The Wild Atlantic Way Route from Killimer to Kilkee via Loop Head starts your trip going North through the beautiful and unspoiled County Clare in Ireland.
This post will guide you on the route from the Killimer Ferry to Kilkee (or Kilkee to Killimer Ferry if you are heading South) via the Wild Atlantic Way Signature Point of the Loop Head Lighthouse in County Clare.
County Clare on the West Coast of Ireland is one of the Wild Atlantic Way’s unspoiled counties. We moved here several years ago because it is so peaceful and unchanged over time.
There are no traffic jams, not many people, lots of Trad Music, and a beautiful rugged coastline with some fearsome cliffs and beautiful sandy beaches.
But don’t believe me. Come and explore for yourself.
Although it is not that long to drive there are a few things to see along the way which you may want to stop for.
This route takes you through the towns of Kilrush and Kilkee and through some back roads with fantastic cliff-top views and hidden beaches. Visit the walled garden at Vandeleur, Kilrush Marina, the Museum of Irish Rural Life, the Bridges of Ross and the Kilkee Cliffs on the route.
Wild Atlantic Way Map Clare
Approx. 81km distance, 1hr 37 minutes driving time
Read: How to use the route files in Google Maps, before you download the route files.
Download the route map with ALL points of interest included here: Killimer Ferry to Kilkee via Loop Head
You can of course go directly from Killimer to Kilkee, but we recommend driving via Loop Head. At the Loop you can visit the lighthouse and walk along the cliffs and if you are lucky you may see some dolphins in the Shannon Estuary or at sea, where they go to feed.
When you join the boat from shannonferries.com in Tarbert in Kerry you have a short journey of just less than 30 minutes to reach Killimer. You can pay onboard but it is actually cheaper to buy a ticket upfront online.
As you arrive in Killimer and leave the boat you take a left at the top of the hill to drive towards Kilrush.
This route takes you past Moneypoint Power Station. Moneypoint is Ireland’s largest power station which was commissioned in 1987 and can produce up to 915MW of power.
Because it is a coal-fired station there is a lot of political pressure to have the station converted to more renewable forms of power in the future. There are already several wind turbines around the site which you will see as you drive past.
I love this bit of road, as when you descend the hill outside the entrance to Moneypoint, you get some great views of the estuary looking out to sea. The road opens up to show the ships at anchor waiting to bring their cargos into Moneypoint and Aughinish Alumina.
Just before you see the signs for Kilrush you take a left that takes you past the Aylevarroo caravan park and along the Shannon to the village of Cappagh.
Cappagh Pier played an important part in the history and development of Kilrush.
In the past, it was an important location for the shipment of goods by sea.
A solid pier where every summer the local kids are taught to swim and where now the pilot boat is berthed to assist the large ships up the river to Moneypoint, Auchernish Alumina and Shannon airport.
Muhammad Ali’s great-grandfather was said to have departed from here for America in the 1860’s.
Cappagh was an important port for transporting people between Limerick and this part of Clare in the 19th century, where passengers would be transported by paddle steamer.
Cappagh Beach, Kilrush is located to the right of the Pier and is a stone beach. be careful swimming here as the tides and currents can be very strong.
A short way from the main WAW route, these gardens are well worth the short deviation. A beautifully maintained walled garden with a lovely bistro where you can buy fresh cakes, snacks and ice cream.
The gardens are about 800m from the gated entrance.
You can also buy plants and flowers here. The entrance is free and there are fun activities for the kids including a maze and butterfly hunt. There are Easter egg hunts at Easter as well as other activities throughout the year (Christmas, Halloween etc).
There are some nice walks through the woods surrounding the gardens and it is popular with dog walkers all year round.
There is a Parkrun every Saturday Morning here.
This club is a lovely local club with well-maintained fairways and greens.
Normally open to visitors, but you will need to book a tee time if you want to play.
This lovely little pub is a great friendly local pub where you can eat, watch the game or drink a beer and listen to some trad music on a Saturday night.
Chat with the locals and discover the real friendliness of county Clare.
They also have accommodation available and a nice open fireplace. The BLT’s are super!
This beautiful marina is a safe harbour protected by lock gates from the sea.
From the Marina, you can get boat tours out to Scattery Island, take a trip on the Dolphin Discovery or have a play in the West Coast Aqua Park.
If you are travelling in a campervan they have a place now to park overnight and you can make use of their show facilities at the marina. They also have some glamping pods available.
Scattery Island, or Inis Cathaigh in Irish, is an ancient monastic site where St. Senan once lived in the 6th Century (and where he died).
The island has had various inhabitants/captors over the years, ranging from the Vikings to Brian Boru, and more lately in recent times the pilots that take the ships up the Shannon.
Now the Island is no longer inhabited, but you can take an Island tour with Scattery Island Tours from the marina in Kilrush.
Scattery Island Tours also provides rib adventure tours in the estuary.
The Island still has an intact round tower and several old monastic ruins. Some of the old inhabitants’ houses are in the process of being renovated.
Also worth visiting are the ruins of O’Cahane castle, built in the 16th century, and the 18th-century battery built to defend against a French invasion.
St. Senan’s well is on the island and is said to have healing properties.
A relatively new source of entertainment on the West Coast, this aqua park is fun for all. Well, the young ones let’s say!
Located in the Kilrush Marina, the park is open, weather permitting, during the summer months. Wetsuits and safety gear are provided.
This museum, built and run by local man Joe Whelan, shows how the Irish people lived in the days before electricity (not that long ago).
The museum has a large collection of tools that were used in the fields, historical artefacts, ancient tractors (being Joe’s old business), and Irish history in murals, books and historical records.
There is an interesting collection of memorabilia, including things from WWII.
This place helps you understand what a hard life it was in the old days.
The Museum can be found by the large mural on the wall showing British soldiers evicting tenants during the famine.
Well worth a visit. Entry is free, but donations are appreciated.
In former days a wonderful railway used to run all through Co Clare from Kilrush to Ennis via Kilkee, Lahinch and Ennistymon.
Unfortunately, in 1961 it was decided to end the service, despite it carrying large volumes of traffic, as it was making a financial loss.
This decision to get rid of the railway probably did not help the economic status of the area which still has a significantly smaller population than during the famine.
Public transport is still rather limited in this area.
The railway no longer exists, but in Moyasta you can still see some of the old carriages and there is a small museum. It was closed when I visited, but maybe you will be lucky.
A small detour down some rough tracks brings you to Cammoge Point where you can see the Oyster farms of Moyasta Oysters.
Cammoge Point is at the mouth of Poulnasherry Bay. There is also, hidden away at the end of the path, a memorial to 41 people who drowned near here on the 12th of December 1849 when their ferry sank. Strangely the memorial does not name all of the victims.
This is another short detour off the WAW which brings you to a pier with nice views over the Estuary.
There are also walking trails you can do from this spot.
If you are out of season, this is a beautiful beach to come and visit, overlooking the estuary. There is a parking space and it is very quiet. It is quite challenging to find if you do not know the way. You need to follow my route.
There is now a signpost at the turnoff to the beach.
On a hot summer’s day, you may find it difficult to park.
There is also a boat from Carrigaholt that also watches the Dolphins.
They normally operate during the summer months, or from April through to October.
Book online via: https://www.dolphinwatch.ie/
A great little pub/restaurant famed for its seafood. Make sure you call to reserve a table as it can get very busy.
This ancient castle looks over one of the fishing piers in Carrigaholt, a small fishing village in Clare.
The castle was built in the late 15th century by the McMahons. There are nice views over the estuary and you can fish off the pier.
Unfortunately one of the few places where you can have a drink on the waterfront in Clare when the sun is out.
Located near the fishing pier at Kilbaha and with great views over the estuary.
The fishing off the coast of Ireland is still fantastic. You can catch many species offshore. If you want to have a day or half-day of fishing in the Estuary or beyond Loop Head at sea, then Sean Maguire is the skipper to take you out there.
You can book a trip on his boat Lady Gwen II via his website, all weather permitting, of course.
This art gallery and coffee shop provides art from well-known and local Irish artists. Worth a visit.
One of the WAW Signature Points, this lighthouse at the end of the peninsular is stunning.
It is now automated like all lighthouses in Ireland, but still has the old lightkeeper’s cottage.
You can climb to the top which provides spectacular views of the Atlantic and the amazing local cliffs.
Here there is also the old Loop Head Eire sign (EIRE 45) visible from the air, an old WWII relic, which you can walk up to.
If you are lucky you may see dolphins from the cliffs, when they come out of the estuary to the sea to feed.
Free parking is available.
The Bridges of Ross
Here there used to be three natural land bridges which was quite a tourist attraction back in Victorian times.
Now only one bridge remains, but there is a beautiful walk along the rocks. Well worth a visit.
There is a small car park there and a walk of a few hundred meters to the remaining bridge.
These cliffs south of Kilkee are absolutely spectacular and great competition to the cliffs of Moher.
The advantage of these is that they are free to visit.
But be careful as there is not much fall protection available and it can blow a hooley up here, as you can see.
You can hike to the top of the cliffs from both directions, either parking at the top or from the Diamond Rocks Cafe, near the Pollock Holes.
But be especially careful parking and walking, especially when it is blowing. It is a long way down and accidents are common.
Pollock Holes, Kilkee
This spot, next to the Diamond Cliffs cafe in Kilkee, is a very popular swimming spot in Kilkee.
The pools at low tide are perfect for a swim or a snorkel. You can find the Kilkee tides here.
But again be careful when the sea is up though and the tide is coming in……..sometimes the waves will come crashing over the rocks unexpectedly.
But it is lovely when calm, and you can have a nice cup of tea and a scone at the Diamond Rocks Cafe.
Diamond Rocks Cafe
There is a car park here for the Pollock Holes and the Diamond Rocks Cafe. This is a great little place for a cup of tea and a piece of cake.
Diamond Rocks Cafe
The Diamond Rocks has been recently refurbished and now has seating outside when the weather is good.
There are wonderful views of Kilkee and the Pollock Holes and you can do a great Kilkee cliffs walk from here.
So if you have not yet done so, download the route map with ALL points of interest here: Killimer Ferry to Kilkee via Loop Head
Depending on your direction of travel now head South to Kerry (or Limerick) or North towards Miltown Malbay and Spanish Point – click on the links below.
Search for Kilkee accommodation here:
Next Route – Alternative Route in Limerick
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Last Updated on October 13, 2023 by Gav