Updated: Oct 1, 2018
Wild, windy and stunningly beautiful Achill Island completely blew me away this Easter long weekend. It’s some where that I have wanted to visit since moving home in August last year. I’ve been patiently waiting for a good weather forecast to go. I do believe places in Ireland look good rain, hail or shine but even better when the sun is shinning. And I love getting my vitamin D fix when I’m out hiking and exploring.
Located approximately 4 hours from Dublin Achill Island has it all. Numerous historic sites, stunning beaches, some of Europe’s highest sea cliffs, friendly locals, good food and tonnes of outdoor adventures . Walking, cycling, water sports and hiking are some awesome ways to discover the Island.
As I decided to go on a last minute trip there wasn’t much accommodation options left but in Ireland especially in such a popular spot there is always going to be something available. I found a cute place on Airbnb for 60 euro for two nights! It was situated in a quite, rural part of the Island. Living in Dublin I crave places like this at weekends.
When I travel whether in Ireland or abroad I rarely research or look up things to do. I like to just wander and see where the road takes me.
So from wandering around Achill this weekend here is my bucket list:
Keem Bay at sunset/sunrise.
Probably one of the best known places on the island, Keem bay is one of the most spectacular bays in Ireland. This is truly a majestic place. It is one of those places that looks exactly like it is on the postcards. For the best views take a hike up to the war time observation station located to the west of the bay. It’s a fairly steep hike but seeing the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean with the dramatic cliff edge makes it completely worth it. It also allows you to get away from the crowd and get that remote feeling that I love the most about the west of Ireland. When I did the sunrise hike I danced in the morning sun and sat and spotted dolphins playing in the ocean, truly magical. Next time I’m packing the tent and camping here.
Hike to the summit of Slievemore Mountain.
The minute I drove into Achill I knew I had to hike Slievemore. The mountain dominates the island and stands at 672m above sea level. It offered breathtaking, panoramic views over the entire island. I started the hike close to the pure magic lodge located on Slievemore road, Dugort. From talking to a local farmer there is a much easier and less steep path that starts from the village of Dooagh. But I do love a challenge. The views this way are simply spectacular. If you interested in the history of this area I would suggest picking up a map in the town with the points of interest including the abandoned village known the remnant village from The Great Hunger. When I got to the base of the Mountain I did a loop walk through the small villages of keel and Dooagh. This reminded how exploring for me is always best by foot, people watching, seeing locals , and looking at local architecture. I spent nearly 8 hours walking and hiking. Stopping to take it all in, taking some photos, talking to locals and enjoying the sun. On walks like this its best not be in any rush but to truly enjoy it all.
If I had more time I would have hiked Minaun and Croaghaun. Achill is a hill walking paradise. I could have easily spent week here hiking and exploring.
Take time to stop and talk to the locals.
During this walk I met a local farmer. No matter where I am in the world I just love to take time and talk to the locals. He told me so much history about the Island, the best walks to do and told me the stories behind the places I had visited that day. Some of the best memories I have of my travels are of the people I have met rather than the things that I seen. I ended up bumping into the farmer again the next day. He informed me I had been spotted out hiking at 6am, typical rural Ireland you don’t get away with much and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Take a walk along Keel Beach.
Keel beach is one of the most spectacular beaches I have seen. Ever. Having visited over 30 countries and having lived in Australia this says a lot. The imposing cliffs of minaun mountain on the eastern side is very striking. Keel a well-known beach for surfing and water sports, so if your feeling adventurous take a kite surfing lesson or sea kayaking. For me I just enjoyed a short walk while looking on at the surfers and indulged on some local fish and chips.
The Atlantic Drive.
I ended off my trip by driving along the south/west of the island on the Atlantic drive . A spectacular coastal road that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean.
Food and vibes:
Visit Pure Magic Lodge: This is where I was hoping to stay but they had no availability so you will need to be more organised than me . Pure magic has great adventure activities such as surfing, kitesurfing and paddle boarding. Another cute place I would have liked to stay is here : https://www.theoldbeachcottage.com/
The beehive coffee shop. For some good coffee and fresh pastries and local crafts.
Go to Mc Loughlins Bar for a pint of Guinness . Voted the best pub on the island the pub is well-known for its trad sessions and has a cosy open fire.
Eat some local organic lamb and seafood chowder at Masterson’s Restaurant overlooking Golden Strand beach.
I already have booked my return trip to Achill for the kite Surfing and Music Festival in September however I don’t think ill be able to stay away until then.
One last thing look out for the sheep, they own the road.
I hope you enjoyed my Achill Island Bucket List.