Ireland is not only astonishingly beautiful, but it is a wonderful place to enjoy an active holiday. These two Western Ireland islands, Inishbofin and Clare Island are particularly exciting to explore. Although small they have big offerings for people of every age and activity level, not to mention they are home to some of the friendliest people around. (Speaking of Ireland, we bet you never knew these facts about their famed Guinness beer.)
11 Stunning Photos of Irish Islands That’ll Have You Planning a Trip This Year
Ireland is not all pints and cottage pie. With rolling hills, vast green spaces, the Emerald Isle is the perfect getaway for hiking and so much more.
Put on your hiking shoes on Clare Island
This pint-sized Irish island located off the coast of County Mayo in Western Ireland is the ideal place to unwind and escape the big city hustle. The current population sits at 145 permanent residents. Hiking really is one of the most popular activities and it is by far the best way to explore the beautiful landscape. The terrain is varied so don’t feel intimated if you are a novice hiker, there is something for every skill level. Just remember to pack some comfortable shoes.
Newbie hikers should know these six things.
Release your inner history geek
Your on-foot journey around this scenic island will be far from typical. For such a small island it sure has some large history. It has been inhabited since the bronze age. Keep your eyes peeled during your hike and you might spot some megalithic tombs, forts, huts or ancient cooking sites. Saint Bridget`s Abbey is an interesting site for history buffs, which dates back to the 12th Century. It is said to be the burial site of famed island resident Grace O’ Malley, A.K.A the ruthless Pirate Queen who once ruled most of Western Ireland. (By the way, here’s the real reason we wear green on St. Patrick’s Day.)
What a view!
Spending so much time next to the beautiful ocean might tempt you to explore things a bit further ashore, and why not? The Island waters offer fantastic opportunities for deep sea angling. Established local tour companies are more than happy to lead you on a brilliant sea adventure where you can try first hand you own fishing abilities.
This beats the view of our regular yoga studio
After a few hours on the open waters, you might be looking to re-establish some balance. What better way than a yoga or meditation class at a local farm? They also offer organic cooking classes where you can learn to make local breads and jams. (Fun fact: if you ever say these common terms, you’re speaking Gaelic–just like 1.3 million Irish citizens do.)
Rest your tired feet
Where to stay: The Clare Island Lighthouse offers luxurious accommodations in a restored 1806 lighthouse. Guests can enjoy unique ocean views from their rooms, with some even overlooking the dramatic Northern coast sea cliffs. This is perhaps one of the most unique hotels in all of Ireland.
Inishbofin Island – A.K.A. Island of the White Cow
This gem of an island is within easy reach. Catch the local ferry from the small village of Cleggan which is located about 90 minutes West of Galway City. The gentle ferry crossing only takes about thirty minutes and glides across one of Europe’s calmest and most sheltered natural harbours. Keep your eyes open for local sea life such as seals, dolphins and even whales. (Ireland is also one of the best places to travel solo as a woman.)
Have shoes, will walk
When you arrive you will undoubtedly notice the lack of cars—not to worry though, as your feet here will be your trusted means of transport. Again, hiking is a huge part of seeing this island. You can choose between three scenic hiking loops, each with a different range of difficulty. It is also possible to rent a bike if you would rather explore on two wheels, just enquire at King’s Bike Hire at the pier.
Here are some of the most stunning hiking trails in the U.S.
A view worth stealing
The waters surrounding the island were once ruled by pirates, the most famous being pirate queen Granuaile, who lived on nearby Claire Island. Join in a Cultúr na nOileáin Walking Tour and learn more about this dark and intriguing past. (This is what Irish brides to for good luck on their wedding day–and nine other lucky wedding day traditions from around the world.)
Lazy days here are better than a lazy day at home
There are numerous beaches and coves around the island that are perfect for a lazy day of swimming and relaxation… yes, you can snorkel, too. If you want to infuse a bit more excitement into your beach experience you can always rent a paddle board or sea kayak from SUPBofin.
Remember you are on holiday so why not take the time to pamper yourself. Inishbofin House offers a spa that specializes in organic marine products that are locally harvested and 100 percent organic. Indulge in a seaweed bath or wrap in treatment rooms which offer stunning ocean views.
The Doonmore Hotel—both a place to stay and eat—has been run by the same family for over three generations. Accommodations are simple yet comfortable and the staff is of course friendly.
The restaurant offers up only the freshest of local ingredients much which is seafood (likely caught that very day) along with local lamb. All the baked goods including an array of bread, are made in house and from scratch. The hotel also offers a casual pub called Murray’s Bar offering light meals and local entertainment. (If you can’t make it to Ireland, these are the best hikes across America.)