With the sun making a glorious return, many of us are starting to think of Summer Holidays and starting to make plans. When planning for holidays with your family, it can make you think of your own childhood and the fond memories of your Summer trips.
And there’s no better location to create authentic Irish memories with the kids than a trip to the Aran Islands to immerse yourself in all Inis Mór has to offer.
There’s an abundance of things to do in the Aran Islands, and we’re on hand to share all the information you need to plan a Wild Atlantic Way adventure the entire family will remember for a lifetime. Find everything you need to know below:
HOW DO I GET TO THE ARAN ISLANDS?
Doolin Ferry Co
The Doolin Ferry Co. operate daily sailings from mid-March / April to the end of October / November, perfect for families planning a peak summer staycation or a mid-term break getaway during the autumn months. The ferry services all three of the Aran Islands, with sailing times varying from 15-35 minutes depending on which island you are visiting. Choose from one-way tickets if you plan to stay overnight and experience all the islands have to offer. The service also offers return day trip tickets and combo tickets if you wish to cruise by the Cliffs of Moher to bask in the spectacular scenery from below.
Aran Island Ferries
Aran Island Ferries operate year-round sailings from Rossaveel in Connemara – PLUS a brand new departure location this summer from Galway City. Enjoy views of Galway Bay and the rugged landscape of the Wild Atlantic Way during your 40 minute sailing to one of the three Aran Islands.
Top Tip: Prepare in advance by booking a return journey online and save 10%.
ARAN ISLANDS ACCOMMODATION
Boasting five stars on TripAdvisor for cleanliness and location, Aran Island Camping and Glamping is located on Inis Mór, the largest of the three Aran Islands. In the heart of the Wild Atlantic Way and set amidst the country’s most beautiful coastal scenery, Inis Mór is most definitely for those with a penchant for exploring the great outdoors. Activities for adventure-lovers on the island include fishing, cycling and hiking. Aran Islands Glamping site includes 24 specially designed pods, accommodating four to six people per pod.
Aran Island Hotel
Renowned for being a home away from home, the Aran Island Hotel offers a warm hearty welcome and wholesome home-cooked food. The perfect base to explore Inis Mór, the hotel offers an additional unique getaway in the form of private seaview chalets where you can relax amidst breathtaking views of the island right from the comfort of your own decking. Unwind and sync with island life thanks to the hotel’s ethos; ‘swap work chores for sandy shores’. Sounds like bliss to us!
TOP THINGS TO DO IN THE ARAN ISLANDS
Aran Islands Bike Hire
What better way to #SupportLocal on your Aran Islands staycation than seeking out local family-run businesses. Aran Islands Bike Hire was established in 1969, meaning trust and friendly service is in abundance. Catering for all ages from families to group bookings, choose from a variety of bikes to explore Inis Mór including tandem bikes, buggies, electric bikes and more. Child seats and roadside assistance are all provided free of charge with your bike hire. Throw in a free map of Inis Mór Island and you’re set for a day trip filled with adventure and fun.
Keep the little ones entertained for an hour at local facilities like Inishmore Playground and Inisheer Playground. Don’t forget to pack a picnic hamper full of nutritious treats!
There is certainly no shortage of pristine sandy beaches with azure waters on the Aran Islands. Kilmurvey Beach is our top pick on the island of Inis Mór. Boasting Blue Flag status, the beach has lifeguards on duty during peak season which is a welcome sigh of relief for those with small kiddies. Breathe in the stunning scenery whilst enjoying safe swimming and building sandcastles until the sun sets.
Snorkelling with seals is about as good as it gets when it comes to bucket list activities. Dive Academy Scuba Diving School on the Inis Mór offers the chance to discover the Atlantic Ocean on the west coast of Ireland. PADI scuba courses are available for kids and adults from beginners to expert level. The academy offers a host of other water activities like kayaking, stand up paddle boarding and more.
A heritage site dating back to prehistoric times, Dún Aonghasa stone fort is perched on the cliff-side facing the Atlantic Ocean. Dating over 3,000 years old, excavations of its defensive stonework have revealed on site houses and burials.
Top Tip: Average length of visit is 1-1.5 hours. Wear comfortable walking or hiking shoes. Use caution when hiking the site.
The Worm Hole
One would be forgiven for thinking Inis Mór’s infamous ‘Worm Hole’ is man-made. However, this piece of natural beauty has uniquely formed in the shape of a perfect rectangle off the bottom of the cliffside just south of Dún Aonghasa. The majestic waves crashing against the cliffside and sweeping into the hole is a spectacular sight to behold and a hugely popular tourist attraction.
REFUEL AT THE BEST FOOD JOINTS
Joe Watty’s Bar
Featured in Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Pubs in Ireland for Traditional Irish Music, Joe Watty’s bar is the epitome of ceoil agus craic. A short walk from Kilronan Village, enjoy beautiful seafood dishes created with the finest locally caught produce. Currently open for walk-in outdoor dining only, stay tuned to Joe Watty’s Bar Facebook page for more dining updates throughout the summer. Takeaway tea, coffee and cake are also available.
TOP TIP IF PLANNING AS A DAY TRIP
Make sure to wear comfortable clothes and shoes, wear layers and bring swim gear! You can bring snacks, but there is a shop there. Handy for a 99 before getting the ferry back!
Have a recommendation? We’d love to hear your tips for family-friendly staycations on the Aran Islands. Submit your tips and reviews in the comment section below or share with us on Instagram @thefamilyedit
*All images shared in good faith. Please let us know of any additional references.
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