Day 4 of our All Ireland Rocker Tour brings us to The Aran Islands. Located on west coast of Ireland, the islands of Inis Mór, Inis Meáin and Inis Oirr take you back in time and immerse you into the traditional Irish way of life. The Aran Islands are also an official Gaeltacht area, meaning Irish or Gaelic is the predominant language here. Many residents do speak English – particularly on Inis Mór, which attracts plenty of tourists yearly – including us!
After a fun night out in Galway, we woke up nice and early to eat breakfast at the hostel and headed out to buy a bagged lunch for today. As we would be spending the day roaming around Inis Mór, Dave (our tour guide) had suggested for us to take along a lunch. We were careful not to be late – as the bus to the ferry will not wait for us! Once everyone gathered, we followed Dave to the bus stop. A double decker bus was waiting to connect us to ferry terminal at Ros a’ Mhíl. This was not a private bus for our tour, so members of the public could also take it to connect to the ferry terminal. The websites here and here has more details – including shuttle bus stops, schedules and the connecting ferries. I believe Lally Tours run the shuttle buses for both of these companies. This shuttle bus took us along a scenic coastal route from Galway city centre to the ferry terminal, making a couple of stops to pick up passengers along the way.
Once we got to the ferry terminal, we boarded the Aran Island Ferries and got settled in for our journey to Inis Mór. We were so lucky with the weather! (We think it was that rainbow we saw the day before!) Our adventures, particularly today, would not have been as spectacular if it was pouring rain or if there was a storm brewing. And we probably wouldn’t have been able to make it to the cliffs due to safety reasons – as you’ll soon see!
After a smooth ferry ride (where we may or may not have taken a nap…), we arrived at our destination – the beautiful island of Inis Mór! The ferry dropped us off at the pier in the main village of Kilronan. Dave then gave us some options for our day: we could hang out around the main village; hire a bike and follow Dave on a tour of the island; or hire a horse and wagon to take you around! I went with the bike option, while Ioana went horseback riding! Check out Ioana’s adventures here!
There was a group of maybe 20 of us who went with the bike option. After we got sorted with our bikes, we took off after Dave and headed away from the village of Kilronan. It was the perfect day for a bike ride – the skies were blue, it was relatively warm and there was a nice breeze to cool us off in between stops! And the scenery was just gorgeous. It was hard to keep my eyes on the road, while trying to admire the gorgeous coastline and the beautiful emerald green fields divided by stone walls.
Our first stop was the Seal Colony. Alas, we did not see any seals but we did get a great view of the crashing waves and the rugged coastline. After a quick break, we were off again!
Our next stop was a beautiful beach – Kilmurvey Beach. This beautiful, sheltered, white sand beach is indeed in Ireland! Who would have thought Ireland had white sand beaches! Look at that gorgeous water! We took a bit of a longer break here – just enjoying the views, grabbing a bite of our lunches and trying out hurling – one of Ireland’s native games.
Our next stop was an exciting one! We were headed to the “Poll na bPéist” or the Worm Hole on the south side of Inis Mór! You’ll see why this was such an epic stop soon enough… We rode our bikes as close as we could and then walked the rest of the way there, roaming over grass and stepping on rocks and boulders. Look at this incredible landscape! Can you spot Dún Aonghasa there in the distance?
I was so excited to see the cliffs and the coast. I also quickly saw that if the weather had been stormy, it might not be a great idea to be clambering over these rocks or walking so close to the edge, where an errant wave might pull you into the Atlantic! Having said that… I have a thing for crashing waves and the ocean – I just find it so breathtaking and calming at the same time. I must have taken hundreds of photos of the waves here… Here are just a select few – so I don’t bore you all to sleep! But they are pretty cool photographs, if I do say so myself!
And then there is this rocky landscape to take in. It is incredible to think of the geology of the land and also the sheer force of nature that shaped these islands thousands of years ago, and continues to shape this land now, with its wind, waves and water.
More crashing waves…
And finally – the Worm Hole. This rectangular pool, 100% made by nature, is carved into the rocky landscape. The water levels of this “pool” changes depending on the waves crashing over the rocks and into the pool AND the water coming into and out of the pool from underneath the rocks. Besides being a cool product of Mother Nature, its other claim to fame is hosting the Red Bull Cliff Diving Competition, not once – but twice.
I had never heard of this competition before and I naively thought it was just… jumping from a ridiculous height into this Worm Hole. I had no idea, Cliff Diving actually meant diving (from a ridiculous height) – like competitive Olympic type diving, until I saw this video. I felt a little sick while watching the video, just thinking someone was going to have a misstep and get injured! Thankfully they were all professionals and there were some incredible dives in there!
We were told very explicitly that if we wanted to jump in, we were doing so at our own risk. There was also the fact that there was probably poor cell phone coverage there and if you needed medical assistance, you’d probably be waiting a long while! I love swimming and I love the water and I love the waves, but there was no way I would be jumping in!! As you can see below… someone on our tour did jump in.
With this exciting adventure over, it was time to head back to our bikes. But I couldn’t leave without taking one last photograph:
Review: If you are here on a Shamrocker tour, I would definitely recommend following your guide on a bike tour. You get to hang out with your trip mates, do some exploring and go on an epic adventure with your new travel buddies!
If you are here on your own, hiring a bike and slowly making your way around the island is also a great idea! You can get a map of the island and follow the roads and paths to leisurely explore Inis Mór on your own. Being on your own allows you to take as long as you want along the way – stop wherever you want for photographs, stay as long as you want at the beach and explore the cliffs to your heart’s content.
Our next stop was: Dún Aonghasa – a stone fort on a 300 ft cliff. You just know the views here will be epic! Stay tuned for more!
From Vancouver with Love,
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