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How (not) to Camp in Ireland's Wild Atlantic Coast, Co. Galway!

Updated: Sep 27

When offered a camp spot with a view of Ireland's Wild Atlantic take our advice, and pitch in a more sheltered location if you want to enjoy your trip! Learn from mistakes during our first winter camping trip using a rooftop tent in County Galway, Ireland in this candid review. During our trip, we swam in the Atlantic Ocean, hiked through bog, and experienced not one but two sleepless windy nights!

Our first time using the TentBox Classic was nothing short of eventful despite the user-friendly set-up and comfortable interior. Our campsite, Clifden EcoBeach, exceeded expectations with the private swim beach and onsite facilities. The challenges we had while camping here do not reflect poorly on the TentBox or Clifden EcoBeach but rather how incredibly unprepared for our first night along Ireland's Wild Atlantic Coastline. We hope that by sharing our amusing story other campers can learn from our mistakes.

We set off for Clifden, County Galway in early March with our brand-new gear and hopes for perfect weather. After arriving in the gorgeous town of Clifden, Co. Galway we set off for Ireland's first carbon-neutral campground Clifden Eco Beach Camping & Caravanning Park, located 13 km away. This location is perfect for day trips to Connemara National Park, Kylemore Abbey, and Inisbofin Island, more blog posts about these coming soon!

Repeatedly voted one of Ireland's top campsites and one of the top outdoor camping spots in Europe by Lonely Planet, this Wild Atlantic campsite is the perfect place to disconnect from modern life and embrace nature only a 10-minute drive west of Clifden, County Galway. There may not be wifi, but there are bike rentals and seaweed hot tubs that look out into the sea. Fire pits and wood are available for purchase at the office, and there is a bathroom facility with showers and a shared kitchen on site. After driving out West, stopping along the at Joyces Craftshop, we arrived that evening where we were greeted and welcomed to choose our campsite: the one with the view or the sheltered one beyond the hill. We chose the campsite with the spectacular view of course!

The First Night

Blissfully ignorant of our missing cookware, we started a fire after the sun began to set and the nighttime chill was creeping in. Despite the impending darkness, an Irish breakfast seemed like the perfect meal to cook. The wind choked the fire out several times but I had managed to fry up some eggs, sausages, and black pudding. When it was time to take the pan off the fire, I realized we had forgotten a pot holder or oven mitt. Without hesitation, I quickly grasped the scalding hot metal handle and dropped the pan onto a nearby tree stump. Looking back on this, I should have wrapped some clothing around my hand before grabbing the metal handle of the pan. The tree stump jutted at an awkward angle, as soon as my fork pressed down on the pan, splat, it flipped taking with it all of the contents into the sand.

I was determined to not let this ruin our evening or let us go to bed hungry on the first night camping. Gavin and I dug through the trunk of the car, we still had instant soup packets and a few tea sachets. Using the shared kitchen nearby we heated a kettle and tried to make jokes about the sandy sausages from earlier. On the first attempt with hunger clouding my judgment, I instantly poured the boiling water into the plastic cup which melted it, and spilled hot chicken broth and instant noodles everywhere. The second attempt using our last instant soup packet went much better when we used a glass bottle and allowed the water to cool before pouring. Finally, we had some warm food and made our way back to the textbox.

It was a dry night, but the bone-chilling Atlantic winds were beating against our tent all night, and our sleeping bags and blankets did not suffice. The TentBox Classic is rated to withstand wind speeds of 62kpm(~39mph) and there is additional insulation available to purchase that can be installed. Despite the restless night, we were lucky. Unlike our traditional tent camping neighbors who were awoken to their shelter and collapsed onto them. The morning sunrise over the North Atlantic Ocean made us quickly forget our challenging night, as we were ready for a day of exploring Omey Island, Inisbofin, and eating at the absolutely incredible Lamplight Wines.

The Second Night

We spent the day exploring the nearby island of Inisbofin, accessible by ferry departing from Cleggan. At this time many businesses were still closed due to Covid, so we spent our time on the island hiking. Now that those precautions have ended, we hope to go back to Inisbofin in the future explore the other trails, and visit the heritage museum.

After moving our car to a more sheltered location and an earlier grocery shop for some supplies, we were ready for the second night. We had a warm cuppa tea by the campfire before we began setting up the TentBox. The TentBox boasts a 60-second setup, although it really takes a few minutes for it to fully open if you're including the ladder and awning. There's a built-in mattress, so there's no need for need to for sleeping pads! One nice addition is the mesh awning on the ceiling to store items and the side pockets for bedside items. The sides of the tent don't sway in the wind, but the straps used to secure it to the TentBox will flap against the tent and car all night long if not tucked away.

What we would do differently

Shower Shoes and Basket to carry wet items and toiletries

The individual shower stalls at Clifden EcoBeach lack a shelf to put your personal items so having some way to store and carry them is needed. There are towel hooks and hand dryers, however! Shower shoes are recommended for hygiene purposes and can also be used on the beach!

Pack appropriate clothing and sleeping gear

Double-check the temperature ratings of your gear and the local weather forecast before every trip. Although your gear may be rated for certain temperatures, take into account wind chill and humidity. Condensation inside your tent can make for a very chilly morning.

Plan for time to explore the campground

Clifden EcoBeach has several trails around the campground and 1km of gorgeous shoreline! Although we spent some time on the beach and wandering along a trail, we were always heading to other activities and didn't 'plan' for downtime to relax in the seaweed hot tubs or rent a bike to ride around.

Bring a torch (flashlight)!

This one might seem like a no-brainer to seasoned campers but is something we somehow forgot. The campground is not lit and since it is a certified wildlife habitat, I'd highly recommend it.

This post is not sponsored or affiliated with any of the companies listed. To enquire about product reviews email

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