slea head drive

Ireland Part 3: Dingle Peninsula and Slea Head Drive

Dingle Peninsula, Slea Head Drive

After grabbing some breakfast we made the drive to our next destination in the tiny fishing village of Fenit. We were a few hours early to check into our Airbnb so Myles did some research and we set out to find a hidden beach. And yes it was very hidden, like as in we found the beach that all the locals keep to themselves and don't tell the tourists about. It was completely deserted when we got there and remained that way the entire time we were there! We spent time being chased by the waves (not in the water, it was seriously was cold and windy) and admired the beautiful Atlantic Ocean. 

When we finally arrived at our Airbnb we were greeted by our host Nannette, who was so kind and again couldn't believe we were travelling around the country with a one year old. I mean it's not easy travelling with a toddler but do people just stay home once they have kids!? If you're able to, go travel and take your kids it will be unforgettable! Anyways we quickly realized that the sleepy town of Fenit literally had one bar and it wasn't even open so we drove about 15 minutes into the town of Tralee to grab something to eat. We ate lunch at a hole in the wall place called Dish which was cheap and tasty and then walked around Tralee before grabbing a frozen pizza from the super market and heading back to our place for a night in. 

The next day we ate breakfast at the top rated cafe in town called Yummy Cafe Market. This is a lesson that you should never judge a place by it's name or exterior. I seriously almost wrote this place off when researching where to eat just because of it's silly name and weird look to it. I'm so glad we went because the breakfast was amazing, plus it was filled with all sorts of people from every walk of life which was cool. We then set out to drive the famous Dingle Peninsula/Slea Head Drive (also known as the Wild Atlantic Way) which is rated one of the most beautiful drives in the world. It did not disappoint, we were in awe the entire time and drove for 8 hours, yes you read that correctly 8 HOURS! Never once did we tire or get bored, we were constantly stopping to see the magnificent cliffs, tiny villages, thousands of sheep and so much more. We drove the weirdest way (thanks google maps) which took us down this abandoned dirt road through the mountains for almost an hour. We were definitely at the point where we thought we'd have to turn around because we were so remote there were no houses, like absolutely nothing except sheep.

We made it out eventually on the other side and made our way to Inch Beach. This beach was incredible and is actually made up of a 5km long sand spot. After running around in the wind and sand watching surfers we continued on our way. 

Our next stop were the Bee Hive Huts which were built in the 13th century. It was so unbelievable to drive up to this farmer's house, pay a few euros to step on his land then walk up a hill to this incredible sight. It's hard to believe how these settlements/churches have stood the test of time and weather, they are literally constructed of stacked rocks, nothing holding them together. It's so surreal stepping back in time like that, wondering what sorts of people lived or worshipped in these places.

We continued on our way and stopped at the Dunquin Harbour which served as a transportation point to the Blasket Islands. These islands used to be inhabited but are so remote and dangerous to get to that now no one lives there. You can take a boat across at certain times of the year but unfortunately we were there at the wrong time and the sea was too rough to cross. There was this crazy winding road that went down to the water which used to be known as the sheep highway. I had seen a photo online of this area and had to visit, funny story we actually drove 30 minutes passed it, pulled over and debating going back and I am SO glad we did! Aspen was sleeping in the car and we weren't about to wake him so we took turns exploring while one of us waited by the car with him. There's something so freeing about running through new, open and unexplored places, I felt like a child. We stopped many more times to take in the sites and sounds and people including making our way to the sea side town of Dingle.

Eventually we made our way back to Tralee on the most dangerous road we encountered the entire trip. I cannot even explain how terrifying this road was. It was considered to be two lanes but was just big enough for one car, like I'm talking you needed to move your side mirrors in to avoid hitting the cliff wall. Plus this road wound through some mountains, it was getting dark, and the fog had set in. Let's just say I prayed that entire time that no oncoming cars would come. One did and it scared us half to death, we had to reverse to get to a pull out point to allow it to pass. We eventually made it back to Tralee where we ate dinner at Lana Asian Street Food and which I'd say was one of the top places for Thai food that we've ever had. 

The next day we ate breakfast at Wild in Tralee and made friends with some of the employees. Everyone was so kind and so excited for us to continue on our journey, no one ever seemed bothered that we toted a toddler around with us everywhere we went. We then set off for the 2.5 hour drive to Galway. On our way we stopped in Adare which I had researched online and couldn't pass up walking through the town. This tiny town is known as one of Ireland's prettiest towns thanks to a street lined with traditional thatched houses. Unfortunately a few years ago many of these traditional homes burnt down so it looks a bit different than what we were expecting, beautiful none the less. We walked through churches, castles and graveyards before going for a walk around the river so that Aspen could take a break from the carseat. We stopped at the Blue Door Restaurant for lunch and it was a bust, super expensive and fancier food than what we would have liked. Onwards to Galway!