Reasons why travelers must visit Dingle Peninsula. Day trips from Dingle to the Great Blasket Island and then day tours from Dingle along the Slea Head Drive by private tour. Dingle Peninsula day tours are perfect to see this heritage region of western Ireland.
I traveled to Dingle in May 2016, and absolutely fell in love with the region. The town of Dingle has so much to offer, including the aquarium and the multitude of special, hole in the wall pubs (especially Foxy John’s). I’d be back in a heartbeat to see more.
There’s not too many places in the world where you can find a hardware store, bicycle rental and pub all in one building. The culture is alive in Dingle. Plus, the multi-coloured homes and businesses are a photographers dream (and also an Instagram hit).
A highlight of my trip was taking in a musical performance at St. James Church. Don’t forget to tour the marina, and set out for adventures along the Dingle Peninsula. A note to fellow travellers, the sites listed are those I visited.
If you have others that you enjoyed and I missed, don’t hesitate to leave me a comment. I enjoy the back and forth between fellow adventurers.
Great Blasket Island:
Great Blasket Island offers visitors a stunningly haunting, and emotional, story to tell. The island, once home to a thriving culture, is now abandoned, save for the cafe owners and some sheep herders. Simply put, it became too hard to sustain life on the island.
A comfortable boat speeds you along toward the island. For my voyage, the seas were calm, but ensure you have some sort of seasickness pills if you’re worried. I had no issues and neither did anyone on my boat. Others might have a different experience.
Once you arrive, the boat anchors off the coast and you motor toward the landing on a dinghy. It’s an exciting, almost surreal advance toward the island. Unreal.
Once ashore, you have the chance to see seals, hang out on the beach, or explore the abandoned town. It’s the most western point in Europe, and you’ll feel like you own it.
As an avid traveler, I yearn for experiences that feel real, true and not tourist infested. This is one of them. It feels as if you’re a part of something far greater than just having purchased a tour.
If you’re interested in the history of “The Island,” ensure you check out the Blasket Centre. For me, it was either take the boat trip and landing experience or visit the museum. If your schedule does not allow for an island visit, take in the museum.
I learned about the boat trip to the island during my stay in the community. The ferry takes you to the remote island from Dingle Marina. Book ahead and set out early. Nothing beats when you first see the island and you can see the ruins at a distance.
Slea Head Drive:
I hired local tour guide Denis Ryan and his private car to tour the Dingle Peninsula. I did not rent a vehicle of my own, and a guided tour was my best option to see this storied landscape. Ryan’s tour was spectacular and led me to striking tourist attractions.
There are other tours available as well, many offering different experiences.
Prior to my trip, I knew what sights I was hoping to see, many of those being heritage rich ruins, beehive huts and Stone Age remnants. I absolutely loved spotting hidden beehive houses, many of these built during early centuries, dotted on the hillside.
Dingle Town was a special place to tour, but Dingle Peninsula, for me, was the highlight. It’s not every day that you see ancient ogham stones and sacred wells. The landscape is alive and going with a knowledgeable guide infuses life into those stories of the past.
I’ve been an avid fan of history my entire life, and I wanted to showcase the deep cultural roots that still exist to this day in rural Ireland. Thus, Denis and I set out, taking the famed Slea Head Drive. I appreciated his taking time for me to film my episode.
One benefit of being driven was that I had the ability to gape at the landscape instead of worrying about the twisting, often tight roads along the cliffs. I know visitors drive themselves, but this would have been a stressful nightmare for me.
I’ve visited numerous ancient ruins, but those in Ireland provided me a sense of wonder, tradition and an immense spiritual power. To this day, I’ll never forget how incredible the peninsula is. Make sure you read the history of these places before you go.
To me, the ages old buildings and stone remnants along the Dingle Peninsula carried a sort of religious reverence. One of the most surprising attractions was the Reask Monastic Site, which was likely founded in the sixth century CE. Amazing.
Shards of Roman pottery, pieces from that civilization’s late period, were found on site during exacavtions at the monastery. People from the past lived incredible lives.
The walls surrounding the site are now no taller than knee height, but the grounds offered charm and mystique. I found myself astonished at the age of the monastery, and wondered what these early Christians lives must have been like. A hard existence.
Another tour highlight from the Dingle Peninsula was the Gallarus Oratory, an early Christian chapel likely built between the sixth and ninth centuries CE. Built in the stone on stone style, no mortar was used.
I was lucky to have Denis as a tour guide and his grasp of history added to the heritage tapestry that was unrolled before my eyes.
For those who don’t have access to a vehicle, or who want the local flavour, I highly recommend Ryan’s tour. For me, this man made my trip to the peninsula.