Activities – On Land
Achill Island and the Curraun Peninsula offer a hillwalking paradise. Unlike many other popular walking destinations in the west of Ireland, where access to the land is becoming increasingly restricted, most of the countryside on Achill is in common ownership which means that it is freely open and accessible for hillwalking.
Achill Island offers two significant peaks, Slievemore mountain at 671m and Croaghaun at 668m. Croaghaun is remarkable for its north-east face which falls away dramatically from almost its peak down to sea level. These cliffs are said to be the highest in Europe. The north-east face of Croaghaun is also home to the highest corrie lake in Ireland, Bunnafreva Lough West, which perches precariously at over 1000ft above sea level. At its western edge, Croaghaun looks down on the beautiful and remote valley of Keem Bay, on the other side of which are the spectacular cliffs of Benmore and the promontory Achill Head.
Other peaks on Achill Island include Minaun (466m), which offers the much-photographed view of Keel strand and lake and lower Achill. Minaun is also accessible via a maintenance road for the transmissions masts located close to the top, hence the number of photographs taken from this spot! This drive also makes Minaun a very popular spot to visit at dusk on New Year’s Eve to watch the last sunset over Europe.
The Curraun Peninsula provides at least two significant peaks, Polranny Hill (452m) and Curraun Hill (524m), the latter of which also offers spectacular views across Clew Bay to Croagh Patrick and northern Connemara. The valley between Polranny Hill and Curraun Hill contains several small lakes and a large forested area, and is criss-crossed by a number of trails. You should not expect to meet many other walkers in this remote valley.
Further afield, Ballycroy National Park comprises some 11,000 hectares of Atlantic blanket bog and mountainous terrain, covering a vast uninhabited and unspoilt wilderness dominated by the Nephin Beg mountain range. It includes a visitor centre located about 30km from Achill Sound (directions available on the Ballycroy National Park website).
Achill Island, on Ireland’s wild Atlantic coast, boasts a 9-hole links course in a spectacular location on the sandybanks in Keel. This golf course is open to the public, with reasonable green fees and also a weekly rate available for holiday makers. Listings of golf facilities on Achill are offered in our Directory of Providers. For fun there is a crazy golf course at the Chalet restaurant in Keel. The village of Mulranny, 20km from Achill, offers another 9-hole links course in a magnificent coastal setting. Indeed, Achill provides an excellent holiday location for a golfing break in the west of Ireland, offering easy access too to the 18-hole championship course at Westport and the highly-regarded 18-hole course at Carne, Belmullet, in north Mayo.
Horse riding is available on Achill Island seasonally. Gallop through the surf on Keel Beach or enjoy a leisurely trek in the hills, saddle up!
Achill is a fantastic place for cycling. The island has three looped trails in the Achill Cycle Hub. It is also at one end of the magnificent new Great Western Greenway, a world-class 42km off-road cycle and walking trail that follows the route of the former Achill-Westport railway line. The Greenway starts/ends at Achill Sound.
One of the best ways to get to know Achill Island, for first-time visitors and seasoned visitors alike, is with a guided tour. Discover hidden gems in Achill, learn about local history and folklore, and take the opportunity to question your guides on whatever aspect of Achill Island life and heritage that interests you. We have a number of providers who supply guided tours.