Fodor's Expert Review Achill Island

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Achill Island is only 20 feet from the mainland and has been connected by a bridge since 1887, the latest (2008) being a €5 million swing bridge, known locally as "our Calatrava-style bridge." At 147 square km (57 square miles), it is Ireland’s largest offshore island, with a population of 2,700. The main reason for visiting is to enjoy the wild open spaces of its unspoiled bogs and long empty beaches, plus abundant flora, especially wild heather and, in May and June, rhododendrons. Fuchsia blooms later in the summer.

Keem Bay on the island's western coastline is the showstopper in this remarkably beautiful, windswept corner of Ireland. Accessible by car on a twisting road carved into a cliff top, the bay is an uninhibited sandy retreat from modern civilization. The beach is hugged by two enormous cliffs, creating a dazzlingly white valley that spills into the ocean. High over Keem Bay is a 1½-km (1-mile) cliff-edge walk, onward to Croaghaun (668m) with the island’s most... READ MORE

Achill Island is only 20 feet from the mainland and has been connected by a bridge since 1887, the latest (2008) being a €5 million swing bridge, known locally as "our Calatrava-style bridge." At 147 square km (57 square miles), it is Ireland’s largest offshore island, with a population of 2,700. The main reason for visiting is to enjoy the wild open spaces of its unspoiled bogs and long empty beaches, plus abundant flora, especially wild heather and, in May and June, rhododendrons. Fuchsia blooms later in the summer.

Keem Bay on the island's western coastline is the showstopper in this remarkably beautiful, windswept corner of Ireland. Accessible by car on a twisting road carved into a cliff top, the bay is an uninhibited sandy retreat from modern civilization. The beach is hugged by two enormous cliffs, creating a dazzlingly white valley that spills into the ocean. High over Keem Bay is a 1½-km (1-mile) cliff-edge walk, onward to Croaghaun (668m) with the island’s most westerly peak where, at its summit, visitors can see peregrine falcons in their habitat or spot whales far below in the Atlantic Ocean. The best introduction to Achill is to follow signs for the 20-km (12-mile) Atlantic Drive. The road runs through Keel, which has a 3-km-long (2-mile-long) beach with spectacular rock formations in the eastern cliffs. Dugort, on the north shore, is a small village with a beautiful golden strand. Above it is the 2,204-foot Slievemore, the island’s highest summit. At its base is the Deserted Village, a settlement of 80 ruined one-room stone houses, abandoned since the 1845 famine.

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