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Soaking up the sunshine on the Kerry Riviera

Soaking up the sunshine on the Kerry Riviera

On days like this, The Ring of Kerry transforms into the Kerry Riviera and Vanhalla gets to discover another piece of camper heaven at Glanbeg.

If you were to imagine your perfect campsite location, in your wildest dreams you’d be hard pressed to beat Glenbeg Caravan and Camping Park. It’s located in the townland of Glanbeg, just outside the village of Caherdaniel, halfway between Sneem and Waterville on the Ring of Kerry.

For good measure throw in an unlikely fortnight of 20 degrees plus fine weather, crystal clear turquoise waters along a sandy-beach cove ideal for swimming, snorkelling, stand-up-paddle boarding, spades and buckets and sandcastle building, kayaking or simply lounging in the sunshine as you stare out across Kenmare Bay, in anticipation of a stunning Strawberry Moon as it rivals the sunset for attention and Insta fame.

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But that’s not all. It gets even better. Set back against the shallow cliff face is O’Carroll’s Cove seafood restaurant and beach bar, whose staff and menu are top notch, including quality take-away options from The Shack, and Maisie Ryan’s traditional bar on the water’s edge, also affording splendid outdoor terrace style relaxation over a crispy cool pint or cocktail.

Brash claims purporting to be ‘Ireland’s only beach bar’ are stretching it a little, a tall tale from the Ring of Kerry, but it would be petty not to turn a blind eye to a little poetic licence. In the dreamy summer’s evenings approaching the solstice it is better to fall for the romance of this Kerry Riviera. If you can’t be in the beach bar you love, love the one you’re in. And it’s so easy to fall for O’Carroll’s Cove.

The one quibble, and this is perhaps nit-picking, is the inexplicable insistence of one overzealous staff member who early each morning (before 8am is early on holidays?) set about trying to order the sand with an irritatingly loud leaf-blowing machine; searingly shattering the silence, a noise akin to a bunch of illegal loggers let loose in the Amazon with their chainsaws; a King Canute like folly doomed to failure, and a practice rightly deemed to be a hanging offence in some holiday resorts.

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There are three excellent campsites set along the coastline in this short stretch from Sneem (Goosey Island) and a kilometre up the road from our location to the well-appointed and idyllic 4-star Wave Crest (which was completely booked out over the holiday weekend) remains high on our bucket list) and they all have their own distinctive charm, character, and appeal. It’s hard though to beat Glenbeg Camping and not envy its beachfront real estate. We’ll suffer the Sandman armed with the leaf-blower!

There are good touring pitch options at Glenbeg, as well as a specially designated area for tents. Most pitches have a view of the seascape, though beachfront options are heavily booked, reserved and at a premium. There are also over-flow spots which are fine but not as scenic. Most of the prime  seafront locations are reserved for long-stay occupants, some who have been coming here religiously for over 40 and even 50 years. None could remember such a long and lovely spell of fine weather but not even the grey, misty dull days have deterred their return year after year. On days like this it is easy to see why.

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We sample the delectable and delicious menu at O’Carroll’s Cove, a Sunday evening treat, and cannot recommend it enough. The whole experience is all the more memorable thanks to the mesmerising performance on the terrace of Spanish guitar duo, Simon and Neisha – who perform as Shanti – uplifting, infectious and enchanting flamenco from the beaming with talent West Cork pair. Dust off your castanets and inhibitions and keep an eye out for them, you’ll be dancing.

You won’t find the Glenbeg Caravan and Camping Park listed in the Camping Ireland brochure but the owner, Noel, is extremely hands on, helpful and vigilant. He is ably assisted by long-term manager, Dimitri who seems always on hand too.

The toilets, shower blocks, waste disposal and recycling are constantly and spotlessly well maintained.  The campers’ kitchen is basic and a little pokey, with a fridge, microwave and only one wash-up sink, which can lead to the occasional delay.

Important to stock up in either Sneem or Waterville prior to arrival as there’s no shop facility on site. It is possible to get provisions, other supplies including fresh local produce (Burns of Sneem black & white pudding, yum, yum), buckets and spades, camping basics, fishing tackle, maps and so on in the well stocked shop up the road at Wave Crest Camping. There’s also an outdoor seating area there and an excellent street food wagon by Pompeii Pizza.

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There’s no footpath and it can be a dangerous stretch of road and not safe for children to be unaccompanied even over the short distance. There are also two other beaches nearby in Reen and Derrynane, either side O’Carroll’s Cove. In all cases the access routes are tricky and narrow and parking is precious. O’Carroll’s Cove proprietors enforce a clamping regime on their property.

But on days like this, The Ring of Kerry transforms into the Kerry Riviera and Vanhalla got to discover another piece of camper heaven at Glanbeg.

The cost for our campervan and two adults was €35 per night (including EHU); showers (5 minutes) were €1.50 via a token system available from reception. A tent for one adult and a child was €23 per night, larger tents are €31.

O’Carroll’s Cove Restaurant and Bar opens for service from 1pm each day, but best check opening hours as may be closed on some midweek days.

Next stop Killarney…

SEE ALSO: Goosey Island – real gem on the Ring of Kerry

                   Through the mist, Cahirciveen remains music to my ears

About The Author

John Whelan

John Whelan is a vastly experienced midlands based journalist and editor who has contributed extensively to the country's leading national and regional titles, as well as broadcast outlets. He runs the media services company, Communicate Ireland John is a keen camping and campervan enthusiast with an interest in music, culture, heritage and outdoor pursuits. He has written for the Sunday Times, Sunday Independent and the Woman's Way on these topics. He is also an author, and his latest book, The Last Beekeeper, reflects his love of nature, the landscape and our shared responsibility to protect the environment. The Last Beekeeper is available to preview and purchase at Safe travels...

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