The Ring of Kerry
Amongst the top 3 circular drives in Ireland, the Ring of Kerry is the longest & most diverse. Combining jaw-dropping coastal scenery with stretches of land that are simply green and blissful, the 179 km long circuit winds past pristine beaches, distant views of the island-dotted wild Atlantic, medieval ruins, mountains & lakes aplenty. Tour buses navigate this route in an anti-clockwise direction fro Killarney - to avoid getting stuck behind one, navigate the route in a clockwise direction. You can take regular pit-stops at some charming villages like Kenmare, Sneem, Caherdaniel, Waterville, Caherciveen & Killorglin! Between Waterville & Caherciveen is the secluded village of Portmagee, which can be used as a launching pad for a one day excursion to nearby Skellig Michael - one of Ireland's 3 UNESCO World Heritage sites. It is an island 11 kms off the mainland coast, which houses a pre-historic monastic settlement.
By a very small margin, the Dingle Peninsula beats every other road-route in Ireland on its beauty quotient. Absolutely stunning views of the Atlantic, roads that can barely accommodate two cars at once, with a free falling cliff on one side and a raging peak on the other, with lambs & sheep aplenty to keep you company, and sometimes block the road altogether, this is as close to wild-paradise as you can get! From several parking spots, you can see the nearby Blaskett Islands on clear days - some of these views are simply indescribable by words or pictures; they are an experience and nothing else can possibly do them any sort of justice!
Ring of Kerry
The Ring of Kerry is one of Europe’s great scenic drives, a circular route around the rim of the Iveragh Peninsula in the extreme southwest of Ireland, through rugged sandstone hills and lush sub-tropical vegetation, with myriad mountain and coastal views. The route overlooks Dingle Bay to the north, the open Atlantic to the west and the sheltered waters of Kenmare Bay to the south. Inland, to the east, are the purple hills known as Macgillycuddy’s Reeks and the Lakes of Killarney. The Gulf Steam ensures a mild, frost-free climate.
Around 12km (8 miles) south of Valentia Island are the Skellig Islands. From Valentia’s visitor centre, the Skellig Experience takes you for a boat trip to the islands. (Boats also run from Portmagee, back on the mainland.) Bear in mind that most of the boats are open (more expensive ones are covered), the water can be rough, and bad weather leads to cancellations, sometimes for days on end.The larger of the two Skellig islands is Skellig Michael, which was inhabited by monks from the 7th until the 12th century. It rises in a cone shape to a double peak 217m (712ft) high. A flight of over 500 steps lead to the monastery, built of dry stone with no mortar. It has had major restoration work to enable it to cope with the number of visitors. Enthusiastic guides, all trained archaeologists, live on the island from June to August to supervise visitors and tell the island’s history.
8:30 AM - We checked out of our B&B and drove to Portmagee to catch our boat out to Skellig Michael. It's an old monastery built into a large craggy rock pretty far out into the ocean (a 50 minute boat ride) that survived three separate recorded raides from vikings and harsh living circumstances (no livestock, rough sea winds, etc.). We hiked 300 steps up to the settlement (also the filming location where Luke Skywalker was revealed in the most recent Star Wars movie). On our way back we went by the "Little Skellig", which is inhabited entirely by seabirds (and seals, as you can see in the last pic).