The spectacular Skellig Ring, located in County Kerry, Ireland, encompasses many of the wonderful attractions that the area has to offer. It is along the Wild Atlantic Way.
Although it is not classified as part of the Ring of Kerry, even if I deeply believe that it should be, taking the time to explore the Skellig Ring, as well as the Ring of Kerry, comes highly recommended. There is so much to see on the Skellig Ring, you definitely should plan a two-day trip.
Within my guide to the Skellig Ring, I have included two routes that you can take to explore the area.
Through either of these routes, you will discover the traditional and quaint villages of Ballinskelligs, Portmagee, and Waterville, and you will also explore the incredible attractions on offer including Ireland’s only open chocolate factory and the breathtaking Valentia Island and Coomanaspig Mountain.
To round off the guide, I recommend the very best places to stay and eat in this stunning location.
Two Ways To Explore Skellig Ring
This first section of my guide to Skellig Ring will introduce two different routes that you can take in order to complete this unique trip.
The first route, also known as the traditional route, is perhaps more appropriate for those taking a car. While my second proposed route will be perfect for those wanting to explore using their beloved bicycle.
Traditional Skellig Ring Route – Clockwise
The traditional route around the Skellig Ring is to start off in Waterville and head in a clockwise direction. From here you will travel through the village of Ballinskelligs before heading up the spectacular Coomanaspig mountain.
Once you have crossed here, you will head down towards Portmagee and take the bridge over to Valentia Island. Having explored this stunning island, you will then take the ferry over to Cahersiveen where you can make the round trip back to Waterville.
Due to the steep nature of Coomanaspig mountain, it is often advised to use a car or motorbike to complete your trip.
Alternative Route – Anticlockwise
Now, for those of you wishing to complete the Skellig Ring on your bicycle, I do not recommend route number one. This is mostly because of the climb up Coomanaspig Mountain, which is quite steep on the traditional route.
What I recommend for cyclists is to start in Cahersiveen rather than end there, and head in an anti-clockwise direction. From here you can either take the ferry to Valentia Island or cycle towards Portmagee where you can access the island via a bridge.
And do not forget to pre-book your boat trip over to Skellig Michael from Portmagee. See my web page on Skellig Michael here.
Explore The Beautiful Valentia Island
A true hidden Irish gem, Valentia Island, which is only connected to the mainland via Portmagee, is truly a wonder and should be at the top of everyone’s itinerary.
You can easily spend the day here, traveling across the island visiting all of its unique attractions, from the Skellig Experience, seeing the Tetrapod Footprints, touring Valentia lighthouse, visit Valentia slate quarry, climbing Geokaun mountain, to the site of the first transatlantic cable.
The island is steeped in so much incredible history; it is truly a fascinating location. Perhaps, after spending a long day discovering everything that the island has to offer, you may wish to stop over before rejoining the Skellig Ring.
If this is the case, not to worry, there is a hotel, plenty of B&Bs, and fabulous restaurants to choose from. See my web page on Valentia Island here.
Spend The Day At Portmagee
Of course, if you are visiting Valentia Island, then you absolutely must visit Portmagee as well. The village acts as a form of a gateway to the island, as it has the only bridge connecting it to the mainland.
This tiny fishing village, home to approximately 120 people has a lot to offer so why not take a few hours and explore this quaint village by foot and stop off for a meal at one of their fine establishments?
Why not visit the Kerry Cliffs while you are there? They are truly spectacular on a clear day. See my web page on Portmagee here.
Enjoy The Spectacular Views From Coomanaspig Mountain
Whilst this may be the most difficult area for you to reach during your Skellig Ring experience, you cannot miss out on the amazing views on Coomanaspig Mountain.
Not only will it take you en route to the beautiful St. Finian’s Bay (more on this below), but it will provide you with a breathtaking view of Valentia Island and Portmagee.
You can also stop during your journey up the mountain to discover the Tobairin Holy Well and the Blessed Virgin Mary shrine. Perhaps not as old as they seem, they both are finished beautifully and really add to your journey up Coomanaspig Mountain.
Take In The Stunning Views Of St. Finian’s Bay
Whilst traveling the Skellig Ring, be sure to stop off at St. Finian’s Bay, also known as The Glen. Located between Portmagee and Ballinskelligs, St. Finian’s Bay contains traces of a Bronze Age era.
Please note that the sea is incredibly dangerous due to crosscurrents that can be deadly. However, the bay is the perfect setting for a picnic and a relaxing afternoon.
Explore Ireland’s Only Open Chocolate Factory
Whilst you are on the Ballinskelligs part of your Skellig Ring route, why not stop off at Ireland’s only open-access chocolate factory, Skellig Chocolate.
First established in 1996, this quaint chocolate factory sees visitors from all over the world come to try its delicious free chocolate samples.
The chocolate factory also has an onsite cafe. Not to mention, Skellig Chocolate also overlooks the breathtaking Skellig Islands.
Ballinskelligs Is The Place For Everyone
The wonderful people of Ballinskelligs have created an inclusive resort that is very welcoming to everyone with total accessibility to this beautiful blue flag beach.
You can avail of a specially created wheelchair free of charge in the summer months (contact Kerry County Council outside of the summer months at 066 7162000).
Ballinskelligs beach, and its stunning blue sea, is the biggest attraction in this area and it is truly wonderful that everyone can enjoy it.
Aside from the beach, Ballinskelligs is also home to Ireland’s first Dark-Sky reserve, many historical ruin sites, and has a heavy mythological history that is fascinating to learn about. See my web page on Ballinskelligs here.
Visit The Unique Waterville Village
The magnificent seafront village of Waterville is an absolute must-visit for any tourist. With world-renowned golf courses, incredible historical sites to explore, and the fun-filled Charlie Chaplin Comedy Festival every August, there is always something to do in Waterville.
This quaint Irish village is also the perfect stop for anyone wishing to stay as close to the sea as possible during their trip to County Kerry. Thankfully, there are many highly-rated hotels and restaurants located throughout the village’s local area. See my web page on Waterville here.
Where To Stay Whilst You Explore The Skellig Ring
Now that you know everything this beautiful area in County Kerry has to offer, you will be looking for the best accommodation options in order to book your trip. I have included my top three picks within this section.
The Smugglers Inn, located on the coast of Waterville, is a stunningly restored 200-year-old farmhouse with access to a beautiful sandy beach.
With its own gourmet restaurant and comfortable, modern contemporary rooms, picking the Smugglers Inn would be the perfect option for those looking for a place to relax and recuperate whilst they are exploring the picturesque Skellig Ring.
Another alternative accommodation option in Waterville is the incredibly popular Butler Arms. Accepting guests for over 100 years, Butler Arms allows you to live in the lap of luxury during your stay in County Kerry.
With an onsite restaurant, bar, and lounge, as well as its stunning coastal views, staying at the Butler Arms is an absolute treat.
The hotel has played host to many famous guests including Charlie Chaplin, Walt Disney, and the hotel got booked out by the cast of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
The Moorings Portmagee
Located in the heart of Portmagee, The Moorings combine quaint rooms and a delicious restaurant to help their visitors feel like they are in a home away from home.
With a beautiful seafront view and a variety of luxury rooms, The Moorings is perfect for any couple or family looking for the perfect getaway.
The Best Places To Eat
Here are my top three recommendations for the best places to eat, whilst you are staying in this beautiful part of Ireland. The Irish take immense pride in their food, especially relating to the freshness of their ingredients which are often locally sourced.
Featuring in my guide for the second time, while the Butler Arms is a spectacular hotel, they also prepare some of the nicest meals in County Kerry.
Visit the hotel’s ‘Charlie’s Restaurant’ for a classy and delicious meal. Their sticky toffee pudding is famous in the local area, and they also serve a selection of fresh and locally sourced seafood every day.
Fisherman’s Bar Portmagee
Alternatively, if you are looking for somewhere to eat in the Portmagee area, then look no further than Fisherman’s Bar Portmagee.
Renowned for its locally sourced and fresh seafood platters, no matter what type of seafood you are looking to sample during your trip, the Fisherman’s Bar, Portmagee has it all.
And why not sample a pint of Guinness whilst you are enjoying your seafood dishes? You cannot go to Ireland without trying at least one pint, can you?
O’Neill’s The Point Seafood Bar
O’Neill’s The Point Seafood Bar our final restaurant recommendation is situated on the stunning Renard Harbor with spectacular views of the sea. I do not think you can get a more appropriate location than this for a seafood restaurant.
You must head here and try either their Hake or Monkfish dishes, which are favorites of not only visitors to this beautiful area but also the locals.
That concludes my guide to the spectacular Skellig Ring. Whether you are opting to travel by car or bicycle, this stunning route has so much to offer. From breathtaking scenery to traditional Irish towns and villages to explore, and it’s very own chocolate factory.
As I stated previously, we fully recommend a two-day trip to really immerse yourself in the local area and discover all of its wonderful sites. In my opinion, it is just as incredible as the Ring of Kerry if not better.