The Bay Coast of the Wild Atlantic Way is comprised of both County Mayo and County Galway. From Achill Island to Killary Fjord, from open Ocean vistas to the Connemara mountains. With little Bays and Islands, all the way to the charming city of Galway. It is a wealth of experiences for any tourist. You could spend weeks here and have a different experience each day. I'll just hit on some of my personal favorites. I have visited this part of Ireland before so it's a bit of a cheat on this trip as you couldn't cover it all in the short time I had to spend here.
My favorites include:
- Achill Island and Keem Bay - Truly some of the best spots on the whole of the Wild Atlantic Way. Achill is rugged, wild and not crowded at all. It is a long drive out here but walking on the massive main beach with the mountains framing it on either side is 'otherly worldly'. The drive over to Keem Bay, up a steep hill with sheep trundling along and a steep cliff drop off next to you, will definitely make you fully aware of your surroundings! I think there is nothing so idyllic than the view of Keem Bay (see below) as you park and walk down to the beach...it's like a movie set. Large Basking Sharks frequent this area too, no need to be nervous if you spot one. Nature is in command in this corner of the world.
- Westport Town is a good size and it's worth visiting the Westport House Demense (an 18th-century residence and amusement park) for some fun.
- Climbing Croagh Patrick is a religious pilgrimage well known in Ireland. On a good day, there are amazing views of the surrounding sea, islands, and landscape.
- Killary Harbor is the only Fjord in Ireland. I like the drive through this region, especially as you come to Killary. There are several adventure centers and group tours here that you can use to do some real hiking, rock-climbing, kayaking, etc. Delphi, and Leenaun are good places to enjoy the outdoors and the view.
- A must see is Kylemore Abbey and it's Walled Gardens in Letterfrack. The most stunning setting in Ireland I think, and the gardens are unreal! You can tour the Abbey, there's a mini Gothic cathedral, along with extensive walled gardens including a gardener's cottage and storehouses to tour too. An excellent place to eat and shop. Just look at this picture..even on a rainy day it is impressive!
- The villages of Roundstone (with views of the Bay and the mountains of Connemara at its back) and Salthill (an upmarket area near Galway city) are both nice places to stop and enjoy.
- Finally the city of Galway! What a charming and picturesque city. Busy with tourists as it offers a good meld of traditional and modern, in both places to eat and shop. You can't go wrong stopping to spend an afternoon here at least. Walk along the river from the Spanish Arches. I enjoyed a great brunch at the 'Ard Bia at Nimos' cafe there.
Travel and Packing Tip: One of the best suggestions I can recommend for traveling to Ireland, no matter what the season, be prepared for a bit of rain! This journey started out with great weather, but once the rain came in it stayed for a couple of days. It is as I said very atmospheric and beautiful but it's no fun getting wet. You will need a good jacket that can withstand driving rain and not soak through at all. We've got the perfect one for women..it's our Ilse Jacobsen Raincoats and they are the very best thing for this type of weather. Great fit and very flattering as well. I live in mine year round (I have two!) I also have their rainboots along for this trip and I love them! They are lace up so they fit well in the calf (good for hiking), soft felt lining and nothing gets through them! So keep those feet dry and your clothes under the jacket dry too. You will be a much happier camper (traveler!)
Keem Bay, Achill Island