If you’re debating staying in Waterville in Kerry, you’ve landed in the right place.
A gorgeous little town located in County Kerry, Waterville has been a fixture on the Irish tourism circuit for centuries thanks to a prime waterfront location.
In the guide below, you’ll discover everything from things to do in Waterville in Kerry to where to eat, sleep and drink.
Some quick need to knows about Waterville In Kerry
Although a visit to Waterville in Kerry is nice and straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Waterville is located on the stunning Iveragh Peninsula in Kerry. The town is located on a narrow isthmus, with Lough Currane on the east side of the town, and Ballinskelligs Bay on the west.
2. The Name
The town’s name in Irish is Coireán, which means “little cauldron” or “little whirlpool”, and it is a reference to the shape of Ballinskelligs Bay near where the town is located.
3. The Charlie Chaplin link
Charlie Chaplin visited Waterville with his family in 1959. For over ten years, the family continued to return to the town for their holiday.
The local community embraced the connection to Chaplin and, with permission from the Charlie Chaplin estate, launched the Charlie Chaplin Comedy Film Festival in 2011.
Things to do in Waterville (and nearby)
One of the beauties of Waterville in Kerry is that it’s a short spin away from a clatter of other attractions, both man-made and natural.
Below, you’ll find a handful of things to see and do a stone’s throw from Waterville (plus places to eat and where to grab a post-adventure pint!).
1. Kick start your visit with a ramble along Waterville Beach
Waterville beach is historically known as Coirean, referring to the shape of the nearby bay. A walk along the promenade near the seafront is a fine way to kick-start your visit.
Indeed, if you would like to keep going, you can head down to Reenroe or Ballinskellig. For those wanting even more, you can then go on to walk along the cliff toward the Waterville Golf Links.
2. Keep an eye out for the statues
Waterville is home to two very well-known statues, always worth a visit if you are in town. The first and perhaps best known of the two celebrates Charlie Chaplin, the legendary comic who used to holiday in the town through the 1960s along with his family.
The second statue in Waterville celebrates Mick O’Dwyer, the man widely considered to be the greatest manager in the history of Gaelic Football.
Famous in the area, O’Dwyer is celebrated with a statue on the promenade showing the man in action ball-in-hand.
3. Plan your trip around the comedy festival
The Charlie Chaplin Comedy Film Festival is Waterville’s marquee creative arts event and takes place over four days in late August every year.
The Charlie Chaplin Comedy Film Festival includes screenings, workshops, street entertainment, a lookalike contest and a parade.
Truly a unique way to enjoy Waterville and its rich culture, the Charlie Chaplin Comedy Film Festival is a special addition to the town’s yearly calendar and attracts guests from across the nation.
4. Take a tour of the brewery
McGill’s Brewery is a beloved spot in Waterville and fans of craft beer in the town should pay this microbrewery a visit.
McGill’s Brewery was founded by Joe McGill and is located in the Gaeltacht Irish-speaking region of Murreigh, Waterville. Indeed, this is the first microbrewery on the Iveragh Peninsula.
McGill’s beers are made to the top standards and each one is special to the area of South Kerry. The beers are imbued with the spirit of local heroes, culture and history, whilst the small brewery handcrafts beers with real care.
5. Head for a hike
Situated close to both the sea shore and the stunning mountains, Waterville provides plenty of unusual routes for walking and even hill climbing.
There are walks taking in the town and its surrounds, others that spread out into the surrounding foothills and beyond.
The countryside of County Kerry is legendary and Waterville is a famously amazing spot to base oneself to explore it. With the benefits of a chic town and seaside locale, access to verdant and mountainous landscapes is also easily available.
6. Take a boat to the Skelligs
For those who want to head to the Skellig islands, the stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site, close to Waterville, it is worth getting up nice and early. Just 12 kms off the coast of County Kerry, the islands are only accessible using a charter boat.
Highlights of a trip here include seeing the beautiful Skellig Michael, complete with its monastic settlement.
Then there is Little Skellig, which is easily seen from the main island with its stunning birdlife including puffins, razorbills and more. For those who prefer plantlife, a visit here is unmissable with the islands’ unique, rare flora.
7. Drive the Skellig Ring
The iconic form of Skellig Michael is almost always visible from the route, with the rare birds and monastery lending it a unique character.
Indeed, the area was used as a ley location in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi for its unique look. Further across the area, it is possible to uncover remote seaside towns, trails and ancient history aplenty.
8. Visit the Kerry Cliffs
An especially beautiful part of southwestern Ireland, County Kerry is one of the island’s most stunning spots.
Sloping oceanside cliffs and soaring mountains characterise this traditional area, with the Kerry Cliffs one of the top examples of Ireland’s unusually dramatic coast.
Teetering 300 metres over the Atlantic, the Kerry Cliffs are a special sight. Ragged, intense and romantically beautiful, a visit to this zone of natural beauty should not be missed for anybody visiting the area.
9. Head for a saunter along Derrynane Beach
This is a stunning and lengthy beach located in Derrynane Bay. Situated close to Derrynane House, you can follow the directions for Derrynane House and will then see signals for Derrynane Beach.
The nearby village of Caherdaniel is situated just two miles north west of the beach and sits on the Ring of Kerry.
Shielded, and backed by soaring dunes, the beach here is soft with white sand & the ruins of a medieval church sit on Abbey Island.
If you’re thinking about staying in Waterville in Kerry (if you’re not, you should!), you’ve a pick of places to stay.
Note: if you book a hotel through one of the links below we’ll make a tiny commission that helps us keep this site going. You won’t pay extra, but we really do appreciate it.
1. The Old Cable Historic House
With views of the ocean and the surrounding countryside this special spot provides bright, spacious rooms with Wi-Fi.
Free parking is available and a delicious cooked Irish breakfast is available in addition to a continental breakfast.
There is also a selection of evening meals available. Produce is locally sourced with fresh seafood from the Atlantic and Kerry lamb and beef.
2. Brookhaven House
A gorgeous b&b near Waterville, Brookhaven House is set in the heart of the Wild Atlantic Way and overlooks both the sea and the golf course adjacent to it.
Awarded 5-stars by the Irish Tourist Board, this family-run bed and breakfast sits just a kilometre or so from Waterville town.
Offering spacious, luxury rooms with en-suite overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, decor is classic yet modern with all the amenities anybody could need.
3. The Smugglers Inn
The Smugglers Inn looks across the lovely beach at Ballinskelligs Bay. The majority of rooms offer sea or mountain views and the hotel includes a bar, a restaurant, free WiFi and free parking.
Rooms at The Smuggler’s Inn offer gorgeous decor, en-suite bathrooms, TVs and hairdryers. Tea and coffee making facilities are on offer for all guests in the room.
The Smugglers Inn Restaurant offers lovely and fresh seasonal produce from local sources, with seafood the order of the day here.
4. Lough Currane Holiday Homes
Offering free WiFi, Lough Currane Holiday Homes sits in Waterville, with free private parking is available on site.
The accommodation has a dining area and seating area offering a flat-screen TV. Some rooms offer a terrace and/or patio whilst there is a kitchen with a dishwasher and an oven and also a kettle for tea and coffee.
5. Butler Arms Hotel
The Butler Arms is located opposite the beach in Ballinskelligs Bay near Waterville. The hotel offers sweeping vistas of the Atlantic and provides large rooms, a quality seafood restaurant and free parking.
Rooms here are stylishly appointed, with private bathrooms with baths and showers. Rooms also offer satellite TVs and seating areas, ideal to relax after a long day.
The restaurant has a great menu and offers daily fish specials that entail a catch of the day option.
Waterville pubs and restaurants
If you fancy a post-adventure pint or if you just want a quick meal before hitting the nest after a long day exploring, you’re in luck.
While Waterville is small, it packs a punch pub wise. Below, you’ll find our favourite places to eat and drink.
1. An Corcan Restaurant
if you’re after a fine bit of lunch, get yourself to An Corcan. With breakfasts, sandwiches and plates such as currys, this is a cracking spot for a light lunch.
One of the best things about a visit to An Corcan is the chance to try the delicious homemade soda bread, best taken with plenty of butter!
2. Beachcove Café
Providing a wide range of classics done extremely well, Beachcove Cafe is a popular spot with something for everyone.
With free Wi-Fi, an outdoor seating area, dog friendly environment and even a dog menu, the cafe offers homemade products such as delicious scones, brownies and cakes and they are well known for their excellent coffee in the area.
3. O’Dwyers the Villa
Rumoured to serve some of the finest Guinness of anywhere in town, O’Dwyers The Villa offers Irish hospitality at its finest.
With a decent menu with a variety of options and a fine pub to tuck yourself away it during the evening, this is a great spot to whittle away a night in Waterville.
4. The Lobster Bar & Restaurant
One of the top spots for food in Waterville, The Lobster Bar & Restaurant is home to some of the finest seafood in town. With chic styling and a refined approach, this is a great restaurant to enjoy a classy night out either with the family, friends or your beloved.
6. FiveSpice Restaurant
Offering a taste of Asia in the middle of Waterville, this place offers delicious classics inspired by the food of southeast Asian nations like Thailand and Malaysia. With noodles, curries and delicious salads, the food here is a welcome shift from local fare.
7. Dooley’s Seafood & Steak House
Offering luxurious fare in a large, refined restaurant, Dooley’s is the spot for a steak and lobster dinner in Waterville.
This is not the place to hold back, with the finest of the menu including a range of steaks cut from local beef, whole lobsters and crab from straight out of the Atlantic Ocean.
FAQs about visiting Waterville In Kerry
Since mentioning the town in a guide to Kerry that we published several years ago, we’ve had hundreds of emails asking various things about Waterville in 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.
Is Waterville worth visiting?
Yes! Waterville is a fine little village to stop off in for food if you’re driving the Skellig Ring. It also makes a great base for exploring this corner of Kerry.
Are there many places to eat in Waterville?
Yes – you’ve a mix of everything from cheap and tasty eats to more formal places to grab a feed. Our favourites are An Corcan and Dooley’s.
What are the best places to stay in Waterville?
The Old Cable Historic House, Brookhaven House, The Smugglers Inn, Lough Currane Holiday Homes and Butler Arms Hotel are all good options.
James Connolly is a professional writer based in London. Having lived in cities across the world including Mumbai, Medellin and Barcelona, he uses his expertise to write articles showcasing the best of global travel.