Hiking in the Burren
Hillwalk Tours offer self-guided, multi-day hikes along the Burren Way, which passes through Doolin.
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 Doolin's 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. One can also learn to dive in Lahinch Seaworld leisure centre.
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 of Moher. There is a horse riding centre 3 miles Doolin called mountainview horseriding centre that offers trips into the Burren, up mountains, and down to the beach.
There are endless places to walk around Doolin. From the doorstep of the Hostel, there are several routes ranging in duration from half an hour to a full day's excursion.
Music / Pubs
In the 70s, Doolin became a Mecca of traditional Irish music, partially due to the talent and character of three brothers who lived here. While Micho 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, sing songs 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 minutes 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 its 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 finish right here in Doolin. Two go north and two head to the south and 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. Fishermen 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, passenger ferryboats are available from Doolin pier to the Aran Islands, operated by doolinferry.com/
Golf / Pitch and Putt
For golf enthusiasts, 5 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 15-minute walk from the Hostel, the views of the Cliffs of Moher and the 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 archaeological sites dating as far back as the mesolithic period (7000 to 4000 BC) and spanning pre-historic and historic periods 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 should not be missed on a trip to the area. Equally interesting is to forge through the 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 wildflowers all growing within the same area. It is home to such species as blue Gentians, mountain Avens, Bloody Cranesbill, Birdsfoot trefoil, 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.