As we said farewell to the Dingle Peninsula we both said the same thing, "We should've stayed longer!" We had seen most of what the peninsula had to offer in terms of new attractions but it was just such a peaceful and beautiful place. It was definitely not easy to begin our trip to Doolin especially because of the length of the drive ahead of us. However, we knew that the Cliffs of Moher lay at the end of the drive and we were eager to see one of Ireland's most famous landmarks.
Leaving from Ballyferriter, we took a mountain road called the Conor Pass. While driving through the Conor Pass we saw a vista point at the height of the road. Wanting to hold on to the Dingle Peninsula as much as we could we pulled over for a hike without hesitation. Climbing the hills next to the vista led us to a high hill with a 360° view of the Pass. Hikers here had created a rock mound, with each hiker adding a rock to the pile. It was now a few feet in diameter and was almost as tall as I am.
Our drive to Doolin was rather uneventful (which I suppose is a good thing when said in that way). We stopped for a picnic lunch in a small town south of Shannon, Adare. Adare has thatch-style roofs and seeks to maintain the old Ireland-feel. If you ever find yourself driving through and need a place to stretch your legs, the park across from the Adare Heritage Center is a tranquil place to do so.
From there we drove to Doolin. Arriving at our B&B in Doolin, we knew we needed to get out and explore one of Ireland's greatest treasures. Our B&B host told us of a small area on the side of the road we could park at and walk up to the Cliffs of Moher. To find the spot we parked at, go here. It's a small pull-off area that barely looks like you can park there but it's apparently where the locals park as you don't have to pay that way. What she didn't tell us is that walking up that way would be far more epic than the path most people take. This small path often led us to the edge of the Cliffs. There was even a sign reminding us of the dangers of the Cliffs.
We continued on the path for awhile and finally came to a paved area that had short walls stopping you before you go to the edge of the Cliffs. This much safer area was the official Cliffs of Moher. They had far more safety measures involved than the path up and it, in my opinion, took away from the grandeur of the experience. Maybe it was just in comparison to the dangers, even though they were small, but the safety we felt behind the walls never allowed us to experience the same "woah" moments where your stomach drops from the sheer drop below you. I understand why they have the walls, all I am saying is that when you go to the Cliffs of Moher, don't be afraid to take the small path beyond the signs warning you of the dangers of leaving the safe area.
After spending the evening hiking the Cliffs, we knew we needed to head back to grab dinner before the restaurants stopped serving food at 9pm. This was something that was odd to me, the Sun didn't set until well into 10pm but restaurants stopped serving food well before that. So, if you were out hiking, you couldn't go out to eat unless you stopped hiking early.
Doolin is known for its traditional Irish music, so we made sure to chose a small pub that had live music that we could walk to from our B&B, Gus O'Connor's Pub. The food was delicious and the music was a lot of fun to listen to. If you're looking for a place to grab a pint and listen to the music, O'Connor's is a great choice.
We had read such great things about Doolin and how it is the center of classic Irish music. Doolin felt about the same size as Portmagee. While Portmagee felt quaint and we loved it, Doolin felt a little too touristy for us and often times too crowded. It was also not necessary to stay there to get the full Cliffs of Moher experience. I recommend staying in another town and driving into to see the Cliffs. We easily could have stayed in Ennis and Shannon as they aren't far from the Cliffs and drove in for the day. Galway City is a little further but we really enjoyed Galway and you could easily have Galway be a home base for you to make a day trip to the Cliffs.
Remember, Adventure is Calling!
October 26th, 2016