Driving Ireland's Ring of Kerry: Take a Detour
Driving Ireland's Ring of Kerry (N70) can be a harrowing experience - the narrow, winding roads; signs with accident numbers; and the ever-present enormous tour buses. But right off the Ring of Kerry is a gem - a small, 20 mile route that can show you the gorgeous beauty of Ireland with none of the hassles. It's called the Skellig Ring (or Ring of Skellig), and detours west off the N70 just north of Waterville, and hooks back up to the Ring of Kerry just south of Caherciveen. If you want to go to Valentia Island (gardens!), or take a boat to the Skellig Islands, you'll be heading this way, anyway.
Stack of Peat
Just north of Waterville on the Ring of Kerry, there's a small road marked Skellig Ring. Note: all of the roads will be small - very windy - but the best part is, NO TOUR BUSES. Only cars are allowed on these small, country roads. That is reason enough to step off the Ring of Kerry. So. Drive down these small, country roads. Revel in getting off the beaten path - driving through small villages, winding lanes up and down mountains, the ever-present Atlantic ocean to the left - waves crashing against rocks.
Pass through Ballinskelligs and toward Portmagee, and you'll find St. Finian's Bay. Besides the omnipresent surfers, you'll find the most excellent Skelligs Chocolate Company (artisanal hand made Irish chocolates, free samples. Note the gorgeous Skellig Islands, off to the left. Heading into Portmagee, you'll see the gorgeous harbor with its colorful boats and houses; Valentia Island just across the bridge; numerous boats to head to Greater Skellig Island; and dine at the Moorings - delicious seafood chowder with a great view!
Skelligs Chocolate Company
Surfers at St. Finian's Bay
looking down on Portmagee and Valentia Island
Portmagee looking at Valentia Island
Portmagee - boats to visit Skelligs
Also in Portmagee, stop at Kerry Fish - you can see and buy incredible fish. We got some delicious hake and enjoyed it for dinner at our home in Ireland, Pier Cottage in Caherdaniel.
From Portmagee, head up to Caherciveen, and then either continue on the Ring of Kerry northeast (toward Killarney), or back south toward Waterville. You've taken in the wild mountains, green landscape of the Iveragh Peninsula, the crashing Atlantic ocean, good food and chocolate, and beautiful memories.