Seeminly endless sandy beaches, adventurous mountain passes, a dolphin in the main town´s bay, remains of Celtic and early Christian settlements and Irish literature of Blasket Island – these are only a few highlights the Dingle Peninsula in the southwest of Ireland has to offer.
For a long time the Dingle Peninsula stood in the shadow of the popular Ring of Kerry. But nowadays it´s impossible to speak of an insider´s tip, as the peninsula, extending 48 km into the Atlantic, enjoys an ever-increasing popularity.
Exploring the peninsula from Tralee, the N86 leads directly to the main town Dingle. But it is worth making a detour to Camp. As along Tralee Bay, there are seemingly never-ending sandy beaches to explore. A so far little known gem is hidden in the hinterland near Castlegregory: the Glanteenassig National Park. This side road leads to Dingle town as well. For this purpose it´s necessary to cross one of Ireland´s most beautiful mountain passes, the Connor Pass. On a clear day you can enjoy a fantastic view over the steeply towering mountain ridges and the sea from up here.
The market town Dingle, main town and name giver of the peninsula, with its colourful houses and countless pubs invites to linger. Fungi the dolphin, who has “settled down” in the spacious bay in 1984, became a real stroke of luck for this place and has been a tourist attraction since. During the summer months excursion boats are setting off from the harbour for dolphin watching. This is also quite possible onshore, namely at the entrance of the bay, at the old tower house Hussey´s Folly. One can only assume why Fungi isn´t leaving the bay and rejoins his fellows. He definitively likes the company of people and thanks to numerous shoals of fish in the narrow access to the bay, Fungi receives his meals on a silver platter. So why hunting? In Dingle there is also told a romantic story, which explains Fungi´s stay. According to this, he once has arrived with his partner, who died in the bay of Dingle. Fungi mourned so much after the love of his life that he decided to stay in the bay until the end of his days.
To the west the Slea Head Drive leads from Dingle to a Gaeltacht area, one of Ireland´s regions, where te old Irish language is spoken as a community language. Countless prehistoric settlements can be found here, in the west of the peninsula. The Blasket Islands, whose main island Great Blasket was inhabited until 1953, is noticeable from Slea Head. The island spawned some great Irish writers like Peig Sayer or Tomás Ó Criomhthain, who wrote in the seclusion of the Blaskets remarkable works on the islander´s lifestyle. Visitor boats set off from Dunquin to the Blasket Islands. There is also the Blasket Visitor Center, an exhibition dedicated to the former inhabitants and the life on the island.
Out here in the far west reveals a landscape, which one might call typically Irish. Green hills, rough cliffs, little bays and small harbours. Near Ballyferriter there are also some remarkable early Christian monuments to be found: the remains of the monastic site of Reask and Gallarus Oratory, a chapel with exceptional architecture. Nearby is the sheltered bay of Smerwick with a spacious sandy beach.
Speaking of sandy beach, in the south of the Dingle peninsula, at Inch, there is one of Ireland´s most popular beaches. This wonderful sandy beach with its dune crest extends over 5 km to the sea.