GREECE DOESN’T HAVE THE MONOPOLY WHEN IT COMES TO ISLAND HOPPING HOLIDAYS – THESE IRISH OPTIONS ARE EVERY BIT AS APPEALING, WITH HIDDEN COVES, SECRET BEACHES AND OFF-THE-BEATEN-TRACK TRAILS…
All kinds of characters are attracted to the sea-bashed shores of Irish islands. Glampers, castaways, hardy explorers, sporty surfers and hikers – there is a peninsula to suit every personality. But there are certain spots on these parts that cater well to the runaway character – he or she who just can’t stand still, who dashes to the ends of the earth, the most remote locations, as soon as their annual leave has been approved. They need headspace, and a guarantee of immersion in a brand new setting – preferably, craggy coastlines roaring with waves and wildlife.
Part Two of our Island Hopping series highlights those island destinations that are perfect for escapists.
For a castaway experience | East House, Long Island, Co Cork
Proprietor Tracy Collins moved to the island in 2016 in search of a new ?lifestyle. She and her husband renovated a cottage. “For the first year we had no running water or electricity, but we survived. We have been healed by this wild island life and, being a life coach, I know how beneficial nature is for our wellbeing. During lockdown, the idea came to me to offer our castaway dream to others.” Visitors can “wild camp” on this private island, bringing their own tent, stove and food, or renting a two-man tent; Collins offers breakfast baskets and organic veggies to purchase. Future plans include opening a tea room and gardens, to share their ocean views. www.wildislandcamping.com
For an unplugged retreat | Clare Island Lighthouse, Co Mayo
This 200-year-old lighthouse in Clew Bay, Co Mayo is the birthplace of the pirate queen Grace O’Malley. There is wifi but no TV – the setting offers endless scope for walking, swimming, hiking, cycling and birdwatching. In the evening, curl up beside a turf fire and catch up on some reading, or write the first draft of your novel. Inside the completely restored listed building, with five bedrooms, a drawing room, library and kitchen, the decor is understated but very comfortable In keeping with the overall ethos, food is wholesome, locally sourced and complemented by a good international wine list. A two-night stay starts from €500 per person sharing; ?www.clareislandlighthouse.com.
For eco glampers | Pebble Pods, Strangford, Co Down
Nestled on the shores of Strangford Lough, Pebble Pods comprise three luxurious eco-friendly glamping pods – Trasnagh, Braddock and Drummond – which accommodate two people with amenities such as kitchenette, private hot tub, thermal sauna, firepit and barbecue area as well as free wifi. Not to mention complimentary bicycles and kayaking to explore Strangford Lough. Don’t leave without a visit to Daft Eddy’s on Sketrick Island for drinks or dinner. Pods are €130 per night; www.pebblepods.com.
For water sports enthusiasts | Bere Island, Co Cork
Wild Atlantic Glamping, opening June 18, is at the east end of Bere Island, not far from Rerrin village. Eight luxury bell tents, designed by architect Alan Macilwraith from JCA Architects, are each named after a feature of the island. With wood-burning stoves, double beds and private terraces overlooking Bantry Bay, they all have access to communal facilities. Island activities include summer sailing courses and a watersports club. Wild Atlantic Glamping has teamed up with Bantry Bay Kayaks to offer guided tours and kayak rentals; www.wildatlanticglamping.ie.
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