Today was the big day in our sight seeing trip, driving the ring of Kerry. We chose to do the ring in a clockwise direction. Buses are required to do the ring in a counter clockwise direction so they have the right of way. But if you start early, you can get through the ring and avoid the buses altogether.
The drive from Killarney to Kenmare is quite scenic. There are some waterfalls that you can hike to if you have time. The road is also quite winding and Molly’s Gap can be quite treacherous. Definitely take you time, pull over for some of the beautiful vistas and let the faster drivers pass you.
Because we started late, we didn’t stop at Kenmare. Our first stop was to see the Staigue Fort. It is a very narrow road and you have to take turns getting through but you are rewarded to see an awe-inspiring prehistoric ring fort. No one knows for sure why they were built but it is amazing that they are still standing after all these years.
The views are amazing all through the ring but I do like the sea views once you get to Waterville. There is a large beach where you can pull off, lots of places to shop and eat and it looks like a big stopping place for tour buses. Because I try avoiding tour buses as much as possible, we left as soon as we could so we could get to the part that was truly the highlight of the day, The Skeelig Ring.
Right after Waterville you can get off the main road and get on the much smaller R-567. Because it is a much smaller road buses aren’t allowed. But it also means that you have to give and take as you drive.
St. Finian’s Bay has beautiful views of the Skellig Islands. It is a very nice calm beach. But thanks to Irish weather that can change very quickly. Nearby is the amazing Skelligs Chocolate Factory. We stopped in and were rewarded. They give you tons of free samples. Their hand made chocolate is simply amazing. Needless to say we left with quite a few chocolates. I bought a sculpture of Skellig Michael and my son got a chocolate soccer cleat. He absolutely loved it. He says he’s not going to eat it because it’s so cool.
The road from there gets really winding and it’s up hill. Our little car almost stalled but we were able to persevere and we stopped at the place that advertises it as “Best View in County Kerry.” They are not kidding. After paying the fee you can walk (or blow up) to the cliff and see the amazing views. The only problem we had was the wind. It probably was 100 mph. We could barely walk up the hill because we were being blown back. If you are luckier than we are then you will be rewarded with great views that you can enjoy. We ran down the hill as fast as we could because we were afraid of being blown away.
There are some replica beehive huts at this location as well.
We finished our day at Valentia Island. Our first stop was at the Skellig Experience. It has a video about the island and some information. We learned that the island was closed for a few more days. My husband was very excited when he learned that there are about 2300 steps on the island, me not so much. But I think with the weather things can change really quickly on the island so I wouldn’t go unless it was a very clear day.
Valentia Island is cute with lots of beautiful places, you can go see the tretapods footprints and the light house and some holy well. We just drove around, enjoyed the sights and ate in town. I had a really good seafood chowder.
If I had to do things again I probably would have done the ring of Kerry in two days so I could have enjoyed it more and not have felt like I needed to hurry to avoid the buses. I would have found a b&b in Waterville and spent a night there and have another whole day for the Skelling ring. It is a really long day and the ring is about 100 kms long. So plan accordingly but do not miss it because it is worth it.