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Noted for hotels packed with people touring the nearby Cliffs of Moher, Lahinch is a busy resort village beside a long, sandy beach backed by dunes. It is best known for its links golf courses and—believe it or not—its surfing. In 1972 the European Surfing Finals were held here, putting Lahinch on the world surfing map, and since then, it has achieved YouTube notoriety as the base from
which surfers are towed by Jet Ski to surf the huge Atlantic wave known as the Aileens. Still, the center ring here is occupied by golf—with three world-class courses and a dazzling bay-view backdrop, Lahinch is often called the "St. Andrews of Ireland." Between golfers, surfers, and vacationers in general, the permanent winter population of 650 swells to 7,000 in the summer. Other Moher-bound people prefer to stay in Doolin or the nearby village of Lisdoonvarna.
A pretty little waterside village and a good base for exploring the Burren, Ballyvaughan attracts walkers and artists who enjoy the views of...