Valentia Island is a small unspoiled island off the South West coast of Kerry, connected to the vibrant Portmagee on the mainland by a bridge. The Island has a small population of under 700 with only one main village – Knightstown. For a small Island you won’t be short of things to do though. There are so many great Valentia Island attractions, from stunning walks to unique fossil discoveries.
Be sure to check out Valentia island and all its attractions and natural beauty. It is right along the famous Ring of Kerry route and well worth stopping off.
Things to do in Valentia Island – Valentia Island Attractions
Bray Head – Loop Walk
Just a short distance from the entrance bridge, you’ll find the first great activity on Valentia Island – Bray head. From the car park, you can start the loop which brings you up the Iveragh Coast looking out over the channel where the Atlantic ocean runs between the island and mainland Kerry.
As you make your way to the top you will also get views of the Skellig Islands in the distance. Once at the top you’ll arrive at Bray Tower which is an old signal tower used by the British in the 1800s and by the Navy during WWII. Like other points in the country, there is the remains of a huge “Eire” stone signal so that the area could be identified by pilots flying over in the war.
On a Summers day it is absolutely stunning with the vibrant blue water contrasting on the green grass of the hills. A perfect spot for sunset too.
Info on Bray Head Loop
The entire loop is 7 km and takes you along the exposed cliffs and is really worth the walk. You can probably do the entire loop in less than 2 hours if not stopping to take in the views or relax on the grass.
Note: When me and Eoghan visited, we went up to the tower and back the way we came. I have seen that the end of the loop is quite rough and uneven so if that is worrying to you, you might prefer to go back the same way.
How to get to Bray Head
When you cross the bridge and arrive on Valentia Island, take a left turn immediately. Follow along this narrow road with the ocean along your left. Continue on until you come to a brown sign. There are two signs, the bottom one will be for “Bray Head” and will point left. Follow this sign and shortly, the car park will be on your left
Note: There is a little box in the car park where visitors are asked to pay 2 euro for using the car park. It is not manned. Please pay the fee.
The Tetrapod Trackway on Valentia Island
Okay, so this is the main reason I wanted to visit Valentia Island. As a Earth Science Graduate who studied geology and evolution, I know Valentia Island to be a hugely significant place in terms of evolution.
On the north coast of the island you can find an incredible fossil. It is a tetrapod fossil (4 legged fish/lizard hybrid) and is believed to be the preserved footprints of one of the first creatures to make the transition from ocean to land. This creature is how all land creatures came to be. For more information on this, watch me tell Eoghan all about it, as you can see, I am very enthusiastic about this place!
How to get to the Tetrapod Trackway – Valentia Island Attractions
The Tetrapod Trackway, although incredibly important, is pretty hard to find. The easiest way is to put Valentia’s coastguard station into your google maps. It is signposted so just follow signs for the station.
If I remember correctly, as we got closer there was one small sign for the trackway. Just beside the radio station is a small car park on the right which is free to park at. You’ll know your there as there is a sign in the car park.
Info on the attraction
Walk down the slightly steep stone path which will bring you down to the water and the fossil.
The fossils are protected by a metal barrier so do not cross this. This area holds amazing evolutionary answers and is a National Heritage site. Please respect this area.
It is a quiet attraction and when we visited, were the only ones there. This made me quite sad considering how cool it actually is. If visiting the island, why not go and see the fossil of the first land animal?!
Lighthouse at Cromwell Point – Valentia Island Attraction
The lighthouse on Valentia Island was originally a 16th century cCromwell Fleetwood Fort built for defence. A couple of hundred years later, the area was turned into a lighthouse, with the first light revealed on 1st February 1841.
Sadly we didn’t get to tour the lighthouse due to the time of year but will surely be back again to check it out.
You can take a tour of the lighthouse over spring and summer months although it is subject to weather conditions. Admission is €5 for an adult and €2.50 for a child although I recommend checking the website for updated opening hours and pricing.
Where is the Valentia Island Lighthouse?
The lighthouse is at Cromwell Point, right in the centre of the north coast and just beside the Tetrapod Trackway. It should be signposted and is just a 10 minute drive from the main village on the island – Knight’s Town. Comes up easily on google maps.
The World’s First Transatlantic Cable – Attractions Valentia Island
Valentia Island is home to the world’s first transatlantic cable! The station is on the Knightstown promenade and is currently not open to the public. However, at the Telegraph Field, you can find a memorial showing the first message sent from Valentia to America.
Before this, messages took weeks to pass over the ocean, however from after 1858 it took just a few minutes.
The task of laying the cable had multiple obstacles. It started in 1857 and the third and final, permanent attempt was completed in July 1866.
The area is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Somewhere along the island me and Eoghan also came across a site with more information about the cable (image above). Not sure where this was if I’m honest! But I believe it is part of the Atlantic Telegraph Cables Trail – I am pretty sure these information points are dotted around the Iveragh coast which tell the story of the Transatlantic Cable.
Geokaun Mountain and Fogher Cliffs – Valentia Islands Highest Point
Geokaun Mountain and the Fogher cliffs are the highest point on the Island. The summit can be reached by foot or car and there are car parks along the way up. There is also a viewing deck to enjoy the view from the cliffs. It sounds absolutely fantastic.
I have not yet been myself but will definitely be back to see. I will update this section of the post after experiencing this wonderful place myself.
For such a small Island there really is plenty to do and see on Valentia Island. I really enjoyed visiting the place and seeing all the sites. Due to it’s size, it is easy to go and see all of the scenery and attractions all in one day. It’s such a quiet peaceful place which makes a nice change from all the chock-a-block tourist attractions like the Cliffs of Moher.
Are you visiting Valentia Island in Kerry? What attractions are you looking forward to seeing?
For more pictures of Bray head, see the following post:
For inspiration of other places to visit in Ireland check out this post: