Nagles campsite is situated in the small village of Doolin on the west coast of Ireland. We stayed north of Doolin and getting there involved travelling along the Wild Atlantic Way (N67) followed by a short stint on the R478. Neither of these roads were too bad, and driving down them was easier and less stressful than I imagined it was going to be.
The access to Nagles campsite isn’t that bad and whilst the roads are tight and twisty in places there is sufficient room to get two vehicles side by side. A word of warning though, Doolin is a popular tourist trap and frequented by lots (and I mean lots) of coach tours so you need to take a bit of care around the sharper bends when the coaches are coming through. Other than this, access to Nagles is not a problem and there are no tiny little single track roads to contend with, which is pretty good.
Nagles is a large site and comprises 97 pitches in just over 4 hectares – it is a large and busy site. We normally use much smaller, and quieter campsites (but then this is our first trip abroad in the motor home) so Nagles is a bit out of our comfort zone. The reason we chose to stay at Nagles was because when searching for campsites in the Doolin area on the internet Nagles kept coming up in the search results, and in the absence of other websites (not all small campsites have a website) or a book of campsites in Ireland we booked Nagles.
Nagles is what I would describe as an “open plan” campsite with no hedges, trees or vegetation between pitches. There are some stone walls as boundaries to separate the different sections, but that’s it. The site itself isn’t that pretty and doesn’t have the wow factor, but the surrounding area is absolutely stunning. With rolling hills on one side, rocky outcrops and cliffs on the other and of course the Atlantic Ocean the scenery is breath taking and there is plenty to look at.
Despite the large number of pitches, and also the popularity of the campsite it doesn’t feel over crowed or claustrophobic at all. From the pitch we were on there were other units (camper vans/caravans/motor homes and tents) visible from all windows, i.e. from front, back and both sides, yet it still didn’t feel like we were packed in. Very few units were using awnings and/or windbreaks – maybe this is why the site felt quite spacious? Maybe it was the open plan layout and the lack of trees/hedges? I have no idea, but I do know it seemed like there was more room around us than there actually was.
Like all the campsites we have found in Ireland the facilities at Nagles are very good and it has everything you need. There is a small shop (selling basic supplies as well as snacks, drinks etc.), there are plenty of showers and toilets for the number of pitches, there is a laundrette, there is a games room and kid’s playground (neither of these do much for me, but they may for you) and a kitchen area (complete with sinks, cookers, kettle, microwave and a fridge). The other thing I noticed about the facilities at Nagles campsite is they are absolutely immaculate and regularly cleaned too. If you are the sort of camper who places cleanliness at the top of their requirements when choosing a campsite you will not find fault with Nagles campsite. It is absolutely spotless.
The showers at Nagles campsite take a Euro coin (as opposed to a token) and last for 10 minutes, i.e. you get a lot of water for your money! After the initial warm up the showers remain warm, but not hot. I don’t mind a warm shower, but if you are the sort of person who likes a hot one then I’m afraid you’re out of luck – and there is no way of increasing the temperature either.
We paid 22 Euros a night (2 people, pitch fee and EHU) to stay at Nagles, which given the “tourist trap” area I didn’t think was too bad – it could have been more. We found out during our stay at Lough Ree there is a ceiling on fees, set by the Irish Tourist Board – whether this applies to Nagles campsite or not, I don’t know. Overall, Nagles isn’t that expensive and it is quite good value for money.
Doolin village is a 2km walk (a very leisurely 15 minute walk) where there are a few small shops. With the campers staying at Nagles campsite, the numerous bus/coach tours and the day-trippers in cars/riding motorbikes/cycling etc. Doolin is a very busy place and a total tourist trap. As you’d expect (and like what happens in all tourist areas the world over) all items in Doolin have a “tourist tax” premium added to them – be prepared to spend a lot of money and get not much for it!
Away from Doolin village is the harbour where there are boat trips to the Arran Islands and the cliffs of Moher. These boat trips are very popular (it is the reason why many bus/coach tours and day trippers come to Doolin) and if you want to go on one you probably have to book in advance. You may strike it lucky, turn up on the day and get a place, but from my experience at Nagles campsite (and in Doolin) the chances are slim.
The beach at Doolin is predominantly rocky, however there are some small (and I mean small) sections of sandy beach. There are a few places from which you can reach the water to swim but there aren’t that many. I have to admit I didn’t indulge in a dip in the Atlantic as I didn’t have my swimmers with me. Even if I did have what I needed with me to swim (without being arrested for indecent exposure) I still wouldn’t have, although there were a few people doing it.
According to one of the blokes selling the boat tours it is possible to sea fish in Doolin from the rocks. I was told there is a small bay around the headland called “pollack bay” by the locals and this is where he suggested to fish. Despite following the directions and going rock hopping I could not find a way of getting close enough to the sea to fish it. I spotted many rocks and platforms that looked ideal as a base from which to fish, but there was no access to them – not that I could see. Whilst wandering around the cliff top looking for a suitable fishing location I spotted a fellow angler on a rock formation that, was too far from the water to be able to fish it safely. I only hope the angler had super strong line because he was going to need it to haul any fish up to the height from which he was fishing.
Would I stay at Nagles campsite again? The jury is out on this one. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the place and I enjoyed my time there. The problem is, I have now been there, done what I wanted to do in the area and I have no burning desire to do it again. Nagles campsite is not one of those “Must visit again and again” campsites for me. It just doesn’t get me like other campsites we stayed at did.
Would I recommend Nagles campsite? If you want to stay in Doolin or the surrounding area I would most definitely recommend Nagles campsite without hesitation and in a split second. For what it is Nagles is a great campsite, it’s just not my usual kind of campsite.
Below is a slide show to give a taster of the amazing sites around Nagles campsite and Doolin.
For some more photos of Nagles campsite and the surrounding area of Doolin take a look at my "Nagles and Doolin gallery"