The Wild Atlantic Way is Ireland’s top attraction right now. Spanning from North to South along the rough Atlantic coastline it is one of the longest coastal drives in the world. Naturally there is a lot to see and do, but to be honest there are only so many cliffs and beaches and wonderful scenery you can see before it gets a little bit boring! That’s why we decided to present you 5 alternative things to do that you should try out while touring the Wild Atlantic Way. Ignored by most tourists these hidden gems are definitely different from all the other amazing attractions you can find in your normal guide book.
Swim at the Slieve League Cliffs, County Donegal
The Slieve League Cliffsin County Donegal are nearly twice as high as the world-famous Cliffs of Moher, but just as beautiful and are way less crowded with other tourists. Everybody that is travelling along the Wild Atlantic Way should stop here, but if you are more adventure seeking than the normal crowd, how about swimming at the foot of the highest accessible sea-cliffs in Europe? A unique boat tour will take you close to the shore so that you can fully appreciate the magnificent view and dip into the water. Wet-suits are provided to fully enjoy the sometimes rather cold Atlantic, but most folks are swimming in the crystal clear water without needing one. The tour lasts about one hour and a half and you will not only get the chance to see the Cliffs from a totally different perspective, but you will also be able to see other beautiful spots and many of the seabirds that nest there too. Dolphins, whales and seals can be sometimes spotted during the tour and from May to June there is even the opportunity to see the endangered plankton-eating Basking Shark!
Céad mile fáilte, my friends! If you are interested in learning the first official language of the Emerald Isle the Wild Atlantic Way is the place to be. Most of the Gaeltacht, regions where Irish is spoken as the primary language, are along Ireland’s rugged West coast, so the conditions for learning the Celtic language could not be more perfect. Gaeilge or simply known as Irish is still the native language of 85,000 people with another 1.2 million who can converse in it. It is far from being a dead language and has influenced the Irish culture significantly. The biggest impacts can be seen on Irish music and dance, but even the way English is spoken here can be traced back to the Irish language. So in short ,absolutely useful when trying to understand the mystery that is Ireland!A variety of courses and classes are offered along the Wild Atlantic Way and since a lot of people speak Irish you can actually practice it on the street too!
See Raptors soar above your head, County Sligo
The Irish Raptor Research Cente in County Sligo is a sanctuary for Birds of Prey and Owls. Situated in a 27 hectares property and home to about 350 Birds and various other animals this scientific centre is certainly worth a stop on your tour of the Wild Atlantic Way. Established originally for research purposes only, it opened its doors in 2003 for visitors and has been a popular attraction ever since. The highlight of the Centre is the Eagles Flying show, a 60 minutes educational show that will have Raptors swooshing close over your head and maybe even land on you. You certainly never were this close to these impressive animals before! Although you are allowed to touch some of the birds, ask staff first of course, birds of prey are not known for their cuddliness. So if you feel like petting something softer and cuter you should check out the Pet-Zoo that is also located in the Centre. Home to donkeys, pigs, goats, bunnies, ferrets, a racoon and many more it is an ideal place to spend some time after the show. However the scientific aspect is never lost on the certified EU Zoo Eagle Centre, endangered birds are bred here with the purpose to release them into the wild and it also takes in strays and injured animals.
Surf in Ireland
When you hear surfing you think of white sandy beaches with warm water and tropical fishes? Well think again, because Ireland is one of the most popular surfing destinations worldwide. Known among surfers as “Europe’s cold water Indonesia” it offers everything you would want in a surfing destinations. The wild Atlantic will entertain beginners and seasoned surfers alike with spectacular waves. The best spot in Ireland for surfers is probably Bundoran in County Donegal, which has hosted the European Surfing Championship 3 times now. Various Surf Schools can cater for every need you might have, be it classes or equipment and wet-suits for the sometimes rather coldish Atlantic Ocean. And since not too many people associateIreland with surfingit is still something of an insider tip and less crowded than other surfing destinations. Of course Ireland’s Atlantic Coast is not only perfect for surfing. You can do all kind of water sports here like scuba-diving, snorkelling, wake-boarding, kayaking etc.
Enjoy a relaxing Seaweed Bath
After all the excitement you went through, how about a nice and relaxing seaweed bath? Seaweed baths have a long tradition in Ireland and were widely popular during Edwardian Times. They were called the poor man’s doctor and seem to make their comeback in recent years. Truth be told it seems a little bit weird paying money to bath in something that makes you normally jump out of the water whenever you encounter it in the sea. The smell is also something you have to adjust to, but believe me, it is a truly wonderful experience and total bliss once you get used to it. The mixture of clear sea-water and hand-picked seaweed will do magic to your skin since seaweed contains various vitamins, minerals and beneficial ingredients in high concentrations that have a detoxifying effect on your body. Many people also swear that it helps soothe pain from arthritis and rheumatism. There is just nothing better than slipping into a warm seaweed bath after a long day exploring the attractions of the Wild Atlantic Way to de-stress and unwind
I hope this little collection could help you to see the many different sides of the Wild Atlantic Way. Be it adventurous activities, culture festivals or just the beautiful scenery there is much to see and do in Ireland’s untamed west!