INTRODUCING ACHILL ISLAND, IRELAND’S LARGEST OFFSHORE ISLAND
Even though I lived in Ireland for 12-months back that included a lot of weekend getaways and a full 2-week lap of Ireland taking in many of the top points of interest, I’d never even heard of Achill Ireland until three months ago.
That’s the beauty of travel, always discovering new places, experiencing different adventures, and creating new memories that last a lifetime. And over the past 20+ years of travel some of my favorite moments have been at the lesser-known destinations!
When it comes to tourism in Ireland , places that come to mind are the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, the Cliffs of Moher, and the Ring of Kerry. And I think of experiences like listening to traditional Irish music in a pub, eating Fish n’ Chips, visiting a castle, exploring the cities of Dublin and Galway, tasting Irish Whiskey, sipping on an Irish Coffee, and of course, a pint of the “black stuff”, Guinness.
I love all those Ireland travel experiences. But another genuine connection I feel is to Ireland’s natural beauty. The rolling green hills, the dramatic cliffs, the picturesque valleys, and the rugged and rocky Atlantic coastline.
I never get tired of coastal road trips and have been fortunate to experience some of the best in the world like the Great Ocean Road in Australia, the Garden Route in South Africa, and the Pacific Coast Highway in California.
West Coast Ireland is breathtaking . And on my recent 8-day tour of Ireland in partnership with Globus, one palace they introduced me to was Achill Island.
When I lived in Dublin, we explored the famous Ring of Kerry and Dingle Peninsula which are stunningly beautiful and a must-do. But they are both heavily visited, especially the Ring of Kerry as the road on the Dingle Peninsula can’t be navigated by the big tour buses!
What I loved about our day on Achill Island is that we basically had the island all to ourselves.
Where is Achill Island.
Achill Island is a remote island off the coast of County Mayo, on the west coast of Ireland, about an hour’s drive (26 miles) from the charming town of Westport (which we used as a base). It’s also close to the towns of Newport, and Castlebar.
Drive times from other popular places to visit in Ireland include:
- Galway – 2 hours (75 miles)
- Dublin – 4 hours (177 miles)
- Belfast – 4.5 hours (202 miles)
- Cork – 4.5 hours (202 miles)
- Ring of Kerry – 5.15 hours (233 miles)
It occupies an area of some 57 sq miles (15 miles from east to west, 11 miles from north to south), and its coastline measures over 80 miles. This is one of the most westerly islands in Europe.
This island forms part of the Wild Atlantic Way, a coastal route that stretches 1,600 miles along the Irish west coast from the Inishowen Peninsula in County Donegal to Kinsale in County Cork and is divided into 14 stages for easier orientation, one of those stages includes Achill Island.
Departing Westport, our drive took us through Newport and Mallaranny before crossing Achill Sound over the 740 ft long Michael Davitt Bridge that connects the island to the mainland.