Follow our guide to the Wild Atlantic Way section of the Kerry Coast. Find out where to eat and stay, and the sights and attractions you’ll find along the way.
The Kerry section of the Wild Atlantic Way promises thrilling scenery and a host of activities for all ages. Golden beaches, cliff walks, stone circles and many more things wait to be discovered on this part of Europe’s longest designated road drive.
You’ll travel roads that hug the coast and open a vista of the Atlantic Ocean at its best. Kerry is part of the Gaeltacht area of Ireland, where Irish is spoken fluently in homes and businesses. The Mother Tongue is treasured here and embedded deep in the heart of the culture of Kingdom County. You may learn a couple of words on your journey.
Where to start:
The Wild Atlantic Way route can be travelled from north to south or vice versa. For the purposes of this guide, we are assuming you are driving northward along the Kerry coast toward Clare.
What can you expect to experience?
Starting in the market town of Kenmare and ending in Tarbert, North Kerry, this section covers 450km of coastal roads, taking in part of the Ring of Kerry, the Iveragh Peninsula and Dingle Peninsula.
KENMARE TO WATERVILLE
- Bonane in rural Co Kerry, is on the road to Kenmare. Here you’ll find Lorge, a wonderful little chocolate shop in an old post office. Benoit Lorge is the owner and expert French Chocolatier. He hand makes all his creations. You may fancy a nibble before you hit the road.
- In Kenmare, check out the pretty shops and galleries before embarking on your scenic coastal trip. You’ll travel with beautiful Kenmare Bay on your right hand side. Passing villages like Sneem, Castlecove and Caherdaniel, Named after Daniel O’Connell, also known as the ‘great liberator of the Irish people.’ just over a kilometre from Caherdaniel village is Derrynane Beach, one of the most stunning beaches in Ireland. Daniel O’Connell’s ancestral home is here in Derrynane House and Historic National Park. Visit the museum dedicated to this famous Irishman.
- As you travel around this coast you’ll spot Scarriff Island, out to sea, and the Skellig Islands which are 12km offshore. Skellig Michael is a Unesco World Heritage Site. Break your journey in Waterville, for an overnight stop with dinner in The Smuggler’s Inn. Fine seafood from this part of the coast, together with vegetables from the nearby Maharees region, and local Kerry lamb, make up the menu.
WATERVILLE TO BALLYDAVID
- Travelling onward from Waterville, you’ll round the coast by Ballinskelligs Village on St Finian’s Bay, and the drive around Valentia Island. Here is the home of Valentia Island Ice Cream, made from the milk of the farm. A stunning spot to rest a while and have a scoop or two of real handmade dairy ice cream.
- If you fancy lunch, QC Seafood Restaurant is situated in the little town of Caherciveen. Fish and seafood served here comes from owner Kate Cooke’s family fishing boats.
- You’ll move on around the Ring of Kerry, past Glenbeigh and Cromane villages, both famous for oysters and superlative fresh mussels.
- At Killorglin, pick up a snack for the afternoon drive from Jack’s Bakery where fresh real breads and cakes are made each day on site in the artisan bakery in the shop.
- Journeying on to the Dingle Peninsula, Inch Strand is a long stretch of golden sandy beach. This part of Kerry is where the movie Ryan’s Daughter was made, and the beach at Inch featured throughout the storyline.
- Dingle Town is famous for Fungi the Dolphin! Take a boat trip out into the bay area where he will no doubt pop up beside your boat as you sail along. Terrific views of the land from the water, plus fun with a wild dolphin who loves showing off to tourists!
- While you’re in Dingle, enjoy a cookery demonstration at Dingle Cookery School. Owner Chef Mark Murphy offers bespoke classes and private demonstrations, always utilising the best of local produce in the class.
- The Dingle Peninsula travels around magnificent Slea Head, with amazing views. As your turn the headland you’ll see the famous Blasket Islands, home of Peig Sayers, a native of Dunquin but who moved to the once inhabited Great Blasket on her marriage to an islander. Peig told the story of life on the island in the book Peig: An Old Woman’s Reflections. You can take a ferry from the mainland out to the Blasket Islands to see the abandoned residences and get a real feel for how remote life gets, when you have the Atlantic Ocean between you and the mainland!
- At the end of this part of the route, Gorman’s Clifftop House is situated in Ballydavid, near Mount Brandon. A perfect place to enjoy a relaxing overnight stay in the foothills of the mountain, with some superb regional food in the restaurant. Irish is spoken here fluently so you will really soak up the Irish atmosphere!
BALLYDAVID TO TARBERT
- This final part of the journey has a different character about it. From Ballydavid, make your way around pretty Brandon Bay, toward Tralee. A busy Kerry town with two choices of dining available. Daytime cafe at Dawson’s Restaurant, or more formal evening dining at Darcy’s Restaurant, a good place to enjoy an early supper if you decide to stay in town and do some shopping.
- From Tralee, the road turns at Fenit, toward Ardfert and up to Ballybunnion. This is a traditional sea side town with beach, great for a stroll. From the headland above the beachy, you may even see a dolphin or two bobbing in the waves. It has been known! Ballybunnion also attracts surfers chasing the big rollers.
- Beal Farm Organic Cheese is produced in this area, so have a look out for it in local shops
- Just beyond Ballybunnion lies Tarbert, where you can get the ferry across to Co.Clare, and the next part of the journey along the Wild Atlantic Way.
THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN KERRY
Bolus Head Loop Walk near Waterville
Bray Head Walk Valentia Island
Stone Fort at Staigue, near Caherdaniel
Skelligs Experience Visitor Centre, Valential Island.
Boat trips around to Skellig Micheal to visit the anicent monastic site perched 200metres above sea level.
Cruises around Skellig Michael and Small Skellig, where 27000 pairs of gannets nest. The second largest gannet colony in Europe.
A walk on Ballybunnion Beach.
Detour through Killarney National Park and see the great lakes of Kerry.