Home or away you won’t beat Binion Bay
Out of the way, out of everyone’s way. Off the beaten track. No traffic jams here in Binion Bay, your own little piece of paradise with a beach thrown in for good measure.
Every year throws up a special place. A place which stands out. A place that somehow saves the day, then goes on to save the summer. A place that carves out memories that last forever, that nourish, replenish, and restore, every time they are recalled, as if summoned on to do so. Memories that grow, then grow on you; grow on you in such a way that they seem, improbable, unreal, a fantasy.
But you know for sure they happened; you were there. A place so good that you want to share it, tell everyone about it, and yet keep it to yourself, as your secret spot, so that it is not spoilt, overrun, and overcrowded.
One such place is Binion Bay.
Maybe it’s all in the head. Or whatever is in your head at the time. Or just the simplicity of the place, its serenity, seclusion, the seabirds squawking in delight at their rare remoteness, the empty beach, the friendly neighbours, the unusual linear layout, us all lined-up in a row on our holidays, hoping for the best and getting the best, the best of the weather, in years, in spades. It’s bucket and spades weather.
Out of the way, out of everyone’s way. Off the beaten track. No traffic jams here in Binion Bay, your own little piece of paradise with a beach thrown in for good measure. I love Achill, but who needs Keem Bay when you can have Binion Bay, all to yourself, sort of. No congestion, crowding, confusion or clamouring for space here.
No tailbacks, just tall tales from Ian in his thick Donegal brogue worth the price of admission alone. You could listen to him all day, telling stories, giving advice, promoting the places round about, but as for the directions, well I’d take those with a pinch of salt. Pointing to barely visible ribbon of boreens accompanied by a folly of stone walls heading nowhere in particular that I could see, bar perhaps the sky, a mountain goat wouldn’t chance them, let alone a motorhome.
‘What happens if you meet someone?’ I foolishly enquire.
‘Sure, all you have to do is reverse.’
Binion Bay. You can check out anytime you want, but you can never leave.
The outstanding Causeway Coastal Route
Our Binion Bay haven, which turned out to be our own little piece of camper heaven, came at the end of a road trip which had commenced in Carlingford and taken us through Belfast, the Antrim Coast, Ballycastle, the outstanding Causeway Coastal Route to Portrush, Portstewart, Castlerock, and Benone, before crossing over into Donegal via the Lough Foyle Ferry from Magilligan to Greencastle (€20 one-way) onto the Inishowen Penninsula, along the coast to lovely Moville before cutting inland off the Derry Road across to Carndonagh, towards Culdaff and on to Binion Bay.
Binion Bay itself is on the road to nowhere. A small narrow cul-de-sac of a boreen which takes you to its location. The campsite itself is unassuming with its linear layout, a mix of mobile homes, caravans, touring campervans, families in tents and a separate glamping area. You won’t find it trending on Instagram. The services block is in the middle of the long line of camping, again, nothing spectacular, but spotless and constantly maintained.
Award winning seafood chowder in Ballyliffin
I come out in a rash with the mere mention of golf, but if it’s your thing, Ballyliffin Golf Club is ranked among the finest links courses. More up our street is Nancy’s Barn, which boasts the best seafood chowder in the world. It would be a brave person who would tell them it’s not, and as a self-appoint chowder connoisseur I can vouch that this award-winning recipe is worth the trip alone. €11.50 for a mains portion which comes served with Nancy’s homemade breads and recommended to accompany their own Kinnegar Craft Beer. Other dishes include signature salads, Kinnegar Beer battered line-caught cod, and Lousianna style squid. There’s also Afternoon Tea, which unlike in some other establishments doesn’t cost an arm-and-a-leg, and a junior menu. Booking is advisable as they just about managed to kindly squeeze us in on a busy Sunday evening, with numerous tourists being turned away.
The rate per night for motorhomes/campervans with 2 adults is €30 and this fee includes EHU; showers are €2 for 6 minutes. Large tent pitches (including 4 guests start at €40 with EHU an additional €5 per night; small tents with two guests, €20 per night; glamping prices start at €99 per night.
The showers and services block are spotless; there’s lots of bins (though no recycling that I could see); the freshwater points are a little walk away and the campers’ kitchen is a bit cramped, with only one sink, and a large washing machine for laundry at a fee.