Seven Days on the Dingle Peninsula, A Staycation Guide
*POST UPDATED FEBRUARY 2022.
Hi friends! How are you this fine Wednesday? I’m so excited to announce a new series on the blog – staycation guides! Now, more than ever, I find myself mooching around the internet, looking for Irish staycation ideas. With that in mind, allow me to introduce: Seven Days on the Dingle Peninsula, A Staycation Guide. I’m so excited to share it with you!
Back in August, I mentioned we were in Kerry with Boyfriend’s family for a staycation. With all the Covid-19 restrictions in place, I thought it would be super helpful to put together a guide on what we did & how we went about staying safe. Covid-19 has affected everyone this year, but I’m going to try my hardest not to let it dampen my travels any more than necessary.
Read on for recommendations, advice, and safety measures!
what is a staycation?
S T A Y C A T I O N / stay•kay•shun / (noun): a holiday spent in one’s home country rather than abroad, or one spent at home and involving day trips to local attractions.
Although the airways are open and there are some lovely destinations on the Green List, air travel isn’t something we’re ready to try out just yet. When Boyfriend’s parents suggested a staycation in Kerry, we leaped at the idea. We were so desperate to get out of the house that even a staycation in the next town over would’ve sufficed.
We drove from Dublin to Kerry, had a house to ourselves, and the only tourist-ing we did was in quieter areas. No-risk travel + non-shared accommodation + limited social interactions = the perfect Covid-19 staycation.
dingle staycation guide: staying covid-19 savvy
There’s literally no point in going away if you’re just going to go about your business as you would when the world was the right way up. Yes, we were delighted to be escaping Dublin, but we still had to do our part & be careful. Below are some of things to keep in mind if you’re staycation-ing:
• keep a space of 6-feet between you & others // be aware and make sure you feel comfortably distant from others.
• avoid crowded places & reduce interactions // after driving through Dingle on our way to Slea Head we decided to avoid it like the plague – all Covid-19 measures seemed to have gone out the window! Seek out the quieter areas.
• wear a mask // this wasn’t legally enforceable on our trip – but it is now. Be sure to wear a mask whenever you enter a retail outlet, or face a potential fine. I found this Q&A helpful.
• do not shake hands with/hug others // how do you know people haven’t been shaking hands with others just before you? Don’t take the risk just to avoid feeling rude.
dingle staycation guide: before you visit
• the weather on the Dingle Peninsula is so unpredictable. One second the sun is streaming through intermittent clouds, the next the mist has rolled so far in that you literally can’t see 10ft in front of you. Be prepared for everything: sun, rain, wind, thunder.
• some of the roads in and around the Dingle Peninsula are quite tight and difficult to maneuver in a larger car. The nervous passenger in me reached for the door handlebar often.
dingle staycation guide: where to stay
airbnb / home rental
Both times I’ve been to the Dingle Peninsula we stayed out along the coast, past Dingle town. The first time, we stayed in a beautiful house in Dunquin that was literally a two minute walk to Krugers bar. It appears to have been taken offline, but this house is similar in size and must be only a few doors up. When we visited in August of this year, we stayed at Slea Head Rental and were treated to beautiful views over Dunmore Head from the comfort of the kitchen. It was perfect.
dingle staycation guide: what to see & do
I mentioned above that we didn’t stop into Dingle this time around because of Covid-19 fears, but perhaps you’ll want to as Dingle town is normally lovely. Cute, colourful, and filled with lovely artisan shops – any Dingle staycation guide would be incomplete without mentioning it.
Traditionally, this is where farmers coming from the Great Blasket Island would dock their boats en route to Dingle… but today it’s more of a photogenic spot. If you’re brave enough to take the boat over to the Blasket Islands, this is where you’d launch from.
The most westerly point on mainland Ireland – with only the Blaskets and the Atlantic between you and America. I was too much of a wimp to walk up the head with the horrific weather, but Boyfriend & Co. braved it for the views across the islands. Locals like to say that on quiet nights you can hear the traffic in New York. Fun fact: scenes from Star Wars: The Last Jedi were filmed there!
explore the beaches
There is a wealth of beautiful beaches to visit along the Dingle Peninsula – but be sure to check if they’re safe for swimming before visiting. Coumeenoole Beach is by far the most beautiful in the area, lined with dramatic, rugged cliffs. However tempting it may be, you can’t swim in Coumeenole as the currents are too strong. Similarly, nearby Cloghar Strand is also a no-go for swimming, but perfect for a stroll. Ventry Beach and Wine Strand are a little further afield, but both are safe to swim at.
ryan’s daughter schoolhouse
The Schoolhouse, one of the main film locations in Ryan’s Daughter, is located in Dunquin, right on the edge of the Atlantic. The stone building was constructed for the movie and left standing after they finished filming. Boyfriend’s dad has a soft spot for the movie, so we visit every time.
dolphin / porpoise watching
Okay so we all know that Fungie the Dolphin‘s regular hangout is Dingle Harbour – where you can take a sightseeing boat out to visit him – BUT you can also spot dolphins around Coumeenoole Beach. We were looking out the window in our house one day when we saw a whole pod of them playing in the waters; it was wonderful! *2021 update: sadly, Fungie the Dolphin has passed away.*
slea head drive
Slea Head Drive is a winding, narrow loop around the coastline of the Dingle Peninsula. Like, super narrow in places. It’s just under 50km long, and although a little nerve-wracking in places, it’s worth it for the views!
dingle staycation guide: where to eat & drink
Murphy’s Ice Cream
I mean this kind of goes without saying, but if you’re going to Dingle you just have to visit Murphy’s. The best ice-cream in Ireland? Maybe so! Address: Strand St, Dingle, Co. Kerry
Bean in Dingle
The most adorable little cafe in Dingle. From what I remember: the coffee is outstanding, and the pastries are nearly just as good! And hello, the whole place is so dang cute and yellow! Address: Green St, Dingle, Co. Kerry
caife na tra
We actually didn’t eat here, but it gets wonderful reviews for both food and service! We walked down for a look one afternoon and it was packed both inside and out, so we’ll definitely be trying it next time. Added bonus: it looks out over Coumeenoole and Dunmore Head. Address: Slea Head Dr, Coumeenoole South, Dingle, Co. Kerry, V92 TX6N. *2021 update: we finally ate here! The scones are to die for!
If you take anything from this Dingle staycation guide, let it be this: our favourite pub, located in Dunquin. It’s a real old school, no-nonsense, traditional Irish bar. Stepping inside is like getting in a time machine, and I hope you get to experience the joy it brings when pubs are allowed to open again. Address: Krugers Bar, Baile na Ratha, Dún Chaoin, Co. Ciarraí
My first Staycation Guide – Seven Days on the Dingle Peninsula – what did you think? Did you find it useful/helpful/do you have your own tips or advice? I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below!
Thanks for reading, friends!