The Dingle Day Trip & Finding Fungie the dolphin
A short story of our amazing day tour to Dingle from Killarney, including a boat trip finding Fungie the dolphin.
We had been back in Dublin for two weeks after our summer of travel and it was time to head off exploring yet again.
This time not as far, a short, but long overdue trip south, for my first time visiting County Kerry.
The trip was for five days and included some downtime in the great outdoors, hiking in Killarney National Park, touring the spectacular Ring of Kerry, a fun packed day tour to Dingle, and of course drinking Guinness and dancing in Killarney town.
We timed the trip to coincide with the TBEX conference which was partnering with Killarney as the host destination and promoting all things great about visiting Ireland.
TBEX is a world travel conference and educational event for the travel media and travel bloggers.
We met some fascinating new people, like-minded lovers of travel, and took the chance to learn some new skills for the blog from the experts.
As part of the TBEX conference, Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland had organised several pre-conference day excursions to showcase Ireland’s awesomeness to the attending travel media.
It was on day one of the conference that we ventured down to Dingle on one of these excursions and had the pleasure of meeting one of Ireland’s most famous celebrities, Fungie the Dolphin!
A scenic coach trip to the Dingle peninsula, a morning spent on the Dingle bay boat trip finding Fungie the dolphin, then a lunch of fish and chips followed by a whiskey distillery tour, amazing.
All aboard for Dingle
Once on the coach we were greeted by our guide Peter who gave us an enthusiastic description of the day ahead. Peter told us his last visit was as a schoolboy on a trip to Dingle from Dublin when Fungie the dolphin was just a teenager himself.
He also told us that our coach driver had just confirmed we could expect perfect weather for the trip, much to the amusement of the driver, who we then heard laughing.
The driver then corrected Peter to say he said he had mentioned it should be good maybe slightly chilly, the weather is never perfect in Ireland he remarked, but that’s what makes it great.
Layers, Layers, Layers, was the dress code instruction from the organisers, which proved to be wise advice, that all participants on the finding Fungie the dolphin trip had listened to.
You can tell the organisers had visited Ireland before and experienced the countries unique weather conditions, it’s something else for Ireland to be proud of!
(Just bring a jacket you’ll be grand)
Peter was easily the most excited person on the bus at the thought of finding Fungie the dolphin, and his infectious enthusiasm rubbed off on the group.
As he read out the days itinerary a ripple of applause went through the bus when it was announced, we were heading straight to Dingle harbour, first stop was finding Fungie!
We weren’t going to have any fish and chips, or Whiskey until we met him.
The drive time was approximately 90 minutes from Killarney to Dingle, there were around 20 of us on the excursion.
Some chose to catch up on beauty sleep or recover from long flights the day before, others obviously couldn’t sleep through the excitement.
We chilled out soaking up the scenery as the tour bus cruised along the coast, and approached Dingle.
On arrival in Dingle the coach pulled up at the main pier and we had our first confirmation that Fungie is the most famous attraction in these parts, his bronze statue at the entrance to the harbourside.
Fungie the dolphin has made Dingle Bay his home since 1983, tours to see him have been running from Dingle bay since 1985.
His name was supposedly created when he was discovered by scuba divers swimming in the bay suggesting he is a fun guy, I’m not sure anybody was 100% sure if this is how he got his name or his exact age, but it’s an explanation for his name if you want one.
The tour offers a money back guarantee if you don’t see him, he loves the company of the tour boats so much they are confident he will swim alongside. I suppose we all have off days when we just want to be alone, but Fungie more often than not makes an appearance to meet his fans.
He has made this his home for many years leading some sceptics to say it wasn’t the same dolphin for 30 years or some even say he’s a Robot!
Anyway, we were off the bus, the boats were in sight and excitement was starting to build now amongst the group.
Dingle bay weather conditions were cold but calm, the calmest day in quite some time according to the boat crew.
Anticipation started to build, as we ventured out from the pier leaving the harbour, everyone was scanning the sea in search of Fungie.
We were told confidently by our guide we would be meeting Fungie today for sure
the boat skippers know him and his movements and he knows the locals, he stays close to the bay because he loves following their boats and racing alongside.
I was surprised how confident they were that we would see him that day, but he loves the interaction so much that as long as the sea is reasonably calm he will say hello.
As we bobbed along stories of the bay, stories of Dingle, it’s people and the Dingle way of life were told.
We were shown the location of ancient cliff forts, and close up for views of the ancient red sandstone cliffs.
We visited the area of Fungies cave, the location where he was first seen by local scuba divers.
The Dingle bay tour is a great opportunity to see the coastline from the sea level looking up at the rugged coastline and Skellig Micheal in the distance.
We just cruised around doing a bit of sightseeing until he was ready to join us.
Our crew made the point that he is a wild dolphin, they don’t seek him out or chase after him, he seeks them out and when he gets bored of their company or wants to go fishing he speeds off again.
Peoples eyes were still scanning the sea trying to be the first to find Fungie the dolphin, at the same time a variety of seabirds soared above the spectacular surroundings of the bay.
The whole boat full of Fungie finders had their eyes fixed on the sea, at first no sign of him, and I was wondering if it would be one of his days off.
My partner Sade was also eagerly searching for Fungie and thought she had the first sighting of him letting out a cry of “there he is” which made everyone turn quickly to starboard side of the boat, only to view a buoy with a piece of rope next to it.
Oh dear, the eyes can play tricks when you’re excited.
A few minutes later the skipper of our boat trip was chatting away when all of a sudden the fin popped up and this great celebrity made his first appearance much to the delight of the crowd.
He appeared to cheers from the group and a round of applause, he looked delighted with a big grin on his face.
Fungie looks in great shape for his age, very lean indeed, the high protein high-fat diet and 24hrs a day swimming routine has worked well for him.
He had a nice swim alongside for five minutes as we sailed a little further out into the bay, then continued on his own swimming away from the boat, probably on a short fishing trip according to our guides who have worked here for 30 years.
Is he real? the rumours in the past that he was a robot used to boost tourism in the area are false, after seeing him for myself I can tell you he’s real.
As we cruised back in he re-appeared swimming between two other boats rising high out of the water and interacting playfully with more cheers and clapping from the crowd.
This short trip finding Fungie is definitely a good idea when in Dingle, it’s time well spent taking in views of the coast obviously you wouldn’t see otherwise.
The guides were very chatty and entertaining, you can tell they absolutely love their profession and the fun experiences people have as a result of their work, it was a super atmosphere on the tour.
You can even book a tour for hen, stag, and birthday parties to celebrate with Fungie!
After Finding Fungie
Once back on dry land we took a browse around the brightly coloured picturesque harbour town of Dingle before lunch.
Lunch was very tasty fish and chips washed down with a local Kerry ale, fortunately, Fungie leaves some for the tourists to eat.
We had a chance to chat with some of our fellow explorers over lunch discussing their travels and hearing thoughts on their Irish adventures so far.
There were some very experienced travellers in the group with excellent tips for our future exploring, more destinations and fitness experiences were added to the already long list over lunch.
Last Stop Dingle Distillery
Before we left Dingle to return back to Killarney we had the pleasure of a tour around Dingle distillery.
We had a great laugh on the tour witnessing how the whiskey is made then some tasting of the famous Dingle Whiskey to warm up after our time on the boat.
We then tasted the Gin and some Vodka listening to stories of how the Distillery was founded and it’s massive popularity in recent years.
Well worth a visit, they have a great bunch of guides it was informative but also very entertaining and a superb last stop on our tour.
The coastline and scenic surroundings on the roads to Dingle are stunning, somewhere I definitely plan to explore on future Irish road trips.
On the return journey, we took a short stop off at Inch beach for a photo opportunity.
We loved the whole trip but finding Fungie and the boat tour in Dingle bay was certainly a highlight.
Go down to see him, he’ll be happy to see you, it’s a great short trip well worth doing, it really is a fintastic way to explore the coastline!
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