Going coastal: 50 of the best places to eat, stay and play along Ireland’s coastline

A nation of islanders, we can’t resist the lure of the sea. To satisfy those cravings we’ve put together a list of great seaside activities and lovely places to eat and sleep

Leitrim Surf Company: one of the nicest ways to explore Leitrim’s tiny but lovely coastline is on stand-up paddle tour

Leitrim Surf Company: one of the nicest ways to explore Leitrim’s tiny but lovely coastline is on stand-up paddle tour

 

LEINSTER

Cycle Wexford’s Euro Velo and the Norman trail
Wexford has just launched its 120km section of the EuroVelo 1 route from Rosslare harbour to Ballyhack Ferry (the full route runs 9,100km from Nordkap, Norway, to Sagres, Portugal). Hugging the coast, it offers relatively flat cycling on quiet country roads visiting great spots like Kilmore Quay, Fethard and Hook Lighthouse. The route runs in parallel with the Norman Way so there are loads of historic sites to stop at. Tintern Abbey near Saltmills is an overlooked gem with stunning woodland walks and a coffee shop with decadent cakes. Or pop down to the Vine Cottage pub for a pint with a view. wexford.ie/eurovelo, thenormanway.com

Coastal rowing, Dublin
Throughout the summer boathouses in coastal communities from Ringsend to Roscarberry and Skerries to Sneem fling open their doors almost every evening and welcome rowers from under-12s right up to masters (70+). Many clubs offer open days, like Dalkey rowing club ( facebook.com/pg/dalkeyrowing) in Co Dublin, which welcomes complete novices on a regular basis. This is a brilliant sport for overall fitness. Races are also held throughout the summer for those looking for competition. coastalrowing.net

Coasteering, Dublin and Wicklow
One of the newest activities to hit the east coast in places like Dalkey and Bray is coasteering through Bray Adventures. This activity involves climbing, swimming, cliff-jumping and traversing along our beautiful coastline while wearing a wetsuit, helmet and buoyancy aid. The opt-in jumps usually increase gradually in height and never go above 10m on commercial outings. This high-adrenaline and hugely fun activity is suitable for anyone above 12 years of age and with a reasonable fitness level. However, you should be comfortable in the water. From €35pp. brayadventures.ie

Beach house on a bird sanctuary, Kilcoole, Co Wicklow
This charming wooden guesthouse was actually bought in Boston in 1901 and shipped to Ireland by John Pebbles, an eccentric usher from the Church of Ireland in Enniskerry. You’ll now find it tucked away on a bird sanctuary in Kilcoole, just a stone’s throw from the beach. The place feels like a warm hug thanks to its cosy wood-burning stove and quirky décor. The owner is a photographer and she is happy to share tips and tricks with fellow enthusiasts for an additional fee. From €55 per night; dinner €7; wine €14. abnb.me/EVmg/ZTMYK77hHE

Wicklow Head lighthouse
The Irish Landmark Trust has a lovely selection of coastal accommodation all around Ireland, including several lighthouses. One favourite is at Wicklow Head. With panoramic views of the Irish Sea and surrounding countryside, it makes for a really special weekend away. However, this place is reserved for those who don’t mind stairs; there is a grand total of 109 steps to get to the kitchen! The lighthouse sleeps four. Prices start at €564 for two nights. irishlandmark.com

The Cottages at Bettystown, Co Meath, is a collection of six quaint thatched cottages with vaulted oak-beam ceilings and open fireplaces
The Cottages at Bettystown, Co Meath, is a collection of six quaint thatched cottages with vaulted oak-beam ceilings and open fireplaces

The Cottages, Bettystown, Co Meath
Right on the beach, this collection of six quaint thatched cottages with vaulted oak-beam ceilings and open fireplaces is a great choice for a family getaway. Lovingly restored by owners Rodger and Liz Pickett, the 300-year-old homes offer lots of creature comforts including double-ended baths (perfect to warm up after a sea swim), housekeeping twice a week and fluffy robes and slippers. Elsewhere there are TVs, games and books to keep the kids entertained. The Boyne Valley is on your doorstep if you want to explore further afield. From €800 per week. cottages-ireland.com

Finger-lickin’ fish’n’chips: try Kilmore Quay’s Saltee Chipper, Dooly’s in Tramore, the Reel Dingle Fish in Dingle, and the Henry & Rose in Bray. Photograph: iStock/Getty
Finger-lickin’ fish’n’chips: try Kilmore Quay’s Saltee Chipper, Dooly’s in Tramore, the Reel Dingle Fish in Dingle, and the Henry & Rose in Bray. Photograph: iStock/Getty

Finger-lickin’ fish’n’chips
When it comes to culinary experiences it’s hard to beat sitting on a seaside wall tucking into hot salty chips and fish that’s so fresh you probably watched the fishing boat that caught it sail in. You’ll spot these chippers not by their flashy exteriors but by the perpetual queues outside. Top of the list is Kilmore Quay’s Saltee Chipper. Other favourites include Dooly’s in Tramore, the Reel Dingle Fish in Dingle and the Henry & Rose in Bray.

Linn Duachaill restaurant, Co Louth
Overlooking sandy Annagassan, the less well-known cousin of nearby Clogher Head beach, Linn Duachaill restaurant offers lovely views of Dundalk Bay and the Cooley and Mourne mountains beyond. Named after the nearby Viking long port, it serves up turf’n’surf fare. You can expect comforting chowder and locally sourced scampi, fish’n’chips, crab claws or a lobster of your choice from the tank. Starters from €6.95, mains from approximately €14.95.glydeinn.ie

Lobstar, Monkstown, Dublin
Serving up sumptuous oysters and mussels for starters, followed by juicy lobster and tender steaks for mains, the food at Lobstar provides the perfect post-dip reward as it’s just a short walk from Seapoint bathing area. If you can’t get in, it’s neighbour That’s Amore, which serves up excellent pasta and pizza, is a great and reasonable alternative. It has become such a south Co Dublin institution, however, that you’ll struggle to get a table. But take-out eaten down by the sea while watching the sunset is always an option. lobstar.ie – starters from €8.95, mains from €16.85 approximately. thatsamoremonkstown.ie – starters from €8, mains from €14 approximately.

MUNSTER

Kayak the Copper Coast, Waterford
The Copper Coast has been a Unesco Global Geopark since 2004, yet gets little attention. The upside is you can weave in and out of the caves and sea arches in your kayak, soaking up the views in complete peace and quiet. This landscape is unique and intricate, with a new surprise at every turn. And there’s even the odd rock jump for more adventurous spirits. Pure Adventure offers half-day guided trips. Adults €45, children €35. pureadventure.ie

Cycle through the Burren, Co Clare

The road from Kinvara to Ballyvaughan combines the spectacular views of both the limestone slabs that the Burren is famous for and the crashing Atlantic below. Ballyvaughan provides the perfect halfway stop on this out-and-back bike ride (36km). If you’ve worked up a head of steam jump off the pier into the sea and then refuel in the stunning walled garden at the Ballyvaughan tearooms. West Ireland Cycling in Galway offers bike hire (from €20 per day) and guided bike tours. westirelandcycling.com

Plunge in the Pollock Holes, Kilkee, Co Clare
An institution in this seaside town, the Pollock Holes are an amazing collection of natural swimming pools set in a tidal reef jutting into the bay. The pools range in size up to 50m long, and are so called because of the small pollock that live there. Locals flock here to swim when the retreating tide allows access. It’s also a fantastic safe place to snorkel. Or if you’re after some adrenalin check out the nearby diving boards from heights of up to 13m at the spot known as Newfoundout. Much to the delight of locals, the boards have recently been reinstated.

Whale-watching, west Cork
Few people seem aware that Ireland’s coastline is home to an abundance of whales, dolphins and even the odd shark. The humpback is a regular visitor to the waters around west Cork, and sightings were also reported recently in Dungarvan Bay. Headed up by Colin Barnes, a former fisherman who has spent over 45 years in these waters, Cork Whale Watch runs year-round outings from Reen pier, and regularly reports encounters with minke whale, fin whales, humpbacks, dolphins and even sunfish. Adults €50. corkwhalewatch.com

Wibit: taking the humble obstacle course to the next level, the Dunmore East course is an obstacle extravaganza on water
Wibit: taking the humble obstacle course to the next level, the Dunmore East course is an obstacle extravaganza on water

Make a splash on the Wibit, Dunmore East, Co Waterford
Taking the humble obstacle course to the next level, the Wibit in Dunmore East is an obstacle extravaganza on water. With swings, slides, spinners, two water trampolines and an action tower to climb and then slide or jump off, it’s perfect for anyone who is a child at heart – as long as you are over seven, 110cm tall and you’re happy in water. You’ll be provided with a wetsuit, buoyancy aid and helmet in case you get over exuberant. €20. dunmoreadventure.com

Moonlight kayaking in west Cork
Listed in the top 10 alternative tours in the world by Trip Advisor, a moonlight paddle with kayaking hero Jim Kennedy is the stuff memories are made of. You’ll take to the calm waters of Castlehaven Bay or Lough Hyne as dusk descends, birdlife settles for the night and the stars above reveal themselves. If you’re lucky you’ll be treated to a technicoloured sunset followed by an astonishing bio-luminescence show as marine life in the waters below casts sparkles as you paddle. Once a month Jim also hosts a Starlight and Serenade trip which includes music and food. €50. atlanticseakayaking.com

Charter a yacht, Beara, Co Cork
Jessy of Adrigole is a 37ft yacht based in Adrigole, Beara, that you can sail and live aboard for periods ranging from a half day to two weeks. Under the watchful eye of experienced skipper, qualified instructor, zoologist and chef Niall MacAllister, this is a chance to explore the Cork/Kerry coastline, discovering humpbacks, basking sharks, dolphins and an incredible range of seabirds and wildlife. (From €450 pps per week). wildatlanticwildlife.ie

Try Sailing, Foynes, Co Limerick
If you’ve ever wanted to try sailing, Foynes Yacht Club takes beginners of all ages out for supervised sessions every Tuesday and Saturday around picturesque Foynes Island on the Shannon Estuary. Visitors are always welcome. They also take folk kayaking. The entire club is run on a voluntary basis with funds raised going to its sailing academy for junior sailing. €5pp. foynesyachtclub.com. For more information on clubs that offer introductory sessions: trysailing.ie

Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore, Co Waterford
From every bedroom, from the restaurant, bar, and outdoor hot tub, you’ll be ogling the sea. This hotel clings to a cliff with Ardmore Bay below, and is the perfect place to just sit and stare, Keep your eyes peeled for basking sharks as they are fairly regular visitors. For our money the simpler deluxe room is a better choice than the suite as you can see the water from the bed. It’s a nice touch too that you can opt to eat in the Michelin-Starred restaurant or the bar. From €310 B&B per room. cliffhousehotel.ie

In the Sea at Kilkee, Co Clare
Far from your average holiday rental, this lovingly restored four-bedroom 17th century stone house offers pure luxury combined with an amazing seaside location. Filled with natural light, the views from this house are stunning. Just a few minutes’ walk from Kilkee, the house sleeps seven comfortably, but it’s your own cliff-top patio where you can dine al fresco to the sound of the waves below that will make you the envy of the neighbours. Luxuries like under-floor heating and a wood stove complete the picture. From €2,395 weekly. fivestar.ie/self-catering/in-the-sea-at-kilkee/

The Great Blasket Island experience, Co Kerry
Say goodbye to electricity and say hello to the most westerly tip of Europe as you embark on this wild island self-catering adventure in a cottage that sleeps six. Expect a very warm welcome to this comfortable but basic accommodation where candlelight and heat from the stove is the order of the day. Access to the island is by boat trip from Dingle (€55 return) subject to weather But the journey is an eco-adventure in itself where you will see Funghi and other marine life. There are no shops on the island so come prepared. From €120 for two people. airbnb.ie/rooms/3792139

Dromquinna glamping: one of the tents dotted through the trees on the edge of Kenmare Bay
Dromquinna glamping: one of the tents dotted through the trees on the edge of Kenmare Bay

Dromquinna Manor, Co Kerry
You may be staying in a tent here but it’s probably like no other you’ve rested your head in before. We’re talking goose-down duvets, crisp cotton linen and covered decks for taking in views. There are seven of these South African-style safari tents for couples and seven two-roomed tents for families dotted throughout the trees on the edge of Kenmare Bay. You’ll wake up to fresh coffee, croissants and juice. Facilities include the Boat House Bistro restaurant, a covered BBQ area, a playground and table tennis. Swimming from the deep-water pier and water sports on the bay are popular. From €150 per night for two. dromquinnamanor.com

Go seaweed foraging, Co Waterford
That slimy stuff that can make us jump out of our skins when we’re swimming is an overlooked treasure for both the bathroom and the kitchen. If you want to learn to distinguish your kelp from your carrageen moss, or which to bring home for your kitchen or your bathroom, take a walk with The Sea Gardener, Marie Power, on the beaches south of Tramore in Waterford. Marie also runs events and cookery demonstrations. From €20. theseagardener.ie

Barrtrá, Lahinch, Co Clare
Barrtrá is a must for anyone visiting Lahinch. Located in the conservatory of a fairly regular looking house, the food and views are anything but average. This quirky establishment serves up sumptuous seafood against the breathtaking backdrop of the sun setting across the bay. The Fisherman’s Broth is a particular favourite, although we strongly encourage opting for the surprise menu which changes daily and is only revealed when the food is placed in front of you. It has yet to disappoint! Surprise menu from €32. barrtra.com

The Moorings and Bridge bar, Portmagee, Co Kerry
With an outdoor seating area overlooking the working harbour towards Valentia Island, there are few better places to spend a couple of hours when the weather plays ball than the Moorings and Bridge bar. And you certainly won’t go hungry while you do so. Whether it’s a tender steak or freshly caught crab doused in garlic butter, your needs will be satisfied. It is also a great spot to watch the sun go down. Bar menu starters from €4.95; mains from €9.95 approximately. moorings.ie

The restaurant at the Strand Inn, Dunmore East, Co Waterford
Looking out over the cove at the heart of Dunmore East, this is a fantastic spot for fresh local seafood, seasonal fruit and veg, and meat from local farmers. Family run, the owners pride themselves on their wine list. The outdoor patio is the perfect spot to spend a few seaside hours, and the alternative of bar food is great for more reasonable meals. Children will love the ice cream parlour with a huge selection of flavours and toppings. Accommodation is also available. Restaurant: starters from €5, mains from €17.95 approximately. thestrandinn.com

ULSTER

Mountain biking, Rostrevor, Co Down
With a whopping 27km of intermediate red trails, 19km of expert black trails and two downhill tracks for adrenalin junkies, Rostrevor mountain bike centre is not for the unfit or fainthearted. But those who put in the work will be rewarded with staggering views over Carlingford Lough and exhilarating singletrack descents. An uplift service by East Coast Adventure (eastcoastadventure.com) will take the sting out of the hefty climbs and the same company provides biker-friendly accommodation in cosy wooden pods (£60 per night/four people). If Rostrevor is too hardcore for you, Castle Ward’s trails on the shores of Strangford Lough are perfect for beginners and families. Game of Thrones fans will love the route featuring film locations from the series. mountainbikeni.com

Gobbins cliff path: walking here is an adventure; highlights include the bridges over the North Channel, an eerie tunnel and the caves that were once home to smugglers
Gobbins cliff path: walking here is an adventure; highlights include the bridges over the North Channel, an eerie tunnel and the caves that were once home to smugglers

Hike the Gobbins cliff path, Co Antrim
Originally created by Victorian engineer Berkeley Deane Wise, the Gobbins, which dates to 1902, was a major tourist attraction on this lovely but isolated section of Antrim coast until it fell into disrepair and closed in 1954. The restored version opened in 2014. More than a cliff path, this is an adventure where brightly coloured wildflowers soften the dramatic landscape as you explore the carefully crafted walkway that has been built into the cliff face. Highlights include the bridges hanging over the North Channel, an eerie tunnel and the caves that were once home to smugglers. A guided tour takes 2.5 hours. £10 for adults. thegobbinscliffpath.com

Run the Causeway Coast Marathon, Co Antrim
There might be no better way to explore Antrim’s famous coast than by taking part in the Causeway Coast Marathon on September 23th, 2017 (26extreme. com). It features a 10km, half-marathon, marathon, ultra-marathon and a 26-mile Challenge Walk. In other words there’s something for everyone! Other great coastal events that might tickle your fancy include Gaelforce North in Donegal, also on September 23th (gaelforceevents.com), and Quest Achill on September 9th (questadventureseries.com).

Cycle an electric bike, Co Donegal
Donegal is an amazing county to explore by bike, but it has some epic hills. Might we suggest giving an electric bike a spin? They allow you to cover more ground and have the energy to head down to that amazing beach or to the top of that mountain – all with the fresh air buzz that comes with cycling. Ireland By Bike rents out electric for anything from a day to two weeks and can also deliver them. The company also organises self-guided tours. They also rent regular bikes. From €30 per day. irelandbybike.com

Rathmullan House, Rathmullan, Co Donegal
From the moment you drive on to the grounds of Rathmullan House, you’ll start to relax. A perfectly manicured lawn rolls down to the shores of Lough Swilly, where a heavenly two-mile stretch of golden sand awaits you. The house itself is adorned with roaring fires and squidgy sofas which are perfect to curl up in with a good book. A canopied restaurant, Cook & Gardener, offers delicious local produce, and the Tap Room has local beers and pizzas from the wood-fired oven. From €160pp for dinner, B&B. rathmullanhouse.com

Log cabin by the sea, Dundrum, Co Down
This two-bedroom small log cabin (from £59 a night) is nestled in a private garden just walking distance from lovely Dundrum village which has some great restaurants and a cosy pub. Guests are treated to stunning views of the Mourne Mountains and the sea, but to reach true beach you’ll need to walk about 20 minutes. This cabin is quaint, with no WiFi or TV, but provides a perfect get-away from busy city lifestyles. airbnb.ie/rooms/6151267

Blackhead Cutter: there are stunning views over Belfast Lough from the lightkeepers’ houses
Blackhead Cutter: there are stunning views over Belfast Lough from the lightkeepers’ houses

Blackhead Cutter, Whitehead, Co Antrim
This historic property sits on top of a cliff along a coastal path in the Victorian town of Whitehead. Guests can enjoy stunning views over Belfast Lough from the Lightkeepers’ Houses which sleep four. Belfast city centre is about 30km away, but you’ll find it hard to drag yourself away from the views and cosy open fire. From £268 for two nights. irishlandmark.com

Harry’s Shack, Co Down
Set in a grass-roofed wooden hut nestled in ancient sand dunes, this restaurant’s kick-off-your-sandy-shoes vibe is all about savouring delicious food while drinking in staggering views and the scent of the salty air. A mile west of Portstewart resort town, Harry’s serves delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner food, created by Heston Blumenthal protégé Derek Creagh. Despite his heritage Creagh’s food here is focussed more on fresh local seafood than fussy foams or wacky ice creams. Starters from £5 and mains from £14 approximately. facebook.com/HarrysShack

The Rusty Oven, Dunfanaghy, Co Donegal
It’s hard to top the smell of a freshly-made pizza from an outdoor wood-fired oven after a roll in the surf or wind-blown beach walk. The Rusty Oven buzzes in fine weather as families, teenagers and groups of friends chow down on sourdough pizza and fresh salads amidst twinkling fairy lights in the charming garden behind Patsy Dan’s pub. Get there early in fine weather as shelter is limited and this is a busy spot. Takeaways are also available. Pizzas from €8 approximately. facebook.com/therustyoven

Joe’s Seafood Bar, Rosbeg, Co Donegal
The area around Portnoo, Ardara and Glenties is one of Ireland’s hidden treasures. It’s adventure-lovers’ heaven. Whether it’s walking, surfing, paddling or fishing that tickles your fancy, they’re all on offer. One of the absolute highlights is Joe’s Seafood Bar. Serving up freshly-caught lobster (from outside the front door) and delicious homemade chips, this small bar offers unrivalled sunset views across the bay. Joe also offers B&B (again with mind-blowing views) so you can make the most of the inevitable sessions in the bar. 074-954 5252

CONNACHT

Take the Turf Challenge, Leenane, Co Galway
If you agree that there’s no better way to have fun than to get mucky, then put Delphi Adventure Company’s Turf Challenge on your bucket list. For everyone in the family from eight and up, this obstacle course comprises natural and man-made challenges as you tackle Connemara’s bog and the Atlantic Ocean. Helping each other – and a sense of humour – is essential. From €31. killaryadventure.com

Stand-up paddle boarding in Leitrim
One of the nicest ways to explore Leitrim’s tiny but lovely coastline is on an SUP or stand-up paddle tour. Leitrim Surf Company offers two-hour trips to glorious spots like Tullaghan Beach where you’ll learn how to paddle. If you’re keen on foraging, owner Lee will help you find the best seaweed and then take you to Eithna’s restaurant in nearby Mullaghmore to make pesto. One major bonus with these trips is that if the weather is unfavourable Lee can take you out on the equally stunning Shannon river. €35. leitrimsurf.ie

Hike to Annagh Bay, Achill Island, Co Mayo
Leave your car at Lough Acorrymore, with its backdrop of huge cliffs, then head north on foot on the easy-to-follow sheep tracks up to the saddle of the mountain before descending to Annagh Bay. There you’ll find a deserted white sandy beach (it’s only suitable for swimming in the right conditions) and Lough Nakeeroge, Ireland’s lowest corry. While this hike is manageable for most fitness levels, if in doubt hire a guide or know how to use a map and compass. Guides from €25. terrafirmaireland.com

Star-gazing, Co Mayo
The skies over Mayo are some of the darkest in Ireland so it’s the perfect place to blow your mind ogling the stars. Sitting right on Clew Bay, Burrishoole Friary is the atmospheric spot where Terra Firma Ireland brings visitors to identify constellations and planets. Binoculars and sky maps are provided. The company also offers night kayaking trips out to the nearby islands. From €25. terrafirmaireland.com

Explore Inishbofin’s Blueway, Co Galway
This gorgeous island off Galway is blessed with a sheltered natural harbour which begs to be explored. It now has its own Blueway, a water trail that is designated suitable for safe snorkelling and kayaking. Inishbofin Blueway Tours can look after you as you explore this area, peering up at the impressive Cromwellian fort, and down at anemones, starfish, limpet, mussels, barnacles, starfish, spider crabs and hermit crabs. Snorkelling €20; kayaking €25, facebook.com/inishbofintours

Take a seaweed bath, Co Sligo
At the start of the 20th century there were up to 300 seaweed bathhouses in Ireland. Roll on to 2017, and wallowing in hot water and seaweed is once again a hit. For a retro experience try Kilcullen’s in Enniscrone, Co Sligo. They offer huge Edwardian porcelain baths, fabulous wooden steam boxes and an over-bath cold seawater shower. Voya’s offering in Strandhill is a more modern experience but equally relaxing. Seaweed bath and steam €25 – kilcullenseaweedbaths.net; €28 – oyaseaweedbaths.com

Hike the Portacloy Loop, north Mayo
Erris in northern Mayo offers a treasure trove of stunning walking. This 18km looped trail from the golden crescent beach at Portacloy on the Dún Caocháin peninsula is a beautiful and moderate jaunt. It brings you to cliffs plunging 255m into the Atlantic from Benwee Head. On a clear day you’ll see the Stags of Broadhaven and the Hills of Donegal. Other highlights are the EIRE 63 sign dating to the second World War, and the incredible low-tide swimming spot under a tiny waterfall just beyond Portacloy pier. It’s an easy scramble down rocks to reach it.

Off the Grid Cabins, Kinvara, Co Galway
These quirky cabins have been erected in the owner’s back garden. A short walk from the pretty harbour, they have everything you need for a simple weekend away. The cabins have a bedroom, bathroom and small living area which opens out on to a deck. The self-composting toilet does take a little getting used to. From €60. airbnb.ie/rooms/13205960

Hotel Newport, Co Mayo
Located at the head of Clew Bay on the Black Oak river, Newport is a brilliant example of what a venture like the Great Western Greenway can do to revitalise a tiny rural town. With lovely cafés popping up and good food being served in the Grainne Uaile pub, the place is steadily becoming a more serene alternative to bustling Westport. Recently reopened Hotel Newport offers great value packages, including island exploring, kayaking, hiking, biking and star-gazing. From €89pps for B&B, dinner, bike hire and a packed lunch. hotelnewport.ie

Clifden ecobeach camping and caravanning park, Co Galway
Perched on the dunes with the Atlantic on one side and the Twelve Bens on the other, locations don’t come much better than Ireland’s first climate neutral eco-campsite which caters for caravans, camper vans and tents. A free shuttle bus runs the 10 minutes to Clifden, and single-use water bottles and disposable barbeques are banned. A trip here is all about hanging out on the secluded white-sand beach, fishing or cooking sausies on a beach campfire. From €19. actonsbeachsidecamping.com

Camping pods: the journey to the old Belmullet Coast Guard station, on Claggan Island, is an adventure in itself
Camping pods: the journey to the old Belmullet Coast Guard station, on Claggan Island, is an adventure in itself

The pods at Belmullet Coast Guard station, north Mayo
Accessed by car via a sand spit at low tide, the journey to the old Belmullet Coast Guard station on Claggan Island is an adventure in itself. Surrounded by the sea, the remote spot is now home to a smart self-catering house and two camping pods (with showers, toilets and two double beds). Run by the two Laurences (a father and son team), you’ll sleep to the sound of the waves. You can sit outside your pod, cooking sausages on the fire pit while watching the sun go down. From €80. www.belmulletcgs.com

Cuckoo Wood Hexagon, Westport, Co Mayo
With nothing but a few goats and hens for company in the neighbouring field, the hut of sorts offers complete escapism. A deck surrounds the property so if the sun does make an appearance you can catch it at almost any time of the day. It is also beautifully decorated and comes complete with a pot-belly stove for cosy nights in. The host supplies you with fresh wheaten bread, eggs, fruit and milk on your arrival. From €80. airbnb.ie/rooms/2546659

Go Explore Hostel, Clare Island, Co Mayo
Many might think of An Oige-affiliated hostels as old-school accommodation with basic dorms and curfews. These days it’s a different story. Take the Go Explore Hostel on Clare Island. Smart and new, it has six en suite dorms and family rooms. And it boasts incredible sea views and a great bar and restaurant. The owners can also arrange great adventure activities like coasteering, climbing and snorkelling. An Oige also has a huge variety of other hostels from luxury to completely simple offerings. anoige.ie, goexplorehostel.ie - from €20.

Oliver’s, Cleggan, Galway
If it’s a hearty chowder and a wedge of homemade soda bread you’re after, then Oliver’s is just the ticket. Right at the pier, it’s a great place to refuel en route to or from Inishbofin. It’s cosy, it’s relaxed, the food is simple but scrumptious and the views are top notch. And it offers accommodation too. Chowder €6.65; Irish stew €14.50. oliversonclegganpier.ie

The Idle Wall, Westport, Co Mayo
This cosy little restaurant is tucked in beside Westport House and just across from its famous boat shed down on the quay in Westport. Named after the spot where dockers used to sit waiting to get a job, the restaurant focuses on local seafood and other produce – from native oysters and clams to mountain lamb and local farmhouse cheese. Chef Áine Maguire hails from nearby Newport, and once ran the show at The Winding Stair in Dublin, so you know you’re in good hands. Starters from €7.95, mains from €16.50. theidlewall.ie

Roisin Finlay and Heather Snelgar edit Outsider, Ireland’s only outdoor and adventure magazine; outsider.ie

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