1. Midnight kayaking in Lough Hyne, Skibbereen
One of the most magical and popular kayaking experiences, a moonlight / starlight paddle starts one hour before darkness. There is always something to make you gasp on the moonlight / starlight kayak trip, whether it be the silhouette of the seabirds on the bank, the red sunset, the whole panoply of stars overhead, the moonlight reflected on the water, or, at certain times of year, the astonishing bio-luminescence. This is a light emitted by marine life, which, from the paddler’s point of view, causes the water to light up around your paddle in 1,000 tiny lights.
The night time kayak is very gentle and atmospheric. Beginners are welcome, and indeed it is many people’s first experience of kayaking. The trip takes place in the safety of either Castlehaven Bay or Lough Hyne .
Pictured: Jim Kennedy (Photo: Atlantic Sea Kayaking)
Jim Kennedy, Atlantic Sea Kayaking
2. Butter Musuem, Cork City
The Cork Butter Museum is a unique institution, celebrating one of the great success stories of Ireland, the butter trade. Located in the historic Shandon area of Cork city, the story begins with the central role of dairy culture in the Island of Saints and Scholars. The Museum goes on to describe the internationally important Butter Exchange in nineteenth century Cork, the traditional craft of home butter making and the modern success of the Kerrygold brand. In the course of this story, the commercial, social, and domestic life of Ireland is recalled.
(Photo: courtesy of Cork Butter Museum)
Cork Butter Museum
3. Fairy woods in Rineen, Castlehaven
4. Whale Watching tour off West Cork
When it comes to unique wildlife encounters there are few things as breath-taking and humbling as coming face to face with the world’s largest creatures. Whale watching in Ireland and whale watching in West Cork in particular has now reached a high point for whale and dolphin watching enthusiasts the world over. All whale species seen in this part of Ireland range over an area between Cape Clear and the Old Head of Kinsale but may frequently be seen feeding in company and with Common Dolphins in attendance. It is not uncommon to have Minke Whales, Fin Whales and Common Dolphins all feeding in the same area. Whale watching day trips are available, which includes viewing the seals and other marine wildlife along with the coastline of West Cork. Whale watching day trips also take in the beautiful coastline of West Cork.
Photo 1: Minke Whale (Daniel Lettice/Cork Whale Watch)
Photo 2: Common Dolphins (Whale Watch West Cork)
Photo 3 : (Richard O’Flynn/ Cork Whale Watch)
Nic Slocum, Whale Watch West Cork
Colin Barnes, Cork Whale Watch
5. Visit Dursey island via the cable car
Originally opened in 1969, the Dursey Island cable car remains, to this day, the most used means of transport across the turbulent waters of the Dursey Sound and offers a truly singular experience. Ireland’s only cable car, and one of the very few cable cars that traverses seawater in all of Europe, it is one of the great attractions of the island and people travel from far and wide to give it a go!
(Photo: Ireland.com & Beara Tourism Association)
6. Do the heritage trail and visit the alpacas in Drimoleague
A two hour National Loop walk combining village landscape, hilltop panorama, woodland and riverbank. Starting at Drimoleague Railway Yard, your walk takes you past All Saints Church, the Old Graveyard and the Famine Pit. A steep climb takes you to the Top of the Rock where the old village once stood. Here you can survey the hills before descending into the River Ilen Valley for a lovely river bank walk.
In addition, the Alpaca walk is a 1km stroll with a chance to meet the alpacas a perfect walk for the family.
(Photo: Waterfall Alpaca Farm, Facebook Page)
David and Elizabeth Ross, Pod Pairc Walking Centre
Waterfall Alpaca Farm
7. Explore a prehistoric trail of the stone forts and ring forts
Cork is one of the richest areas in Ireland for megalithic structures. We have portal tombs, stone circles, stone rows, ogham stones, fulacht fiadhs, and a range of other megaliths. All you need is a good guide and an OS map of the area to explore these historical wonders. One of the most famous sites in Cork is Drombeg Stone Circle, located close to Glandore village.
Drombeg Stone Circle : (Photo via Instagram: @chovahanis)
8. Visit Cape Clear island to see heritage centre and goat farm where they make ice cream
Ireland’s southernmost inhabited Gaeltacht island, 3 miles long by 1 mile wide, lies 8 miles off the coast of West Cork. 3 miles west of the island stands the solitary Fastnet Rock. Saint Ciarán, the island’s patron saint, allegedly the earliest of Ireland’s four pre-Patrician saints, was born on Cape Clear. Saint Ciarán’s well is one of the first features you encounter on arrival at Trá Chiaráin where the Islanders gather each year on the 5th of March to celebrate his feast day. The Heritage Centre includes a museum, exhibition area and archive. Many artifacts of maritime, folk and farm life are exhibited and extensive material has been assembled for the inclusion in the museum archive resource. Established in 1979, Cléire Goats is an eco-friendly farm near Cape Clear Heritage Center, church, and island walking trails. Come meet the friendly goats and people, and try our delicious homemade goats cheese and ice cream which is for sale. Come see the goats being milked between 10 and 12 daily. Cléire Goats is on Facebook and is also associated with WWOOF Ireland.
(Photo: Ed Harper, http://www.capeclearisland.ie)
(Photo: via Instagram: @todestinationunknown )
Cape Clear Island
9. Visit Liss Ard estate Skibbereen to see the mystical a Sky Garden
Liss Ard Estate in West Cork, is a place of enchantment and relaxation, just one mile from Skibbereen town, nestled on 200 acres of undulating Irish countryside dotted with beautiful woodlands and a private 50 acre glittering lake. And one of the greatest surprises is the living art featured in the Irish Sky Garden: the giant earth and stone works, The Crater, by famed artist James Turrell, with its contemplative ‘Vault Purchase’ or plinth at its centre. As a landscape feature The Crater has encouraged many landscape architects to make their pilgrimage to Liss Ard over the years, but it is also an enlightening experience for the solitary surveyor, lying on their back on the ‘Vault Purchase’, gazing up through the Craters ‘bowl’ at the sky.
(Photo: Liss Ard Estate/ Lissardestate.com)
Liss Ard Estate (opens seasonally)
10. Try water zorbing in Funnanway Dunmanway
Do you think that if you are brave enough to skydive from a plane or even bungee-jump off a bridge, that you would be brave enough to ride down a West Cork hill inside a giant see through zorb ball. Well, come to Funmanway and prove yourself to us, because what they offer outside the hill fortressed Cork town of Dunmanway, is as extreme and frightening as you will get in Ireland! Funmanway has the only cornered globe riding track in Europe running at over 265 meters and an even steeper straight track at 245meters. You can ride these tracks either harnessed into the globe ball which will send you ass over head like Robbie Keane or yourself and your hysterical mates can chill inside in an orb filled with 12 gallons of our spring water, rolling and sliding around each other the whole way down the back of the Yewtree Hill, for what will feel like eternity, ok well not really eternity, just a lot longer than you can keep up screaming.
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*Please note all activities may operate on a seasonal or weather permitting basis, please contact the provider before you visit.