Kenmare to Bantry
As you leave Kenmare and continue to head south, your final day along the Southern Peninsulas will see you leave behind the charm and beauty of Kenmare, for the rugged and wild landscape of the Beara Peninsula. You’ll come face to face with Ireland’s only cable car at Dursey Island, as well as travelling through the towns of Allihies, Garnish, Castletownhere, Glengarriff and Bantry. Indeed, Bantry is one of the culinary hotspots of Ireland, and along with Kinsale, has firmly put West Cork on the Irish food map.
Explore the Beara Peninsula
This leg of your trip will afford you the time to explore the Beara Peninsula (or the Ring of Beara as it is sometimes referred to). The Caha Mountains dominate this landscape, providing ample opportunity for travellers to get out of their cars and explore the rough terrain. Hill walking, and mountaineering are popular activities here, while Kenmare Bay and Bantry Bay provide a great selection of beaches to explore. The Caha Mountains have some stunning lakes and waterfalls just waiting to be explored, so take some time to travel around the peninsula and really get to know the Beara region.
One town to be sure to explore as you travel along the Beara Peninsula is Allihies, famous for its copper mines. Visit the Allihies Copper Mine Museum to get a sense of the impact copper has had on this village. There are also several great walks in the Allihies area allowing you to get a real sense of the beauty of this area.
Take a cable car to Dursey Island
Dursey Island is the most popular attraction on the Beara Peninsula and a signature point of the Wild Atlantic Way. Dursey Island is the most westerly of Cork’s inhabited islands and is only accessible by cable car – Ireland’s only cable car. The cable car departs from Ballaghboy and makes the short journey (250m) over the Atlantic Ocean to Dursey Island. When you arrive on Dursey Island, embark on one the 9km looped walk of the island, allowing you to take in wonderful views of the nearby Beara Peninsula, while also providing an opportunity to stand on the edge of Ireland and look out towards the Atlantic Ocean, with nothing but shimmering water in front of you.
If you’re looking for refreshments on Dursey Island, there’s bad news, as the island has no shops or pubs. Best bring along a picnic to enjoy as you navigate your way around the island. At 6.5km long and 1.5km wide, it won’t take you long to explore everything Dursey has to offer.
Next stop, Bere Island
After your trek around Dursey Island, return to land and continue to head East towards Bantry. On route, take time to stop off and explore another of West Cork’s islands, Bere Island. Grab the ferry from the town of Castletownbere (departs every 90 – 120 mins) and make your way over to Bere Island where you can explore the island by car, foot, bus, boat or bike. Enjoy the Bere Island Sea Safari or explore the islands caves with the short Bere Island Caves trip which will take in the caves and lighthouses of the island.
Final stop, Bantry Bay
As you leave Bere Island, continue east towards the town of Bantry, stopping in at Glengarriff on the way, making sure you visit the Eve Sculpture Garden and Glengarriff Nature Reserve. There are a number of festivals in Bantry across the year so be sure to check and see what’s on before you depart for Bantry, as you may want to spend more than an evening in the town.
Bantry has a famous food scene with seafood in particular a highlight. Sailing, surfing, walking, fishing and cycling are all popular activities in Bantry Bay, while Carriganass Castle and the stone circles at Kealkill allow you to explore the history of this area in more detail. This part of Cork is also famous for golf, with two great golf courses at your disposal, including the Christy O’Connor Jr designed, Bantry Golf Club. If you want to continue getting up close and personal with West Cork’s islands, the wonderfully named Whiddy Island is a short trip from the town of Bantry, and located in the heart of the bay.