The Wormhole Inis Mór: when to visit, what to see, and things to know

Officially known as Poll na bPeist, the Wormhole on Inis Mór is one of the most iconic landmarks on Galway’s Aran Islands.

The Wormhole Inis Mór is undoubtedly one of Ireland’s most unique and striking natural attractions and one of the best hidden gems in County Galway. Located on the largest of Galway’s Aran Islands, this spot is popular for those looking for an exciting adventure experience.

This naturally formed rectangular pool is popular with cliff divers. It was even chosen as part of the hair-raising Red Bull Diving World Series in 2017.

So, if you want to know more about this fascinating natural attraction just off Ireland’s west coast, read on.

Overview – interesting info about the Wormhole Inis Mór

The Wormhole Inis Mór is a unique natural formation.
Credit: Instagram / @kilronanhostel and @artofgraham

Most often referred to as the Wormhole or the Serpent’s Lair, the official name of this pool is Poll na bPéist. It takes its name from the péist or Oilliphéist, a reptilian sea monster from Gaelic folklore.

Located south of the famous cliffside for Dún Aonghasa, this rectangular-shaped pool is, in fact, a completely natural formation. It also incorporates several underground channels and caves that link it up to the sea.

One of the myths about the incredible landmark states a huge worm living under the cliff carved out the pool.

When to visit – avoid stormy days

The Wormhole Inis Mór, Aran Islands.
Credit: Instagram / @camiliadipietro

Due to its location, the Wormhole is at the full mercy of the elements. Thus, when it comes to safety, it is best to avoid this spot on stormy days.

Check the weather forecast before you plan to visit, making sure the winds are calm.

When the tide comes in, water rushes in from the sea via an underground cave. When this happens, water spills out over the edges and fills the hole from above; thus, if you want to get close to the Wormhole, it’s best to visit when the tide is out.

How to get there – head to Inis Mór

One of the ways to get to the Wormhole Inis Mór is by plane from the Connemara Airport.
Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

The Wormhole is located on the largest of the three Aran Islands: Inis Mór. To get to the island, you can either travel by plane from Connemara Airport or by ferry from Doolin Pier in County Clare or Rossaveel in County Galway.

To find the Wormhole, head to Dún Aonghasa and follow the red arrows painted on the paths and cliffs.

What to see – other attractions nearby

The Dún Aonghasa is one of the best things to do near the Wormhole Inis Mór.

There is plenty to explore on Inis Mór, and one of the best ways to do this is by bike. You can rent a manual or electric bike from Aran Bike Rentals to make exploring the island a little bit easier.

No visit to Inis Mór would be complete without visiting the iconic Dún Aonghasa. This semicircular stone fort sits on the edge of a 100 m (328 ft) cliff and truly is a sight to behold.

It is the largest and best-known of several prehistoric hill forts on Galway’s Aran Islands. Although it is unknown when exactly Dún Aonghasa, many believe it dates back to the Bronze Age and Iron Age.

There is lots to do and see near the Wormhole Inis Mor.
Credit: Instagram / @camiladipietro

There are several other historical sites to discover on Inis Mór. These include Dun Duchathair, thought to be one of the oldest forts on the Aran Islands.

It is also worth visiting Dun Eochla, Arkin’s Castle, Teampall Bheanain, Teampall Mhic Dhuach, and Clochan na Carraige.

If dipping your toes in the sand is more your thing, then we recommend heading to Kilmurvey Beach. To make the most of your trip, we would also advise making the trip out to the other two Aran Islands: Inis Oirr and Inis Meain.

Things to know – safety considerations

It is important to act safely and with caution when swimming at the Wormhole Inis Mór.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

Although many people choose to dive and swim in the Wormhole, it is important to consider safety first before doing this.

Currents here can become very turbulent, so you are advised against getting into the water unless you are a strong swimmer. Indeed, in 2015, a paramedic named Seamus McCarthy was forced to save a woman who was washed off the cliff by waves.

There are also several safety considerations to bear in mind when making your way down to the Wormhole. The slippy surface of the rocks makes the path very hazardous, so visitors are advised to wear a sturdy pair of walking boots with a grippy sole.

Where to eat and stay – to replenish and relax

There are plenty of places to stay and eat near the Wormhole Inis Mór.
Credit: booking.com and Facebook / @aranislandsjoewattys

After a day spent exploring the Wormhole and Inis Mór, grab a bite to eat at the famous Joe Watty’s Pub. This spot is popular with both locals and tourists and is renowned for its good food, traditional music, and great craic.

Other popular spots are Teach Nan Phaidi and the Bayview Restaurant on the Inis Mór island.

For some well-needed shut-eye after an action-packed day, book a night in the cosy 3-star Tigh Fitz Hotel. Alternatively, if you fancy a more unique stay, spend the night at the Aran Islands Camping and Glamping Pods.

Notable mentions

Credit: YouTube / Red Bull Cliff Diving

Aran Ferries: The Aran Island Ferries were awarded the ‘Best Irish Experience 2021’ and are your main route to the Aran Islands from the mainland. 

Galway City: The cultural capital of Ireland, Galway city, is one a 48-minute journey to the ferries for the Aran Islands, if you want to add a few days to your trip.

Inishmaan: This is the middle of the three Aran Islands on the west coast of Galway. 

Red Bull Cliff Diving: The Wormhole Inis Mór has often been used as a diving location for the Red Bull Cliff Diving Series

FAQs about the Wormhole Inis Mór

Inis Mór, Aran Islands, Co. Galway.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

Can you swim in the Wormhole Inis Mór? 

It is strongly advised not to swim as there is no easy or obvious way out of the wormhole. The conditions are unpredictable due to the incoming waves and underwater currents. 

Do people live on Inis Mór? 

The population of Inis Mór is around 900 people. It is a popular location for visitors. 

Is the wormhole natural? 

Yes, this is a naturally made rectangular hole. It can only be accessed by walking along the cliffs. It is a natural phenomenon. 

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