BeachesThe Dingle Peninsula is home to several spectacular beaches. The most famous is Inch Strand—a 5km-long (3-mile) creamy stretch of sand dunes in the town of Inch (Inse). It makes for a beautiful stop on the coast road into Dingle, with a beach café (open summer only) and a colony of semi-wild ginger cats that live among the slopes of its parking lot, ever hopeful for scraps. On Kilmurray Bay, Minard Beach, in the shadow of Minard Castle, giant sandstone boulders form a beach unlike anything you’ve ever seen. It’s definitely not safe for swimming, but ideal for a stroll or a picnic.
The calmest beaches for swimming in this area are east of Castlegregory, on the more protected west side of Tralee Bay. The beach at Maherabeg has a coveted European Blue Flag (meaning it is exceptionally unpolluted and environmentally safe), and the beaches of Brandon Bay are particularly scenic—great for walking and swimming.
Bikes can be rented at Foxy John Moriarty, Main Street, Dingle (066/915-1316) or the Mountain Man Outdoor Shop, Strand Street, Dingle (www.themountainmanshop.com; 066/915-2400). The cost is around €15 to €25 per day, or €55 to €80 per week. Employees at both shops can suggest a number of day trips or overnight touring options. Mountain Man offers guided cycle tours, including a gastro tour and an archeological tour of Slea Head. Not to be outdone, Foxy John’s has the advantage of also being a pub, although you might want to save your pints until after your ride.
Diving & Water Sports
On the north coast of the Dingle Peninsula, Castlegregory on protected Tralee Bay is the region’s go-to place for water sports. Waterworld, Harbour House, Scraggane Pier, Castlegregory (www.waterworld.ie; 066/713-9292), is a diving center that offers packages including diving, room, and board at good rates. Classes for beginners are available. The house is a short boat ride from most of the diving sites. Windsurfing equipment can be hired from Jamie Knox Watersports, Brandon Bay, Castlegregory (www.jamieknox.com; 066/713-9411), on the road between Castlegregory and Fahamore. The cost runs from €30 for 1 hour to €80 for the whole day. They also offer lessons for surfers of all skill levels; a 2-hour beginner’s taster costs €40.
In summer, the small, uninhabited islands surrounding Great Blasket attract flocks of nesting seabirds, including vast numbers of storm petrels. From Clogher Head north of Dunquin at the western extremity of the Dingle Peninsula, rare autumn migrants can sometimes be seen. Inch Peninsula, extending into Castlemaine Harbour south of Inch town, is a wintering ground for brent geese, which arrive in late August and move on in April; there is also a large wigeon population in the fall.
Sixteen kilometers (10 miles) west of Dingle Town, on the western edge of the Dingle Peninsula, overlooking the Atlantic, the Dingle Golf Club (Ceann Sibéal), Ballyferriter (066/915-6255; www.dinglelinks.com), welcomes visitors to play its 18-hole, par-72 course. Greens fees for 18 holes are €30 to €65 daily, depending on the season.
At Dingle Horse Riding, Ballinaboula House, Dingle (066/915-2199; www.dinglehorseriding.com), rides are available along nearby beaches or through the mountains. A 1-hour mountain ride starts at €30. Half-day, full-day, and 3- to 5-day packages, including accommodations, meals, and riding, can be arranged.
For packages and day trips, contact Nick or Maureen O'Connor at Angler's Rest, Ventry (066/915-9947; www.iol.ie/~avalon), or Seán O'Conchúir (066/915-5429), representing the Kerry Angling Association.
Up close with Fungie -- It is extremely rare for a wild dolphin to choose voluntarily to live among people rather than with his own kind, but for some 25 years, a dolphin named Fungie has chosen to live with Dingle's human population. In fact, he likes people so much that diving into the water to swim with him has become a popular local pastime, and one that he seems to enjoy as much as the human visitors. He can swim about 40kmph (25 mph), but he slows down to the pace of an Australian crawl when you're out there, and amuses himself by leaping over the human swimmers' heads. If you want to swim with Fungie, contact John Brosnan (066/915-1967) to book a time. He'll rent you the necessary gear for the cold Irish waters (semi-dry suit, mask, snorkel, boots, and fins, all in one duffel -- €25 per person), and then ferry you out by boat. The 2-hour escorted swim also costs €25. For obvious reasons (it's out in the sea), only adults can swim with Fungie, although children will certainly enjoy watching.
The Dingle Way begins in Tralee and circles the peninsula, covering 153km (95 miles) of gorgeous mountain and coastal landscape. The most rugged section is along Brandon Head, on the peninsula’s north coast, where the trail passes between Mount Brandon and the ocean. Farther west, the section between Dunquin and Ballyferriter (24km/15 miles) follows an especially lovely stretch of Atlantic coast. For more information, pick up maps from local tourist offices.
The Dingle Way is just one of many itineraries offered by Hidden Ireland Tours, Dingle (www.hiddenirelandtours.com; 251/478-7519 in the U.S., or 087/221-4002), which offers weeklong guided hiking tours through some of Ireland’s most beautiful scenery. It also offers hikes around the Kerry Way, Killarney National Park, and Skellig Michael. Prices include luggage transfers and accommodations. Hikes are available April to September.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.