Jumping into the Wild Atlantic Way with Coasteering Ireland
A 5mm neoprene wet suit, thick waterproof socks, gloves and cap, a helmet and life jacket. A necessary uniform for the most wild tour I’ve ever taken.
Coasteering involves everything from jumping off rocky cliffs, swimming in hidden sea caves to investigating tidal pools filled with colonies of mussels. It’s an adventurous activity that is considered the fastest growing water sports in the world and immensely popular in Ireland.
On a bright, clear day in early October, Dan and I joined the guys at Coasteering Ireland in Kenmare for a day of coasteering along the Wild Atlantic Way. As we followed our guide Rip to our entry point further down the peninsula Dan and I were anxious, very unsure of what to expect. Arriving at our destination, I was immediately impressed with the astounding natural beauty. An untouched, rocky coastline, fresh Irish breeze (better than the laundry detergent) and a beautiful sweeping bay with bobbing mussel pots.
Rip, a Royal Navy vet, gave us thorough safety brief and we were given our gear. Cautiously heading down to the shore, I was still uneasy. What was about to happen?
Per Rip’s encouragement, each of us quickly waded into the sea, the cold salty water filling inside our wetsuits. I let out kiddish yelps trying to keep my cool…err, warm.
Then, just like that, the layer of cold water that had filled my suit became warmed by my own body heat and acted as an insulator. The science behind this is beyond me, but simply put – I wasn’t cold. Swimming along in frigid water and miraculously I felt just fine.
With Rip’s contagious enthusiasm we started with a small, 2 foot jump. Each of us taking a small leap of faith into the Atlantic and excitedly rising to the surface with big, goofy smiles. As we worked our way down the coastline we took increasingly higher jumps, our confidence growing in sync. Each time Rip ensured our safety and comfort with the jump, allowing us to make the experience all our own and incredibly FUN.
I maxed out around 12 foot jump (you should hear me scream on roller coasters) but Dan made all the way to a 25 foot jump! While he worked up his nerves I hooted and screamed from the water below. Then with a little yelp and a big splash he sprang to the surface, our group cheered.
After Dan’s escapades, Rip guided us inside two sea caves carved out of the craggy rock, which was an incrediblyeexperience. (Sorry, pictures just aren’t possible – you’ll have to see for yourself!)
The one thought I really couldn’t get past during the tour – the caves and coastline are places that you could never, ever see without coasteering. Untouched and so unbelievably beautiful, the entire time were were out I desperately missed my camera. So, you’ll just have to take my word for it – the Irish coast is a real gem.
To really seal the deal on the day, as part of the tour Rip provided these shots from his GoPro along with along with this sweet video compilation –
If you’re looking for something off-beat, adventurous and MEMORABLE – it’s Coasteering in Ireland.
With giddy smiles we bid farewell to Rip and Toby and scooted back to the hotel for hot showers followed by big bowls of fresh seafood chowder. Hats off to Coasteering Ireland for an incredibly fun and invigorating day!