Mar 3, 2022
The Cliffs of Moher are a series of large sea cliffs located on the southwestern coast of Ireland in the County Clare.
The Cliffs of Moher are a series of large sea cliffs located on the southwestern coast of Ireland in the County Clare. The range goes on for over eight miles, and the cliffs themselves range from being 390 to 702 feet tall. Needless to say, the Cliffs of Moher are breathtaking. Ireland is full of beautiful natural landmarks, but the cliffs offer a scale and elevation much more uncommon in the country than in California. Their height is admittedly a bit harder to register in your head when you are overlooking just the ocean rather than any land, but they are still truly impressive. The Cliffs are made of sedimentary rocks, such as sandstone, siltstone, and shale, that are made from things such as ancient sea creatures and materials from ancient mountains that have long since been eroded. This sandstone makes the cliffs slightly resistant to being eroded by the sea, making pieces of it less likely to break off and fall into the sea.
When you arrive, you’ll park in the parking lot. Unfortunately, this is an upcharge service, but the lot is exactly where you’d want it to be. It’s as close as it can be to the cliffs without changing elevation. If you aren’t traveling by car, the famous Irish tourism bus service, Paddywagon, has many tours that include the Cliffs.
A short walk on a marked path from the lot and you arrive at the Visitor Centre, a large interactive center that serves to educate and entertain visitors. The entrance to the center is inside of a hill, in a similar effect to the domed grass roofs of the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. Inside are many interactive exhibits about the Cliffs, their wildlife, and their formation. These are great for younger guests, and the Ledge Theatre offers a short film about the Cliffs’ most common creature, the puffin, that is fun for all ages. There are also two cafés for those who want refreshments during their visit.
Another short walk from the Visitor Centre and you arrive at the Cliffs. From here there are a variety of activities depending on what you want to experience. You can walk leisurely around the Cliffs at whatever speed you please, you can take a guided tour, or you can download a free app for an audio-guided tour. There is more to see than just the Cliffs on these tours such as O’Brien’s Tower, a tower built by Sir Cornelius O’Brien. He was a man who constructed it either to draw in English tourists at the time, or to impress a woman he was planning to marry! If you are interested in birdwatching or animals in general, binoculars are available for loan from the Customer Services desk at the Visitor Centre. The Cliffs are home to more than 30,000 pairs of seabirds during the breeding season in Spring, so be sure to come around that time for the best views.
For those more physically active, or if you’re seeking a challenge, the Moher Cliff Walk is for you. There are actually multiple smaller trails that make up this giant one if you don’t want to do the full hike. It starts near the village of Liscannor, where you slowly ascend the trail until you find yourself on a cliff’s edge, ready to start the real expedition. From there you weave around several of the cliffs on tiny somewhat dangerous paths until you reach the halfway point on the main visitor paths near the Visitor Centre. After going to the right and passing O'Brien's Tower, you are back on the more rugged hike. From there you pass several cliffs on trails that get even more dangerous (I actually sprained my ankle around this point) until you break off of the cliffs and go a bit further inland. You are still right by the seaside as you slowly decrease in elevation and end your hike at the seaside town of Doolin. The walk takes approximately five hours, so don’t expect to do it the same day as the main Cliffs and Visitor Centre since it is twenty kilometers in length, which is about twelve and a half miles. It is a challenging hike for sure, but it is definitely a rewarding one.
During the summer months, the Cliffs of Moher can be very busy, especially in the afternoon hours. However, summer is one of the few times of the year in Ireland where rain can be consistently avoided. If you are going up there in the summer, my advice would be to visit in the morning hours and try to get out before the crowds hit. If you are not doing the cliff trails, it doesn’t take long to experience everything the Cliffs have to offer. If this is the case, plan to spend just a couple of hours, but get up reasonably early if you can. Altogether, the Cliffs of Moher are an amazing place to visit and are without a doubt one of Ireland’s greatest landmarks. I would highly recommend a visit if you travel to Ireland.
Photo by: Giuseppe Milo