The Aran Islands are one of the most fascinating destinations in all of Ireland, a place with an Old World feel where locals speak Irish Gaelic among themselves. The smallest of the three islands, Inisheer, is also the most peaceful. Few tourists make it here, and with a population of only around 250, it’s easy to get to know the locals. Once you arrive, you’ll feel as if you’re in another time and place.
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Is This the Caribbean?
To get there, you’ll take the ferry from Rossaveal via Aran Island Ferries, a little less than an hour’s journey from the mainland. As you approach the dock, a sandy white beach edged by crystal clear blue waters comes into view – you won’t be blamed for thinking you must be in the Caribbean, but as soon as you dip your toes in, you’ll know your in Ireland. While summer temperatures warm the sea, it’s certainly not tropical despite its looks.
Meet Sandy the Dolphin
Keep an eye out for Sandy, a local dolphin that likes to hang out here, and even interact with the ferry as it glides in and out of the pier.
Hitch a Ride With a Pony and Trap
At just two square miles, Inisheer is small enough to easily cover it on foot, though you’ll also find bikes for rent and multiple pony and cart drivers that will take you on an old-fashioned ride, clip-clopping along the maze of streets while pointing out the sights for a small fee.
There are all sorts of hidden treasures waiting to be discovered along the paths that meander through stone walls, from rare plants and birds to sculptures, holy wells, heritage sites and even castle ruins
Lighthouses, Shipwrecks and More
From the eastern shoreline on a clear day, you can enjoy a fantastic view of the Cliffs of Moher, as well as a lighthouse and a shipwreck. The “Plassey” as the cargo vessel was called, wrecked here back in the 1960s, and over time, the thrashing waves eventually threw the wreck atop the rocks, well above the high tide mark.
At the north end of the island are some gorgeous sandy beaches that offer summer swimming, and in the clear waters surrounding the island, you can even go diving or snorkeling with the abundant marine life – and, check out the remains of some other old shipwrecks.
South Aran House and Fisherman's Cottage
Another highlight on Inisheer is the opportunity to stay at South Aran House, a B&B hosted by Enda and Maria Conneely. Rates are remarkably reasonable and include rooms in a comfortable home with heated floors near the water’s edge. The Conneelys cook up some of the most sumptuous breakfasts and also serve delicious dinners at their own restaurant just steps down the road at Fisherman’s Cottage.