Exploring Dingle Peninsula

While the Cliffs of Moher were a last minute addition to my Ireland travel itinerary (read more about that here), the Dingle Peninsula had always been top of my list. Less touristy than the Ring of Kerry, equally if not more beautiful than the famous Cliffs, and not to mention a cinematic hotspot, I couldn’t stand to miss it.

Rolling green hills of Ireland.

Because of our stint at the Cliffs of Moher, my companions and I didn’t have time to road trip the entire Peninsula. I fully intend to head back and visit what I missed someday. Here’s what we did (and didn’t) see on our short visit to one of Ireland’s most underrated destinations.

Inch Beach in Ireland.
A faraway Inch Beach.

Inch Beach

We started our journey in Castlemaine, near our thatch cottage AirBnB. Heading west from there, Inch Beach is the first major tourist spot. This long stretch of sand is an absolutely stunning place to spend the day (if the weather allows). Since it was so foggy and wet outside, we chose to bypass this one, but I got the above image from afar.

Dingle, Ireland. A colourful main street.
Dingle Main Street.

Dingle

After that, we headed to the town of Dingle. It’s the main hub for the entire Peninsula. There, you’ll find gorgeous seaside facades and a very handy tourist office. I would also recommend stopping here for a quick bite or coffee warm-up. The rest of the Peninsula doesn’t have much in the way of establishments for shopping or food, as natural beauty reigns supreme.

The Dolphin Shop in Dingle, Ireland. Fungi

Part of the town’s tourism revolves around Fungie, the Dingle Dolphin. This bottlenose dolphin has been a permanent resident of the harbour since 1984. You can often spot him on a boat tour. If you’re really into aquatic life, there’s also the Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium.

The beautiful coloured storefronts in Dingle, Ireland.

Even though we didn’t, I really urge you to either stay in Dingle; it’s a really beautiful Irish town. I can imagine it’s even more wonderful on a sunny summer day.

A Hunter store window display.

From here, you can continue on to the Slea Head Drive or around through Conor Pass on Spa Road. We chose to spend our time on the Slea Head. Conor Pass is the scenic route that heads back out of the Peninsula to the N86, and is the highest mountain pass in Ireland. It’s a one-lane road with pullover spots, and large vehicles aren’t recommended.

Slea Head Drive

Along Slea Head, there are so many things you can stop at: a Celtic Prehistoric Museum, the Famine Cottages, sheepdog demonstrations, Beehive Forts, etc. We managed a visit to one of the beehive forts.

Beehive Forts heritage museum in Dingle, Ireland.

The Beehive Forts

Fahan clochán is a small “heritage museum” of beehive forts. There’s not too much to the museum itself, a guy hands you a pamphlet and charges you a few euros to walk around there for five or so minutes. There is some debate as to when the forts were built, but the most likely guess is around the Stone Age. Ireland has many beehive forts around the country, just like this one.

Crawling through ancient beehive forts in Ireland.
Ancient beehive huts on the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland.

The Sea Head viewpoint and Cooumeenoole Beach was our next stop. Y’all know how I love a wonderful natural site.

Dunmore Head

Staring out into the Atlantic on Dunquin Harbour in Ireland. Wearing a London Fog trench coat and blue short Hunter rain boots. Traveling Ireland in the rain.
Coumeenoole Beach on the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland.
Coumeenoole Beach on the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland.

It’s honestly so beautiful. The surprisingly clear, cold blue water that crashes along the most westerly point in Ireland:

Dunmore Head sign. The most westerly point in Europe.
Coumeenoole Beach in Ireland on a foggy day.

If you look passed the beach, you can hike along to the point to what is called the Devil Horns at Dunmore Head. It was insanely windy when we were there, so we didn’t go too far, for fear of blowing over into the Wild Atlantic.

Exploring Dunmore Head in Ireland.  The rocks are the devil's horns. Wearing a London Fog trench coat and Hunter rain boots for traveling around Ireland in the rain.
Dunmore Head on the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland. The Devils Horns rocks.
Standing on the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland . Wearing my London Fog trench coat and Hunter short boots in blue on a foggy rainy spring day.
My London Fog jacket got put through the wringer this trip.

Dunquin Harbour

A little further along the Peninsula is arguably the most notable site in the area. This landmark had caught my attention on Pinterest, and was the reason I researched Dingle and added it to my Ireland travel wish list. The site is called Dunquin Harbour or Dún Chaoin in Irish. The pier was actually pretty busy with tourists, but if you wait a couple minutes, the buses take everyone away pretty quickly.

Dunquin Harbour on the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland, traveling in the rain.

It’s funny how things like this can make you feel so small.

Dunquin Pier and Harbour along the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland. Interesting rock formations coming out of the Atlantic.

Most people stopped there, took their photos and left, but I urge you to go all the way down. It’s honestly so awe-inspiring.

Visting Dunquin Pier in Ireland. Wearing a peasant blouse and denim.

Driving the Dingle Peninsula

I wanted more time here so badly, but our adventure was taking us elsewhere. In all my research, everyone said you only needed three hours to drive the loop, but I disagree. You can drive the Peninsula in three hours, but you can’t see it in that time. If you really want to see everything on the Peninsula, with time to check out all the sites, I would recommend spending the night in Dingle, with the whole next day for road tripping around.

Other things to do

My companions and I missed most of the filming locations. Movies shot here include Star Wars, Ryan’s Daughter, and Far and Away. These can be found pretty easily by road signs and tourist maps. As with many places, I don’t recommend relying on your phone’s map too heavily, as service can be spotty, and some places don’t show up at all.

The Dingle Peninsula has so many different hiking spots, water sport activities, horse-back riding locations, wildlife watching opportunities, etc that its hard to list them all.

Here’s a link to a Dingle Peninsula tourist map that I found very helpful with different locations to all the above!

Overall, it’s a really naturally beautiful place with lots of history and activities. Dingle Peninsula is a lot less touristy than the Ring of Kerry, and a local favourite for a weekend getaway. If you haven’t heard of the Dingle Peninsula, add it to your list!

A beautiful clydesdale horse in the green fields of Ireland.

4 Comments

  1. Antoinette
    June 20, 2019 / 10:26 pm

    Honestly, you had me at the name Dingle. And im so happy the town turned out to be so cute!! Id probably spend most of my time there since i dont like to be out and about in dreary weather! Thanks for such a greay guide, i had never heard of this part of Ireland before!

    • catekittlitz
      Author
      June 20, 2019 / 10:53 pm

      RIGHT? Like why haven’t we heard more about a place called Dingle? It’s definitely worth a visit, especially if you want something less touristy. It’s the place to go for locals when the weather is nice (I was a bit unlucky with the grey, but it was okay).

  2. June 25, 2019 / 4:24 pm

    Ireland is gorgeous. Never been high on my list of to-visits, but I got to review that after your posts!

    • catekittlitz
      Author
      July 5, 2019 / 2:09 am

      Ireland was never super high on my list and it just kind of happened – now I’m so glad that I went!

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