some of the slightly off-the-beaten-path stops:

1. Where it starts and ends

The traditional route begins in the historic town of Westport and then passes through Newport and Mulranny before continuing on to Achill Island.

The 55km route outlined below starts in Mulranny, hugs the Currane Peninsula and then takes you to Achill.

2. How long it takes

It’ll take you 4 to 5 hours to drive the entire route (allowing for small stops).

With that said, you arguably need at least half a day, as there’s plenty of things to do on Achill, which is where the majority of the route takes you.

3. Our modified route

So, we’ve included a map below that outlines a slightly modified version of the Atlantic Drive on Achill.

This route includes some stops that aren’t included in the official/traditional route.


An overview of the Atlantic Drive


Our modified version of the Atlantic Drive on Achill kicks off at Mulranny Beach and covers a total distance of around 55km (you can of course start it from Westport, Newport or wherever you’re staying!).

Following a mix of narrow country lanes and coastal roads, it takes in some spectacular scenery and avoids some of the busier sections on the traditional route. Here are the main stops along the way.

1. Mulranny Beach

Mulranny Mayo

Photos via Shutterstock

Mulranny Beach is a fine place to kick things off. There’s a large car park and a sand and pebble beach.

You can also enjoy the unique Mulranny Causeway walk as it crosses through the salt marshes of Clew Bay (keep an eye out for Croagh Patrick).

There’s also the Lookout Hill Loop, a moderate stroll that boasts incredible views.


2. Wild Atlantic Way Viewpoint – Dumhach Bheag

Dumhach Bheag

Photo via Shutterstock

From Mulranny Beach, the road heads west towards the village of Corraun.

Surrounded by boulder-strewn fields on one side, and fantastic views out to the sea on the other, there’s plenty to look at—just beware of sheep on the road!

The first stop along the way is Dumhach Bheag, a slightly elevated viewpoint that offers panoramic views across Clew Bay.

Meanwhile, the mighty Corraun Hill looms up behind you.


3. Spanish Armada Viewpoint

Spanish Armada Viewpoint

Photo via Shutterstock

Just before you reach Corraun, you’ll come to the Spanish Armada Viewpoint.

This offers another excellent view across the bay and out to Clare Island.

The area is known for being the point at which five ships from the defeated Spanish Armada ran aground during fierce storms.

Two of the ships have yet to be recovered, though it’s believed they sank at the mouth of Clew Bay.


4. Grace O’Malley’s Towerhouse

Grace O'Malley Towerhouse

Photos via Shutterstock

Next, the road loops around the coast, through the village of Corraun, and alongside Achill Sound, with the island to your left.

Cross over the bridge from the mainland onto the island, then leave the main road by turning left onto the L1405 towards Cloughmore.

Before you get there though, it’s worth parking up at Grace O’Malley’s Towerhouse.

The tower dates back to the 15th century and is most well-known as the former watchtower of the Celtic Goddess Grace O’Malley (1530 – 1603).


5. Cloughmore

Cloughmore achill

Photo via Shutterstock

Next, follow the road around the southern tip of the island, enjoying views of Achill’s smaller sibling, Achillbeg Island, until you arrive at the Cloughmore viewpoint.

There’s a small gravel layby to park in, and it’s worth wandering amid the boulders and rocks to enjoy incredible ocean views.

Behind you, the rocky hills tower above the nearby cottages.


6. White Cliffs of Ashleam

ashleam cliffs achill

Photos via Shutterstock

Next, you’ll follow the road in the direction of Dooega. This stretch boasts some of the most impressive coastal landscapes in Ireland.

Soon after, you’ll see one of the Wild Atlantic Way Discovery Point signs in front of you.

Pull in and hop out (there’s plenty of space). The White Cliffs of Ashleam will be getting bashed by the waves right in front of you.

The cliffs are majestic, slicing into the sea like the teeth of a saw.

Looking to stay on the island? Hop into our Achill Island accommodation guide to find the best hotels and B&Bs


7. Dooega Bay Beach

dooega beach achill

Photos courtesy Christian McLeod via Fáilte Ireland

Next, the road winds down a series of hairpin bends to the inlet of Ashleam Bay.

Follow the road towards Dooega, enjoying the sea views to your left.

Soon enough, you’ll arrive at Dooega Beach, a gorgeous little spot that doesn’t get half as many visitors as the other beaches in Achill.

It’s a lovely, tranquil place that boasts fabulous views, soft, clean sands, sheltered waters, and craggy rock pools.


8. Minaun Heights

minaun heights achill

Photos by The Irish Road Trip

The next stop, Minaun Heights, deviates from the main road somewhat, but it’s well worth it as this is where you’ll get one of the best views as you spin along the Atlantic Drive on Achill.

Climbing up 466 metres, a paved road takes you most of the way and you can park near the top.

The panoramic views are absolutely breathtaking, taking in much of the island and its surroundings.

You can go for a wander along the top to take it all in.

The road up is pretty narrow, though there are passing points. It’s also quite steep and could be a real challenge for cyclists.


9. Keel Beach

keel beach achill

Photos via Shutterstock

Follow the same track back down to the main road and head off in the direction of Keel village.

You would’ve seen the beautiful Keel Beach from the top of Minaun Heights, an unmistakable band of golden sands and bright blue waters.

Once you see it up close, you can appreciate how big it actually is! It’s a popular spot for for surfing, kayaking, walks and paddling.

In the village, you’ll find some of the best cafes and restaurants on Achill Island, as well as craft shops.


10. Keem Beach

keem bay Achill

Photos via Shutterstock

Next up is one of the most iconic stops on the Atlantic Drive on Achill. The stretch of road from Dooagh to Keem is perhaps one of my favourites on the drive.

It sees you travelling along a winding road that has been hewn into the craggy slopes of Croaghaun, the highest point on the island. 

Sitting high above the sea, you’ll see the sandy Keem Bay surrounded by beautiful green hills as you approach.

Smaller than Keel Beach, it’s just as gorgeous, with soft golden sands and azure waters bordered by grassy, rocky slopes.


11. Golden Strand

golden strand achill

Photos via Shutterstock

Head back on the same road to Keel, then make your way to the village of Dugort.

Here, the road is surrounded by lush vegetation, while the mighty Slievemore, the second tallest peak on the island, looms on your left.

As you go, you might want to drop by Slievemore Old Cemetery and the Deserted Village, a place that is equal parts fascinating and eerie.

The last stop on the Atlantic Drive on Achill is Golden Strand, arguably Achill’s second-most-popular beach.

A stunning crescent of golden sand and beautiful clear waters, it’s another great spot for walking and is popular among kayakers and canoeists.


See more of Mayo

best things to do in mayo Ireland

There are plenty of other things to do in Mayo after you’ve conquered the Atlantic Drive.

Here are a few of my favourites:

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Tuesday 11th of April 2023

Such a helpful article! We are doing this trip with a toddler next month. Is the drive itself very stressful? Wondering if it's similar to Road to Hana in Maui which is a very difficult drive and can be scary and make you car sick at times. We are not used to driving on the left side of the road. Thanks!

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