In 1991, all of Ireland’s waters were declared as Europe’s very first whale and dolphin sanctuary. To date there have been spottings of 24 different species of whale and dolphin on our shores. Making Ireland one of Europe’s best whale and dolphin watching locations and the Wild Atlantic Way the perfect place for whale watchers and wildlife enthusiasts. We have picked the best places to see Wild Atlantic whales:
The first and most obvious place to catch a sighting of one of our marine friends is in the mighty waters of West Cork. Of the 24 species mentioned above, 12 of them have been spotted of recent years off the coast of West Cork. Minke whales begin to arrive in March and continue on visiting until the winter months, while the early autumn months welcome the arrival of Fin Whales. In the right conditions, these massive creatures can be viewed just a couple of kilometres from the coast. Lucky whale watchers may even catch a glimpse of the elusive Humpback whale in the autumn months. West Cork features on The Sheep’s Head Way walking tour.
Where the Shannon estuary flows into the Atlantic ocean. This estuary, which marks the main boundary between Counties Kerry and Limerick to the south and Clare to the north, is home to over 160 bottled-nosed dolphins. Fin and Minke whales have also been known to appear. On a recent trip here, Maria and Lisa from our IrelandWays.com team were delighted to be graced with a view of the intelligent creatures. The fifth section of the Wild Atlantic Way cycling crosses this estuary.
Inishowen, Co Donegal
In recent years a pod of over 50 Bottle-nose dolphins have been frequenting the shores of north Donegal. It is common to see Minke whales in this area and there has even been a couple of sightings of the elusive Orca.
Kerry is another fantastic location to view these magnificent creatures. With many reported sightings of whales, dolphins and even a number of basking sharks. Then of course there is always Dingle where no trip would be complete without a visit from our national pet, Fungi the Dolphin. Probably the most reliable to show his face. Fungi has been calling Dingle Harbour his home for over 30 years now. Fungi’s appearance is so reliable in fact that most boat drivers will give you your money back if the beloved dolphin is a no-show.
Do you have any favourite spots to see dolphins and Wild Atlantic whales in Ireland? Let us know!
For more information on attractions in Ireland or to book your next IrelandWays.com walking, cycling or Wild Atlantic Way road trip contact our travel specialists.