Achill Island – Ireland’s largest island
No trip to Westport and to Mayo would be complete without a visit to Achill Island.
First inhabited 5,000 years ago, Achill Island is the largest of all islands off the coast of Ireland and is accessible by bridge.
It makes a fantastic day trip from Westport, as it’s only one hour away.
Not only does the island offer spectacularly beautiful views, but it also rewards visitors with equally spectacularly beaches, two in particular – Keem Bay and Keel Beach are must visits.
Keem Bay on Achill Island is a beach so stunning you would only find something similar in the Caribbean. A small cove surrounded by lush mountains and lots of sheep, it is a paradise on Earth to those who visit.
With perfect waves for surfing, Keel Beach is the all-rounder that has something for everyone. The Atlantic water is refreshing and clean and guaranteed to invigorate.
Majestic mountains, breath-taking landscapes and miles of unspoilt Blue Flag beaches, Achill Island is a paradise for lovers of outdoor pursuits and water sports of all types. Popular water sports on Achill Island include swimming, windsurfing, surfing, kite surfing, kayaking and canoeing.
The imprint of past generations is everywhere on Achill Island, from megalithic tombs to ancient forts, and historic churches to deserted villages.
Inland on Achill Island visitors will find the famous sight of the Deserted Village. These crumbling stones are all that remains of more than 80 houses that were abandoned in 1845. Visitors can explore the homes, as they are open to the public.
The Great Western Greenway Mayo travels from Westport to Achill Island finishing just short of the bridge to the island at Achill Sound. The adventurous can walk or cycle the 42km mostly off-road track in either direction and it is a great way to take in spectacular views of Clew Bay and the mountains around it.
There’s a certain kind of landscape only seen on islands like Achill Island. At times it’s sparse yet full of life, the island can be battered by the force of the Atlantic Ocean or shimmering like a tropical paradise – the perfect showcase for the magnificent Wild Atlantic Way.
A visit to Achill Island can be as active, or as relaxed, as visitors choose. Achill Island offers lots of restaurants with fresh Atlantic seafood as a speciality, and its pubs and bars provide a traditional Irish welcome.
Lush green hills, jagged mountain edges, golden sandy beaches and crystal clear waters are the definition of what Mayo’s Wild Atlantic Way have to offer.
Achill boasts a number of well established summer schools and festivals each year, one of the best known being the Scoil Acla Summer School, with workshops in traditional music, set and ceili dancing and of course, Gaeilge Acla – the Irish language. Other annual events include the Achill International Harp Festival, Achill Archaeological summer school and festivals such as the Achill Yawl racing festival, Achill Seafood festival, Walks festival and many others.