9 idyllic Irish coastal islands that should make every travel bucket list
Brought to you by Rockshore
No better places for one last adventure before we’re ready to bid farewell to summer.
And adventures in Ireland don't come much better than the epic island-hopping experience available thanks to Rockshore Island Hop, which offers the ultimate adventure for you and your housemates to visit and explore four stunning islands off the west coast of Ireland.
The closing date for entries is Friday, 4 September, so this really is your last chance! No time for hanging around, you can enter right here.
All four of the islands featured in the Rockshore Island Hop competition also take pride of place in our list of the most glorious of the many islands dotted around the Irish coastline.
They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder and restrictions on overseas travel in recent months have certainly heightened our sense of wanderlust.
It’s likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future, however and we’re going to become a lot more accustomed to holidaying at home for some time yet.
But as many have discovered in recent months, that’s a good thing. For one, it has helped reveal stunning parts of Ireland that have long been hidden gems for many and whose appeal has now been opened up to a far bigger audience.
Many of those hidden gems lie a short distance off our rugged coastline and while that technically makes them ‘overseas’, every one of them listed below is easy to access.
Whether it’s your first experience or a repeat visit to some of the most stunning locations on the planet, we highly recommend putting all of these on your travel bucket list.
The biggest island in Ireland and the locals wouldn’t be the only ones to argue that it’s the best.
Under an hour’s drive away from Castlebar, the county of town of Mayo, it is home to amongst other things, Keem Beach, regularly and deservedly touted as one of the most spectacular beaches in the world.
Consisting of two small unoccupied islands, Great Saltee and Little Saltee, the Saltee Islands are dotted about 5km off the Wexford coast and can be reached by boat from Kilmore Quay.
Home to 12 species of breeding seabirds, the Saltee Islands have been privately-owned since the early 1940s. Camping is not allowed on the island, but day trips are and a visit comes highly recommended… as does booking said visit in advance.
Three islands in and we haven’t mentioned any of the Aran Islands yet, so let us put that right immediately.
Inis Mór's status as the biggest of the Aran Islands is reflected in its name ('the big island') and it is home to a Neolithic tomb, a museum celebrating Aran Jumpers and TedFest, the annual celebration of all things Father Ted, as well as this jaw-dropping view...
A short distance north of the Skellig Islands in Kerry lies Valentia Island. The local tourist board like to describe its stunning surrounds as “still one of Ireland's best kept secrets”, but it might not be for much longer and with good reason too.
Cape Clear Island
You should never need an excuse to visit West Cork, but a visit to the southernmost inhabited Gaeltacht island in Ireland is a pretty good one to have. A truly magical setting.
On a fine day from the top of Croagh Patrick in west Mayo, they say you can see 365 islands in Clew Bay, one for every day of the year.
Few are as picturesque as Collanmore Island, a must-visit for those who get a kick out of water-based activities and only a short hop from Westport, one of Ireland’s prettiest towns.
Look closely at the picture above and you'll spot the magnificent Collanmore Island Lodge, which comes with its own hot tub and very own remote beach. If you're lucky in the Rockshore Island Hop competition, you could soon be staying there yourself.
Probably the most remote of the islands on this list, Tory Island lies nine miles off the north coast of Donegal and can be accessed via ferry from Magheroarty.
Dripping in folklore and tradition, the island is home to a little over 100 residents and, to this day, still has its own elected king!
The Giant's Causeway is the most well-known part of the north Antrim coast, but Rathlin Island, located a short distance to the north-east, is arguably worthy of equal acclaim.
Shaped like a sickle, or an 'L' turned upside down and then flipped on its side, it is renowned for its rich history, as a breeding ground for seabirds and for its breathtaking and unspoilt natural beauty.
The Saw Doctors famously reference the beauty of Clare Island in the lyrics of their song, ‘The Green and Red of Mayo’.
Galway men paying homage to Mayo? Must be extra good...
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#AD Nice little candid-ish ? snap of old Goodshanks enjoying a beer on the far side of a day hiking, SUPing and lighthouse exploring on Clare Island. BigStyle has teamed up with Rockshore to offer one group of housemates the best Irish holiday this year. Rockshore Island Hop gives you the chance to explore four of Ireland’s most epic Atlantic isles including Inis Mór, Achill Island and Collanmore Island ... and the BigStyle crew have the pleasure of checking out Clare Island. We might not be sliding off to Sicily for a two-weeker this summer, but the adventure’s not lost. ?✌️ #rockshoreislandhop
If you’re filled with a sudden desire to visit some of these islands, you’re in luck.
As outlined above, Rockshore is offering the opportunity for one lucky person and up to three of their housemates to win an epic island-hopping experience off the west coast.
Taking in four of the islands on our list – Achill Island, Inis Mór, Collanmore Island and Clare Island - Rockshore Island Hop offers the ultimate adventure for you and your housemates to visit and explore these stunning islands for yourselves.
The prize includes accommodation on all four islands and a packed itinerary, including activities such as kayaking, paddle boarding and surfing, during the day. Plenty there to work up a thirst to enjoy some ice-cold Rockshore to enjoy with your grub in some of Ireland's best rural pubs in the evening, which sounds pretty good to us.
You and your housemates must all be over the age of 18 to enter and the competition will close on 4 September, so, just to repeat, this is your last chance to enter, what are you waiting for?
Rockshore is giving you and your housemates the chance to win an epic summer adventure! Win an island-hopping experience of a lifetime with three of your housemates with Rockshore Island Hop on Rockshore.ie.
Brought to you by Rockshore