Valentia Island: Welcome To The Historic Kerry Island That Boasts Scenery By The Boatload

One of Ireland's great islands

Valentia Island Ireland

A ramble around the magnificent Valentia Island (up around Geokaun Mountain, in particular) is hands-down one of the best things to do in Kerry.

It’s my favourite spot to visit, anyway!

Why? Well, it’s from here that you’ll grab a mind-boggling view that’s:

  • Easy to reach by car (for those of you with limited mobility/fitness levels)
  • Ridiculous at sunset (see below)
  • Rarely swarmed with crowds (especially around sunrise and sunset)

The island also boasts a rich history.

Valentia Island: A Very Hidden Gem

Stuck for time?

Hit play on the video below from Luis Cameraman.

You’ll find Valentia Island off Kerry’s Iveragh Peninsula where it’s connected to the mainland by a bridge at the town of Portmagee.

In a nutshell, Valentia Island is incredible.

Unspoiled natural beauty collides with a wealth of history to make this little chunk of the Wild Atlantic Way a must-see for those visiting Kerry.

Although the highlight of the island, for me, is Geokaun Mountain, there’s plenty more to see and do which I’ll take you through shortly.

Stop-you-dead-in-your-tracks moments at Geokaun Mountain

valentia island lighthouse
Valentia Lighthouse: By Chris Hill

I’m a firm believer that exploring Ireland is all about those stop-you-dead-in-your-tracks moments.

Little nuggets of time that you wish would stay emblazoned upon your mind forever.

They’re unpredictable, and they move you in a way that’s impossible to put into words.

The last time I had one of these moments was a couple of years ago…

geokaun mountains and cliffs kerry
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

I had just checked into a B&B in the nearby town of Portmagee and the chap running the place told me that if I drove up to Geokaun Mountain that evening I’d be guaranteed a great sunset.

And that’s what happened.

I sat on the bonnet of my car for around 30 minutes staring at the scene in the photos above, until I was engulfed by darkness.

During this whole time, not one other person or car passed – I had this masterpiece all to myself.

Traveller Tip: You’ll need to pay €5 for a car or €2 if you’re walking to get up to the view in the pictures above. If you can, visit around sunrise or sunset.

An island with a whole load of history

There’s a heap of history associated with the island.

Here’s a taste of just some of the islands rich past.

Providing slate to some very swanky dwellings

Valentia’s Slate Quarry opened in 1816 and has been a working quarry on and off since.

Renowned for the quality of its wares, the quarry has provided slate more many famous buildings across the world, like:

  • The Paris Opera House
  • London’s Houses of Parliament 

A communications milestone

Valentia Island boasts one of the most fascinating tales in the history of communications.

Over 150 years ago, the very first transatlantic telegraph cable was laid between the island and Newfoundland in Canada, bringing with it a new era of communication between Europe and America.

Saving lives

Back in 1914, a Marine Radio Station was on the island.

Records show that Valentia Radio handled more radio traffic than any other Station in the British Isles during the mid 1920s.

During the Second World War, the island’s radion picked up a faint message from a civilian liner way out at sea.

Although the message was faint, Valentia Radio managed to organise a rescue mission and many lives were saved.

walking on valentia island
Photo by @marcobottigelli

Getting to the island

There are two ways to get to Valentia Island.

The first is via the Maurice O’Neill Memorial Bridge, which connects the island to the mainland at the town of Portmagee.

The second is via the ferry.

You can hop aboard the car ferry at Renard Point on the mainland. It’ll take you across to Valentia and it leaves every 10 minutes.

geokaun mountains ireland
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Valentia Island Ferry Times

The ferry chop and change over the course of the year.

Here’s everything you need to know via the official provider.

March, April, May, and June

  • First departure from Knightstown at 7:45 am
  • Last departure from Reenard at 9:30 pm
  • Note: Times differ on a Sunday
    • First departure from Knightstown at 9 am
    • Last departure from Reenard at 9:30 pm

July and August 

  • First departure from Knightstown at 7:45 am
  • Last departure from Reenard at 10 pm Sunday
  • Note: Times differ on a Sunday
    • First departure from Knightstown at 9 am
    • Last departure from Reenard at 10 pm

September and October

  • First departure from Knightstown at 7:45 am
  • Last departure from Reenard at 8:30 pm
  • Note: Times differ on a Sunday
    • First departure from Knightstown at 9 am
    • Last departure from Reenard at 8:30 pm
valentia island kerry
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Valentia Island Ferry Fare (2019)

The fares below are valid for 2019.

Car

  • Single €8
  • Return €12
  • 4 trips €16
  • 9 trips €25

Motorhome

  • Single €10
  • Return €15

Passengers travelling by foot

  • Single €1.50 Foot
  • Return €2
  • Family on foot return €7

Cyclists

  • Single €2
  • Return €3

Other fares

  • Motorbike single €4
  • Motorbike return €6
  • Small trailer return €1.50 Boat trailer single €3 Boat trailer return €5
Traveller Tip: If you do happen to get the ferry and you’re feeling peckish, nip into O’Neills The Point Seafood Bar near the ferry departure point. The food is excellent.

Have you been to Valentia Island yet? Let me know what you thought in the comments below!

Howaya! Thanks for visiting the Irish road trip! This site exists to inspire and guide you on an Irish adventure that’ll give birth to a lifetime of memories (sounds very arsey altogether, I know!) You'll find everything from things to do in Ireland to where to stay in Ireland (unique and unusual places) if you have a nosey around!

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