Ireland is a great country to drive and Slea Head Drive is a must go route. The picturesque seaside villages and neatly laid roads with signposts everywhere makes it a simple and enjoyable drive. You don’t really need a GPS to travel in Ireland. All through my journey in Ireland
, I struck to exploring Southern Ireland for few reasons – its scenic beauty, seaside, south being the most warmest in Ireland, which is why Dingle Peninsula is a best kept secret of the Irish coast.
Of all the places I had seen in Ireland, the most dramatic and gorgeous time I had was in Dingle Peninsula. National Geographic once cited Dingle Peninsula as “the most beautiful place in the world”. Allow me to explain it through words and pictures, you would be stunned!
Driving the Slea Head Drive Circular Route
Dingle Peninsula is the westernmost point of Ireland in County Kerry, which lies in the South. In whole of the peninsula, Dingle is the major town surrounded with few villages, rolling mountains and Atlantic Ocean. The town itself adores a charm of brightly colored houses. We spent 31st Dec and 1st Jan here, and they were the best days of the trip over all. 2013 year began with a bright sunshine along the Irish Town of Dingle, and we were all set to explore the peninsula’s circular route – the Slea Head Drive – covering 30 miles – famous for it’s scenic drive that begins and ends in the Dingle town.
View of Dingle Harbour from the town
We passed through tiny houses and reached this beautiful beach near to the town Ventry, just few minutes after starting the drive. It was about 10.00 am, and the smell of fresh air along with bright sun was a total delight to us. No wonder a lot of websites mentioned Dingle Peninsula as a good choice of winter destination.
We saw a few young girls jumping out of their car, changed their clothes to swim suit, and ran to take a quick dip into the Atlantic ocean. Although it was nice and sunny, the water was still cold (very!). It seems as if they had a bet, and all of them took turns and took a deep dip into the water, and ran towards their car to get themselves warm.
As we moved away from Ventry Beach, the roads got unbelievably narrow with passing places, but offered us with magnificent views of the sea. Since it was winter, there weren’t many vehicles on the road except cars, and occasional cyclists. During summer, it was said that doing the Slea Head Loop is a bit dangerous and risky, as there will be plenty of cyclists and tourist buses.
We pulled over the car to the side to enjoy the view. The cliffs and ocean and everything around us looked awesome. There was an ancient bee house museum near to where we parked our car. After a short climb up the path, we saw stone built beehive huts (or Clochans as they call it) that were build during the ancient times some 4000 years back. The view from the hill was breathtaking – yet again!
We drove past the herd of sheep that were blocking the already winding road. We maneuvered through them only to pull the break and reverse back to give way for the oncoming big truck. It was a nightmare then. We continued after all those hurdles, as we drove along the Atlantic coast. My heart melts away as I savor those memories today. Some more stops, some more photos, and we came to this location below – Coumeenole Beach. We din’t walk near to the beach, just saw them from the cliff, but that itself took my breath away.
We finished the Slea Head Drive, and exited the Dingle Peninsula well past 2.00pm and stopped over at the lunch bar near to this gorgeous beach setting that I saved as the last picture of this post. This was taken in Inch Beach.
Overall Dingle is a great place that one cannot ignore while touring Ireland. Sandy beaches, great walking / hiking routes, wind surfing and other activities make this the most populous place all through the year.
Important things to note with regards to Slea Head Drive:
Allow yourself a good 5 hours.
Take the clockwise direction of the Slea Head circular loop.
The roads are narrow and windy. So drive with caution.
Rest assured, you would carry with you the most memorable moments and postcard perfect pictures.