Wild Atlantic way is the Wild Wild West of Ireland, where the lawless Atlantic waves break on the rugged, almost 2500 km long, meandering coastline with stunning finger-like fjords in the south, scenic bays in the middle and steep sea cliffs in the north.
It has something for everyone. With stunning vistas and unspoiled, rugged natural beauty, it’s the perfect road-trip destination with jaw-dropping views at every turn (one has to remember to look more to the road!). The coastline is dotted with quaint and colorful towns with plethora of local pubs pulsating with foot-tapping live music, serving freshest & most delectable sea-food preparations, with locally distilled Irish Gins, freshly brewed beer, including Guinness which nowhere tastes as good as it does in Ireland. There is hiking for the outdoor lovers, whale watching, falconry experience and puffin spotting to entertain families, and the surf coast for the adventure junkies. Might as well, mention the almost “too” famous Cliffs of Moher!
If you have enjoyed the drive along the pacific coast in the US of A or marveled along the Gold coast in Australia, you would simply die of happiness and sensory overload along the WAW!
Its Easy to follow the Wild Atlantic way, with many sign boards with a zig-zag sign, just like this one:
It all comes down to the number of days at hand and the must-visit destinations/ must-do experiences. We had just about 6 nights to spare on the West coast and we planned to drive South to North and then back to Dublin. We don’t mind pushing ourselves a tad bit but the ideal would be at least 10 nights here.
One of the Popular Itinerary is as follows:
- Dublin to Galway
- via Cliffs of Moher
- Down to Dingle
- Ring of Kerry
- County Cork
- Back to Dublin.
We, being a bit greedy to see more, started south and went northwards. After driving through the jaw dropping Wicklow mountains, in the east, we powered through with a long drive of about 4 hours, cutting straight to Glengarriff, in County Cork, at the mouth of Beara peninsula, at the west coast.
Our itinerary (in a broad way) was as follows:
- Glengariff (night-stay)
- Beara peninsular (Castletown Beara, Allihies, Eyeries, Healy pass)
- Kenmare (night-stay)
- Ring of Kerry in reverse via the stunning landscape at Glencar and Ballagisheen pass, Portmagee, cahersiveen, to Killorglin (night-stay)
- Dingle peninsula (Inch beach, Dingle, Dunquin Harbour)
- Ferry across Shannon to Tarbert
- Cliffs of Moher
- Galway (2 night-stay)
- Westport-Achill cycling
- Donegal- Sleiveleague Cliffs (night-stay)
Amongst the peninsulas on the southwestern coast, are the three big ones; Beara, Ring of Kerry and Dingle. A question frequently popping on Ireland travel forums is, “which is the best?”.
The simplest answer would be to drive through all… or some bit of all, to appreciate all the flavors.
I’ve broken down the regions, as we covered them, on the map.
Tips about Beara:
Follow the road except for two small diversions for Kilcatherine Point and Healy pass.
Stop for a sumptuous meal and one of the best Chowder-sea food soup at The Beara Coast Hotel in Castletown, Beara. We did not, but intend to stay here on our next trip, the location being idyllic.
On our way towards Eyeries, we chanced upon this beautiful arts gallery called Adrigole Arts, where we met the Talented owner and musician Gerry Bruton, picked up some inspired curios and had a slice of the most delicious Guinness Cake! Heard him play live at a pub in Kenmare, later.
Healy pass, according to us is a must-see point, not just any detour, and is a meandering, snaking route through the highlands seen from a high vantage point.
And a perfect closure to a long post should be with some Live music! Don’t panic, I’m not performing, this is straight from the land of shamrocks!
I’m Breaking the road trip into a series of posts, so click here for the next one, which covers Ring of Kerry and Dingle!