Aran Islands


It was almost mid-week and we hadn’t even made it to the Aran Islands, which were on our Ireland “To-Do” list. It was time to hop on a ferry and trek across the ocean and check some more things off the long list. To get to the islands you must take a ferry and there is one that leaves at 10:30am and one that leaves at 5:30pm and if you don’t catch them, you are stuck (keep this in mind as you continue reading..).

Considering the only ferry I have been on is the one to Washington Island, Wisconsin, I was not sure what to expect, but that big white giant was not it! The boat was huge and the seats inside were like that on a charter bus, so bizarre. The ride took about an hour and the water was quite choppy. You would look out the window and see clouds and two seconds later all you saw was ocean. Thank goodness I did not get sea sick!

After talking with some locals, tourist centers and the like, everyone told us the same thing: The best way to get around the island is to bike. So, for a low price of about $15 you can rent a bike for the entire day and take it wherever you please. All of my favorite things, nature, water front, islands and biking. Whoop! I was a happy camper. It could not get any better… or could it?

IT COULD! Sorry for the caps lock there, but if you know me, you understand how excited I must have been when I saw these cuties lounging in the bay. There were probably a dozen of them all laying around and playing with each other. I was in absolute heaven. I kept getting closer and closer and probably would have rolled around right there in the seaweed with them but as we continued walking we got some warning barks and decided to hang back. Sorry fellas! I was just admiring you. At this point I was on a serious life-high and hanging out on cloud nine. It couldn’t get better than this. It just couldn’t.

Well, I was wrong, yet again. As we crossed to the other side of the island we hit a walking path, parked our bikes and began hiking up, up, up. When we got to the top, my jaw dropped to the ground. The path led us to the edge of the ocean, quite literally. No fences, no warning signs, just giant cliffs with the ocean crashing beneath your feet. Absolutely amazing. I have never seen anything like it in my life.

I was so interested in fact, that I got quite close to the edge, maybe too close. Yup, those are my boots. I can hear my mother gasping all the way from Chicago. Sorry, Mom! I even worried another tourist man who yelled, “HEY! Be careful”. Tell me if I am wrong, but yelling, “HEY!” at someone while they stand on the edge of a cliff probably is not the best way to get their attention.

Just for a sense of scale, check out those people in the background that look like little ants. How could your mind not be blown? For the millionth time on the trip, we all walked around, found a place to sit and explored on our own, taking it all in. We probably could have stayed their for hours, but due to our time constraints we had to fit in one more thing before returning to the mainland.

Our last stop of the day was the lighthouse, situated at the highest point of the island. When they said highest point, they were not kidding. We had to bike, hike, huff and puff all the way up to the top of what seemed to be the world’s steepest hill to get to it, but the view from the top was amazing. You could see for miles and miles. Plus, how cool are those stone fences? Pretty sweet.

After we ooh-ed and aah-ed from the top, we headed back to the bay to grab a quick cappuccino before the ferry left.  As we are sitting outside the cafe, a random tour guide drives by and yells out the window, “They always leave on time!”. It took us a minute for us to understand what he meant… Get our butts to the ferry or we were stuck until 5:30pm the next day. We gathered our things, returned our bikes, sprinted to the ferry and ended up being 10 minutes early. Better than 10 minutes late! Before we knew it we were back on the mainland and needing to find a place to sleep for the night. We even upgraded to a B&B!

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