In this once in a lifetime heatwave Ireland is experiencing, we decided to make hay while the sun shines as they say and head to The Dingle Peninsula, home to some of the most amazing sandy beaches in Ireland, with Inch in the south and the Maharees to the north.
At the very edge of Europe, as far west as you can go in Ireland, is the breath-taking Dingle Peninsula, once described by National Geographic as “the most beautiful place on earth. Our journey from Tralee to Dingle took much longer than expected as we kept stopping to climb or play hide and seek on the many viewing points along the Conor Pass, Ireland’s highest mountain pass. This was a cause for much excitement and we had to beg the kids to keep going or we would never reach Dingle!
Finally, we arrived in Dingle town, the peninsula’s charming little ‘capital’ which manages to be quaint without even trying. It has the great combination of having the air of a cosmopolitan, creative place while life there still moves at an unhurried pace.
Family Accommodation in Dingle
We stayed in The Dingle Skellig Hotel which is located on the edge of the town and overlooks Dingle Bay itself. Needless to say the views from the restaurants are spectacular!
The Dingle Skellig has a reputation for being expert at family friendly but I was still blown away by how they still strive for excellence. On check-in we received a detailed time table of events, activities, facilities, dining and leisure centre facilities and timings available for children. The rooms were a love1ly size and the cows outside our window proved an excellent distraction for Lonán.
There is a kitchen for parents with a microwave, fridge, sterilisers, changing facilities, washing facilities and more including a window where you can check out your little ones in the crèche. This is great if you need to do a fast wash, heat up some baby food or sort your bottles at your ease. Every hotel should have this as I found it so handy!!
Breakfast was our favourite meal as not only did they offer nearly anything you could possible desire, the food was fresh, delicious and even fun with their pancake making machine. The kids made their own pancakes and finished them with their favourite toppings! Thomas thinks we should return for this reason alone….
Things to Do in The Dingle Skellig Hotel
When we did make her way down to kids club we were surprised to hear its schedule runs to 10.30pm giving parents plenty of time to have a leisurely drink after a relaxed meal. The kids club was well set up and seemed to be in a purpose-built area housing also the parent’s kitchen, laundry crèche for 4 months to 4 years and outside a playground.
The crèche and kids club team were confident with the children and so much so I signed Lonán into the crèche when she would not come away. I was very worried as she does not go to any childcare normally and tends to be glued to me, but once she got upset they brought her into Saoirse and she was calm again. When later she began to show signs of tiring and had enough they gave me a call as I requested. But they will settle the children themselves and another little tot was happily been rocked off to sleep when we left.
The children did everything from mask-making to treasure hunts around the hotel. I noticed on some days that they even visit the local aquarium. I think it was a good sign that when Craig went to collect them at 9.30 he was told to go away till it was over at 10.30pm!!
The kiddie pool was a great hit as it had little jets. The kids were delighted with their ‘Jacuzzi’ (they are not allowed in the main Jacuzzi of hotels). It was a brilliant size so we had plenty of room for fun!
Family Things to Do in Dingle and Surrounds.
Well you can’t visit Dingle without paying a visit to their celebrity resident, Fungie, who has made Dingle Bay his home for the last 35 years. We chose Dingle Dolphin Boat Tours who have their office just beside the famous Fungie statue on the pier. This is run by the original group of fishermen who have been visiting Fungie daily since he arrived in the bay. They know Fungie’s ways very well.
In fact, they have such confidence in their prize attraction that they don’t charge for the trip if he’s a no show. But he didn’t disappoint. We got so caught up in trying to spot where he would come up next and pointing him out that before long we were all running from side to side of the boat and I don’t think we were ever so excitable as a family. I did not even have a chance to take many photos and as I was too busy playing the game. At the end of the trip I realised that we were 20 minutes over and when I questioned the guide about this she explained when he is this playful they stay out a little longer. A nice touch!
Geraldine, our guide, had the patience of a saint as for the whole journey she was met with a constant flow of questions (sometimes repeated) from each of the kids on board. Another tour offered by Dingle Dolphin Boat Tours is “Up Close and Personal” at €40 at 8am in each morning, a quieter time in the bay and in a smaller boat. Brilliant if you have a birthday or special occasion but the kids have to be ten.
Another fantastic day out is a drive around Slea Head. This circular route begins and ends in Dingle town – and in between boasts the most amazing sights the Wild Atlantic Way has to offer. Bring your camera!
And off Slea Head – the most westerly tip of the Peninsula – lies a deserted village with a poignant past. The Sea Safari tour which is 2.5 hours, takes in The Blasket Islands but also introduces you to the birds, mammals and other dolphins around these shores. There is a min age of 9 years.
Another of Dingle’s biggest attractions is Murphy’s Ice cream shop. As well as the traditional flavours you’d expect, they have Dingle gin and the Dingle Sea Salt ice-cream (made using, of course, Dingle sea water)
Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium has penguins, otters and sharks.
The public playground in Dingle Town is huge and has plenty of play zones for kids of all ages. This was one of the most impressive playgrounds I came across to date and it is extremely well keep. Bring a coffee and soak up the views if you get a chance!
Places to Eat in Dingle
Dingle is well known for its food and is now officially “Ireland’s Foodie Town”. Everywhere you go in the 52 eateries in this town you will see an intense devotion by its residents to the fresh, locally landed, reared and produced foods.
We chose The Boatyard Restaurant on the pier as not only did it offer a distraction with the sights of the goings on along the pier for the kids but also it is famous for its seafood menu and gluten free beer battered fish and chips. Needless to say Saoirse and I dined on the latter and Craig tried some local prawns, while Thomas and Lonán enjoyed the scrumptious fish from the kiddies menu. There were plenty of meat and vegetarian options for the kiddies but the fish was prepared so well they loved it! It was only divine and even the glass of house wine they recommended could not have been more perfect.
This place was buzzing from the moment we entered at 5pm and we were delighted that we had booked as many eager diners looking for a table were sadly being turned away.
We sat in the conservatory which was bright and had fantastic views but you could also sit outside or in the cosy bar/snug.
The 2018 Dingle Peninsula Food Festival takes place from Friday 5th to Sunday 7th October 2018. The highlights of the Dingle Peninsula Food Festival include a taste trail in over 60 outlets, where festival goers can purchase taste tickets and sample local cuisine delights in locations that vary from pubs and galleries to shop and restaurants.
Well it is hard to come up with a negative about The Skellig Dingle, especially after the glowing testimonial above but the only thing I could think of was one room was a small bit tight for five of us so you would need two rooms or a suite if you had more than two kids. Four is a perfect size though.
Dingle is my new favourite spot even though it was always in my top five. I would love to return for New Years as I have heard that it is good but I am certain now it would be great.
It cannot be disputed that The Dingle Skellig Hotel is a family friendly hotel with excellent family facilities without compromising on the overall luxurious hotel experience so I would happily recommend it to families or all ages.
The beaches are spectacular and should not be missed. The fungie tours are enormous fun but most of all I love the atmosphere, culture and traditional relaxed way of life that you will find in this creative and colourful town.
What the Kids Said about Dingle
Saoirse, “Best Kids club ever and they had loads of proper fun stuff. I don’t know which was better kids club or Fungie. Though it was fun trying to find Fungie.”
Saoirse has decided that she wants to be a marine biologist as a result of this trip and her conversation with Geraldine, our guide on the Fungie tour. Saoirse is amazed that this is a job that you would get paid for. Never has a town/area exposed her so much to the wildlife and adventures of the sea and ignited such a passion and to me that is what these experiences are all about….Thank you Dingle.