Ferry from Doolin to Inis Óirr
The ferry service from Doolin in Co. Clare has improved considerably in recent years and is a convenient way to reach the islands for visitors who have been travelling around the south west of Ireland – The Burren and Cliffs of Moher are very close to Doolin. People travelling to the islands from the Munster province will find the Doolin service more accessible than Galway.
Aran Doolin Ferries, O’Brien Line Ferries and Doolin 2 Aran Ferries all provide services to the islands throughout the year although frequency is greatly reduced during the winter season and is subject to weather condition. For timetables check the following websites or contact them directly through the phone numbers below.
Aran Doolin Ferries – www.doolinferries.com ( +353 (0)65 7074 455 )
O’Brien Line – www.obrienline.com (+353 (0)65 707 5555 )
Doolin 2 Aran Ferries - www.aran-island-ferry.com ( +353 (0)65 7075949 )
All companies offer web booking and it is considerably cheaper to do this rather than buying direct from the company kiosks in Doolin. Prices can very considerably and it is good to shop around on line for the best deal. The different companies also offer different packages some including trips by boat to the Cliffs of Moher. We used O’Brien Lined who offer a Multi-Trip ticket which allows unlimited travel between the three islands and back to Doolin. The ticket remains valid until you return to Doolin and so is a great option for people who want to hop between the islands over several days (or even weeks!) The ticket is great value at €28.
The down side to the ferry travel is the erratic time keeping of the vessels and ports of call. Sometimes they may not stop at Inis Meain if the boat is too full for a pick up so make sure you have the company number to ring if you want to be sure that your boat is coming to pick you up or if you will have to wait for another. Not a problem if you have lots of time but can scupper your plans if you tight on time.
Getting around the Islands
Traditionally the Inis Óirr was car free but in recent years, cars have popped up on the island. However, driving is not recommended to visitors due mainly to the unavailability of car rent and to be honest you won’t need one on this small island. Car insurance is also a bit of a grey area on the islands so you don’t want to get involved with that! There are a few taxis on the islands and on the island and small horse drawn carriages and pony traps rides around the islands are a favourite with foreigners.
Rent a Bike
Better than any of the above suggestions is renting a bike. Cycling around the narrow roads and tracks of the island is the best way of seeing the beautiful landscape and historic sights and renting them is easy. There is a bike hire place near the pier on Inis Óirr and rental is €10 per day.
Generally the bikes are in good nick although they tend to have really hard saddles!
Please remember to cycle on the left hand side of the road. Despite the small number of cars, it is still important to obey good cycling practice on the islands. The otherwise friendly locals do give cyclists a stern glare if they have to stop or slow down to allow cyclists to pull in from the middle or right hand side of the road. It is also very annoying for other cyclists you have to cycle between other cyclists or swerve away from cyclists incorrectly using the right hand side coming against you. Also cycle in single file and not abreast as this can prevent cars and locals from passing you and also impedes other cyclists wishing to overtake.
If you have more time on the island, walking around the maze of narrow roads and tracks on the island is one of the true pleasures of a trip to Inis Óirr. Nearly all the roads are lined with the famous stone walls of Aran and away from the pier and villages you can have the place to yourself. For example walking over the ruggedly beautiful karst limestone landscape in the south of Inis Óirr is a delight in itself and offers the chance to inspect the areas in detail. Walking is the only real option in many quieter and isolated parts of the island as no tracks or roads traverse these areas. However by careful when climbing ver the sotne walls. These walls have stood unspoilt for centuries...please don't knock the stones.
- Hiking and Walking
You can also reach any of the three Aran Islands by air using the Aer Arann service from Inverin in Galway. (There are no flights from any other airport) Note that the island service uses a different website and booking service than the international and other national routes offered by Aer Arann. The web link is posted below.
All three islands have small landing strips and aer arann use several small prop planes for their air service. The prices are quite reasonable at around €45 for a return flight. Aer Arann also offer scenic flights over the three islands for €385
Ferry from Rossaveal
Rossaveal has been the traditional departure point of ferries to the Aran Islands and people visiting the Connaught province (Galway/Connamara, Mayo, Sligo) will use the services from Rossaveal. Aran Island Ferries and Aran Direct offer ferry services to the Aran Islands from Rossaveal. For times, prices and general info check the following websites.
Aran Direct - www.arandirect.com ( +353 091 506 786 – Rossaveal Office)
Aran Direct also have offices and booking services in Galway City and can be contacted on +35391 566 535 or +35391 564 684 and transfers from Galway to Rossaveal can be arranged easily.
Aran Island Ferries - www.aranislandferries.com ( +353 91 568903 )
All companies offer easy web booking which is cheaper than buying from the kiosks and offices in Galway and Rossaveal.
- Sailing and Boating