Ballintoy Harbour is a small fishing harbor found near the picturesque village of Ballintoy in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. 

The village, located just under a mile from the harbor, has an array of small shops, two churches, tourist accommodation, and restaurants. Situated between the Giant’s Causeway and the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, it is an ideal stopover for those touring the coastal route. Ballycastle, Bushmills, the Giant’s Causeway, and the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge are all nearby or a short drive away.

The distinctive Ballintoy Parish Church sits on the hill above the harbor. The white church was built in 1813 as a replacement for an older church. Its square tapering tower once supported a steeple which was removed by a hurricane in December 1894, giving the church a unique appearance. 

Ballintoy Parish Church. Credit: Wikimedia/Anne Burgess/Creative Commons

Ballintoy Parish Church. Credit: Wikimedia/Anne Burgess/Creative Commons

The area around Ballintoy, with its stunning scenery, is a wonderful place for walking. As you travel down the narrow, winding road to the harbor, the last house on the right hand side is called ‘Bendhu.’ The house was built by the artist and teacher Newton Penprase.

Read more about Ireland's Travel Secrets here

Causewaycoastalroute.com explains that the harbor was once a hub for north coast fishing, boat-building and local industries. The harbor was built from limestone blocks and is surrounded by limestone cliffs. By the late nineteenth century it was extensively used for the production of lime and shipping sett stones. Sheltered from the Atlantic by black basalt islands, the harbor looks out across Boheeshane Bay to Larry Bane Head, Sheep Island, Rathlin Island and Scotland.

Sheep Island. Credit: Wikimedia/Creative Commons

Sheep Island. Credit: Wikimedia/Creative Commons

Sheep Island, off the north coast, is known for its steep cliffs and rocky shores. The island's name comes from a time when sheep were taken out by boat to graze there in the summer months. It is now designated as a Special Protection Area and an Area of Special Scientific interest due to its cormorant (an aquatic bird) population. Access to the island is restricted during breeding season.

The walk between Ballintoy to Whitepark Bay, which follows an ancient pathway, is also worth taking. The bay is known as a 'raised beach.’ Rich in flora and fauna, the ancient sand dune system also contains several carbon-dated Neolithic sites, and arrowheads are occasionally found there.

Whitepark Bay. Credit: Wikimedia/Creative Commons

Whitepark Bay. Credit: Wikimedia/Creative Commons

Ballintoy has been used as a film location for the HBO series ‘Game of Thrones.’ The village was used for the fictional town of Lordsport in the Isle of Pyke, while the harbor was used for exterior Pyke shots and as the Iron Islands. According to Discover Northern Ireland, the picturesque coastal nook is where where Theon Greyjoy arrives back in the Iron Islands and where he later admires his ship, the Sea Bitch. This is also where he first meets his sister Yara.

What do you think is Ireland's best kept travel secret? Send in your tips to submit@irishcentral.com and check out all of Ireland's Travel Secrets here.

Ballintoy Harbor.Wikimedia/Creative Commons