Driving the Ring of Kerry is a 180KM scenic loop of the Iveragh peninsula which you can complete without stopping in approx 3.5hrs. As you can imagine my guests frequently ask what they should do and see on a Ring of Kerry drive. In replying, I firstly always advise against attempting the Ring of Kerry drive in one speedy trip. After all it's not a race!

Kell Bay Garden Ring of Kerry

The Ring of Kerry drive covers an incredibly beautiful part of Ireland, where the warm gulf stream current enables semi-tropical vegetation to flourish. Testament to this in summer months are the hedgerows of montbretia and rhododendrons and exotic gardens at Parknasilla, Derrynane and Kells Bay.

Snow capped Magillicuddy Reeks View from Molls Gap

The Kerry Mountain ranges of the Magillicuddy Reeks and The Dunkerrons run along the spine of the peninsula. Around which runs the Ring of Kerry coastal driving route between the mountains and the waters of Kenmare Bay, Dingle Bay and The Wild Atlantic itself.

There is wonderful walking and hiking here too and it’s endowed with early history including stone circles, stone forts, standing stones and ringforts.

The Ring of Kerry is not a route to be rushed, rather it's suited to a langorous drive to discover amazing places, culture and people. It's a case of the longer you spend here, the more you'll experience of the real Kerry.

Exploring the South West Coastline of the Ring of Kerry

On reaching Sneem guests will have already completed part of the Ring of Kerry, possibly without actually realising it. So, my advice to them is to spend a full day exploring the Atlantic coastline area of South West Kerry. If they do, I guarantee it will be one of the highlights of their holiday and happily doesn't involving huge driving distances.

Ring of Kerry Coastal Drive

Recommendations for an Epic Ring of Kerry Road Trip

I recommend following my suggestions below for an epic Ring of Kerry Road Trip. Of course, you should tailor these suggestions to suit your taste but hopefully it'll serve as a good starting point.

Driving From Sneem to Waterville

Derrynane Ring of Kerry Drive

This section of the Ring of Kerry driving route takes in the southwest coast of Kerry and its highlights include:

  • Sneem's Coral Beach - One of Ireland's two maerl coral beaches.
  • Sneem's Beaches - visit 3 of the best prestine beaches in Kerry.
  • Derrynane Seashore Nature Trail. Learn all about this wonderful ecosystem.
  • Derrynane Mass Path - Brilliant loop walk with a bit of everything. Takes a few hours.
  • Derrynane House - Pop in to The Liberator Daniel O'Connell's family house and estate for a coffee and scone and historical insight.
  • Coomakista - 20mm high Mountain pass with convenient parking for lots of fresh Atlantic sea air and breathtaking Views.
  • Waterville - Atlantic coastal town, worth stopping for some photos with two of its legends, namely Charlie Chaplin and Mick O'Dwyer.
Charlie Chaplin in Waterville

Skellig Ring Drive - Extend Your Road Trip

Turn off the main Ring of Kerry N70 Route approximately 5KM from Waterville onto the signposted Skellig Ring Drive. This will extend your roadtrip by approximately 20km but trust me it's so worth it.

Ring of Kerry Coastal Drive

Skellig Ring highlights include:

  • Gaeltacht Area - In this region the local people speak Irish (not english) as their primary language. Why not try to learn a few Irish words while visiting the area or 'Cúpla Focail' as it is in Irish.
  • Ballinskelligs Blue Flag Beach - Long stretch of safe sandy beach with life guards during the summer. Parking and cafe available.
  • Skelligs Chocolate Factory - Nice cafe, free Skellig Chocolate samples and gift opportunitities for yourself and those back home.
  • St. Finan's Bay - Nice beach with thundering Atlantiv waves, which is popular with body boarders. Nearby is a Holy Well.
  • Glen Pier - Idyllic spot with added bonus opportunity for a perfect photograph of you with Skellig Michael in the background.
  • Kerry Cliffs (305m high) - Higher than the Cliff's of Moher (214m high), with easy & convenient access and without the crowds.
  • Portmagee - Time for lunch, perhaps seafood chowder and a pint.
  • Eco Boat Trip - Book a 2.5hr round trip visit to the Skellig Islands. The last sailing is 4:30 and gets you up close to Skellig Michael and the small Skelligs to see both the wildlife and the historical sites.
Skellig Michael Star Wars Island View from Ring of Kerry

Explore Valentia Island

Cross the bridge onto Valentia Island. Valentia is a 25km2 island with a population of circa 700.

Valentia Island highlights includes:

  • The Skellig Experience - Visitor Centre for information on the history and archaeology of the UNESCO World Heritage site Skellig Michael.
  • Bray head loop walk - Walk the tarred path to the top of the promontory headland for a Wild Atlantic Experience. Turn left at the end of the Valentia bridge to reach the parking area and starting point.
  • Valentia Lighthouse - Located on Cromwell Point this is one of the great lighthouses of Ireland and open for visits daily from Easter to September.
  • Valentia Slate Quarry & Grotto - First opened in 1816 and has supplied slate products to some of the most prestigious buildings in the world including The Paris Opera House and the Palace of Westminster.
  • Geokaun Hill and Fogher Cliffs - Wonderful 360 degree viewing spot with car parking.
  • The Tetrapod Trackway - 350million year old footprints from a primitive vertebrate dragging itself through Valentia Island's muddy coastline.
  • Knightstown (population 250) - Stop off here for refreshments and the ferry back to the mainland.
Bray Head on Valentia Island

When you're disembarking the ferry, it's likely it will be approaching nightime and time to return to Sneem, which is a 1 hour drive.

So, if you intend driving the Ring of Kerry and are searching for a hotel in Sneem for bed and breakfast, book your accommodation directly with us for the best rates.

If you would rather sit back, relax, and enjoy the Myth & Magic of the Ring of Kerry in the care of a professional driver and guide, book a private sightseeing experience now with Kerry Experience Tours! A fabulous way to make your Ireland vacation one to remember.