There’s a handful of things to do in Waterville in Kerry and there’s endless places to visit close by!
Waterville is a coastal village in south Kerry on the Iveragh Peninsula the some people just drive through as part of the Ring of Kerry drive.
However, this beautiful little town has plenty going for it, as you’ll discover below.
Our favourite things to do in Waterville
The first section of our guide is packed with our favourite things to do in Waterville, based on first hand experience.
Below, you’ll find scenic coffee spots, gorgeous trails and some unique activities to try.
1. Grab a coffee-to-go from Beachcove Café
One of our favourite things to do in Waterville is to grab a coffee and head for a ramble and, on most visits, we tend to head to Beachcove Café.
This delightful café is located right off of the Ring of Kerry (N70) across from Sea Synergy just a couple minutes walk from the beach.
The café serves hot lunches such as fish and chips and burgers with other takeaway options (see our Waterville restaurants guide for other great food spots).
2. Then head for a ramble along Waterville Beach
Waterville is the only village on the Ring of Kerry that is located right on the coast. Waterville Beach is a long beach that curves along Ballinskelligs Bay with views of Bolus Head to the north and Hogs Head to the south.
The promenade is a paved pathway above the beach that is a little over a kilometre long. Stroll along the promenade, or if the tide is out, enjoy the sandy beach beneath your feet.
If you are looking for a longer walk, keep heading north and head all the way to Inny Strand below the Waterville GolF Links. Make sure you return in the evening as the west facing beach offers beautiful sunset views.
3. Spend a fine morning on the Waterville Heritage Trail
The Waterville Heritage Trail is a short walk that takes you around the village, highlighting different areas of historical significance and commemorating some of the incredible people that came from and visited this village.
The trail starts near the Butler Arms Hotel right at the intersection between the Ring of Kerry (N70) and Seaview Terr where you will find a limestone Celtic cross monument.
From there the trail will bring you around the village, stopping at sites related to the Commercial Cable Company which connected Canada, Ireland, Britain and France via telegraph starting in 1884.
4. Hit the water with Sea Synergy
Sea Synergy Marine Awareness and Activity Centre offers marine education activities and outdoor adventure tours that the whole family can enjoy.
Take a walk along the seashore with a marine biologist and learn about the local marine life or paddle a kayak around Lough Currane with a certified instructor.
The centre is located in the heart of Waterville, right on the beach across from the Butler Arms Hotel.
Sea Synergy offers kayaking, snorkelling, stand up paddleboarding and other outdoor activities in English and as gaeilge.
If you’re looking for unique things to do in Waterville with a group, this is a solid option!
5. Tackle one of the many cycle routes
There’s endless active things to do in Waterville and the surrounding area. The Iveragh Peninsula is known for the famous Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle which takes place every year in July and goes through Waterville.
If you are looking for a shorter cycle, take this 34km route leaving from Waterville towards Caherdaniel, turning left on a road marked for Hogs Head Lodge.
Continue on from there taking in spectacular views of Lough Currane, Cappal Lake and the mountains before you reach the end of the road and turn back towards Waterville.
You can spend an afternoon in a different type of saddle at the Ring of Kerry Equestrian Centre located just north of Waterville.
6. Take a boat tour to the Skelligs
The Skellig Islands are a UNESCO World Heritage Site located 12km off the coast of Kerry. Skellig Michael, the larger of the two islands, is the site of an ancient monastery built on the top of the island and made up of beehive huts.
These islands host thousands of migratory birds each year including puffins and razor bills. Visiting Skellig Michael is an incredible experience that has only become more popular since the island was featured in a certain Jedi film.
We highly recommend a visit, though be warned that the boat trip can be incredibly tumultuous and accessing the monastery requires climbing hundreds of ancient stairs.
Note: As a visit to the Skelligs is one of the most popular things to do in Kerry, tours can book out months in advance.
More great things to do in Waterville (and nearby)
The second section of our guide looks at more stuff to see around the town along with the many things to do near Waterville.
Waterville makes a great base to explore from – see our Waterville accommodation guide for places to stay!
1. Head off on one of the walking trails
Kerry is a popular hiking destination and while most hikers and hillwalkers spend their time around Killarney, Waterville has a number of spectacular walks to offer.
The village is part of the Kerry Way which is a multiday 200km walk around the Iveragh Peninsula. Follow the Kerry Way north towards Cahersiveen (30km) or south towards Caherdaniel (11km) to experience beautiful sections of this trail.
If you are looking for a shorter 3km walk, head north from the village past Dooley’s Restaurant and continue along the cliff road taking in towards Inny Beach where you can extend your walk along Ballinskelligs Bay or turn back towards Waterville.
2. Take a tour of McGill’s Brewery
McGill’s Brewery lies right outside of Waterville and is the first microbrewery to open on the Iveragh Peninsula. The brewery uses water sourced from deep within the Iveragh Mountains and high quality malt from The Malting Company of Ireland.
Proudly operating in a Gaeltacht region, their beers reflect the people and history that the Iveragh Peninsula is famous for such as Maud De Lap, a biologist who was the first person to breed jellyfish in captivity.
Call ahead to book a tour where you will get the chance to taste their beers, learn about the unique history of the area and maybe even pick up a cúpla focal.
This is a handy option if you’re looking for things to do in Waterville with a big group of friends.
3. Drive the Ring Of Skellig
The Ring of Skellig is an 18km extension of the Ring of Kerry that takes you through Ballinskelligs and Portmagee before looping back to Waterville.
This loop takes you past some incredible spots including the Kerry Cliffs and Coomanaspig Pass, but another selling point is that tour buses are not allowed on these narrow country roads.
This means that this beautiful and remote section of Kerry is less crowded than the rest of the Ring of Kerry.
The driving time for the ring is around 1.5 hours but you are going to want to stop along the way so allow for at least double that.
4. Saunter along Derrynane Beach
Derrynane Beach is a Blue Flag beach just a 20 minute drive south from Waterville. The beach is sheltered by Abbey Island which keeps the waters calm and clear.
The beach is a popular swim spot during the summer with life guards on duty from June through August. If you decide to enter the water, do so with care as certain sections of the beach are not suitable for swimming.
Walking along Derrynane Beach provides stunning views of the ruins of a medieval abbey just across clear blue water on Abbey Island.
5. Soak up the views at the Kerry Cliffs
The Kerry Cliffs are the closet you can get to the Skelligs and Puffin Island from land and offer spectacular views of those jagged islands.
These 300m cliffs are just a 25 minute drive from Waterville and offer a 30 mile view of the surrounding area on a clear day.
It takes around an hour to take in all of the different viewpoints from these cliffs, however, if you are a birdwatcher allow for extra time as the cliffs are home to large colonies of sea birds.
The paths around the cliffs are steep but well maintained with secure fencing and many places to sit down and take in the view.
6. Explore Valentia Island
Valentia Island is a picturesque island right off the coast of Kerry about a 25 minute drive from Waterville that is well worth a day trip.
You can access the island from the bridge at Portmagee, or if you are in the mood for something different, you can take the 5 minute Valentia Ferry from Reenard West.
Some of the islands main attractions are Geokaun Mountain (an incredible viewpoint), Valentia Island Beach, the Valentia Island Lighthouse and the brilliant Bray Head Walk.
What to do in Waterville: Where have we missed?
I’ve no doubt that we’ve unintentionally left out some brilliant places to visit in Waterville from the guide above.
If you have a place that you’d like to recommend, let me know in the comments below and I’ll check it out!
FAQs about places to visit in Waterville
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘What is there to do when it rains?’ to ‘Where’s good for a stroll?’.
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.
What are the best things to do in Waterville Kerry?
Kick-start your visit with coffee from Beachcove Café, hit the water with Sea Synergy, tackle the Waterville Heritage Trail, stroll along Waterville Beach or visit one of endless nearby attractions.
What are good things to do near Waterville?
Visit Derrynane Beach, Valentia Island, the Skelligs, the Kerry Cliffs and all of the various Ring of Skellig attractions.