If you’re looking for a unique coastal walk with dramatic seascapes and an abundance of history, the Omey Island Looped Walk is the one.
Discover the start of this enchanting 9-mile trail just 90 minutes west of Galway in the fishing village of Cleggan, County Galway, Ireland. The Hiiker route will lead you on an out-and-back route with a loop that takes in Omey Island, the infamous tidal island off the coast of the village of Claddaghduff – only accessible at low tide.
Perfect for families, this easy-going walk has a total elevation gain of 472 ft, and is only reachable during low tide, making it even more of an adventure for all who dare to cross. Start walking from Cleggan along the quiet coastal road to Claddaghduff, where one must wait eagerly for the firm sandy causeway to rise out of the sea.
Often described as the highlight of a trip to Connemara, once you are confident you know the tide times, you are free to venture across the 600-metre sandbar to the fascinating Omey Island. One square mile in size, don’t stick to the trail but instead roam and explore the island’s rugged rocky shores, and follow the islands’ one road inland past its wild green plains; walk the grassy paths and sandy tracks to reach Fahy Lough, home to brown trout, otters, and swans. Stop and enjoy a rest at the unspoilt Omey Beach where you can watch the unruly Atlantic surf for the chance to spot dolphins, also the perfect place for a picnic.
From the island’s highest point, take in 360-degree panoramic views; look back towards the mainland and see the island of Inishturk, and the beautiful coastline of Connemara, with the mountain peaks and ridgelines of the Twelve Bens its impressive backdrop.
On your journey around Omey Island there is much natural and human history to take in; once home to a monastery established by St Feichin in the sixth century, later replaced by a medieval church, its sunken remains were discovered in the sand, believed to have been built in this hollow for its own protection from the wild Atlantic winds and invaders. You can also visit St Feichin’s Holy Well, and the islands ancient burial ground, now the modern resting place for the region, with its significant connection to St Brendan, ‘the Navigator’ – an early Irish monastic saint, and one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland.
During the 19th century, Omey Island was home to a population of around four hundred, who raised cattle on the now abandoned machairs and fished the Atlantic shores, but famine overwhelmed the settlement and today the island is uninhabited, except for periods during the summer where some holiday homes remain, its seemingly untouched and rugged coastline a draw for all who visit the area.
Local area and amenities
The small village of Cleggan is popular for fishing and boating, whilst also being the port for the small island of Inishbofin. The village’s four bars are renowned for their lively music scene, whilst there are plenty of cafes and restaurants in the nearby villages of Clifden and Claddaghduff.
Things to know before you go
- Tide times! This cannot be stressed enough, It is very important to understand the tides times before venturing over to Omey Island which is only accessible at low tide whether you drive, walk or trott.
- Dogs are welcome on the trail and island but must be kept on a leash at all times.
- There is an abundance of accommodation options in and around the area but why not try something different. Camp in the sand dunes at Clifden Eco Beach Camping. An award-winning and carbon-neutral campsite providing a secluded beach with camp spots nestled in sand dunes for a beautifully wild experience.
Other things to do
- Drive to Omey Island – Being able to drive to Omey Island means it’s accessible to all but be sure to check the tide times, pack a picnic and then head over on the sand bar for your island adventure.
- Private Guided walking tours of Omey Island – Get a group together and book a private guided walking tour of Omey Island with your very own local guide telling you all about its fascinating natural and human history along the way.
- Private guided horse riding on the Wild Atlantic Way – A unique and special experience for all levels, take a guided horse ride to Omey Island for unrivalled seascapes, and depending on your experience, walk, gallop or canter along the beautiful sand stretch and tour the island itself.