Planning a trip to Ireland and wondering if the Dingle Sea Safari is worth it? This post is for you!
I first visited Dingle after moving to Ireland in 2020 and immediately fell in love. The Dingle Peninsula is one of my favorite places in Ireland, and I tried to visit whenever I had the chance. From the expansive sands of Inch Beach to the roadside sheep to the rock formations of Coumeenoole Beach, there’s so much to love.
During my time in Ireland, I had a number of visitors come from the US to try different activities around the country. Whenever possible, I loved to take my guests to Dingle so that they could experience its magic for themselves. Of all of my visits to the Dingle Peninsula, one paid activity stands out above the rest as being particularly worthwhile: the Dingle Sea Safari.
I’ve done the Dingle Sea Safari twice with groups of friends/family and was impressed both times. This tour is about three hours long and includes incredible views of Ireland’s geology, wildlife, and landscape. The staff were notably wonderful, and it’s the sort of experience I’d do again if given the chance. It’s a gem in my book.
Note: this post is not sponsored by the Dingle Sea Safari. Our group paid full price for our tickets both times we did this activity.
Is the Dingle Sea Safari Worth It? My Review
When the Dingle Sea Safari was first proposed by a good friend during her visit to Ireland, I was skeptical but willing to go along with it. She is an avid researcher and assured me it would be worth it, so we booked it. I’m so glad we did! I loved it so much that I went back with my sister a year later.
The boat ride lasts about three hours and takes you along the coastline to the Great Blasket Island, and sometimes out to islands that are a little further from the coast. The two tours I took were not identical, mostly because of the weather. When the sea was calmer, we saw a lot more.
The biggest thing to know ahead of time is that the boat ride is intense. The RIB boat, which stands for Rigid Inflatable Boat, is like a mix between a raft and a small ferry. You sit straddling a cushion with your hands on a metal bar in front of you. I am prone to seasickness, and I did get queasy on both trips.
As the name suggests, the Dingle Sea Safari is an unparalleled chance to see marine life in their native habitats in Ireland. Between the two trips, I saw seals, a single puffin, dolphins, basking sharks, and countless other seabirds.
On both tours I took, the staff were very conscious not to irritate or chase wildlife with the boat. We were surrounded by dolphins for much of the second tour, but the staff were quick to point out that the animals were chasing us. The dolphins swam all around our boat and seemed to delight in showing off with leaps and jumps right next to us!
The other advantage of taking a boat tour is the chance to see the Irish landscape from a distance. The tour includes views of sea caves (weather permitting), cliffs, and uninhabited offshore islands. The views from the boat were unlike anything I’ve seen on land, having traveled around Ireland.
One of the coolest experiences on our second tour was going out to one of the furthest Great Blasket Islands. The rocks were absolutely covered in seabirds, who live there undisturbed by humans. This island is only accessible when the seas are calm, so you may or may not make it out there.
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Know Before You Go: Dingle Sea Safari Tips and Info
I’ve taken boat tours before, but the Dingle Sea Safari is a little different. The ride is fairly adventurous, so you shouldn’t expect a leisurely cruise around Dingle. Instead, you’ll be bumping along in waves, greeting wild dolphins, and trying to stay warm during the journey back to shore.
To help you prepare, here’s everything I think you ought to know before you go.
Even if the weather in Dingle Town is mild, the temperatures can drop dramatically when you get out on the open water.
The ride back to shore is the longest, coldest part of the tour. Be prepared with gloves, a hat, a scarf, and wool socks. If you didn’t pack gloves, an extra pair of wool socks to wear on your hands will do in a pinch. Trust me, it’s colder than you might think.
There were some sea sprays, but we stayed mostly dry on our trips.
Wear Long Pants
Along with dressing warmly, you’ll want to wear long pants for this tour. You’ll be straddling a cushion for the duration of the tour, so a skirt would be very impractical and difficult to manage. Long underwear under your pants will help you stay even warmer.
Prepare for Sea Sickness
I almost never travel without my PSI bands – I absolutely swear by them. These acupressure bands help me to feel less motion sick, whether I’m taking a bus, the backseat of a car, or a boat ride.
Important: PSI bands are purely preventative. They will not help you if you wait until you start feeling seasick before you put them on. Put them on your wrists before you step foot on the boat, and make sure they’re secure but not so tight that they’re painful.
You could also try motion sickness patches, though I don’t have any personal experience with them. Or, if you don’t mind looking silly, you could also bring these motion sickness goggles. The goggles are uncomfortable to wear because the plastic is low quality, but they’re surprisingly effective.
The boat departs promptly at the time listed on your ticket, so you’ll want to arrive at least 15 minutes beforehand. This way, you’ll have time to grab your outer layers, run to the bathroom, and get yourself together before you depart.
Depending on the season and where you’re coming from, it can sometimes be challenging to park in Dingle Town. Allow a little extra time for parking, as well.
Eat a Light Breakfast
Another way to avoid stomach issues when on the Dingle Sea Safari is to stick to light meals leading up to the tour. Fruit, yogurt and granola, or toast would all be good choices. A heavy or greasy breakfast will be much harder on your stomach when you get out into the waves.
I would also recommend that you skip your morning latte or have it early in the morning. This way, you’re less likely to have to use the restroom while you’re on the boat or have any residual queasiness.
Bring Sunscreen and water
Despite Ireland’s (deserved) reputation for being the land of rain and fog, you definitely can experience sunshine when you’re visiting. Between the sun above and the reflection of the water, you could easily get a sunburn while out on the boat for several hours. It’s better to be safe than sorry and wear some sunscreen for this tour.
If you forget sunscreen or water, you can grab a bottle in the SuperValu just a short walk from the check in area.
There are some details you simply can’t see with the naked eye, like birds up high in their nests or far away dolphins. I recommend that you bring a pair of binoculars on the boat. Even a cheap pair will help you better enjoy the sights from the boat.
Stop using the binoculars right away if you start to feel seasick.
There’s No Bathroom Onboard
The RIB boat is like a motorized inflated raft, so it doesn’t have a hull or onboard bathroom. There’s a free public bathroom near the meeting area for the tour, so just be sure to go before you put your gear on. The boat does not dock anywhere along the way, it just makes stops at different viewpoints while in the water.
Do Not Try This Activity When Hungover
The Dingle Sea Safari is a little rough under the best of conditions, so you simply don’t want to try it when you’re not feeling 100%. Put simply: this tour would be almost tortuous with a hangover, between the jostling, the wind, and the waves.
There’s no way to depart the boat once you leave the shore. So, if you find yourself hungover the morning of your Sea Safari ride, I’d recommend cutting your losses rather than trying to stick this one out. But maybe that’s just me!
The Tour is Weather Dependent
The Dingle Sea Safari is weather dependent, so there’s always a chance that the tour could get canceled or postponed if conditions require. Be sure to leave contact information when you book your ticket so that you’ll know ahead of time if there’s an issue with your scheduled tour.
The staff are professionals, and they know when the sea is too rough for travelers to stay safe and have a good experience. They did move one of our visits due to the weather, and I was grateful – I wouldn’t have wanted to go out on seas any rougher than we experienced.
What you’re able to see will depend on the conditions in the water. On my first trip, we weren’t able to make it all of the way out to see the second island because the sea was too rough. We saw more on our second trip, including far more dolphins, but we didn’t see any basking sharks.
Both were great experiences, but it’s a tour featuring wild places and animals so some variation is to be expected.
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FAQs: Dingle Sea Safari
Still interested in the Dingle Sea Safari but have some lingering questions? Here are the responses to some of the most frequently asked queries from other travelers.
How long is the Dingle Sea Safari?
The Dingle Sea Safari runs for about 2.5 to 3 hours, depending on the conditions. The tour starts and ends in the same place, near the Fungie – The Dingle Dolphin statue. Visitors should arrive at least 15 minutes early for the tour, and the entirety of the activity takes place out on the water.
Is it safe to swim in Dingle?
Yes, there are a few places where it is safe to swim in Dingle, provided a lifeguard is present and on duty. There are three “Blue Flag” beaches in Dingle that pass strict requirements for water quality and safety: Inch Beach, Ventry Beach, and Maharabeg. All three of these beaches have lifeguards.
What animals are in the Dingle Bay?
Dingle Bay is home to animals like seabirds, otters, badgers, and foxes. In the waters near Dingle Bay, you’ll find basking sharks, seals, dolphins, and even whales. You can sometimes even see puffins in Dingle Bay, but the Saltee Islands are a more reliable place to see these unique birds.
How many days do you need in Dingle?
You can see Dingle in one day, but two days is ideal. Although the peninsula is relatively small, there’s a lot to see and do in Dingle. Be sure to visit Inch Beach, Ventry Beach, drive to Coumeenoole Beach, and check out Dunquin Pier. Of course, no visit would be complete without a stop in Dingle Town!
Conclusion: Dingle Sea Safari
Having tried a number of Irish activities across the country, the Dingle Sea Safari still stands out as one of the most memorable and high quality tours I’ve tried. It’s a unique way to see the landscape and marine life, and the staff impressed me with how courteous they were towards the animals we encountered.
And, if you’re even a little prone to seasickness, take precautions! It’s always better to be safe than (sea)sick. 🤢After completing the Dingle Sea Safari, you can grab a light lunch in Dingle at Juice for Thought – my favorite juice bar in Ireland.
Before you leave Ireland, I suggest that you get out into the Irish mountains and experience some of the island’s famous countryside. Nearby Killarney National Park has several great hikes to explore, and it’s a great way to ground yourself after some time on the water.