Sunday, November 24, 2013

Ireland: Aran Island and the Cliffs of Moher

Coast of Doolin, departure point for the ferry

Coast of Doolin and the Cliffs of Moher

There are many ferry companies to purchase from to get out to the Aran islands. Everywhere we looked stated to NOT buy directly from the ferries at the departure dock because they would rip you off. Well, when we were just scouting it out the day before, we absolutely got the best deal from there then. First, there were 4 different companies right next to each other selling and it was the off season. Though conversations with others on the ferry, we got the best deal by far…paying for both of our tickets for the price that some paid for one. I just recommend that you price shop once you get there.

Ahhh, pretty

Aran Islands: Island of Inisheer. You can only visit one island per day, so you will have to pick which one you are most interested in. You also have options to spend the night on any of the islands, with planning ahead and making sure you time the ferries appropriately. The ferries have to come in and depart based on the tides, so make sure you keep this in mind….the time of arrival and departure are "approximate" dependent on the weather and tide.

Lighthouse of Inisheer

The village on Inisheer

Immediately off the ferry you are greeted with many different option with which to navigate the island. A horse drawn carriage, a tractor drawn buggy, personal tour in a van, or bike rentals. If you want to see the entire island and absolutely everything is have to offer in the time that you have, you will need to pick one of these options (I would recommend the bikes), but we did not want to accomplish all of this and LOVE to see things by walking. So we skipped all of those options and headed on our merry way. We were the rare ones of the group, but I definitely do not feel that we missed out on anything. We definitely were able to move along some of the narrower paths that the buggies/wagons would not fit, and I don't see the van really cruising over the fields like we did. It also allowed us the freedom to stop in the shops and not be pressed for time by a tour leader. Pick your own path, this is what worked best for us.

Domain on the hill

Saint Caomhan's Church

Saint Caomhan's church

Saint Caomhan's church

Traversing the island

No where to dispose of rocks, so they built with them

O'Brien Fort

11th century Saint Gobnait's Church

Prior to our departure we stopped in the only pub for a pint and bowl of potato and leek soup. Perfect sustenance to continue on for the day.

Wishing that we could dive in the crystal clear water

Farewell Inisheer
After leaving Inisheer, we bypass the direct to Doolin and the ferry cruises down and back along the Cliffs of Moher. Make sure to buy the combined package that takes you to one of the islands AND brings you by the Cliffs. They are breathtakingly huge and beautiful. None of the pictures below even begin to capture their mass and amazingness.

Tower on the cliff

Cliffs of Moher

Waterfall over the cliffs