Doolin is a great base for lovers of the outdoors, and there are a huge range of things you can do while you’re here, from walking and trekking to potholing, surfing and scuba diving.
Rock climbing is becoming a popular sport in the Burren – routes are traditional and offer stunning views of the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher. The closest and some of the most popular Burren routes are located at Alihee’s, only three miles up the coast towards Fanore.
There is also good bouldering on doolins rocky shore a short walk form doolin village
Doolin and the surrounding area are riddled with caves and potholes for self-equipped cavers with some experience. Doolin pothole being the closest only a few minutes walk away. There is also a newly opened exhibition cave that is more suitable for tourists – Doolin cave boasts the Northern Hemisphere’s largest free-hanging stalactite. A little further afield are the Ailwee Caves that offer tours through an extensive system of caves.
The Atlantic coast offers clear water and interesting wrecks to explore.Head down to Doolin pier and launch yourself into the atlantic. There are shark, skate and tope to be found on deep sea diving trips which can be arranged in nearby Ballyvaughan.
There are a number of excellent beaches in the local area, including a small beach at Doolin pier, and other designated swimming beaches at Lahinch and Fanore which are patrolled by life-guards during the summer.
Pony trekking is available in Doolin and nearby Ennistymon . Trails rides vary from an hour to the day, offering a unique perspective in exploring the Burren and the cliffs.There is a new centre recently opened 3 miles from doolin called mountainview horseriding centre that do trip into the burren
There are endless places to walk around Doolin. From the doorstep of the hostel are several routes raging in duration from half an hour to a full day’s excursion. A lovely stroll down the back lane will take you to the coast and the beginning of the Burren, or you could choose to walk along the Cliffs to the cliffs of moher visitor’s centre. By bicycle or car you can easily reach walks that access archaeological and natural sites of interest. Scrambling the hill behind Black Head on the coastal route to Ballyvaughan, you can find wild goats and ancient ring forts. The stark, wild landscape found when walking around the seasonal lakes at the foot of Mullaghmore can offer almost a mystical experience. The more adventuresome may choose to find a route to the top of the mountain! Don’t miss the scenic walking route from Doolin to the Cliffs of Moher, a truely memorable experience!
While most walking around Doolin and the Burren is not technically difficult, the landscape is rugged and rocky. This, coupled with the fact that there are few marked paths, means that walkers should be prepared with proper footgear and dress for the ever-changing weather.
Music / Pubs
In the 70′s, Doolin became a mecca of traditional Irish music, partially due to the talent and character of three brothers who lived here. While Miko Russell took his music to the World, his brothers waited in Doolin for the World to come to them. Come they did and still do. Traditional music can be heard in McDermott’s, McGann’s and O’Connor’s pubs every night. The musicians that make Doolin their base are some of the best in the world, and it is not uncommon to see some famous faces here! We also have many traditional music sessions in the hostel and musicians stop by on a regular basis to play tunes and hang out by the Aille River – all are welcome to join in.
Doolin and its surrounding areas are now rated as some of the top places to surf in Europe. There are two right hand reef breaks – Doolin Point and Crab Island, both within twenty minuts walk from the hostel, but be warned, these aren’t for the uninitiated! Recently, a 40 foot wave was ‘discovered’ between Doolin and the Cliffs of Moher. Named Aileens after it’s location Aill na Searach (meaning ‘leap of the foals’, after the legend of seven fairy horses who met their fate at the spot), it’s a tow-in wave for experts only. There are a number of good beach breaks close by in Lahinch, Fanore and Spanish Point.
As with walking, there are many routes to cycle from the hostel. With a little guidance from the hostel staff you can plan a day trip that can include the scenic coast, hidden country roads, the best of the Burren landscape and major archaeological sites. It’s relatively easy to cycle to nearby villages such as Kilfenora, Carren and Ballyvaughan.THere are now 4 official signposted routes that start and finnish right here in Doolin. Two go north and two head to the south they vary in length and difficulty.
Both river fishing and rock angling can be pursued in Doolin. Brown trout can be caught in the Aille River, just in front of the hostel. Fisherman can rock angle at many points between Doolin and Black Head. Common varieties of fish include Wrasse, Mackerel, Sea Bass and Pollock. Not far away by car is Lickeen Lake in East Clare, where it is possible to hire a boat for lake fishing.
From April until October there are two companies operating passenger ferryboats FromDoolin pier to the Aran Islands. Boats leave in the morning to Inis Mor and Inis Oir, and return in the late afternoon. Inis Mor is famous for its spectacular ring forts such as Dun Aengus. Bikes can be hired on the island, making it easy to see all of the sites in a day. Inis Oir is a smaller island that offers glimpses into traditional island life. Inquiries as to sailings should be made the night before, as tides and weather can affect sailing times and days.
Both companies also operate guided boat trips along the Cliffs. For those afriad of heights, this may be a more viable option in experiencing the sheer drop of the Cliffs of Moher. The many bird colonies that nest along the cliffs can also be spotted from the water.
Golf / Pitch and Putt
For golf enthusiasts, five miles away Lahinch has two links courses. For those less ambitious, or less able to part with large sums of money, there is also the Doolin Pitch and Putt. Situated between the lower village of Fishersgtreet and the Doolin pier, a short 10-minute walk from the hostel, the views of the Cliffs and sea make it an ideal place to spend a leisurely afternoon. The course has 18 holes and is open year around.
The Burren is literally littered with archaological sites dating as far back as the mesolithic period (7000 to 4000 BC) and spanning pre-historic and historic period up until the medieval period (late 12th to early 16th centuries AD). There are some very impressive sights that are well known, such as the Poulnabrone portal tomb which shold not be missed on a trip to the area. Equally interesting is to forge through unmarked territory to find little explored cairns, villages, churches, tombs, castles and ring forts. The adventurous will find some remarkable sites.
Flora and Fauna
The Burren is unique for its variety of alpine and mediterranean wild flowers all growing within the same area. It is home to such species as blue gentians, mountain avens, bloddy cranesbill, birds foottrefoil, thrift, campion and many species of orchids. It is believed that the seeds of the many diverse species were delivered to the area by expanding glaciers.