Aran Islands & the Cliffs of Moher

The Aran Islands are a group of three islands located off the west coast of Ireland. When I travel, I always try to find an “authentic” experience, and while researching our trip to Ireland I read somewhere that families in Dublin send their children to these islands during the summer to learn about Irish culture. And so I became fascinated with the prospect of visiting the Aran Islands to experience authentic Ireland. We planned our vacation around this activity, making our home base in the little town of Doolin.

You can board ferries to the islands in Galway or in Doolin. We caught a ferry from Doolin, and to my delight, a pod of dolphins swam alongside our boat for most of the trip over.


It was also on the ferry ride over that we discovered that my cousin gets VERY seasick. And so we disembarked at Inisheer, the first of the islands. (There are two more islands after Inisheer, Inishmaan and Inishmore. You can stay on the boat and continue on to those islands if you don’t suffer from seasickness.)

the coast of Inisheer

What a beautiful place! I immediately fell in love with the scenery.

a beach on the island of Inisheer

the coastline of Inisheer

The islanders have learned how to take advantage of an abundant natural resource for building…

a house on the island of Inisheer

a rock wall on the island of Inisheer

rock walls on the island of Inisheer

a castle and horse on the island of Inisheer

Although it was a gloomy and chilly day, we spent our limited time hiking around the island.

a dog on the island of Inisheer

birds along the coast on Inisheer

There are a few inns, so it is possible to spend the night on the islands. Reservations are recommended. We headed back to Doolin the same day, catching our ferry on its return to the mainland.

Doolin ferry to the Aran Islands

When we purchased our tickets that morning, we opted for an extra leg on the ferry route: a quick trip to the base of the Cliffs of Moher. I highly recommend this little detour, whether you’re seasick or not! The scenery is extraordinary.

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher and seastack

Seastack at the Cliffs of Moher

I later learned that the geological term for this type of rock formation is a “seastack.”

I loved the rugged remoteness of these islands and would return in a heartbeat. You can learn more about visiting the Aran Islands at Rick Steves’ website.


    • You know, I also would like to return. Usually I only see a country once because there are so many on my list I will never get to see all of them, especially if I re-visit some. But Ireland is special. What was your favorite part of Ireland?


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