Skip to Content

The Slea Head Drive: A Guide With A Map + The Best Stops

The Slea Head Drive: A Guide With A Map + The Best Stops

As of 2024, I have done the Dingle Peninsula’s Slea Head Drive 11 times – this guide contains a very tried-and-tested route you can follow.

The Slea Head Loop is a 38km/24 mile route that starts and ends in Dingle Town and that takes in many of the main attractions on the Dingle Peninsula.

Not to be confused with the much longer Dingle Peninsula Drive, Slea Head is a promontory that juts out at the end of the peninsula.

Below, you’ll find everything from a Slea Head drive map (with the stops plotted) to where to grab a coffee with a mighty view.

Some quick need-to-knows about the Slea Head Drive in Dingle

For the most part, the Slea Head drive route is easy to follow. However, there are sections of it where you’ll need to detour off the main route, which can be easily missed.

You’ll find some quick need-to-knows below, followed up with our Slea Head drive map and then a more detailed look at the stops.

1. Location

You’ll find the promontory known as Slea Head on the mighty Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry where it’s home to little coastal villages, ancient sites and scenery that’ll knock you sideways.

2. Where to start and finish the drive

The Slea Head Drive starts and finishes in the lively little town of Dingle. Aim for the Dingle Distillery and you’ll find the beginning of the drive without any hassle.

3. How long the drive takes

How long the Slea Head drive takes is entirely up to you. If you drove it from start to finish (the entire loop) without stopping, it’d take around 55 minutes. However, this would be pointless, as you need to hop out of the car. Allow at least 3.5 hours

4. Driving clockwise

It’s recommended that you drive the Slea Head loop clockwise, as you’ll avoid meeting large tour buses head-on. To be honest, I can’t see why anyone would drive it counterclockwise – you get a heap of great views when you spin along it clockwise.

5. The most popular Slea Head drive stops

Arguably the most popular Slea Head drive stops are Dun Chaoin Pier, the Dunmore Head viewpoint, the viewpoint at the white cross and Coumeenoole Beach, but there are many more stops worth adding to your Kerry road trip (see map below).

Our Slea Head drive map with stops plotted

The Slea Head drive map above outlines the ‘main’ stops along the route. It doesn’t contain some optional stops, like the Beehive Huts. If you zoom in on the map, you’ll find:

  • Start point: Dingle
  • Stop 1: Ventry Beach
  • Stop 2: The White Cross
  • Optional stop: Caife Na Tra
  • Stop 3: Dunmore Head Viewpoint
  • Stop 4: Coumeenoole Beach
  • Stop 5: Dun Chaoin Pier
  • Stop 6: The Blasket Centre
  • Stop 7: Ceann Sibeal View Point
  • Stop 8: Clogher Strand
  • Stop 9: Gallarus Oratory 
  • End point: Dingle

Although the route looks straight the whole way, some of the Slea Head drive stops mentioned above, like Dun Chaoin, require a short detour off the main route.

In the section below, you’ll get an overview of each section of the Slea Head Loop.

An overview of the Slea Head drive stops 

slea head loop

Photos via Shutterstock

Riiiiight! It’s time to start the drive. If you’re kicking it off from Dingle, follow the signs for Slea Head Drive R559.

If you follow the route from our Slea Head map, you’ll spin over Milltown Bridge and make your way past the lush woodlands at Burnham before arriving at stop 1 below.

1. Ventry Beach

Ventry Bay

Photos via Shutterstock

The first pull-in point is one of the most overlooked of the many Slea Head drive stops – Ventry Beach in, unsurprisingly, the little village of Ventry.

Located around 8km west of Dingle Town, this little village is home to a fine beach that’s around 3km long and that backs up onto a small dune system and lake.

Ventry Beach is one of the lesser trodden beaches near Dingle. It’s a gorgeous sandy blue flag beach that’s the perfect spot for a little ramble.

A handy tip: Head over to the pier (here on Google Maps) to get a great view of the entire beach and bay.

2. The stop that isn’t really a stop

slea head stops

Photos via Shutterstock

When you leave Ventry you’ll continue to spin along inland roads as you make your way to the second of our Slea Head Drive stops.

You’ll pass plenty of fields, farms, abandoned houses and magnificent mountainous terrain. A lot of Slea Head guides only talk about the stops.

Don’t get me wrong, the stops are great, but the breath-taking (and often nameless) scenery that you’re treated to as you drive, cycle or walk along this route is beyond special.

It’s along this section of the Slea Head Drive that you’ll be immersed in a place that’ll make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time, as the wild landscape collides with the piercing blue of the Atlantic.

Enjoy this section of the route. The chances are you won’t have the option to stop or pull in anywhere but sneak a glance at what surrounds you when it’s safe to do so.

3. The White Cross

The White Cross on slea head

Photos via Shutterstock

The White Cross on the Slea Head Drive is arguably one of the most iconic stopping points on the Dingle Peninsula.

I remember stopping here on my very first visit as a child in the early 90s and I’ve stopped here every time since.

You’ll find a little area to pull in right next to it that fits 4 – 5 cars, depending on size. On a clear day, you’ll get a gorgeous view out towards the Blasket Islands from here.

There’s also a fine view up along the coastline towards Dunmore Head. Hop out of the car here or off the saddle. There’s a little wall that you can perch yourself on (do so safely with your feet on the road side).

A handy tip: People often miss this pull-in-area as, from afar, it doesn’t look like there’s room to stop. Familiarise yourself with what it looks like before you go (here it is on Google Maps). 

4. Radharc na mBlascaoidí viewpoint

Radharc na mBlascaoidí

Photos via Shutterstock

A lot of the best stops on the Slea Head drive are the random little view points where you can pull in and admire the scenery. 

Our next stop is the viewpoint that offers views out towards the spectacular Dunmore Head. There’s a generous bit of space to park up (here on Google Maps).

You can soak up the view from the car park like the pair in the photo above or you can take a step down to a little grassy area just below.

A handy tip: You’ll get a great view of Dunmore Head from the little area right below the wall in the photo on the left above!

5. A coffee with a view (optional)

Caife Na Tra

Photos via Caife Na Tra on FB

Our next stop is optional, but very recommended. The lovely little Caife Na Tra is located right before you arrive at Coumeenoole Beach.

And the views, as you can see from the top right photo above are sensational. This is arguably one of the best stops on the Slea Head drive if you fancy kicking back and soaking up the scenery.

While sipping a coffee and munching away on something tasty, that is. If you rock up here on a clear day, try an nab a seat outside. 

6. Coumeenoole Beach

Coumeenoole Beach

Photos via Shutterstock

Our fifth stop on the Slea Head loop takes us to the beautiful Coumeenoole Beach. You’ll find it surrounded by rugged cliffs and endless coastal scenery.

If you’re a fan of the movie Ryan’s Daughter, you’ll recognise Coumeenoole Beach as it was one of the filming locations used by producers.

When you hop out here, you have two options: you can walk down to the beach on the left for a look, or you can take a longer walk to the right to have a gander at the cliffs up at Dunmore Head.

If you take the walk on the right, be careful – hopefully, it goes without saying that the cliffs are unguarded and you need to be cautious.

Safety warning: Although the water looks tropical, there are dangerous currents at play, so keep your toes on dry land!

7. Dun Chaoin Pier

Dun Chaoin Pier

Photos via Shutterstock

You can easily miss the next stop, Dun Chaoin Pier, on the Slea Head Drive in Dingle, if you’re not paying attention.

It’s a short spin from our last stop and you’ll need to take a sharp turn to the left to get to it. Park up near the little ticket booth.

If you struggle with mobility or if you arrive on a particularly manky day, you can admire the view from above (be careful – the cliff here is unguarded and the long grass can fool you into thinking that you’re further from the edge than you actually are).

If you read our guide to the best things to do in Dingle, you’ll know that Dun Chaoin Pier (pronounced ‘Dunquin’) is the departure point for the Blasket Island Ferry.

Common sense warning: Do. Not. Drive. Down. To. The. Pier. Every few years a tourist does and their car gets wrecked.

8. The Blasket Centre

The Blasket Centre

Photos courtesy Valerie O’Sullivan via Ireland’s Content Pool

You can combine lunch, a visit to the toilet and some history at Slea Head Drive stop number 7 – the Blasket Islands Centre. You’ll find it in Dún Chaoin, not far from the pier, on the tip of the Dingle Peninsula.

The centre is a fascinating museum that honours the community who lived on the Blasket Islands until they were evacuated in 1953 for safety reasons (if they were cut off from the mainland during a storm and there was an accident, they’d be unable to get help).

The centre tells the story of life on the islands and offers insight into traditional life, farming and fishing. Visitors can expect interactive displays, artefacts, audiovisual presentations and more.

9. The Ceann Sibéal viewing point (one for Star Wars fans)

star wars filming location slea head

Photos via Shutterstock

Our next stop on Slea Head is the Ceann Sibéal viewing point. Now, if you’re looking at Ceann Sibeal (the big aul headland in the photo above) and thinking that it looks familiar, it’s because you may have seen it at the end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The production company filming the movie used the area here to recreate the beehive huts from the Skellig Islands.

For those that have zero interest in Star Wars, you’re still in for a treat – this is one of the more impressive viewpoints on the Slea Head Loop.

A handy tip: It’s very easy to miss this stop due to the ‘parking’ area being make-shift. It’s located here on Google Maps.

10. Clogher Strand

Clogher Strand

Photos via Shutterstock

Clogher Strand is one of the lesser-know Slea Head stops, and it’s one of our favourite beaches in Kerry (especially if you arrive as the sun starts to drop).

It wasn’t until my 3rd or 4th time that we found this place and went for a ramble along the sand. The bay at Clogher is circular and the gorgeous little beach is surrounded by jagged cliffs.

If you visit, look out towards the sea and you’ll see the outline of ‘Fear Marbh’ (‘Dead Man’ in English). Fear Marbh is the most northerly of the three Blasket Islands.

If you arrive on a clear day, hop out of the car or off the bike and head for a saunter along the sand.

11. Gallarus Oratory

Gallarus Oratory

Photos via Shutterstock

The final stop on our Slea Head drive route is Gallarus Oratory – one of a handful of places to visit in Kerry on the bucket list of many visiting tourists.

It’s believed that the Gallarus Oratory dates back to the 11th or 12th century. The interior of the oratory is pretty small at just 4.8m long by 3m wide.

The entire structure is illuminated by a single window and there’s a lovely local legend that says that the person who climbs through the window will be guaranteed access to heaven.

A handy tip: You only need to pay if you’re visiting the visitor centre.

12. Heading back to Dingle

Dingle Town

Photos via Shutterstock

When you finish up at Gallarus, it’s time to head on back to Dingle Town. If you’re planning on staying in Dingle, the guides below should come in handy:

Wrapping up our guide to the Dingle Peninsula drive

And that is a wrap. Hopefully the guide above will make your spin along the Slea Head loop nice and straightforward.

As we tend to say in most of our guides here, the above should be used loosely, and you should chop and change it however you see fit.

For example, you could easily deviate off the route above to do the Mount Brandon Hike.

Or, you could combine the Slea Head drive with a visit up to Conor Pass, too. At the end of the day, it’s your trip so do it however you see fit and, most importantly, enjoy it!

FAQs about the Slea Head loop

We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from what’s the best Slea Head drive route to which is better, Slea Head or the Ring of Kerry.

In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.

How long does the Slea Head Drive take?

Allow at least 2 to 3 hours to explore this chunk of the Dingle Peninsula. The more time you have the better, as you’ll want to hop out of the car regularly.

Which is better the Dingle Peninsula or the Ring of Kerry

I prefer the Dingle Peninsula as it tends to be much quieter than the Ring of Kerry, however, both pack a mighty punch.

What are the best stops on the Slea Head Drive?

It’s hard to beat Dun Chaoin, the Ceann Sibéal viewing point, the Dunmore Head viewpoint and Coumeenoole Beach.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Rox Spiegel

Tuesday 26th of March 2024

This was so incredibly helpful during my trip to Ireland this March (2024). Thank you so much!

Keith O'Hara

Tuesday 26th of March 2024

Thanks Rox. Glad it came in handy!

Eytan Bar lev

Wednesday 7th of September 2022

Amazing information and so clear and easy to follow. Thank you!!!


Thursday 23rd of June 2022

This is fantastic, really helpful - thank you


Tuesday 24th of August 2021

Brilliant , thank you

Peter Burke

Tuesday 1st of September 2020

Very informative. Well done.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.