Irish island experiences to try

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Roundstone

Take a dreamy trip to an Irish island, with daytrips, great food and craic on the Aran Islands, the Skelligs, Inshbofin and more

Skelligs

Skelligs

If you want to plan an epic Irish holiday or an unforgettable weekend away, tick an Irish island off your to-do list. Here are just a few we have checked out this summer, and we promise the craic is mighty, there are lots of great food options on the islands or along the Irish coastline, and the scenery will take your breath away. You can tackle a fun activity on a day trip, or stay overnight and simply enjoy swimming in clear blue waters, great trad music in heaving pubs, followed by a bag of chips on the stroll to your accommodation, underneath the clearest night sky.

Here, find inspiration for your Irish island adventure:

Camping at Inis Oirr

Inis Oirr

Inis Oirr

The smallest of the Aran Islands, Inis Oirr is located close to Doolin in Co Clare. The ferry trip takes just 15-25 minutes. With cute pubs playing trad music, an Aran sweater shop that sells nice coffee too, and the must-visit crepe and chipper van, you have all you need within a few steps of the port and beach. The clear water is gorgeous for a bracing dip, and you can rent bikes, walk or hop on a horse and cart to go see the Plassey shipwreck and take in the island’s stone walled fields. There are accommodation options, but it’s lovely to camp just over the dunes from the beach. Rua Camping costs €10pp per night, and there are showers and toilets.  Alternatively, book one of the new glamping tents. Note before you arrive — the shop on the island closes at 6pm.

Inishbofin’s new food truck

Inishbofin

Inishbofin

Inishbofin has a couple of well known food spots, from Inishwallah to Doonmore Hotel. Just opened this summer, The Saltbox Inishbofin sells fresh fish caught by their own boat, Ceol na Mara. You can order delicious fish dishes to take away, and get nice coffees and baked treats too. Note, it doesn’t open on Saturdays, so go on a Sunday day trip or if you’re staying on the island midweek.

 

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Clare Island Lighthouse celebrations

Clare Island stands guard at the entrance to Clew Bay, off Ireland’s western Atlantic coast. For almost two centuries, the island’s Lighthouse has been a nautical landmark perched high on the craggy cliffs, watching over Achill, Westport and beyond. Clare Island Lighthouse is celebrating its 10th birthday at the lighthouse with a fundraiser for their local RNLI Achill branch. The lifeboat will be docked at the pier and their crew will also be at Clare Island Lighthouse for the afternoon. As there is a helipad at the lighthouse, they are hoping (weather permitting) to have a helicopter drop in for a visit too. There will be great prizes to be won on the day for the fundraiser including a two-night stay package for two people sharing at Clare Island Lighthouse, a bottle of limited-edition Clare Island whiskey and more. Donate here. Clare Island Lighthouse are normally closed to the public but on August 7 they will open from 1pm until 6pm for everyone to visit free of charge. There will be live music too.

Clare Island Lighthouse

Clare Island Lighthouse


 

Boat trip to Inishlackin in Roundstone Bay

Fourth generation fisherman Damien O’Mally has started a new venture off the coast of Connemara. Roundstone Bay Island and Island Tours is located an hour from Galway City and offers a choice of four tours. Options include one trip with a packed picnic of the freshest seafood, or a catch and cook trip where you will feast on lobster and more on the beach. The tours take in the beaches of Gurteen and Dog’s Bay, the harbour at Ervallagh, the deserted island of Inishlacken. You’ll get to see the resident seals, and might spot some dolphins, sunfish, otters and basking sharks. Tours start from €100, visit roundstonebayisland.ie. 

Kayak to Innisfallen in Killarney, Co Kerry

Killarney Lakes

Killarney Lakes

See the beautiful lakes of Killarney from a whole new perspective with a fun kayaking excursion with Wild N Happy. Depart from Ross Castle, and paddle your way towards Innisfallen, learning about the ecology, history and nature surrounding the lake. Spot the grey heron, the island’s flock of Sika deer, and enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. Depending on the wind, kayaking can be quite challenging, making the experience even more rewarding. Tours start from €50pp, visit wildnhappytravel.com for details.

Sika deer

Sika deer

Boat trip to the Skelligs

Skelligs

Skelligs

The Skellig Islands have an unmatched intrigue to them. The boat trip out to the islands takes an hour to get to Skellig Michael. Travelling out that far is a stark reminder of how isolated it must have felt for the monks who built the famous beehive huts, or for the lighthouse keepers who reside there for months at a time. On your way out, you can see the colossal gannet colony on Little Skellig, a truly unique sight. You can choose a landing tour on Skellig Michael, where you can climb the iconic steps. Alternatively, choose to admire the island from the water on the eco tour, which does not land on the island. This is an ideal option if you’re concerned about fitness levels or accessibility, have small children with you. It’s just as impressive to listen to the story of the island on board the boat. There are several tour operators to choose from — tours can book up quickly so ring around for availability.

 

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Skellig tour

Skellig tour