Wild Atlantic Way
Ireland's breathtaking Wild Atlantic Way
From jumping off sea cliffs to soaking in seaweed baths the Connemara Loop screams family fun and adventure.
From swimming in the crystal ocean to chowing down on crab claws fresh out of the sea, our Wild Atlantic way trip was a staycation worth all the hype.
Whether your pre- teen is keen on jumping off sea cliffs and coasteering or like me you’re pregnant and in need of seaweed rejuvenation the Emerald Isle has got it all.
We stuck by and large to the Connemara loop for our wild tour but the Wild Atlantic Way itself spans 9 counties and if you’re a thrill seeker you could easily travel the whole lot in less than two weeks.
Here’s our family guide to getting the most out of your trip and hitting up as many possible cool spots on the Connemara loop.
As you drive up the Sky Road to the Abbeyglen Castle Hotel the first thing you notice are the turrets and flags poking out, imagine it’s possible in Ireland to spend the night in a castle.
The Abbeyglen Castle is not only Late Late Show host Ryan Tubridy’s favourite haunt in Ireland it’s steeped in history and you can’t help pinching yourself that we have preserved such incredible historical gems in Ireland.
Built in 1832 by John D’Arcy the Castle has seen many changing owners, from becoming an orphanage in 1955 to finally being taken over by the Hughes family in the 1960’s grandson Brian Hughes still runs the famous Connemara gem with gusto.
Tourists really lap it up here but you can’t beat the welcome talk Brian gives with champers and nibbles as he regails the historical prowess of the Castle.
If staying here isn’t an option for you, then sampling the pure hospitality and sing songs in the bar is well worth a visit and you might just bump into Tubs while you’re there.
Entertaining pre- teens can be all consuming, so step up Real Adventures who operate the most exhilarating adventure activities for kids and adults, utilising the rugged beauty of Connemara coastline.
My partner John and his son James were blown away by coasteering which involves jumping off sea cliffs and swimming between the various cliff edges in Ballyconneely (Between Clifden and Roundstone) Rock climbing was awesome too and Paddle Boarding on Mannin Bay is a super way to take in the coast and it’s really therapeutic.
The Real Adventure guides were so knowledgeable when it came to the region and working with nature is at the core of what they do.
The Connemara Cave Kayak tour takes in the best of the Wild Atlantic Way. The variety of coastline includes secret sandy beaches with crystal clear water, arches, inlets, coves and an amazing variety of stunning sea caves. This tour is also accessible to anyone with little or no
experience, which is a win win.
For a more sedate adventure but equally as spectacular the pony trek along Ballyconneely will take your breath away and it’s suitable for all levels.The beauty of Bofin is it’s only a short 30 minute journey from the picturesque fishing village of Cleggan, located northwest of Clifden.
Leaving our Atlantic Drift camper van at the pier we boarded the jam packed discovery and we were Island bound.
The ferry leaves regularly, click here for the timetable.
Unlike the Aran Islands where they’d sell their granny to make a quick buck, Boffin has not been tainted by commercialism and it feels like a throwback to the 1980’s.
We hired bikes from Paddy Jo as we docked and only in Inishbofin would a heavily pregnant woman like myself get away with being allowed to tour the island on a push bike!
We stayed in the iconic Doonmore Hotel with the famous Murray’s Bar attached where any Irish musician who’s worth their salt has played.
The Doonmore Hotel was built in 1969 by Paddy and Margaret Murray and has been owned and managed ever since by their son Andrew.
Starting off as a modest B&B the hotel is built around a cottage their great grandfather built
in the early 1900’s.
The most Westerly island hotel off the coast of Europe and in it’s 49th year of business, you can really feel the wildness of this quaint hideaway, the views from the property will blow you away.
From horse riding to sailing, there are ample activities to enjoy on Bofin but we got the most fun out of cycling to the stunning beaches of Dumhach and Tra Gheall about 20 minutes from our hotel.
Although swimming in the Wild Atlantic is not for the faint hearted, I’d highly rate giving it a go, we felt amazing after a quick dip.
In fact if you’re a proper cyclist or hillwalker you’ll be in paradise, there are stunning looped walks and for the adventurous types you can opt for tougher terrain if you fancy.
Sample the foodie paradise
There’s an entire seafood trail you can jump on if fruits of the sea are your thing, just log onto wildatlanticway.com and check it out.
If you’re sticking to the Connemara loop, I’d highly recommend making Clifden your base to soak up the fab ambience and restaurants.
We did dine further afield too and if the weather’s half decent you can’t beat a barbeque if you’re camping or hiring a van Our Atlantic drift camper van also had cooking facilities on board.
Check out our gallery of the our top restaurants on the Connemara loop
Whether you opt to stay in the van for a night or two and check out the many eco camping sites in Connemara or if you are adventurous and go off the beaten track to many of the wild beaches that one could only dream of such solitude the choice is yours with the Atlantic Drift.
An Atlantic Drift camper is the perfect campervan to explore the Wild Atlantic Way, wandering the bótharín (Irish for narrow roads) getting off the beaten track to the secluded beaches and mountain sides other campers just can't reach.
Four star all the way, this stunning resort is located on a 300 acre site in the heart of the breathtakingly beautiful Delphi Valley near Leenane, Connemara, Co Galway.
What’s cool about the resort is it caters for everyone, I met a lady who had been to climb Croagh Patrick minus her hubby.
She wanted to have spa day but didn’t want the expense of an overpriced hotel room so she opted for Delphi as the budget hostel only set her back €18 a night!
Of course you can avail of a fancy suite option too, but the beauty of the resort is there’s something for everyone covering all price points.
The adventure centre is the most awesome element for any budding adventurer.
Our 11 year old James signed up for the one day camp which saw him kayaking, abseiling and zip lining.
For some R&R my partner John and I lapped up the stunning five star spa treatments.
Not to be missed is a cruise on Killary Fjord, only five minutes from the resort the fjord is over 45 metres deep, forming a natural border between the counties Galway and Mayo.
The Connemara Sands Hotel is the most idyllic place to stay and this family run boutique hotel perfectly positioned in the heart of Connemara and The Wild Atlantic Way.
Secluded within the white, sandy shores of Mannin Bay there is no better place from which to relax.
The Sands Seaweed Bath and Spa use Voya seaweed products and I was in heaven getting the precious moments treatment.Yes I was seduced by the hotel’s organic seaweed spa.
Tailored specially to mum and her growing baby, your bump is enveloped in a specialised mask helping to support connective tissue and prevent stretch marks.
Your feet are wrapped in seaweed leaves to boost circulation, improve lymphatic drainage and reduce fluid retention.
The hydrating organic masks work their magic while mum enjoys a beautiful relaxing face, hand and arm massage.
I floated out of the spa, seriously the best prenatal experience I’ve ever indulged in!
Where to Stay
The Connemara Sands Hotel, click here
Delphi Resort and Spa, Click here
The Abbey Glen Castle Hotel, Click here
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