The beautiful town of Ballinskelligs which is home to one of the stunning blue flag beaches in County Kerry, Ireland, is known for being a favorite vacation spot.
You may also be aware of this particular part of Ireland because of its close proximity to the ancient monastic colony known as the Skellig Islands especially since one of the Star Wars movies was filmed there.
I have created a complete guide to this breathtaking location, including the must-see attractions and experiences you should put at the top of your itinerary. Also, I have included a selection of places to stay and the best cafes and restaurants where you can get a real taste of Ireland.
The Best Experiences Around Ballinskelligs Beach
This stunning location of Ballinskelligs Beach is the perfect place to have the very best Irish summer holiday imaginable. Ballinskelligs blue flag beach has a lifeguard presence during the summer months.
You may even be tempted to stay overnight at this famous Irish sandy beach. Unfortunately, it is illegal to wild camp here and you will receive a €75 fine. Not to worry, there are many incredible places to stay which I have included below.
Get Your Adrenaline Pumping With Watersports In Ballinskelligs
The west coastline of Ireland is very well-known for its wild Atlantic waves and is a favorite for watersport enthusiasts and adrenaline junkies alike.
My number one recommendation for those wishing to take to the waves at the beautiful Ballinskelligs Beach is to book either your activities or lessons at the highly-rated Skelligs Watersports.
Whether you are a watersports novice or consider yourself a professional, there are watersports for everyone to take part in. The calm and tranquil waves create the perfect conditions for those wishing to either windsurf or traditionally surf.
Of course, the key area in the region for the best surfing conditions is at Reen Rua Beach, so you will be able to graduate to that area once you have learned how to surf at Ballinskelligs Beach.
For those looking for a more leisurely activity whilst at the stunning blue flag beach, why not try kayaking as you can paddle around the beautiful bay.
Do Not Forget To Attend The Ballinskelligs Regatta
If your vacation to Ballinskelligs Beach coincides with the Ballinskelligs Regatta, then you cannot miss out on this thrilling event. It was just this year (2021) that the first-ever Coastal Rowing Beach Sprints in Ireland occurred, with the final happening at the renowned Ballinskelligs Beach.
If rowing is your thing, then you will get to witness both up-and-coming stars as well as masters and seniors of the sport who take part in over 81 races that run throughout the day. Pack a picnic and make a day of it down at Ballinskelligs Beach during the beautiful summer month of July.
Aside from the stunning Ballinskelligs Beach, perhaps the area’s crowning attraction is the truly spectacular Ballinskelligs Castle.
These stunning ruins, with their breathtaking sea and hillside landscape acting as the perfect picturesque background, make Ballinskelligs Castle an attraction that should be at the very top of your itinerary. The remaining McCarthy Mor Tower House dates back to the 16th century.
Now, due to centuries of sea erosion, the once 2-acre castle has been dwindled down to just the remains of the tower house. Be sure to make the trip across to this small, but very significant, part of Irish history.
Continue Your Historical Tour At 12th Century Ballinskelligs Abbey
Once you have visited Ballinskelligs Castle, the next location you absolutely must visit to fully grasp the history of this incredible area is Ballinskelligs Priory, simply known as The Priory.
Founded during the 12th century for the monks that traveled from nearby Skellig Michael island. The Priory has survived many battles, mostly with the Vikings, with most of the existing buildings dating back as far as the 15th century.
If you are partaking in a particularly spiritual pilgrimage to Ireland, then Ballinskelligs Priory must be at the top of your list of places to visit.
Try Your Hand At Fishing During Your Visit
If there is one particular activity that Ireland is known for, it is fishing. This favorite Irish pastime is very much encouraged by local residents and activity organizers, as you can either rent your own equipment or join one of the many pre-organized fishing trips and excursions.
The particular waters surrounding Ballinskelligs Bay are actually well-populated with Bass. This specific species of fish is actually considered to be the crown jewel for sea fishers.
Also, Ballinskelligs pier is right beside Ballinskelligs Abbey.
Discover The Breathtaking Dark Sky Reserve
With the forever-increasing amount of light and noise pollution that everyone is witnessing across the entire globe, the ability to truly discover and witness the wonders of an undisturbed night sky has become increasingly rarer.
This site in beautiful County Kerry is actually the first Dark Sky location in the whole of Ireland, making it a truly unique experience that you cannot easily get anywhere else in the country.
During the day, the reserve is home to a local pub, cafés, and several beaches, as well as a chocolate factory. You can easily spend a whole entire day at the reserve whilst you wait for the night to roll in.
But when it arrives, you will be able to witness thousands upon thousands of stars lighting the night sky. You will also be able to make out a selection of constellations, discover planets and even make out the band of the Milky Way. Visiting The Dark Sky Reserve is an absolute must.
Explore The Emlagh Loop Walk
For those of you that enjoy exploring the local area of your vacation spot by going on a relaxing or challenging hike, then look no further than the Emlagh Loop Walk.
This easy terrain walk covers a 6km distance with the approximate completion time standing between 1 and a half to a two-hour period.
You will take in the glorious coastline of Ballinskelligs Bay, adventure down the roadway of Inny Strand, where you will eventually arrive upon the stunning Inny Estuary.
The beautiful green countryside of County Kerry will be yours to capture and enjoy on this beautifully laid-back walk.
Do Not Forget To Go To Ballinskelligs Market
If you are looking for the perfect souvenir to take back home from your vacation in Ballinskelligs, then definitely stop off at the Ballinskelligs Market.
Open every Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm (June to September), the market is alive with a lively and colorful atmosphere, with local vendors setting up their stalls and local musicians playing their music throughout the day.
There is a variety of goods on sale at the market, from fresh fruit and vegetables to handmade jewelry, crafts, and artwork. There is truly a little bit of everything at this glorious market.
Places To Stay In Ballinskelligs
Below I have included my top three choices of the best B&B’s to stay in the local area of Ballinskelligs.
Beach Cove B&B
You will not get much more of a stunning location to stay in Ballinskelligs than the beautiful Beach Cove B&B.
With breakfast and a newspaper provided to all staying guests, and the availability of onsite canoes to rent, this is truly the best choice for a couple looking for a romantic getaway.
Whereas if you are looking for the best B&B option for guests staying with children, then look no further than the Seaside B&B. With its breathtaking hillside location and sweeping views of the Atlantic ocean below, this B&B has it all.
With an onsite restaurant, activities for children, and free parking for all guests, this is the best vacation base for those wanting to explore the local area.
The Old School House B&B
If you are looking to fully immerse yourself in the history of the local area, then why not stay at The Old School House B&B. With its hillside location, this converted old school building is the perfect cozy location to unwind after a long day.
With onsite canoe, bicycle, and BBQ rentals, you will have an excellent time.
Places To Eat In Ballinskelligs
The stunning location of County Kerry has a large variety of delicious and critically acclaimed restaurants, and the area surrounding the blue flag Ballinskelligs Beach is no different.
Below, I have included my top three picks of the best places you absolutely must visit to sample the best food and get a true taste of Ireland.
Café Cois Trá
The beautiful outdoor Café Cois Trá with the stunning seafront setting at Ballinskelligs Bay is the ideal location to stop for a quick lunch while you explore this stunning area.
With a delicious selection of sandwiches, soups, and cakes, as well as a refreshing selection of ice creams that will cool anyone down on a hot day. This quaint little cafe has it all.
Cill Rialaig Arts Center Cafe
For those visitors that are particularly health-conscious when it comes to food, then you should definitely head to the Cill Rialaig Arts Center Cafe.
Famous for its delectable selection of locally sourced and organic dishes, the cafe serves fresh wood-fired pizzas Thursday, Friday, and Sunday evenings.
Or, if you are looking to visit during the day, you should stop off for a coffee and treat yourself to a slice of cake.
Cable O’Leary’s Pub
Named after the 1800’s local folk hero Dennis O’Leary, this pub is key to the local history of the area and an absolute must-visit for those looking for a historical place to eat.
With a selection of delicious dishes that will suit every visitors’ taste, this pub is an absolute must-visit. And do not forget to try either their Bailey’s coffee or have the traditional pint of Guinness.
That concludes my guide to the beautiful Ballinskelligs Beach. This truly stunning part of County Kerry is an excellent holiday vacation spot, with so many fun-filled and educational activities available to appeal to all of the family. There will never be a dull day during your vacation.
Are dogs allowed on Kerry Beaches?
Yes. According to the Kerry Beach By-Laws 2022 you can walk your dog off the lead if you have effectual control over it (except for dangerous dog breeds and which have to be muzzled by law). You can not walk your dog through the Blue Flag Section of the beach. This will be marked on a map on the noticeboard at the beach. Don’t forget to bring along your poop bag.
How long is Ballinskelligs Beach?
It is 1.33km from Ballinskelligs Abbey.