Already before coming to Belfast I had checked the timetable for which bus to take to Ballintoy. The best option for me was to take the 8.40 bus from Europa Bus Centre to Coleraine. It is a bus ride of 1h and 45 minutes and the ticket was £9.20 (March 2011). In Coleraine I changed for Ulster Bus service 172 which left 15 minutes after my arrival from Belfast. From Coleraine to Ballintoy it took 40 minutes and the ticket was £3.90. Before 11.30 I was at the hostel in Ballintoy and had the whole afternoon (and the next day) in front of me to explore the area.
If I had left Belfast with the previous bus (at 7.55) there had been changes of transport both in Ballymena and Ballycastle and the total travel time had been a little bit longer.
I took the 9.00 bus from Ballintoy to Coleraine. It took 43 minutes and was £3.90 (March 2011). First I had thought of stopping in Bushmills, which is only 15 minutes away from Ballintoy, to visit the whiskey distillery and to take the 11.15 or 13.15 bus from Bushmills on to Coleraine. In the end I decided I rather arrive to Derry early.
From Coleraine I continued with train. The bus station and train station are in the same building so it is easy to find the way and buy the ticket for the onward journey. On the platform it was a bit confusing as the trains on the board were not advertised to where they were going but from where they were coming. I had to ask a woman if the first train was the right one, but the right one was arriving shortly after the first train. The woman also told me that in Derry there is a free bus from the train station to Foyle bus station in Derry city centre.
The train journey from Coleraine to Derry was £8.20 and took 47 minutes, and at a quarter to eleven I was in Derry. Almost everyone from the train went to queue in front of the station and so did I. Only after a few minutes the free bus arrived. I was very happy that I had heard of this bus in time, otherwise I would have walked.
Ulsterbus service 172 runs along the coast between Ballycastle and Coleraine with several departures every day (not so many during the weekend).
When I was in Ballintoy I thought it could be nice to visit Ballycastle for an hour or two. The bus pass Ballintoy and there are two bus stops along the main street. I took the bus at 15.20 as the next bus was not leaving until 17.20. To Marine Corner, which is down by the beach in Ballycastle, it took 18 minutes. I had two options for the bus back, there was one bus at 16.45 and the last bus at 17.45. A return ticket (with return on the same day) was £4.80 (March 2011).
Have a look at Translinks web page for an up to date timetable.
There are no buses passing Dunluce Castle, not during the week in off season anyway, so I took the bus from Ballintoy at 9.00 to Portballintrae. The bus ride took 20 minutes and it was £3.10 (March 2011). From Portballintrae it was another 20-25 minutes walk to Dunluce Castle. It was not difficult to find the way, I just walked west towards Portrush. There is no path along the coast so I followed the road.
Leaving Dunluce Castle I walked the same way back to Portballintrae. In Portballintrae I continued to the long beach Bushfoot Strand and followed it to the end where there was a path over the sand dunes and on to Giant’s Causway Visitor Centre (which was not there as it was being rebuilt). The walk from Dunluce Castle to Causeway Hotel took 1hour and 5-10 minutes and had been very pleasant.