The most magical place in Northern Ireland – Kinbane Headland

A few weeks ago my best friend came to visit and we took a day trip up to Northern Ireland to see the top three tourist sites:

  • Giant’s Causeway
  • Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
  • and the Dark Hedges

What we didn’t know that morning when we set off was that we would stumble across the most beautiful site I have ever had the privilege of seeing with my own eyes. As we were driving along the Causeway Coastal Route to the Giant’s Causeway we saw a small sign for Kinbane Head and because we had a bit of extra time thought we would check it out.

Hike Logistics

The turn off of the main road is onto a single track (one lane road that is for two cars) road that leads you down to a small parking lot. It only lasts for a few minutes so don’t worry too much. The trail down to the cliffside is very well maintained, but good shoes are highly recommended as the entire hike is downhill. The hike itself is about 1 hour round trip, but leave plenty of time to explore once you are down there.

  • Total distance: Approximately 1.5-2 miles
  • Hike difficulty: Medium to high (lots and lots of steps).
  • Suggested time: 2-2.5 hours
  • What to bring: Water and sturdy walking/hiking shoes

Ready for the virtual tour of the hike?

Warning: None of these pictures do this place justice. You must see this with your own eyes to understand the pure beauty of this hike. 

First, you should know that during our two hour journey we saw a total of 4 people. This hike is not very well known and if you are lucky you might even have the whole cliffside to yourself. When starting the trek down you will see beautiful cliffs to your right and a stray waterfall or two. Make sure you take some time to enjoy the scenery heading down.

Kinbane Headland cliffs

The trek itself is continuous downhill with quite a few steps for about 20-30 minutes. There aren’t very many designated resting places, but with almost nobody around you can take your sweet time.

Kinbane Headland walk

After 5-10 minutes of walking downhill, you will round a corner and..

Kinbane Headland cliff walk

The anticipation right now is so real. My best friend rounded the corner first and turned around with this face. She looked like a kid in a candy store. This is what she saw:

Kinbane Headland, Northern Ireland view

With the bright green grass, deep blue sea, and a deserted island with ruins on it we were in explorer heaven. The hills looked similar to the pictures I have seen of the Vietnamese rice fields with the little crevices all over. I was in complete awe of the gem we stumbled across by just exploring a little off the beaten path.

After turning this corner you still have about 15-20 minutes of steps to walk down to the deserted island. It is well worth the trek so don’t give up!

Kinbane Headland Island

Along the way make sure you explore this heart-shaped hill. The views from here are absolutely breathtaking.

Kinbane Headland Hill

Right behind this hill is an old building overlooking the water.

Kinbane Headland hill view

After taking in the views head over to the rocky beach before venturing onto the island. From this vantage point you can see a waterfall over the cliffside, hear the lapping of the water over the beaches, and smell the fresh ocean air unpolluted by the smell of city or the noise of people. It was absolutely magical.

Kinbane Headland beach

Now it’s time to explore the island. From high up on the clifftop, the island doesn’t look all that big. For perspective though here is a my best friend proving this is actually a pretty tall island (keep in mind my best friend is a little short..).

Kinbane Head in Northern Ireland

Once on the island spend some time exploring all of the different little buildings and rooms and take some silly pictures. Below I was pretending to be a lost prisoner found in this deserted building.

Kinbane Headland Island

Kinbane Headland in Northern Ireland

Finally, climb your way up to the top of the hill on the island and contemplate life for a bit. The sound of the waves crashing and the seagulls chirping will be sure to lull you into the perfect state of meditation.

Kinbane Headland Island in Northern Ireland

Now for the journey back. As you turn around to head back you will be struck by this beauty of a view.

Kinbane Headland Island in Northern Ireland


Now it’s time to trek back up the cliff. As you go up every once and a while turn around and appreciate how much you have climbed. You’ll need the motivation on this one since it’s quite the treacherous journey back up.

Kinbane Headland Island in Northern Ireland

Final Verdict

In my opinion this is a must-do if you are in Northern Ireland. Away from the busy crowds of Giant’s Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge with the same mystical Irish feeling. Perfect mini-hike off the Coastal Route. While I still have a lot of traveling to do this was the most magical experiences of my life. I was crying happy tears with the pure beauty of the Kinbane Headland.

Where’s the most magical place you have ever stumbled upon in your travels? 

Happy trekking!

– Boots not Roots

**Some of the pictures seen in this post were taken by Colby Lowrey**

Most magical hike in Northern Ireland: Kinbane Headland. Short drive away from Giant's Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.

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One Comment

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  1. I came here to look at your FarawayFiles post and got totally distracted by Kinbane Head… This is gas – the exact same thing happened to us. We were staying in Portrush doing a road tour of Antrim and we were driving along just before sunset. My husband has this habit of spotting little signs and saying “Let’s go down there”… (sometimes there’s nothing at the end so I usually complain…..). We saw the sign that you saw and I moaned (I couldn’t be bothered – I was feeling lazy) but he had a curious feeling about it… We did the little trek and walked around that corner you describe and my eyes popped out… Such a find. I had no idea it existed. The view made me think of something like the film Highlander. We separated and explored the whole of it; he climbed to the top of the Head and I took photos – amazing. Great to find someone who also stumbled upon in! I loved Antrim, especially Dunluce Castle and Cushendun. Great post I love the pics.


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