Snorkeling (UK: snorkelling) in Ireland: Kilkee and Dingle

Naar de Nederlandse pagina over snorkelen in Ierland

Map of Ireland

Finding your way

Of course Ireland is not situated in the Caribbean, nor in the Mediterranean sea. So don't expect colourful fish, nor overwhelming coral. But the water of the Atlantic Ocean is clear enough. And the Irish seem to like the water. So you will find diving shops and diving schools along the Southwest coast line.
The coastline is so rough, that is hard to find a proper place to get to the water. The cliffs are steep and lack walking paths leading to the water. Since the coast does not offer many bays or sandy patches close to the rocky shore, it is hard to find good and safe snorkeling places. Nowadays you may find Google Earth or Google maps useful to explore the coastline before going there. I'm sure you will be able to find some additional good places.

Thanks to the help of local diving shops, we have located two good places: in Kilkee and close to Dingle


Safety

The water of the Atlantic Ocean is cold, so using a wet suit is preferred. The Irish also use wet suits to have fun in the water, not just for surfing or diving. That is probably the reason why wet suits are not only sold in surf shops, but also in ordinary sport shops.

The bottom of the sea is very sandy, not offering rocks onto which plants can get hold. That is why you will mainly find the fish close to the cliffs. Of course this will make the snorkeling a bit more dangerous, so snorkel carefully!
The two places we describe here do not have this problem.

Kilkee: the Pollock holes

When the tide is going down, water remains in the holes in the rocky coast. These holes are called 'Pollock holes'. Kilkee is one of the places where you can find a Pollock hole in which you can swim. Thanks to the incoming water with every high tide, nutrition can enter the Pollock hole twice a day. And sea animals - which are 'trapped' when the tide drops. During high tide, the current down in the Pollock hole is much less than on horizontal surfaces. This allows sea weed to get attached properly.
The size of the Pollock holes vary. We've seen shallow holes over 30 m in diameter. All of the realy large ones were to shallow for swimming when we were there.
Local folks, kids having summer camp and tourists flock together around one smaller pollock hole in particular, which is some 20 metres long and some 10 wide. Kids dive into it from the rocky side, whole families take a swim, and you may find one or two other snorkelers.

Picture: water fun at Kilkee.
And snorkeling is very special here. You will find yourself in a giant aquarium. Walls on all sides, with colourful plants and swimming and hiding sea animals. And '3D' experiences, caused by the fact that you can swim through and look through the sea weed, growing from the bottom, up to the surface.
Of course the fish are not very colourful, that's normal in these regions. But do take your time to discover the animals and experience the breathtaking colours of the water plants.

How to get there

The Pollock holes are situated at the southern side of the Klikee Bay (Google has only low res images of this part of Ireland). You canít miss it. Take the road along the beach to the South. When youíre getting up from the water level, you will see rocks between the road and the water. That's where to park your car.
It is not easy to get down to the water, when using the rocks. Luckily there is a small staircase.

Once on the rocks close to the water, and when the tide is low, you will have to look for that one Pollock hole that is the best for snorkeling. That may be difficult when there are no people swimming in it.

You will find some of our pictures of the Pollock holes here.

Dingle

This place is hard to find. And we did not see anything really spectacular. But that last part was probably caused by the fact that we stayed in the water for only a short while, as we did not carry wet suits to Ireland...

The beach lies open to the ocean. Waves from the South can easily run in. That is why this place is best at Northern and Eastern winds.
The landscape around this beach makes the difference. It is really fantastic. At the other side of the sea-arm that connects Dingle with the sea, you will see a marvellous meadow-covered cliff and hill. The rock at the Western end of the bay ('Slayhead'), the lighthouse and the quiet atmosphere make it complete.
An extra attraction is the local dolphin called Fungi. Boat operators take tourists to the entrance of the sea-arm that connects Dingle with the sea. The dolphin gives a 'jump show' almost every time a boat sails towards it. When you're staying at the beach, you will be able to see the dolphin 'for free'. So take your binoculars with you! We have made a
very short video clip of Fungi.

How to get there

The beach is not so easy to find. Leave Dingle to the East, taking the N86 towards Tralee. Just after leaving Dingle, the road takes a slow turn to the left. When the curve changes into a curve to the right, you will find a 'double' entrance between the fields on the right side of the road. Take the entrance on the right. You will pass a farm. At the end of the path, you will find space for a few cars to park.
From here, walk to the South, crossing the fields, along the cliff. You will pass a ruin of a tower. Continue to walk south. When you reach the cliff at the beach, you will find an easy path down to the beach.
Google Maps and Google Earth give a great image of the beach. You will find the map in Google maps here.
Fof users of Google Earth: our provider does not support Google place mark files. That is why we offer two alternatives:
- save the place mark file as *.kmz file (not as zip-file) and double click on the file frow an explorer window
- cut and paste the coordinates into the 'fly-to'-box in Google Earth: 52 07 25.92 N 10 15 42.01 w (this is the most precise way)

For some extra pictures of us, made on the beach at Dingle.


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