One of the most famous landmarks in the west of Ireland, the Cliffs of Moher plunge dramatically into the sea in County Clare. The vertical cliffs drop a staggering 214 m (702 ft) at their highest point and weave for 8 km (5 miles) in a curtain-like expanse around headlands and coves. Along with offering superb views, the cliffs are home to huge colonies of nesting sea birds, including puffins, guillemots, peregrine falcons, razorbills and kittiwakes.
While most visitors crowd the clifftop, you'll get a far more interesting perspective and a chance to learn about the cliffs' formation and their importance as a breeding site on a private boat trip along their base.
You trip starts at the small pier in Doolin, a tiny fishing village renowned for its live traditional music. The pier is just 6 km (3.7 miles) north of the Cliffs of Moher and once you've had a short safety briefing you'll soon be on your way. As you set off out to sea the Aran Islands are visible in Galway Bay and as you head south the cliffs soon begin to rise dramatically out of the sea.
Pummeled by Atlantic rollers and powerful winds, the cliffs have been eroded into dramatic shapes over thousands of years. Hundreds of caves have been carved out by the sea, rock shelves litter the cliff face and provide safe nesting places for migrating sea birds, while in the deep Atlantic waters whales, dolphins and seals search for the plentiful fish found here.
As you pass the Great Sea Stack you'll get to see some of these birds up close, with huge colonies making their home here. The best time to see these birds in their masses is between May and July, which is nesting season for the great majority.
The highest point of the cliffs is marked by O'Brien's Tower, an observation point built in 1835 which is close to the current interpretive point popular with tour buses. Visiting this part of the cliffs by sea not only allows you to avoid the crowds but to admire the spectacle from an entirely different angle. From below the cliffs tower above you majestically, the only sounds the screech of seabirds and the crashing of waves against their base.
A private boat trip is a much more exclusive and immersive experience than walking along the top of the rock face with uninterrupted views of the cliffs marching along the coast. It's a staggeringly beautiful sight.
The cruise lasts one hour and returns back to Doolin pier at the finish.