Achill Island – a hidden gem in the wild West of Ireland
When I knew about the existence of this place I was in love straight away. I saw myself exploring every corner and hiking around the entire island. For some reason, I already pictured Achill Island to be one of the most beautiful places in Ireland.
Spoiler alert: I wasn’t wrong!
I took a while to finally make it there for some reasons; mainly, I wanted a good weather. I know the west coast of Ireland is ridiculously beautiful in any circumstances. Nevertheless, I wanted to see this island when the sun is shining.
And, earlier this year, back on June bank holiday, we got one of these few days of extremely good weather. It was a last minute trip, but we knew we had to go that day, no postponing. We packed our things, booked accommodation, and without much of a plan, we went off to County Mayo.
The views on the way to the island are stunning, it is like an introduction on what are you going to see next. I gazed on with my heart beating fast with excitement.
It was my first time in County Mayo, and I already fell head over heels in love with the place. When I think I already have witnessed all the beautiful places Ireland has to offer, I am always surprised over and over – what a country!
The road signs told us we were about to enter an Irish Speaking Region: An Ghaeltacht.
There are lots of little islands around the coast of Ireland. Some you can visit easily, others the access is a bit restricted, others you can’t even visit. Luckily, Achill is one with very easy access. There is a bridge connecting the island with the mainland, easy enough, right?
You just have to cross the bridge and let yourself be amazed by this hidden gem.
Achill Island is the biggest of the Irish Islands and also the most populated. I believe the easy access between the island and the mainland contributes to so many people living there.
I underestimated the size of the island, as all the places here are not that big. Achill is very big, and you can’t see everything in one day.
Going with that feeling that it would be like one of these small and isolated islands, I was surprised to see how busy Achill was, especially in the Summer.
The best way to get around is with a car. It is a big island and to go from one point to another will take time. So, if you have (or rent) a car, it will be your best option.
Our plan was to drive around the island, relax and enjoy the landscape. On the following day we planned to go on a hill walk and reach the summit of a nearby mountain, Croagh Patrick. It was going to be a tough climb, and our legs needed to be ready. So, no long walks for us in Achill. But, next time for sure, as this place is a paradise for hikers!
Unspoiled nature, cliffs, breathtaking views, small communities, the most beautiful beaches in Ireland…. You can find it all in Achill Island. And not to mention the crazy amount of sheep you are going to meet along the way, they are everywhere!
You have plenty of things to do such as hikes, guided tours, scuba diving, surf lessons, golf fields, boat trips; the options are endless. Achill Island is also part of the famous Wild Atlantic Way route. On the island, you can find all the facilities you need, accommodation (including camp sites), pubs and restaurants.
We spent such a short time in Achill, but I could easily spend a week, a month.. or even a life there?
Have I mention the most beautiful beaches in Ireland yet? Or even, the most beautiful beach I have seen?
You might think I’m joking about it, right? Because I am from a tropical country, people always say things like ‘oh, Brazilian beaches are gorgeous” and, indeed, they are. I have also been in the south coast of Spain, seeing the astounding Mediterranean sea. Still, my favourite beach of all is in Ireland. here, in Achill Island.
And what is so special about it?
We are used to seeing big beaches, with big waves and light blue waters. But one thing that left me breathless there was this tiny beach, in a valley, surrounded by mountains. Unspoiled!
This is Keem Beach, and the pictures don’t give this place justice.
Next time in Achill, I want to be one of those people who camp right in front of the beach.
In other places around the island I didn’t take pictures; I recorded videos instead. Unfortunately, everything I recorded is gone now. One more reason to go back, am I right?
As this trip was a last minute one, in a sunny bank holiday, we couldn’t book accommodation to stay on the island. However, Donal knew the area, and said we could stay in Mulranny instead. Mulranny is in the mainland, just beside Achill. And, the area, is really beautiful.
So here is my advice guys, if you can’t stay in Achill, don’t be sad. Mulranny is also a good choice as an alternative location!
Our B&B had this privileged view to Clew Bay. Irish summer nights are very bright and we could enjoy it for longer. Needless to say, this included waking up in the morning and seeing it right in front of you.
(room with a view!)
Every road trip in Ireland has to have a castle, mind you. And there was one really close to Mulranny – Carrickahowley Castle.
We had to make a stop there before we headed to our next adventure in County Mayo: Ireland’s holy mountain, Croagh Patrick.
I know our time in Achill Island was short, but it was enough to be speechless. It’s just hard to believe that this place exists, and I never saw people travelling to Ireland making plans to go there, or even putting it on a list of places to see here.
County Mayo is not that popular among tourists, most of people going to the west coast only stay around Galway, Clare and Kerry. I believe people don’t go there because they don’t know enough about the area.
Achill Island is a 4 hours drive from Dublin and 2 hours from Galway City. If you are renting a car here, don’t think twice. Trust me on this one, go and explore this hidden gem in the west coast of Ireland. ♥
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