We plan on driving from Kinsale into Killarney then seeing what sights we can that day on our way to an overnight in Kenmare. My question is which way to drive the ring. I planned on following the tour in the guidebook and going clockwise leaving early in the morning. Though in researching I keep coming up with differing views, some even saying it's against the law to drive clockwise. Has anyone done this the Rick Steves way?
I just got back from the Rick Steves Best of Ireland tour. It is my understanding from the bus driver on our tour that you should drive the Ring of Kerry counterclockwise and the Slea Head Drive on the Dingle Peninsula clockwise. I'm not sure that it is listed correctly in the guidebook.
I'd honestly go clockwise on both drives (RoK and Slea Head) because of the location of pull outs/parking for views/photography. There are some parking areas on the opposite side, but not as many. Plus, you're going to be driving on the left hand side, so your car is always going to be on the side of the more scenic view (OK, to be fair, everything is pretty scenic, but the OCEAN will be on your left when you can see it), so you won't be looking OVER cars coming in the opposite direction to see this.
In terms of beating the tour buses, it's a matter of timing from what I understand. On RoK, most of the tour buses leave from Killarney around 9-10 am, so if you're ahead of them, then you will be pretty good, from what I have heard from locals. We did our drives this past April, and we left both Kenmare and Dingle around 9 am and we did not have any problems in terms of getting stuck behind traffic. But, it was April, and not peak season.
P.S. Definitely not illegal to drive RoK clockwise. The only legality debate I read about was driving the Gap of Dunloe, which we did actually drive ourselves as well at around 6 pm one evening with several other tourists it appeared, but to be fair, we met the criteria that we were accessing our accommodations! :)
Thanks Rebecca, it gets a little confusing but the book is correct since he talks about going the opposite way as the buses. He has it timed out so that you detour out on the skelling ring which the buses can not do, then go back to the Rok when they should be already past. The objective is to try and avoid them and not come across them on the road. Hopefully it works!
Thanks Georgia, as long as it's not illegal I'm going to stick with my original plan. Especially since we will have done Killarney to Kenmare the day before and will be overnighting in Kenmare. I don't remember the gap of Dunloe in my reading. Looks beautiful and the pony cart ride would be so fun, but doesn't look like we'll have time. We are planning to do Muckross and Killarney National park when we are in that area. I always keep telling myself you can't do it all!