The Haven Coast – where nature sets the pace
The southernmost stretch of the Wild Atlantic Way zigzags gently, from Kinsale through Skibbereen and on to dreamy Bantry Bay. Past gardens lush with sub-tropical plants. Between hedgerows thick with fuschia and monbretia. By hundreds of inlets, tiny coves, safe harbours and Blue Flag beaches, just right for long days spent in the salty air… beachcombing, island-hopping, whale-watching, learning to sail, kayaking on a saltwater lake in the moonlight, or simply enjoying a pint on the quayside while the fishing boats land their catch.
There’s something restorative about the temperate Gulf Stream climate, the peaceful vibe and creative scene. There’s West Cork’s wonderful artisan food. Thriving arts and crafts. Scores of festivals – music, film, stories, food. And history, echoing all along this coast: ancient sites, coastal forts, Michael Collins’ home town, the wreck of the Lusitania, and – out on the horizon – ‘Ireland’s tear drop’ the Fastnet Rock.
Southern Peninsulas – Memorable experiences in Ireland’s far south west and the edge of the world
In Ireland’s beautiful far South West – where the ancient Kingdom of Kerry meets wild West Cork – five great peninsulas with mountainous spines stretch miles out into the ocean. This is great walking country, with long-distance trails and circular routes across the region. Hugging the coast, or crossing Ireland’s highest mountains, breath-taking views unfold at every turn. It’s the furthest west in all Ireland: “next parish Manhattan”, they say here. And there’s a distinctly edge-of-the-world feel to the Southern Peninsulas, as both the mainland and everyday life are left far behind.
You could find yourself paddle-boarding with dolphins, landing on a deserted archipelago once home to Ireland’s greatest born-storytellers, taking a cable car with the ocean crashing below, sailing to a World Heritage Site named in Lonely Planet Best In Travel 2017’s top 10 regions to visit, visiting an abandoned copper mine, or star-gazing under Ireland’s darkest skies. Memorable – sometimes life-changing – experiences are ahead.
The Cliff Coast – Hard Land, Warm Hearts – Beauty & Tradition spans the North Kerry Coast through Clare and Galway
“The land is hard, the soul is not” says the Lonely Planet about the Cliff Coast … where ice-age landscapes meet west-coast warmth, and music is a way of life.
It’s a place for clifftop walks, island-hopping, traditional pubs … and soul-stirring views: rainbows in the ocean spray along the Loop Head Drive; colonies of puffins on the sheer Cliffs of Moher; bottlenose dolphins in the mouth of the Shannon; and the view of Clare’s mountains from Kerry’s Cliffs of Dooneen.
Then there’s the otherworldly Burren – a vast limestone pavement rich with rare flora, crossed by ancient green roads. And down to the Flaggy Shore, described by Seamus Heaney in his much-loved poem Postcript as a place that can “catch the heart off guard and blow it open”. Enough said?
The Bay Coast – a fresh air playground
From the crystal waters of distant Erris to the “savage beauty” of much-loved Connemara, the Wild Atlantic Way skims south around some impressive bays.
The largest of these – Clew Bay – is said to have 365 islets and islands, one for every day of the year. Connemara means “inlets of the sea” in Irish, and here water and land merge in a lacy shoreline of loughs, coves, islands and sea-swept blanket bogs.
The Bay Coast is a salty fresh-air playground, with its dazzling beaches and Blueway trails, and where people come to kayak, kiteboard, paraglide, swim and dive. Riders trek across the sands on sure-footed Connemara ponies. Cyclists follow the Great Western Greenway – one of the world’s most scenic cycleways and walkers climb the sacred Croagh Patrick mountain and Twelve Bens range but motorcyclists have the best fun of all!
And with Wild Nephin Ballycroy National Park’s stunning 15,000+ hectares to roam, there’s plenty for nature lovers, wildlife spotters and even stargazers too.
There’s history and culture too: from elegant Georgian Westport to the Clare Island stronghold of legendary pirate queen Grace O’Malley, and onward toward Connemara’s coarse and captivating Derrigimlagh Bog – a mosaic of tiny lakes and peat, where the first transatlantic flight landed. And looking west across the great sweep of Galway Bay, you can watch the sun go down behind the Gaeltacht Aran Islands before spending a night in the City of the Tribes itself
Itinerary – Please note this is an outline itinerary and may be subject to change.
Day 1 – Arrival
Please note arrival time should be arranged circa 3 pm to allow time to meet the Overlanders team and check in to the hotel. The afternoon and evening time will used for meeting other tour participants, welcome & pre trip briefing and of course an opportunity to explore the picturesque, historic port and fishing town of Kinsale – an idyllic starting point for our journey along the Haven Coast.
Day 2 – Kinsale, Co. Cork to Glengarriff, Co. Cork
Today see’s us commencing our journey along the Wild Atlantic Way noted by the way the landscape begins to break up and the edges of the land become ragged, splitting apart into 5 great peninsulas jutting out into the mighty Atlantic Ocean. We’ll also pass through lively and sleepy villages with beautiful bays and estuaries before visiting Mizen Head – Ireland’s Southernmost point with its impressive vertical cliffs
Day 3 – Glengarriff to Glengarriff
Optional rest day or ride out on the Beara and Iveragh Peninsula’s. The Beara Peninsula is easily one of our favourites in South West Ireland with the Healy Pass and Dursey Island Cable car. Easily a top highlight of the tour.
Day 4 – Glengarriff, Co. Cork to Dingle, Co. Kerry
More of the Iveragh Peninsula today including, Killarney National Park, Molls Gap and the world-famous Ring of Kerry circumnavigating the mighty Macgillycuddy Reeks and Ireland’s highest mountain, Carrauntoohil, before turning north in search of Inch Beach and the Dingle Peninsula. The Dingle Peninsula is regarded as the connoisseur’s choice of the five peninsulas of southwest Ireland. Here are beautiful sandpits, beaches, and mountains, and Ireland’s greatest concentration of early Christian sites – not to mention the laid-back charm of Dingle town. Insider tip: Ask some of the locals if they know some good Keryman jokes.
Day 5 – Dingle Rest Day with optional rideout
Day 6 – Dingle, Co. Kerry to West Clare.
Departing the Dingle Peninsula, we traverse the spectacular Conor Pass before crossing the mouth of the Shannon River by ferry and into Co. Clare. The Conor Pass is one of the highest mountain passes in Ireland, and provides the most dramatic and scenic way of crossing from the south to north coast of the Dingle Peninsula. The views from the road are breath-taking, with a glaciated landscape of mountains, corrie lakes and a broad sweeping valley spread out below. Co. Clare is best known for three things; wild traditional music, a spectacular coast that is fractured and battered by the Atlantic and of course the laid-back approach to life. Our route see’s us pass through the old seaside towns of Kilrush and Kilkee before reaching our destination at Doolin for an evening of traditional Irish music and craic. Pub-going in the west of Ireland is an activity as natural as breathing.
Day 7 – West Clare to Clifden, Co. Galway
Today we have an opportunity to visit the magnificent Cliffs of Moher in the Burren National Park. The Burren region of north County Clare is a remarkable and haunting place. Among its bare grey hills lie hidden ancient tombs, churches, dwellings and ring forts in a bleak setting with Ireland’s richest flora. Passing Galway City we enter Connemara and no region is more steeped in the romance of harshly beautiful, remote and alluring countryside. We will also visit the site where the first nonstop transatlantic flight landed in 1919.
Day 8 – Clifden to Clifden
Optional rest day or ride out around Connemara. Leaving Clifden we head north visiting the Connemara National Park Visitor Centre and Kylemore Abbey; deservedly one of Irelands most photographed buildings. Further north we have an option to visit Westport on the shores of one of the most beautiful bays in Ireland, Clew Bay spattered with over 300 islands and dominated on the south by the cone of Croagh Patrick; a destination of one of the world’s greatest Christian pilgrimages.