Cast off the shackles of the dreary commute, dump the stiff shirt, say ‘adios’ to sitting on the wrong side of that office window. Gather your little tribe, head for the coast and revel in being ‘family you’ - not ‘work you’.
Sunglasses, raincoats, sunscreen and welly boots at the ready? Then you’re all set to take off on an adventure with that special gang of people who make life what it is. And the Wild Atlantic Way? Well, that’s just the perfect backdrop to memories worth making.
Discover 10 terrific ways to have 2,500km of family fun below:
Head for the hills in the saddle of an electric bike and enjoy the sweeping vistas and weather-beaten landscape of County Donegal. Environmentally-friendly and perfect for helping tired legs last a little longer, hire your gang some bikes from one of Grassroutes’ three bases.
Map in hand, family in the saddle and pedal power behind you, set off from your choice of lush Glenveagh National Park, the pretty seaside village of Downings or even wild and wonderful Tory Island.
2. Beaches & Boards on the Surf Coast
A wet-suit’s your family’s best bud and a gateway to wave-splashing fun in Strandhill, County Sligo. Zipped up and armed with a sense of adventure, take your pick of surfing or stand-up paddleboarding and dive into those refreshing swells.
The team at Strandhill Surf School will give lessons to all ages and will even take you out to Culleenamore Bay, a stunning tidal reserve and seal sanctuary.
3. Spinning Around on the Bay Coast
Want to get the kids head over heels for something really different? Zorbing is tumbling down hillsides taken to the next level. Adventure West in County Mayo strap two to three of you into a transparent inflatable ball and spin you to your hearts’ content, as the Westport sky and shores of Clew Bay whizz past.
Guaranteed to make kids out of all of you.
4. Fins & Flippers on the Cliff Coast
They thought they’d left school behind, eh? Time for school of a different kind as under the waves off County Clare’s coast, class is in session for a school of dolphins!
All aboard the ‘Dolphin Discovery’ in Kilrush Marina for a marine cruise along the north shore of the Shannon Estuary, the home of Ireland's only known resident group of bottlenose dolphins. With a 98% success rate of encountering those flippers and fins, squeals of delight from your little skippers are highly likely too.
Particularly prescient if you’re road-tripping with technology-loving teens, discover a different era (and pace!) of communication on Valentia Island, County Kerry. Hop the ferry over to the idyllic island and visit Valentia Heritage Centre, housed in a 19th-century schoolhouse, to learn all about island life and discover tales of the transatlantic telegraph too.
The island was the base of the very first attempts to lay a transatlantic cable under the sea between 1857-1858, and is home to the oldest Atlantic Cable Station in the world. Stop off at the Cablemaster’s Residence and have fun explaining to your internet-era children how every message crossing the Atlantic passed through the island’s station. And before that? Communications were sent by boat - weather permitting!
6. A Whale of a Time on the Haven Coast
Wind your way down to Baltimore Harbour in lively West Cork and watch your kids play hide-and-seek with some of the Atlantic’s most characterful creatures. Clamber on to Whale Watch West Cork’s vessel ‘Voyager’ and keep those eyes peeled to spot inquisitive dolphins, cheeky seals, beautiful basking sharks, as well as majestic minke and fin whales.
Want an even more magical family memory? Take the evening sailing and huddle up together out on the water as the sun sets over Cape Clear Island.
7. Carry on Camping
Is there a better feeling than cuddling up with your brood, all snug as bugs under a blanket of stars? Luckily, camping (of all sorts) is an option just about anywhere on the Wild Atlantic Way.
For caravan parks a stone’s throw from Blue Flag beaches on the doorstep of The Kingdom, try Wave Crest in County Kerry. To set up HQ near the otherworldly Burren, Aran Islands or the Cliffs of Moher, try Nagles in Doolin, County Clare. If your gang would be happier glampers than campers, why not glamp it up with yurts, bell tents or pods in your pick of scenic spots. And don’t forget to break out those kumbaya campfire classics too.
8. Woodland Wonders
If losing yourselves in the midst of wildlife and woodland is your idea of really getting away from it all, then you’ll simply revel in the undulating parkland dotting the coastal route. With five of the country’s six national parks showcased on the Wild Atlantic Way, you’ll be spoiled for choice between Glenveagh, Ballycroy, Connemara, the Burren and Killarney National Parks spanning counties Donegal, Mayo, Galway, Clare and Kerry.
Brimming with exceptional walking routes for all ages and abilities and home to bats, badgers, foxes, deer and more rare wildlife, prising yourselves away from the nooks and crannies of these natural havens will be your only problem.
9. Spot some Signature Discovery Points
Can’t decide where to start or what to include on your family road-trip? With 15 Signature Discovery Points scattered across the coastline, ticking some must-see spots off the list is a great way to delve into a treasure trove of unique experiences.
A mix of sandy seascapes, glorious edge-of-the-world vistas, creviced cliff-tops, salty-aired headlands, scenery that’s made history and island hideaways; get the gang a special Wild Atlantic Way Passport and you can even mark each stop on your journey with customised stamps.
10. Rainy Day Fun
As beautiful as it is, a touring route that encompasses 2,500km of coastline is bound to have its share of rainy days. But who said fun was weather permitting? There’s still plenty to entertain and engage indoors on the Wild Atlantic Way.
Westport House & Pirate Adventure Park in County Mayo will surely shiver the timbers as the kids learn all about Connaught pirate queen Grace O’Malley. County Cork’s Mizen Head Visitor Centre demonstrates the perils and pleasures of life as a lighthouse keeper and showcases some stunning panoramas. Would-be pilots, marine enthusiasts and Irish coffee-lovers are, surprisingly, all catered for under the roof of Foynes Flying Boat & Maritime Museum in County Limerick. While at Galway City Museum learn all about the history of the City of Tribes and see all 28 feet of the traditional boat, the Galway Hooker, hanging in the atrium.
Find out what other indoor activities are available here.
Whatever way you discover it and no matter what age your brood may be, the memories you’ll make on the Wild Atlantic Way will only whet your appetite for even more adventures out west. Discover more family-friendly activities to enjoy here.
Explore the Wild Atlantic Way regions here. And find out what else there is to enjoy using the handy Directory.