Well, my friends it was an emotional and busy return to my home country of Northern Ireland recently and as well as catching up with friends or family, I found myself doing a bit of work and even some backpacking through my own country! I played the tourist this time and loved it, so there will be more backpacking in Northern Ireland stories to come, give me time.
First up – you might have heard me raving about Northern Ireland’s North Coast before, and I truly believe it to be one of the best coastlines on the planet. 100+ countries in, and still it’s always a magical trip seeing those Atlantic waves crash upon the shores here in Northern Ireland. Words fail to describe the beauty so come here for yourself and see it.
This time on my backpacking journey, I chose to stay in a couple of north coast hostels and be the backpacker. The first one was the Whitepark Hostel in the village of Ballintoy.
Whitepark Bay Hostel is located on the North Antrim Coast of Northern Ireland and has sensational views over the Atlantic Ocean. On a clear day, the panoramic windows in the Whitepark Bay offer views all the way to Scotland!
The hostel has ensuite bedrooms, TV, tea/coffee facilities and hairdryer in twin rooms, a balcony overlooking Whitepark Bay beach, a picnic area with incredible sea views and free onsite car parking.
Nearby visitor attractions include the town of Ballintoy, Ireland’s Smallest Church in Portbraddon, Giant’s Causeway UNESCO World Heritage Site, Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge, Dunluce Castle, Whiterocks Beach and the Old Bushmills Distillery. Whitepark Bay Youth Hostel is situated in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is also an excellent location for backpackers, hikers, walkers and cyclists.
Here are my favourite 5 things about this hostel, I’m just raving about it!!
1. Stunning Views
For a hostel, this is stunning. There are just incredible views here at the Whitepark Bay. Rain, wind or sun. It’s always a pleasant view of the gorgeous Atlantic Ocean. If you’re lucky enough to get a window view facing the ocean, even better. Ask for Room 7 😉 That’s where I stayed!
2. Coastal Walks
Northern Ireland has a path round the whole country known as the Ulster Way. Basically if you keep walking on this one path, you can hike the whole country. Two parts of the Ulster Way are right by the hostel and despite being pushed for time, I managed to do both!
I first walked along the beach to Ballintoy Harbour along the rocks, the crashing waves and the solitudinal bliss within. Encapsulated by beauty. Undestroyed by commercialism. Unaffected by terrorism. This is to the east from the hostel, just keep walking down and take a right along the beach (beware that in high tide, it CAN be dangerous).
I also walked along the beach to the village of Portbraddon, a truly gorgeous little village which boasts Ireland’s smallest functional church!
3. Cosy Rooms
When I checked into the Whitepark Bay Hostel, I loved how cosy and comfortable my room was. Northern Irish people are clean and tidy for a living. The place was spotless, the bed pristine and a warm radiator if you get cold at night. Check out my photos of the room, which had an ensuite and of course the window view of the beach!
4. Fast Wi-Fi
This hostel is completely isolated!! It sits on the hill overlooking the beach and even Ballintoy is 2-3 miles away, yet guess what – FAST Wi-Fi. It works in the lounge area which is as spacious as they come, but not in the room.
Also, don’t worry if you don’t have your own computer, here they have two free to use computers in the hostel lounge.
5. Massive Kitchen
Self catering wise the kitchen here is just massive, giving you access to the big fridge, utensils, cookers etc. It’s perfect for those travelling trying to save money on food.
As you can tell, I loved my stay here and it was relaxation and peace – I was there in October 2014, which in Northern Ireland is towards the end of the season. The hostel closes from November to March except for private bookings and functions. The summer season up here, this is the place to stay. I’d also recommend spending a few nights in nearby Bushmills, which is where I went to next. Whitepark Bay Youth Hostel was opened in 1996 by the Duke of Kent and provides:
•All bedrooms are ensuite
•TV, Hairdryer & Tea and Coffee making facilities (Only available in twin rooms)
•Group catering available
•Large dining area
•Bed linen provided
•Credit cards accepted
Whitepark Bay is situated between Ballintoy and Bushmills on the main A2 coast road. The local buses 172, 172A and 172C can all drop you off at the entrance road to the hostel. In Summer months there are even more bus options.
Here are my videos from Whitepark Bay Hostel from my recent adventure backpacking in Northern Ireland: