Day 8. Dingle to Lahinch
Today we’re going to explore one of the most beautiful corners of Ireland. Fuel up with breakfast in Pax and get ready for another eventful day.
1. The Slea Head Drive
This Drive takes roughly 1 hour and 10 minutes – we’re going to allow 4 hours. Start the drive at 9:00).
I’m excited for any of you that are doing this drive for the first time.
The Slea Head Drive is a circular route that begins and ends in Dingle. It takes in an abundance of attractions and fabulous views on the western end of the peninsula.
My only piece of advice for this drive is to stop and wander wherever and whenever the feeling takes you.
The best parts of this drive aren’t the stops, they’re the ever-changing landscape that engulfs it.
2. The magnificent Coumeenoole Beach
Our first stop is at Coumeenoole Beach, a place I’ve been to many times before. This is a fantastic little beach that’s surrounded by jagged cliffs and spectacular coastal scenery.
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. This place really is wild.
Park the car and explore the area. The beach is to the left, down the little winding hill, and then to the right, you have a path that, if you take it, will offer spectacular views of the surrounding area.
3. 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 another one of those places that tends to rock you a little bit (the best places to visit in Ireland generally do).
When you step out of your car and gaze out, the sound of wind and wave combined with the view that you’ll be treated to is immensely special.
Spend time here. Who cares how long. Soak up the sights and sounds. Put down the phone and the camera and focusing on capturing this little chunk of bliss in your mind forever.
4. Dun Chaoin Pier
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 is unguarded).
When gawked at from above, the narrow, winding road that leads up to the pier can only be described as a charming little slice of architectural madness.
The quirky road combined with the gorgeous rocky peaks that jut out from the water in front of the pier make for a wonderfully unique scene on County Kerry’s dramatic coastline.
5. The stop that isn’t a stop
I tried to emphasise this earlier, but I really believe that you need to go with your gut on this drive.
Take your time and just enjoy the scenery that envelopes you from start to finish. Here are some other things you can do along the drive, if you’d like a bit more guidance:
- The Blasket Islands
- Reasc Monastic Site
- Dunbeg Fort
- Beehive Huts
- The Upside-Down-Bridge
- Gallarus Oratory
- Kilmalkedar Church
6. Dingle for lunch and ice cream or coffee
The Slea Head Loop will get you back to Dingle for around 13:00 if you take 4 hours to drive it. We’re going to fuel up in Dingle for a long afternoon and evening on the road.
Head to Ashe’s Bar for a bite to eat and then tip on over to Murphy’s Ice Cream for a bit of a #TreatYoSelf buzz.
The Caramelised Brown Bread and the Dingle Sea Salt are both ammmmmmmmmmazing!
7. The absolutely mental road at Conor Pass
Dingle to Conor Pass – 8-minute drive (leave Dingle at 14:00, arrive for 14:08). It’s rare that a road bothers me in any way.
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 the Conor Pass was one of my highlights from my last trip to Kerry.
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.
You can pull in at the side of the road before the pass and admire the views around you. On a busy day, this’ll be a nervous drivers nightmare, but just take your time and drive carefully.
8. The ferry to Clare
Now, the drive from Conor Pass to Kilbaha would take 3 long hours… THANKFULLY, there’s a 20-minute ferry that you can take that’ll make this journey a lot easier.
Drive from Conor Pass to Tarbert (1 hour and 15-minute drive). You can get a ferry from here to Killimer in Clare.
The ferry leaves from Tarbert every hour on the half-hour during the high season when there are two ferries in operation (more info here).
Our first stop is to Kilbaha (40 minutes from Killimer) to check out the cliffs at Loop Head Lighthouse. I’ve visited here a handful of times in the past and am always blown away by the sheer lack of people that you meet.
Park the car at the lighthouse and walk along the grass to the right of the wall that surrounds it. You’ll find a gorgeous sea stack and a wonderful view of the surrounding cliffs.
Warning: the cliffs are unguarded, so please be careful.
This is another place where you’ll feel the full force of Mother nature. The wind crashes against you from every angle and the thunder of the waves smashing against jagged cliff is like music to the ears.
9. Lahinch for the night
Kilbaha to Lahinch – 1 hour and 5-minute drive (leave at 18:10, arrive to Lahinch for 19:05). That was a pretty long day, so we’re going to head to our base for the night and then out for food.
I’m going to recommend you stay at the Atlantic Hotel. Check-in and then take a stroll to Danny Mac’s for dinner.
Get an early night, tonight, as we’ve another busy day tomorrow (we’ll factor in a lie-in, of sorts, for the morning of day 10… promise)
Keith O’Hara has lived in Ireland for 34 years and has spent most of the last 10 years creating what is now The Irish Road Trip guide. Over the years, the website has published thousands of meticulously researched Ireland travel guides, welcoming 30 million+ visitors along the way. In 2022, the Irish Road Trip team published the world’s largest collection of Irish Road Trip itineraries. Keith lives in Dublin with his dog Toby and finds writing in the 3rd person minus craic altogether.