Last updated on November 25, 2023
“A diver who does not dive – is useless!” If someone says that to you who blubbers when he speaks, then might have exaggerated his diving….
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We are not gill breathers and at some point all the nitrogen in the blood has to be exhaled. So what to do when the neoprene whale is stranded again?
So that your diving-free days in Ireland don’t get too boring, and because your traveling family would like to do something together with you, I have put together a few nice tips.
By the way, we live in Ireland (second home) and run our motorcycle rental business here during the summer months (www.easycruiser.tours). We also have nice guest rooms (www.the-view-accommodation.ie). We have traveled the island again and again over many years and therefore know it very well.
Tips for non-diving divers and other sea enthusiasts:
Now show your family what always draws you underwater! How? Quite simple: There are a few beautiful aquariums in Ireland.
And because the Irish are family people, these are also particularly child-friendly. Besides the local maritime flora and fauna, there are also tropical fish to admire.
Bray Sea Life Aquarium: In the south of Dublin lies the old seaside resort of Bray. Bray has a beautiful location with mountains in the background and a beautiful seafront. The Sea Life Aquarium is located directly at the sea promenade. There you will find sharks, rays, octopuses (what’s the plural?) and a coral reef.
Galway Atlantaquaria National Aquarium: Galway is the largest city on the west coast and the third largest city in Ireland. It has pubs, live music, good food, a large harbor and a long seafront. Most of it is in the district of Salthill, where many vacation hotels can also be found. There you can also find the Galway Atlantaquaria, which probably houses the largest collection of native fish species.
Dingle Oceanworld: The peninsula Dingle in the southwest of Ireland is a jewel – above water, as under water. In the harbor town of the same name, Dingle, you’ll find the Dingle Oceanworld Aquarium with a fun mix of fish, otters, sharks, penguins and butterflies (please don’t dip the latter in the water…).
The Achill Experience Aquarium and Visitor Centre: Achill Island is an island in the northwest of Ireland that is very easy to get to via a bridge. The island’s scenery is rugged and beautiful and the coastline and cliffs are breathtaking, as is the marine life. Giant sharks are spotted off Keem Bay every year. On Slievemore Road just before the town of Keel is the Achill Experience Aquarium. The aquarium is small, but there are also other exhibitions there, e.g. about fishing and the island of Achill.
Whale and Dolphin Watching
You’ve been diving but you haven’t seen whales and dolphins yet? Then try it over water!
There are several whale watching operators along the Irish coasts. I have listed some of them for you:
Atlantic Whale and Wildlife Tours: West Cork, is considered a mecca for whale watchers. Near Timoleague and the southwest coast you will find Atlantic Whale and Wildlife Tours. The provider advertises humpback whales, fin whales, dolphins and sharks and then there is also Marine Wildlife Tours, which is more about seals and seabirds.
Cork Whale Watch: A bit further west, on Reen Peer opposite Castletownshend, lies this provider. Formerly a commercial fisherman, he has been involved in tourism for a number of years and has known the sea on his doorstep for many years. Cork Whale Watch advertises humpback whales, minke whales, fin whales, dolphins and the occasional orca.
Baltimore Sea Safari: The small former fishing town of Baltimore is located in a sheltered bay on the southwestern tip of Ireland. There is Sherkin Island and several more offshore islands there. Baltimore Sea Safari offers several tours, from small cruises around the bay, to excursions lasting several hours. The boats are open inflatables.
Aquaventure: This operator is also located in Baltimore. The boat seems a bit larger, and he offers whale and dolphin tours as well as snorkeling and diving tours for clubs and groups. See Aquaventure.
Eco Marine Tours: I have already talked about the beautiful Dingle Peninsula. In front of the island are the Blasket Islands. On the west side of the Blaskets the Atlantic Ocean drops deep. At the edge, nutrients from the depths are washed up to the sea surface. Masses of mackerel and other fish gather there and so do whales, dolphins and sharks. Blasket Islands Eco Marine Tours at Ventry Cross, not far from the town of Dingle, offers various tours. Whales and dolphins, seals, seabirds and puffins, also with landing on the islands can be found in the program.
Atlantic Eco Marine Tours Tralee and Brandon Bay is another provider of whale and dolphin tours, as well as seals and seabirds. You can find him on the north coast of the Dingle Peninsula near Castlegregory. His territory are the waters north of Dingle, which are also very well known as diving spots. Info under: Atlantic Eco Tours.
Dolphin Watch Carrigaholt: In the mouth of the Shannon, on the northern shore, you will find this provider. With a rather large boat it takes you to dolphins, seals and other lee creatures of the sea along the wide Shannon estuary. Info at: Dolphin Watch Carrigaholt.
Dolphin Discovery Kilrush: A bit further into the Shannon estuary, this tour operator is located in Kilrush Marina. Here, the focus is on the Bottlenose Dolphins that live in the Shannon. Info: Dolphin Discovery.
Blacksod Sea Safari: North of Achill Island is the peninsula Belmullet. There is a large Maritime Nature Reserve where much wildlife can be seen along the coast, as well as dolphins, seals, otters and the occasional whale. The provider Blacksod Sea Safari will take you there.
Arklow Maritime Museum on the harbor in Arklow (south of Dublin) offers a mix of fishing history and folklore, shipbuilding, ship salvage and wrecks. Info: Maritime Museum Arklow.
A bit larger is the National Maritime Museum of Ireland. Housed in Dublin Bay in a former church, here you’ll find a colorful cross-section of Ireland’s maritime history. Info: National Maritime Museum.
Much larger is the Belfast Titanic Experience. This large and elaborately built exhibition in the docks of Belfast is not only about the Titanic, but also about the era of shipbuilding in Belfast and the life of the people at that time. Very much worth seeing. Info: Titanic Belfast…
In the end
So, I hope I could give you some inspiration for your smoke-free days. And if you can, combine one of these trips with a nice drive along the Wild Atlantic Way – Ireland is also beautiful above water!
I wish you a lot of fun!
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Photo credits cover photo: Photo by Richard Sagredo on Unsplash