Co.Mayo never fails to surprise. And this time was no different, we headed to Achill Island . Achill Island is the largest island of the coast of Ireland, but can be reached by a bridge connecting the mainland with Achill Sound. The Island is marked by rugged mountains, peat bogs and tall sea cliffs, and how can we forget, blue flag beaches.
Our final destination on the Island was Keem Strand, a secluded beach at the very western tip of Achill.
So when we arrived at Achill Island, we rolled across the bridge into Achill Sound. We entered the tourist office and post office to get some further stamps in our Wild Atlantic Way passport. After the village , we turned left onto the L1405. First stop, Wild Atlantic Waypoint "An cheibh bheag" or Cloghmore pier at Kildavnet.
From the pier, you are able to take a ferry to Clare island. There is also Grace O'Malley's castle, a 15th century tower house. It is believed that the famous pirate queen Grace O'Malley established the castle while she reigned the waters during the 16th century. The tower is 12m in height and has 3 storeys. You can enter the tower, and that allowed us to take a break, admire the bay and use the opportunity for taking some pictures
Carrying on, we headed around the headland where we were welcomed with views towards Clare Island. The sea was rough, the waves were amazing and crashed against the rocks with all their power.
Further down the road, we reached Ashleam Bay which is flanked by White Cliffs. This is another waypoint "Cuan na hAisleime". From the vantage point, you have some sharp hairpin bends which bring you closer towards the pebble beach where the waves were crashing onto the shore. Carrying on our journey, we reached the main road again where we turned towards Keel .
One thing we noticed is how many sheep roam freely along the roads on Achill Island, even in the village of Keel, sheep were wandering along the roads. Keel was very quiet as we drove through it, probably because it was early February, but it looks like a summer destination where the population probably expands 10 folded as it is flanked by an amazing beach which invites you to participate in the many watersports on offer.
In order to reach Keem strand, you have to follow the spectacular clifftop road which leaves Keel. The views across the Atlantic Ocean are amazing and we were lucky, getting close to Keem Bay, the sun decided to break through the clouds and give us an amazing display of colours , from the azure blue of the water to the white sand of Keem Strand. The bay is horseshoe shaped and is flanked on either side by cliffs. This bay was used for a booming fishing industry and the local boats "Currach" were used in the fishing industry. The waters around Achill Island are frequented by Basking sharks and it was these sharks which were once caught between the 1950's and 1980's. And Keem strand was the end of our Achill adventure. Achill Island is an amazing spot, from the crashing waves onto the shore to the white blue flag beaches, but it is Keem Strand where you can look out over the vast expanse of water, enjoy the amazing display of colours and believe you are the only person on Achill Island. Again probably because it was February, looking at the amount of carpark space, Keem Strand is a popular spot during the summer months.