Aerial view of Clare Island Co. Mayo care of https://www.clareisland.ie/

We’re on a mission to help you enjoy the best Ireland has to offer and so this week we want to answer why would you visit Clare Island.

Nestled off the west coast of Ireland, this little island is not just a dot on the map; it's a haven for explorers like us. So, grab a cuppa, and let's dive into the wonders of Clare Island.

 

Where is Clare Island?

 

First things first, where exactly is Clare Island? Picture Ireland's rugged West Coast. Now, zoom in to County Mayo, and there, floating in the Atlantic Ocean is the largest island of the 365 islands in Clew Bay. It's a short ferry ride from Roonagh Pier near Louisburgh with O’Malley Ferries or Clare Island Ferry Co, but believe us, as soon as you set foot on the island, you're in a different world.

 

How Big is Clare Island?

 

Size-wise, Clare Island is cozy but mighty. It's about 8 km long and 4 km wide, but every inch is packed with character. This means it's perfect for a day trip or a longer stay if you want to immerse yourself fully in island life.

 

Is Clare Island Worth Visiting?

 

One of your most asked questions about Clare Island is "Is Clare Island worth visiting?" Let us put it this way – if you're someone who thrives in the outdoors, relishes unspoiled nature, and enjoys a dash of history, then yes, it's more than worth it. Clare Island is like stepping into a storybook where the landscapes speak and the history echoes. You might have heard of Ireland’s Pirate Queen, Grace O’Malley or Granuaile. And this leads to your next most asked question.

 

 

What’s on Clare Island?

 

So, what's on Clare Island? Where do we start? The island is a treasure trove of outdoor activities and historical sites. So let's break it down:

 

Hiking and Walking Trails: The island's varied landscape is perfect for walking and hiking enthusiasts. There are routes for all levels, from leisurely strolls to more challenging hikes. The best part? The highest point on the island is Knockmore at 462m. The views. Imagine walking along cliff-top trails with the Atlantic Ocean stretching out beside you. Don't miss the looped walks around the island which offer breathtaking panoramas and a chance to spot local wildlife.

 

The Beaches: Clare Island's beaches are a paradise for those who love the sea. The main beach near the harbour is perfect for a swim on a sunny day. The island's remote location means these beaches are often peaceful, giving you a sense of having your own private oasis.

 

Historical Sites: Clare Island has six sites on the Clew Bay Archaeological Trail. The island is home to a 12th-century Cistercian Abbey renowned for its medieval wall and ceiling paintings, which are among the best-preserved in Ireland. O’Malley Castle built in the 16th century to protect the seas around Clew Bay was built by Grace O'Malley and her clan. The Clare Island Lighthouse, built in 1806, now a boutique guesthouse, offers a glimpse into maritime history and stunning views across to the bay to Achill Island. Would you believe the lighthouse is for sale?

 

Biking: If cycling is your thing, the island's quiet roads are a joy to explore on two wheels. The terrain offers a mix of challenges and leisure, ensuring an exhilarating experience. You can take your bike with you on the ferry for a small additional fee or you can rent ebikes on the island from Shoreline Pursuits on the island. Because of the hills and the terrain, biking is a fantastic way to see the island.

 

Flora and Fauna: The island’s unique ecosystem is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. As you make your way around the island you’ll see remnants of an ancient forest. Clare Island is also a part of the Mayo Dark Sky Park, making it an excellent spot for stargazing.  And there is always the possibility of seeing a pod of dolphins on your ferry trip to and from the island.

 

Where to stay: There are multiple ferries everyday and if you want to spend the night you have tons of options. You can camp at the designated campsite, close to the harbor. Check out all your accommodation options here.

 

Local Culture and Cuisine: After a day of exploring, dive into the island’s culture and cuisine with ample options like The Anchor Bar & Bistro, Clare Island Oven, Sailor’s Café and Stone Barn Café. With plenty of options you’re sure to find something you like.

 

Clare Island is a jewel in the crown of Ireland's outdoor destinations. It's a place where time slows down, and nature takes the center stage. Whether you're seeking adventure, tranquility, or a bit of both, Clare Island welcomes you with open arms and endless possibilities.

 

Image from https://www.clareisland.ie/.

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