Dingle dangles on the very edge of Ireland, yet the town’s relatively far-flung location has never done anything to dent its prospects. The place has a character as colourful as its buildings and, despite its diminutive size, has earned a reputation as one of the most lively and vibrant towns in the West. Come New Years Eve it is particularly renowned; the streets swell with revelers spilling from pubs and fireworks light up the dark night sky. It could match any major city.
Less than five minutes from the town’s waterfront – an eclectic mix of yachts, prawn boats and fishing trawlers – Rainbow Hostel is not only one of the town’s most convenient camping spots but also one of the most pleasant. Undesignated pitches are spread around the building’s grassy garden with a relaxed, pitch-where-you like attitude, while inside there is a kitchen shared with hostel customers. The garden is split into a lower front and higher back area, with the hostel and a facilities block splitting the two. It all has a very small-scale feel.
The size of the parking area nicely restricts the number of campers on site, so there’s never a danger of tents running short of space. Instead, you can take you pick from the space available – under a cluster of trees, on the open lawn or tucked next to the gravelly car park. From there it’s an easy ride back into town or you can pop your head inside to find out when the next shuttle bus is running. When the hostel’s busy they run to and from the village to help out customers hoping to taste the tipple in town. With a brewery, a whiskey distillery and a cluster of excellent pubs, it’s worth giving it a try yourself.
The real draw of the place, however, extends far beyond just the town. The entire Dingle Peninsula is fascinating and well worth setting aside several days to explore. The long sandy beaches of Inch and Castlegregory attract surfers from miles around, while the coastal road (a part of the Wild Atlantic Way) undulates through truly breathtaking scenery. Inland, sheep-dotted hills climb up to Conor Pass, a road crossing with exquisite views, while across the bay the Kerry Pensinsula looms from the waters, crowned by the highest mountain in Ireland and ending with the pointy Skellig Islands – recognizable from the most recent Star Wars films.
The bay is also well known for its resident dolphin, Fungi, who has been splashing around in the waters for the last 30 year. Unusually tame, the animal remains in the bay rather than heading out to open water and can be regularly spotted on a boat tour running from Dingle Harbour. Sea kayak tours also operate throughout the day and evening and are a more active way of getting up close to the dolphin. When the sun sets you can slope back into to town for a pint or, more family-friendly, an ice cream. Murphy’s produce perhaps the best ice cream in the country and we all know it wouldn’t be a proper seaside holiday without some of that!
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