Ring of Beara, County Cork, Ireland
Ring of Beara, County Cork, Ireland

The Beara Peninsula is a beautiful stretch of the west coast of Ireland.  Just to the south of the more famous (and overrun) Ring of Kerry, it offers a less crowded, but no less scenic adventure.  We spent a week exploring Beara with our boys.  All of us fell for its charms, and we wanted to share some of our favorite parts.

Drive the Ring of Beara

To start your adventure on the Beara Peninsula, begin with a drive around the Ring of Beara and take in the beauty of cliffs meetings the sea.  Give the kids disposable cameras and roll down the windows.  Our boys loved the steep cliffs covered with sheep, calmly eating grass and watching us.  The full ring is about 195 km long, but we just drove from Kenmare to Castletownbere, and that alone was a great day.  Stop at the Copper Mine Museum and Garnish Beach.  Castletownbere has several restaurants and places for ice cream.

The Dursey Cable Car
The Dursey Cable Car

Take the Dursey Cable Car
To get to Dursey Island from the Beara Peninsula, you have to park your car and take a cable car high above the narrow straits.  It’s about a 10 minute ride over the ocean.  Locals and livestock have priority, and the car can take 6 people or 1 cow.  It runs 9am to 8pm continuously.

Dursey Island has many hiking trails, castle and ruins, but no restaurants or shops.  Bring a picnic lunch with you and be sure to get back in plenty of time to catch the last cable car of the night!

Star Outdoors of Kenmore

Star Outdoors of Kenmore

We took the 1 hour eco-nature cruise on Kenmare Bay, on the north side of Beara Peninsula.  We enjoyed the scenery, the castles and seal watching.  The cruise operator said that they often see dolphins playing in the bay.  They play Irish music and a recording that points out interesting sites along the way.  There is an outdoor viewing platform on the upper deck and a bar with interior seating on the main deck.  They serve tea, coffee, soda, beer, wine and a couple of snacks.

After the cruise we rented wet suits and took a paddle boat out to the water trampoline & slide.  It was great fun, even in the cold weather.  When it started to rain they came out to us on a speed boat and sped us back to shore, which was much appreciated!

More info at http://www.staroutdoors.ie/

Going to play in the sea, Kenmore, County Cork, Ireland
Sea trampolining in September? You bet. (Kenmore, County Cork, Ireland)

After getting dried out and dressed, we had dinner at the on-site restaurant: Con’s Restaurant.  Even though it was quiet there and they were expecting a large tour bus party soon, we had excellent food and attentive service, including a post-dinner trip to the ice cream freezer, which is stocked with locally made ice cream that was delicious.

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  • Our day at Star Outdoors was fantastic.  Every single staff member from the lovely woman in the office to the boat crew, to the guy who fitted our wetsuits and drove the speedboat were warm, friendly and helpful.  Our kids are begging to go back next summer.

    They have a long list of fun things to do (many are seasonal, so call first)

    • Water skiing, wake boarding and donut rides
    • Archery, paint ball and mini golf
    • Water trampoline & slide
    • Toddler playground
    • Con’s Marina Bar & Restaurant

    1 Hour boat ride: €45 for a family of 5
    We paid about €45.00 to rent wetsuits and a paddle boat and play on the water slide and sea trampoline.
    We paid €9.50 for 2 glasses of wine and 3 sodas
    Dinner at Con’s was €52 for the 5 of us, including ice cream for the kids

    Dunboy Castle
    Road to Allihies, Drum, Castletownbere, Co. Cork

    Dunboy Castle was the site of a battle in 1602, when Elizabeth I sent troops to seize the harbor of Berehaven.  The British defeated the Irish soldiers, and the castle has laid in ruins since.  It’s fascinating and a little creepy.  After passing the unmarked guard gate you drive down a dirt road past Puxley Manor, which was built by an English copper baron in the early 19th century and burned by the IRA in 1921.

    In 1999, a company purchased the manor and began to make it into the only 5 star hotel on the Beara Peninsula, only to run bankrupt in 2008.  Now it’s abandoned and slightly creepy!  You can read more about the history of Puxley Manor here: The O’Sullivan Curse and Puxley Manor.

    Puxley Mansion, Castletownbere, Ireland
    Puxley Mansion, Castletownbere, Ireland

    Directly across the road from the mansion is a shipwrecked vessel in the bay.  The street dead ends at a sign about the castle and then you hike up the hill to the site.  We were the only ones there and the hill has reclaimed the castle covering it with grass and wild flowers.  It looks like something out of a fairytale.  The boys loved climbing over the walls and to the tip of one of the gates.

    Ring of Beara Shipwreck
    Ring of Beara Shipwreck

    This is one of the many sites in Ireland where you just drive up and park on the road.  There is a small plaque with some information at the base of the hill.  There are no facilities or lights here, so go before sunset.

    Ride the Car Ferry to Bere Island

    Sails 4 times per day each way.  Car + 4 adult passengers  €35 return

    Catch the ferry in Castletownbere to Bere Island.  Ferries run several times per day but you need to get there early.  It’s very confusing for a tourist and the ferry operator is not helpful.  Back into a spot in front of the ferry dock.  Be prepared, locals ride first, and only 5 or 6 cars can ride at a time.

    More beaches than we could hit:
    Rossbeigh Beach, Derrynane Beach, Ballybunion Beach, Kells Beach, Banna Beach and Garnish beach.

    And a few more ideas that we didn’t get to:

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    Beara Peninsula with KidsBeara Peninsula with Kids


      • Jennifer Reply

        Ireland is such a great place for kids! I’m sure that your nephew would love it!

    1. Your really caught me with the cable car carrying 6 people or 1 cow. So if a herd show’s up, it could be a while 🙂 The sights look amazing! I’d love to get some camera time in the old castle or near the derelict ship!

      • Yep, the cable car could get pretty backed up if they are moving a herd. Hopefully it doesn’t happen that often!

        The castle and ship were pretty fascinating, and mostly untouched, with some small plaques explaining the significance. From the main highway there’s not even a sign. I suppose if the 5 star resort had been finished, things would be different there, but for now it’s a quiet corner that doesn’t get much traffic.

    2. I was in Cork briefly few years ago and had always wanted to come back with the family. The countryside is so beautiful and now reading all the activities you mention – wildlife, castles, scenery – all makes for a perfect family vacation 🙂

      • It’s pretty perfect. We started in Galway and that is a beautiful area too, and then we visited the Ring of Kerry and that was beautiful, and finally the Beara, and it just kept getting better.

    3. Oh how I want to go jumping on that trampoline! What fun. I love how you really made this a great trip for kids!

      • Thanks, we found a lot to do there. We thought the trampoline would be too cold, but with some wetsuits, our boys had a blast. We found Ireland to be very welcoming to families and every pub or restaurant was accommodating.

    4. oh I LOVE the Beara peninsula! But we haven’t been there with kids yet – now you gave me a great idea for a week-end away as soon as the weather dries up a bit 🙂

      • Happy to share our love of it! Really is a special place, and off the beaten track. We hope to get back to it soon.

      • I wish we had taken one now! The castle and shipwreck are great for any age. It feels like a real piece of history that hasn’t been as polished and put on display as other historic sites we visited in Ireland and the UK.

      • It was indeed magical. We found surprises around every corner while driving the Ring of Beara.

    5. I would love to have visited this part of Ireland when I went. The shipwreck and castle pic are cool – and I’ve never heard of sea trampolining before. Who knew? Apparently, I still have a lot to learn.

      Great family trip ideas. Thanks for sharing!

    6. What a pretty place! Living in Dubai at the min and all that greenery is making me homesick. i need to see more of Ireland!

    7. Your photos remind me some part of the scottish Highlands. We hiked with a friend during most of the trip, hitch-hiking. It was so great with this pure air and lanscapes !!!

    8. Ireland has been on my list of places to go for a while now, but I’ve actually never heard of the Beara Peninsula. When I make it to Ireland one day I will have to check this place out. Looks like a fun time!

    9. Pingback: Ireland: One Week Itinerary- The Economical Excursionists

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