Day 6. West Cork to Kerry
It feels like we’ve been on the road for months at this stage.
Although, maybe it just feels like that because I’ve been typing this guide out over the course of a few days (pop a comment in the comment section below if you’ve gotten this far!) and my fingers feel like they’re about to fall off.
Another mighty day is in store for all you fine folk follow along – let’s get at it!
1. Jumping Aboard Ireland’s Only Cable Car
Allihies to Dursey Island Cable Car – 22-minute drive (leave Allihies at 9, arrive at 9:22). Point your car in the direction of Dursey Island and get ready to board the only cable car in Ireland.
Originally opened in 1969, the Dursey Island cable car remains, to this day, the most used means of transport across the choppy waters of the Dursey Sound.
The cable car runs 250m above the sea and takes just 10 minutes to transport explorers from the mainland to the most westerly of West Cork’s inhabited islands.
When you reach the island, have a ramble around and enjoy spectacular views of the Beara Peninsula.
Dursey Island to Kenmare – allow for 2 hours (leave Dursey Island at 10:40, arrive in Kenmare for 12:40).
I haven’t put any stops in here, but I’m factoring in that it’ll take us 2 hours (the drive according to Google maps is 1 hour and 26 minutes)
When you arrive in Kenmare head to Mick & Jimmy’s Restaurant for a bit of lunch. Once you’ve eaten, have a stroll around the town.
Kenmare is somewhere I could see myself living. The people (the ones I’ve encountered the three times I’ve visited, anyway) are lovely, the pubs are buzzing and the town is surrounded by endless adventure opportunities.
Get your fill and let’s get going.
Kenmare to Sneem – 28-minute drive (leave Kenmare at 1:40, arrive in Sneem for 2:10). Our next stop is the little village of Sneem on Kerry’s Iveragh Peninsula.
The view that unravels in front of you as you drive into Sneem is worth the visit alone – rolling mountains seem to fold in upon you from every angle as you enter one of Kerry’s most wonderfully quaint villages.
Imagine winding down with the below view laid out in front of you after a hard day exploring!
I love this place. We aren’t spending long here on this trip, but take a little time to admire the mountains that surround the town as you walk through.
4. The Sandy Shores of Derrynane Beach
Sneem to Derrynane Beach – 27-minute drive (leave Sneem at 14:30, arrive to the sand for 15:00).
The minute you step out of the car and start to soak up the view, you’ll understand why so many people recommended adding it to your itinerary. Derrynane Beach is beautiful.
It’s reasonably sheltered and boasts a natural harbour, 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.
5. The Wonderful Town of Waterville
Derrynane Beach to Waterville – 20-minute drive (leave the beach at 15:35, arrive to Waterville for 15:55). 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. For those of you that are hungry or in need of a coffee, nip into An Corcan (the steak sandwich is unreal).
It’s a pokey little cafe/restaurant and the people working there are beyond warm and friendly. Waterville is lovely. Park the car. Stretch the legs.
Fun fact: the town was a favourite holiday spot of Charlie Chaplin. He and and his family first visited the town in 1959 and came back every year for over ten years. You’ll see a statue of him in the center of the village in his memory
6. Driving the Skellig Ring
Waterville to Portmagee (via the Skellig Ring) – 44-minute drive, but we’re allowing for 2 hours – leave Waterville at 16:30, arrive in Portmagee for 18:30). The next two hours are going to be special.
We’re about to travel along an 18km route that links Waterville to Portmagee via Ballinskelligs. Expect raw, wild, magnificent scenery, with the jagged outline of Skellig Michael on the horizon rarely far from view.
The Skellig Ring is a very straightforward drive, where you’ll discover the best it has to offer as you spin along it. The one stop-off point I’m going to recommend is the Kerry Cliffs.
I’ve visited the Kerry Cliffs twice now, and on both occasions, I was one of maybe 2 or 3 other people that were there at the time.
The cliffs, which are over 1,000 feet (305 meters) high, offer spectacular views of the Skellig Islands and Puffin Island.
This is one of those places that makes you really aware of how powerful mother nature is. The thunderous crash as waves collide with sharp cliff face rings out in your ears constantly.
7. Portmagee for the night
Check-in and then head down to the bar for some food and a couple of pints.
You may have seen videos from this pub back when Star Wars was being shot in the area (Mark Hamill was shot pulling a pint at the bar).