To get a true taste of Irish culture and vicariously exist temporarily like the locals, the town of Dingle Ireland is definitely the place. It’s a bit out of the way from Dublin, where you’ll probably fly in, but worth the five-hour drive nonetheless. However, any drive through Ireland, traveling from point A to point B, is an idyllic Shangri-La of scenic beauty.
The Dingle Peninsula majestically stretches 30 miles into the Atlantic Ocean on the southwest coast of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, the longest coastal road on the planet encompassing 1,600 miles, of which Dingle is a small but stunning part.
However, before we get to the natural wonders of this magical place, let’s spend some quality time in the town of Dingle itself, which is perfectly laid out as a walking town, so don’t bother driving, as parking can be problematic.
Dining in Dingle
It’s not hard to find Main Street, which is chock full of traditional pubs (featuring excellent live music), eateries, casual and fine dining, and specialty and gift shops to while away your time.
One bit of dining advice. Since Dingle is a relatively small town, making dinner reservations is imperative as their small-scale restaurants fill up quickly. Consequently, you don’t want to wait until 8:30 pm for your table, especially if you’re hungry.
Dingle Dolphin “Fungie”
Down by the waterfront stands the Oceanworld Aquarium, the largest of its kind in Ireland and a nice way to spend an hour or two for the young and old. The aquarium is host to huge sand sharks, otters, reptiles, penguins, and even tropical butterflies. There is also a touch tank for an even greater tactile experience.
Speaking of marine life, outside the tourist office stands a statue of “Fungie,” the famous bottlenose “Dingle dolphin,” first seen in Dingle harbor in 1983, who continued his interaction with humans over the next 38 years.
That is significant as the median lifespan for this type of dolphin is between 8-17 years, causing Guinness (not the beer) to name him the oldest solitary wild dolphin in the world. Sadly, he disappeared in October of 2020, and marine experts surmise he either moved on or simply died of old age. In any event, it’s a cool tidbit of Dingle folklore, plus the fact that tourists occasionally claim to have seen him in the harbor.
Dingle Boat Tours
Dingle boat tours are wildly exhilarating. You can take in the striking coastline of Dingle bay, peppered with mysterious caves and breathtaking cliffs, as well as get a close-up view of the Great Blasket Islands! Between March through July, you can spot puffins and dolphins but have to wait until late summer/early autumn to spot the whales.
One thing to remember regarding these boat tours in the Atlantic Ocean; they’re not for the faint of heart as the waters can be extremely rough, so do plan on getting wet and popping some Dramamine thirty minutes before you hop onto the boat.
Look no further than the luxurious Greenmount House B & B for accommodations. Gary Curran is the highly entertaining host of this unique property, where you can chat with him about anything from American football to where he wants his kids to go to college.
The establishment features a delicious breakfast overlooking Dingle Bay, a reading room, a piano parlor, and welcoming guest rooms. So many B & B’s can be small and claustrophobic, yet the Greenmount is copious in size, with ample room to relax indoors or out on the terrace with the cool breeze off Dingle Bay gently blowing. The perfect tranquil atmosphere after a long day of sightseeing.
Slea Head Loop
Now for the pièce de résistance, the Slea Head Loop, which is one of the most spectacular drives in all the world. It’s two hours around the Dingle Peninsula, featuring magnificent coastline views, offshore islands, cliff-top roads, and fun places to stop along the way. However, those two hours can quickly balloon into four or even six, depending upon how often you stop for photo ops and other unearthly experiences.
Two areas of particular interest are Sybil and Dunmore head, the filming locations for Star Wars Episode 7, “The Force Awakens.” You can’t miss the signs giving a shout-out to each location.
You’ll also come across Inch beach, a stunning, 4-mile-long white sand beach for surfers and anglers alike. The beach was used in some of Ireland’s most iconic films, such as Excalibur, Far and Away, and Ryan’s Daughter, to name but a few. It’s a great place to pull over, take out the wine and cheese, and meditate briefly amongst the beauty of it all.
Book a Trip to Dingle Ireland!
In summary, Dingle is a microcosm of Ireland. Where else can you find the best pubs with the best live music, five-star cuisine, astounding natural wonders, friendly locals, and most of all, renowned “Star Wars” locations?!!
IF YOU GO:
- Greenmount House B & B
- Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium
- Dingle Tourism
- Ashes seafood restaurant on Main Street – Recommended
- Best after-dinner pubs for live music – Dick Mack’s, Foxy John’s, O’Flahertys, and O’Sullivans Court House pub.
Richard Atkins is a travel writer, photographer, playwright, actor, screenwriter, and pianist who can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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