Special Report
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A wealth of adventure breaks to thrill bold and brave

Kate Ryan looks at some of the exciting outdoor breaks that await people taking a staycation in Ulster and Connacht

Ireland; our Adventureland! We may not always be able to count on perfect weather for our staycations, but one thing’s for sure there’s no shortage of adventures to be had.

Dramatic oceans, gently flowing rivers, dizzying mountaintops, cavernous depths, or gently rolling landscapes, Ireland has everything to offer for the adventurous spirit.

From Malin to Mizen, these are the best adventure activities for your Ireland Staycation 2022.

The Staycations special report outlines why people’s appetite to enjoy holidays within Ireland is at an all-time high.

ULSTER

Donegal

Malin Head, Ireland’s most northerly point, is ideal for stargazer’s hopeful to glimpse the Northern Lights. Donegal’s rugged coastlines mark it out for adventurous kayakers to explore magnificent sea caves, such as Cathedral Cave, and provides a unique viewpoint of sea stacks that pepper the coastline. Ditch the wet suit and don walking boots for a guided tour to the top of the sea stacks to experience a panoramic view of Ireland’s wild county.

Malin Beg, (Silver Strand), is a hidden beach totally worth the effort to find. Virtually hidden from view until you are on top of it, the only way to access the beach is via a steep staircase down the cliff face.

Cavan

Cavan Burren Park is Ireland’s second, and often overlooked, Burren. A short distance from Cavan Burren and across county lines into Fermanagh, head for Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail, a 7km trail through Cuilcagh Mountain Park, part of the UNESCO Marble Arch Geopark, and from where you can explore the Marble Arch Caves.

Back in Cavan, have properly adult fun on the water at Carafin Lough. Get a team of five together for a game of Canoe Polo or explore the lough by Hydrobike. Rent a kayak and paddle out to the impossibly romantic looking castle in the middle of nearby Lough Oughter.

Monaghan

Monaghan is home to one of Ireland’s best equestrian centres nestled in 100-acre grounds of beautiful Castle Leslie Estate. From lessons and gentle hacks to exhilarating horseback adventures, the centre can tailor a horseback experience just for you.

CONNACHT

Sligo

Yeats country, where Benbulbin stands guard. Hike this majestic of mountain from easy treks around the base or go for the summit.

There’s a rich oyster farming history on Coney Island where you can tour an oyster farm, and to spy the rabbits the island takes its name from. Away from the serenity of the inlets, seek out big wave surf at Mullaghmore. Not for novices but time it right and watch surfers riding the waves.

Mayo

Stand at the edge of the sea cliffs at Downpatrick Head to view its famous sea stack, at low tide a track leads down to the stacks water’s edge and the sea caves below.

Wild Nephin – Ballycroy National Park offers opportunity for hiking and trail seeking. It is also Ireland’s first International Dark Sky Park with three designated viewing points. With backdrops such as Croagh Patrick and Clew Bay, the 42km Great Western Greenway is the perfect way to explore the best landscapes Mayo has to offer on two wheels from Westport to Achill. The Lost Valley of Uggool in Louisburgh is home to hidden sandy coves, and one of the best-preserved famine villages in Ireland. A three-hour guided tour sketches Uggool’s history and culture.

If casting a line is more your thing, the East Mayo Anglers Association has 9 miles of prime fishery at its disposal with daily and weekly permits available.

Galway

Learn to Scuba dive with a PADI 5 Star certified diving school or take the ferry to Inish Mór and experience jumping into the island’s famous Worm Hole sea cave. Cruise Lough Corrib’s 365 islands and dock at Inchagoill Island to pay a visit to St Patrick’s monastic site cloistered among the trees.

Head into the hills and help the kids burn off some energy 4X4 off-roading in kid-friendly jeeps at Wildlands. After, test your sheep shearing skills or watch a sheepdog demo at Killary Sheep Farm.

Unleash your competitive side at Pure Skill and compete in ten different sporting challenges to earn the most points.

Roscommon

A visit to Arigna Mining Experience is to glimpse a part of Irish history long gone. Tours are conducted by former miners for real authenticity. It’s a great experience for kids too, with a light and sound show to accompany the story. The architecture of the visitor centre alone is worth a visit.

Keeping children entertained in Roscommon is easy as child’s play at the Lough Key Forest Park. The treetop canopy walk, 9 meters above the woodland floor, gives a fascinating perspective on the life of trees. The forest is wheelchair-friendly too and offers Wheelchair Orienteering.

Leitrim

The self-proclaimed home of “slow adventure” creates space and time to experience the great outdoors. Try your hand at bushcraft or take part in a workshop or course in slow living at The Organic Centre. For those looking for the ultimate in nature infused yoga escapes, the award-winning Ard Nahoo Eco Retreat is for you.

Stretch your legs along Ireland’s first floating boardwalk at Acres Lake, near the pretty village of Drumshanbo. The 600m boardwalk marks the start of a 6.5km walking and cycling route along the Shannon Blueway.