Other attractions on the Ring of Kerry include islands such as Skellig Michael and Valentia Island and a statue of Charlie Chaplin in the silent actor’s favourite holiday town, Waterville.
Skellig Michael – island home of ancient monks
Skellig Michael is a small island eight miles from the coast of Kerry.
It is essentially a large jagged piece of rock that has forced its way out of the ocean to tower nearly 600 feet above sea level.
In the sixth century, the island was home on an order of monks who carved several terraces into the rock to make it habitable.
These terraces are surrounded by dry stone walls. You can climb a flight of steps to see the ruins which include the old monastery and St Michael’s Church.
You can also see the Beehive Cells at Skellig Michael. These are cells that are square on the inside but round on the outside.
You can get to the island by taking a 40-minute boat trip and most visitors stay for about two hours.
But be warned: there are no luxuries like food, water or even toilets so make sure you are fully prepared before you go.
Plants from around the world
Valentia Island is a small island off the coast near the town of Waterville. You can visit Glenheam Gardens which have plants rarely seen in the Northern Hemisphere. The gardens were planted by Sir Peter George Fitzgerald in the 1830s and have windbreaks that protect them from windy conditions coming in from the Atlantic.
You can take several walks around the gardens and see plants from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Chile and South America.
The island is also famous for its Telegraph field which in the 1860s was the site of a transatlantic telegraph cable. It was the first permanent communication structure between Europe and the USA.
Waterville – favourite of Chaplin
Waterville is another of Kerry’s seaside towns.
It has a picturesque beach and was a favourite holiday destination of Charlie Chaplin.
Chaplin loved visiting Waterville and often stayed at the Waterville Arms Hotel.
There is now a statue of him in the street opposite the hotel.
Ring of Kerry – clockwise or anticlockwise?
There are several bus tours that follow the route of the Ring of Kerry and of course you can go by car. It is worth pointing out that the bus tours all follow the route in an anti clockwise (counter clockwise) direction.
Tourists taking the journey by car have a choice between following the direction of the busses or going in the opposite direction. Different travel guides offer different advise so it is down to your preference.
If you travel in the opposite direction to the buses you may encounter one on an awkward narrow turn; on the otherhand, if you travel in the same direction, you may get stuck behind one and find it difficult to overtake. The choice is yours.
More energetic tourists might want to take on the challenge of cycling the route. There is an official cycle route along the Ring of Kerry which goes along some of the quieter roads.