My favorite, pictured above, is Inisheer, the smallest of the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland in County Galway.
It has the feel of a remote, isolated fishing village, and the locals speak the Irish Gaelic language among themselves, though they do speak English to visitors. When you step off the ferry and onto the pier, you’ll be greeted with an idyllic white sandy beach that faces crystal clear turquoise waters, frequently dotted with fishing boats. The main village can be found adjacent to the beach, enclosed by a small hill with O’Brien’s castle and a fort at the top. The two-square-mile island is easily covered on foot, though there are bicycle rentals and a number of pony and cart drivers willing to show you around.
Stick around a while and you'll get a sense of the strong local community that still adheres to the traditional Irish way of life. You’ll find a number of things to keep you busy, including walks to the lighthouse or the shipwreck of the Plassy, traditional music pubs and even an art center.
Other islands well-worth a visit include:
- Skellig Michael, County Kerry
- Valentia Island, County Kerry
- Arranmore Island, County Donegal
- Inishbofin, County Galway
- Sherkin Island, County Cork
- Rathlin Island, County Antrim
- Achill Island, County Mayo
- The Blasket Islands, County Kerry