It’s funny how having visitors to stay can suddenly open your eyes to a place you have been taking for granted for far too long.
Okay, so being a Glens girl might have something to do with my bias here, but in all seriousness, as much as this little postage stamp otherwise known as Northern Ireland can sometimes tear your hair out (sun, seriously, where are you? It’s June?!), we are nonetheless so very fortunate to never really be all that far from the sea. Even if it isn’t the Med.
Think about it. We are a teeny, tiny country so getting to the coast isn’t too difficult. When you have visitors hailing from Mexico, Poland, and from smack bang in the middle of France, (I run a B&B in my spare time it would seem) it puts the ‘distance’ to the coastline into perspective. And we do have one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. It’s a fact. Condé Nast Traveller says so. You can head by car, train, bus, or, like moi, by foot. Not to rub it in or anything.
Thanks to the popularity of Game of Thrones (I’ve never watched an episode. The shame.) and the steady stream of tours, (“bus loads of them, day in day out!”), although, that might not be working out so well for the Dark Hedges, the Causeway Coast has seen a little more press of late. And about time. Because it is beaut.
Our top tips to make the best of a run around the coast?
Follow the Garron road like some modern-day Dorothy and make sure to stop in the Heart of the Glens, aka Cushendall. The nearby villages also include Waterfoot. Head up the glen otherwise known as Glenariffe for some beautiful waterfalls and don’t forget to take a stroll across the shore. Stop in Cushendall for a pint of Guinness in Johnny Joe’s, one of the prettiest little Irish pubs you ever did see. Fresh seafood served upstairs, btw.
Continue to the Cushendun caves, particularly if you are a GOT fan. Head up to Torr Head for outstanding views and keep an eye out for Scotland in the distance. Take your life in your hands and cross the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bride. Stop and admire the views from the ruins of Dunsverick Castle, then keep on to The Giant’s Causeway (have a wee pick-me-up in The Nook). It’s one of those things “worth seeing but not worth going to see.”
Take a break and have a whiskey in Bushmills and finish up at spooky Dunluce Castle. Or, if you are secretly a big youngster, or have the excuse of actually having children, then Barry’s Amusements is a laugh. Portrush is kinda like the Peurto Banus of Northern Ireland. Sort of. Not really. More chips than champagne. But it’s lively. If that’s what you fancy after non-stop scenery. The Ramore is good for a bite and there’s plenty of coffee shops a go-go: The Arcadia or Babushka being our favourites.
For beach walks and sandy strolls, Benone is top notch, West Strand, Whitepark Bay and Ballintoy (adorable little harbour, also recommended for GOT fans) also incredibly gorgeous.
Not going to lie, the coast is definitely a lot better in a car, giving you the freedom to stop where and whenever you want and take as long as you want. But, the tours are worth a looksie too. For stopping the night, there are plenty, and I mean plenty of B&B’s to choose from. You won’t be stuck.
Now, let’s just hope for a little good weather, pretty please?🙏
Over and out.