The best thing about being on holidays somewhere as beautiful as Westport? Making your friends jealous with the holiday snaps of course. How about upping the game by taking some photos that will leave them open-mouthed and impressed with your incredible eye for a great shot? Here’s our guide to where to go to get some amazing photographs, all within a short drive from Westport.
Spectacular Holiday Snap Spots Near Westport
Croagh Patrick’s Summit
Okay, so this involves a little bit of leg work, but the payoff is massive. Trek your way up to the top of Croagh Patrick, and if it’s a clear day, you’ll be rewarded with epic views of Clew Bay – all the way out to Clare Island and over to Achill, with all of those gorgeous eggs-in-a-basket islands between you and the Nephin mountains on the other side of the bay. Heavenly. If your camera has a panoramic setting, this is definitely the place to use it. If clouds block the view, don’t despair – the oratory on the summit is a great selfie spot, and there’s a sign to prove you’re not standing on a small hill, pretending you climbed The Reek.
Sitting pretty at the western tip of Achill Island – one of Europe’s most-westerly points – Keem bay offers up endless possibilities for sensational snaps. Crescent-shaped and golden, Keem Beach drifts into a turquoise sea and the cliffs that flank the strand on either side add that oh-so-important bit of drama.
Whether you take your photos from the beach or from the cliffs, you’re guaranteed to bag some pics that just beg to be framed. And, if you’re lucky, one of the giant basking sharks that feed in the shallows could make a cameo appearance at just the right moment.
Clare Island Lighthouse
Take the short ferry ride over to Clare Island (racking up snaps of the mainland as you skim over the waves) and head up to the beautiful lighthouse. The building is perched on the edge of steep cliffs, its brilliant-white walls are a mesmerising collection of curves and angles, and the seascape backdrop couldn’t be more spectacular. It’s almost impossible to take a bad photograph. Why not book yourself in to stay – the lighthouse is now a gorgeous luxury guesthouse, offering panoramic views out to sea, back over to Achill and Westport and all the way down to Connemara. Guests can even enjoy sundown drinks in the lantern tower – just imagine the sunset photos you could take….
Just over half-an-hour’s drive from Westport, Killary Harbour overlooks Killary Fjord, Ireland’s only true fjord – and a photographer’s paradise. Mountains rise steeply from the water’s edge, with Connacht’s highest mountain, Mweelrea towering above them all. Take a breathtaking snap from the roadside, or hop on a boat tour to get a different perspective (and maybe a photogenic dolphin or two will oblige and swim alongside for you too). The fjord stretches inland to the lovely little village of Leenane, where you can drop into Gaynor’s Bar – the pub that features in the iconic film adaptation of John B Keane’s classic ‘The Field’. Pretend to be The Bull McCabe, and take a selfie while you curse ‘the outsiders’.
Boheh Stone/Rolling Sun
Just four miles south of Westport lies the mysterious Boheh Stone. One of the finest examples of neolithic rock art in the country, it’s surface is covered in around 250 engravings carved by our ancient ancestors more than 5,000 years ago. While this National Monument will make the hairs on your neck stand up year-round, the possibilities for an awesome photograph are huge on two very special dates in particular. On April 18 and August 24, when viewed from the Boheh Stone, the setting sun appears to roll down Croagh Patrick’s northern shoulder. It is thought that this magical ‘Rolling Sun’ phenomenon is what inspired the prehistoric artists to decorate the stone.
If you’re visiting Westport around either of these dates, why not try your hand at some time-lapse photography and see if you can capture the Rolling Sun yourself. No carving your name on the rock though!
Majestic and jaw-droppingly beautiful, stunning Downpatrick Head is just over an hour’s spin from Westport. The headland drops away dramatically to create sheer vertical cliffs that soar 40 metres above the wild Atlantic’s waves. If you dare – don’t get dizzy now – stand at the cliff edge and photograph Dún Briste, a spectacular sea-stack 50 metres out to sea that rises 5 metres higher than the cliffs. If you’re there on a stormy day, it might be too windy to approach the cliff edges – but another treat awaits. There’s a massive blowhole close-by, and when the gales are howling, seawater is blasted up through it, creating another mind-blowing photo opportunity.