Here’s another adventure idea: Leave the car in Dunquin and take the ferry to the Blasket Islands. Camp overnight on this stunning remote island and remember what life was like before the internet. Next day (or after a couple of days), take the ferry back to Dunquin and then head to Dingle for some fish n’ chips.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy social media but escaping the clutches of the internet from time to time can’t be a bad thing. For me, wild camping on the Great Blasket Islands is a real adventure but there’s a few things you need to know…
Brief Intro to Camping the Blasket Islands
Located just a few miles off the west coast of Ireland, the Blasket Islands are no longer inhabited and part of Irish folklore. In spite of there being just 150 people living on the island prior to the 1950s, some of the most famous Irish literature and writers came from the Blasket Islands. For this reason, tourists from all over the world come to see the primitive homes and conditions on the island that these locals needed to endure.
In case you might be asking yourself, after the collapse of the fishing industry in the 1940s, locals on the island were paid-off to move to the mainland for safety reasons. Long story short, the younger islanders had either emigrated to America or moved to nearby cities for education/work which made it near impossible for the older folk to survive the harsh conditions and demanding lifestyle on the Blasket Islands.
Anyway, the island is remote and rugged with unspoiled beaches, cliffs, seabirds, seals and views of the Atlantic Ocean. You can take a ferry to the Blasket Islands from Dunquin and once on the island, you can camp wherever you like.
Is Camping on the Blasket Islands Allowed?
While there is a small hostel and cafe on the island, camping on the Great Blasket Islands is also possible. That being said, please do your own due diligence and make sure that you have the right equipment and supplies. Because you need to take everything with you on the ferry including food for the duration of your stay. Weather can also change quickly so you will need warm gear and a reasonable amount of experience in terms of camping. Finally, you will need to check for permission to camp from the ferry service (who operate the cafe/hostel on the island) and make sure they can pick you up the next day or whenever you wish to come back to the mainland. You should also know that it’s not always possible to reach the island due to weather and so it’s important to be well-stocked and prepared to stay another night if needed.
There was decent phone reception/signal on my previous visit but no way to charge/recharge gear.
About Taking the Ferry to the Blasket Islands
You can take a ferry to the Blasket Islands during the Spring or Summer months. Weather permitting, this ferry departs from either Dingle Town or Dunquin. You need to reserve a place on these boats and I believe this is the best point of contact from which to start making your plans.
Blasket Island Ferry at Dunquin
Blasket Island Ferry from Dingle
Why You Might Enjoy Camping on the Blasket Islands
But why else might you want to visit the Blasket Islands?
Here’s an interesting post I found online from fifteen years ago…
“Once on the island, you can camp wherever you like. I spent six weeks out there a few years ago, and I can highly recommend it. Be prepared to be cut off from the mainland for days on end – bring enough supplies for that contingency.”Trip Advisor Forum
You read that right, this person decided to spent six full weeks on the island. While this is obviously a little extreme, it would seems that the Blasket Islands offers one of the most remote experiences in Ireland.
After checking out the abandoned buildings, you can stroll along the grassy tracks and watch as sheep, hare and rabbits run free. Seals and birdlife is common around the island and “An Tra Ban” is a beautiful white beach that you can visit.
If you read up about the islanders, it’s also fascinating to learn about the local way of life and how storytelling was the main form of entertainment. What’s more, Gaelic was spoken on the Blasket Islands and locals knew very little English.
It might not be everyone’s cup of tea but if you like the idea of escaping civilization for a couple of days, forgetting about the online world and enjoying some quiet time – camping on the Blasket Islands is a unique experience at the very least.