Despite the humble size of our island, Ireland presents endless inspiration for weekend getaways and longer trips with family and friends. Recently, my family explored Spanish Point, County Clare and once again were blown away by what this small seaside haven alone has to offer.
Situated in the West of Ireland, along the Wild Atlantic Way, Spanish Point is so named because of the Spaniards who were buried here after the wreck of their Armada ships along the coast in 1588.
Today, it’s a bustling resort and popular holiday destination and people from all over Ireland and further afield flock here to enjoy seaside fun, surfing and exquisitely fresh seafood.
In this guide, I share my top tips for your next family getaway to Spanish Point, County Clare. Where to stay, what to do and where to eat as a family – my favourite part of exploring any new setting.
Spanish Point Family Staycation Travel Guide:
Where to Stay in Spanish Point:
Centrally located, looking out onto Spanish Point beach, the Armada Hotel is a landmark hotel in Spanish Point. They bill themselves as the ‘family friendly hotel in Clare’, while at the same time balancing this with luxury and comfort. As well as generous Family Rooms, they offer a Twin Tepee room option, set up with a handmade tepee tent.
Asides from the Armada Hotel, there are a number of self catering cottages different options dotted all around Spanish Point. The Armada Cottages seemed like a really popular option for families during our visit.
What to Do in Spanish Point:
Spanish Point Beach
You simply cannot visit Spanish Point without a visit to its namesake beach. The Blue Flag beach boasts a vast stretch of sandy beach, as well as a long spine of rocks which stick out into the sea, and a rocky shoreline at the northern end of the strand. Lots of places for the kids to explore.
There’s also clean public toilets, and lifeguards on duty daily during the summer months.
One tip is to check the tides before you go. If you’re planning a swim it’s best to head there during high tide, though the beach is gorgeous for a stroll no matter the sea level.
White Strand Beach & Cliff Walk
Just a few minutes from Spanish Point is White Strand Beach & Cliff Walk. The beach itself is well protected, and perfect for swimming. Meanwhile, the cliff walk is a serious contender to the Cliffs of Moher. A really immersive way to experience the captivating views of the Wild Atlantic Way, with no queues or fees. There’s also quite extensive pathway if you fancy a longer walk.
Of course, while there is a grass path which allows you to safely navigate the cliff walk, as with all cliff walks with kids in tow, you’ll need to keep an eye on little ones at all times. The longer grass is closer to the edge of the cliff so we explained to our boys to stay away from the long grass and keep on the grass path at all times.
At the same time, the rock pools on the beach are a treasure trove for young explorers. We climbed down to the rock pools and the kids had great fun investigating the pools and paddling in the water.
From Spanish Point, we ventured over to the nearby fishing village of Quilty. The sand dunes on the beach are scattered with rabbit burrows which really caught the attention of the kids. You’ll need to be quiet so you don’t scare them away!
Sand dunes and coastal views aside, this beach is quite windy and full of seaweed – at least on our visit. As such, it’s probably better for a walk and adventure on the dunes rather than bathing and swimming.
As mentioned, Spanish Point is named after a Spanish armada which famously sank along its coast. One of the ships was wrecked on the reefs near Mutton Island. Today, you can hire a currach in Quilty and visit the site of the wreck.
The nearby town of Milltown Malbay is best known for the famous Willie Clancy music festival. Each year in early July (pre-Covid times!) the streets are a bustling mix of music lovers and musicians, and the cosy pubs are jam packed with talented musicians playing spirited tunes. From May to September, West Clare Music Makers’ Visitor Centre also allows you to learn more about the town’s musical history.
While there was no festival on the occasion of our visit, we did take advantage of the large SuperValu to stock up on picnic essentials. There’s also a couple of small coffee shops and pubs on the main street.
What’s more, there’s also a grand megalithic tomb nearby to explore, on the south-eastern slopes of majestic Slievecallan.
Other Nearby Beaches and Attractions
While we didn’t get a chance to go further afield during our trip, there’s a whole a whole host of other beaches within driving distance from Spanish Point, including Lahinch. The iconic Cliffs of Moher are also nearby as well as the Ailwee Caves, the famous cave system in the karst landscape of the Burren.
Where to Eat in Spanish Point:
While there are a number of dining options around Spanish Point, within the Armada Hotel itself is a variety of food outlets that cater to any meal, family size and craving. Within the hotel you’ll find Pearl restaurant, Ocean Bar and Bistro, Johnny Burke’s pub.
However, the hotel did a fantastic job of expanding their offering to suit a Covid-19 world and now have additional three outdoor dining options, all of which are family friendly and come with a fantastic ocean view.
A practical note, when you eat at any of the Armada Hotel’s food outlets you can use the toilets in the hotel itself. Otherwise, there are also public toilets which are well maintained next to the beach
Catch By The Armada
Firstly, there’s Catch by the Armada – an outdoor food truck located adjacent to the hotel, serving fresh seafood and chips. We enjoyed the Fish Box which included freshly fried fish fillets with a light batter, breaded prawns and calamari. Chips were chunky and twice fried – delicious!
Note that queues and waiting times can be long. We avoided this as best as we could by arriving at 1pm for lunch, and 5.30pm for dinner. The wait was still roughly 30 minutes, however you spend that time sitting on the benches and admiring the stunning sea views.
What’s more, next to the food truck is a separate hatch offering drinks and ice creams. Usually, there are no queues here so you can enjoy a drink while you wait for your order.
On the last night of our stay, we were lucky to experience live music at the Armada Hotel. With the backdrop of the Wild Atlantic way and the fading sunlight, it was a magical way to end our time in Spanish Point.
Secondly, for the caffeine lovers there’s Gull’s Coffee – a coffee hatch at the front of the Armada. As well as coffee, there’s a delicious selection of coffees and tasty pastries. The oat and coconut cookies were my favourite, while the kids loved the chocolate cookies.
Thirdly, Little Johnny’s Pizza is another option based within the grounds of the Armada Hotel. Located outdoors, with lots of seating available, the pizza hatch serves fresh Italian style stone-baked pizzas with local ingredients. The kids loved their Margherita.
Bellbridge House Hotel – Scrumptious Sprinkles Pop Up
Bellbridge House Hotel is just a five minute drive from Spanish Point and well worth the trip for the fun and delicious range of desserts, milkshakes, smoothies and sundaes. We enjoyed ice creams with an ocean view – the perfect end to a great day of activities in Clare.
Join the conversation
Let us know in the comments if you have plans to visit Spanish Point, or if you have any tips for a stay in County Clare. Looking for more staycation inspiration? Check out our travel guide to Cork here.