We'll be traveling from Dingle to Cliffs of Moher and eventually going thru Galway to the Connemara area. Instead of pushing it, we've decided to stop en route for a night. I originally thought to stay in Doolin, but I am rethinking this. I am considering Ballyvaughan or Kinvarra. Any thoughts?
I just did this very trip in May, you are probably going to get many different answers to this question but here is what we did:
The Cliffs of Mohr is amazing but unless you plan on hiking along the cliffs your visit there will only need to be about 2 hours at the most because once you've seen them there is only the visitor center with a nature exhibit to see. The wind at the cliffs can be daunting (I really mean this) , the day we were there I had to hold on to my wife at one point to keep her from being blown down. We decided that we didn't want to go to the Ayran Islands because you spend a whole day without that much to see so what we did was we drove from Dingle to Bunratty (next to Shannon) and spent the night and went to the Bunratty Medieval Banquet held at the Bunratty castle, the banquet is excellent and the music was beyond amazing! The reason we did not stay in Doolin is because all the B&B's we contacted wanted us to book at least two nights and we had other things we wanted to do further to the north and was only looking for one night. The next morning we drove to the Cliffs and then on to Ashford Castle for three nights. I cannot recommend Ashford castle enough, the class on Falconry alone is worth the trip. We spent two weeks exploring Ireland and all it did was make me want to go back again!
Kinvara is a great place to stop for an evening. Although the village is small, there are about a dozen pubs (some with live music on certain nights of the week). There is also a nice restaurant with great seafood located right near Galway Bay. And if you want to do the dinner banquet at Dunguaire Castle, you have that option as well. Plenty of B&Bs and a few small hotels in the area.
I've stayed in Doolin many times for just a night. However, it is possible they might require two nights during the summer months. What I liked about staying in Doolin is that it truly feels like a village...homes and pubs spread out, rolling green hills, farms, etc...and you can catch a ferry from Doolin to the Aran Islands and the bottom of Cliffs of Moher where you can see the puffins! If you catch a ferry from Doolin, I recommend the family owned O'Brien Line https://www.obrienline.com/ .
On the way out of Doolin, you can visit the Doolin Caves which is 5 minute drive north from the village. You get to tour through the cave where the longest free hanging stalactite in the northern hemisphere. It's pretty impressive!
Are you looking for something in particular? Out of your options, we've only stayed in Doolin, but we loved it. Authentic, charming, with great pubs and music. Wouldn't hesitate to stay again.
We have been having a similar discussion about our itinerary in March. As a treat we decided to stay at Gregan's Castle Hotel but, before that decision was made we were going to stay in Kinvarra - it looks to be an adorable small town along the water and all of the reviews that I was able to find were glowing.
We spent one night in Ballyvaughn at Cappabhaile House B & B and really enjoyed it.