The most magical place in Northern Ireland – Kinbane Headland

A few weeks ago my best friend came to visit and we took a day trip up to Northern Ireland to see the top three tourist sites:

  • Giant’s Causeway
  • Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
  • and the Dark Hedges

What we didn’t know that morning when we set off was that we would stumble across the most beautiful site I have ever had the privilege of seeing with my own eyes. As we were driving along the Causeway Coastal Route to the Giant’s Causeway we saw a small sign for Kinbane Head and because we had a bit of extra time thought we would check it out.!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d36405.463985877934!2d-6.3255424844130115!3d55.229758811953914!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x4861d39b4af56e87:0x103dd0e6fa21e04!2sKinbane%20Headland!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sie!4v1465297055942

Hike Logistics

The turn off of the main road is onto a single track (one lane road that is for two cars) road that leads you down to a small parking lot. It only lasts for a few minutes so don’t worry too much. The trail down to the cliffside is very well maintained, but good shoes are highly recommended as the entire hike is downhill. The hike itself is about 1 hour round trip, but leave plenty of time to explore once you are down there.

  • Total distance: Approximately 1.5-2 miles
  • Hike difficulty: Medium to high (lots and lots of steps).
  • Suggested time: 2-2.5 hours
  • What to bring: Water and sturdy walking/hiking shoes

Ready for the virtual tour of the hike?

Warning: None of these pictures do this place justice. You must see this with your own eyes to understand the pure beauty of this hike. 

First, you should know that during our two-hour journey we saw a total of 4 people. This hike is not very well known and if you are lucky you might even have the whole cliffside to yourself. When starting the trek down you will see beautiful cliffs to your right and a stray waterfall or two. Make sure you take some time to enjoy the scenery heading down.

Kinbane Headland cliffs

The trek itself is continuous downhill with quite a few steps for about 20-30 minutes. There aren’t very many designated resting places, but with almost nobody around you can take your sweet time.

Kinbane Headland walk

After 5-10 minutes of walking downhill, you will round a corner and..

The anticipation right now is so real. My best friend rounded the corner first and turned around with this face. She looked like a kid in a candy store. This is what she saw:

With the bright green grass, deep blue sea, and a deserted island with ruins on it we were in explorer heaven. The hills looked similar to the pictures I have seen of the Vietnamese rice fields with the little crevices all over. I was in complete awe of the gem we stumbled across by just exploring a little off the beaten path.

After turning this corner you still have about 15-20 minutes of steps to walk down to the deserted island. It is well worth the trek so don’t give up!

Along the way make sure you explore this heart-shaped hill. The views from here are absolutely breathtaking.

Right behind this hill is an old building overlooking the water.

After taking in the views head over to the rocky beach before venturing onto the island. From this vantage point you can see a waterfall over the cliffside, hear the lapping of the water over the beaches, and smell the fresh ocean air unpolluted by the smell of city or the noise of people. It was absolutely magical.

Now it’s time to explore the island. From high up on the clifftop, the island doesn’t look all that big. For perspective though here is a my best friend proving this is actually a pretty tall island (keep in mind my best friend is a little short..).

Once on the island spend some time exploring all of the different little buildings and rooms and take some silly pictures. Below I was pretending to be a lost prisoner found in this deserted building.

Finally, climb your way up to the top of the hill on the island and contemplate life for a bit. The sound of the waves crashing and the seagulls chirping will be sure to lull you into the perfect state of meditation.

Now for the journey back. As you turn around to head back you will be struck by this beauty of a view.

Now it’s time to trek back up the cliff. As you go up every once and a while turn around and appreciate how much you have climbed. You’ll need the motivation on this one since it’s quite the treacherous journey back up.

Final Verdict

In my opinion this is a must-do if you are in Northern Ireland. Away from the busy crowds of Giant’s Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge with the same mystical Irish feeling. Perfect mini-hike off the Coastal Route. While I still have a lot of traveling to do this was the most magical experience of my life. I was crying happy tears with the pure beauty of the Kinbane Headland.

Where’s the most magical place you have ever stumbled upon in your travels? 

Happy trekking!

– Boots not Roots