IRELAND is a well-known and popular tourist destination for families and with so much to see and do it’s no surprise.
The wonderful hospitality, beautiful beaches and great food, are just some of the many reasons people are drawn to the Emerald Isle.
Surrounded by over 1,450km of coastline, Ireland offers visitors spectacular landmarks, rich wildlife and historic hidden treasures to discover.
The South West Coast in particular, is one of the best places in Europe to see whales and dolphins in their natural habitat.
In total, 24 different species visit Irish waters, including minke, fin and humpback whales, as well as bottlenose dolphins. White beaked dolphins and killer whales have also been seen on rare occasions.
For many, the best and only way to truly explore this remarkable coastline is by boat. Thanks to companies such as Borrow A Boat, taking to the sea for an adventure filled family holiday has never been easier.
The best coastal destinations to visit in Ireland:
The Cliffs of Moher
One of Ireland’s favourite tourist experiences, the breath-taking Cliffs of Moher tower over the west County Clare coast. Rising to a height of over 700ft at O’Brien’s Tower and running along the coast for nearly 14 kilometres, the Cliffs of Moher simply have to be seen.
Formed over 320 million years ago, the cliffs now form part of the Burren and Cliffs of Moher UNESCO Global Geopark. But despite offering incredible views over the Atlantic and back inland, the Cliffs are best experienced from the sea.
Sail along the Atlantic coast, along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, and experience the true might of the cliffs from sea level. On your way, look out for puffins or marvel at the 30,000 pairs of seabirds that nest on the cliffs in breeding season.
The Cliffs of Moher have inspired poets, geologists and visitors for hundreds of years, and they’ll leave you spellbound too.
At seven miles long, Curracloe Beach is Irelands longest beach, and perhaps most famous too. Situated northeast of the town of Wexford, Curracloe and nearby Ballinesker Beach were used in the filming of Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan.
An ideal place for a family day out, Curracloe has fine, soft, white sand, an International Blue Flag award and a safe bathing area. It’s the perfect place to have a swim, build sandcastles or just to moor up and enjoy the view.
Many yachts sailing round Ireland would head straight from Dingle to the Aran Islands, missing the Shannon. But they are making a big mistake.
The estuary is a picturesque, tranquil cruising ground and well worth a visit. The historically important market town of Kilrush on the north shore has a busy, welcoming marina offering shelter.
The summer months see lots of festivals taking place with music and dancing. While the Shannon’s narrower tributaries offer great opportunities to explore further up river, draft allowing.
There’s a blue flag beach to enjoy and the nature rich Scattery Island to visit. All in all, the Shannon estuary is a tranquil and gentle haven away from the ocean swell.
The Ring of Kerry
Arguably Ireland's most scenic route, the Ring of Kerry or Iveragh Peninsula is not to be missed. This spectacular 111-mile-long tourist route takes visitors past Atlantic Ocean views, beautiful islands and soaring mountains, but it is even better from the sea.
Should you decide to make shore, then this area of astounding natural beauty has multiple activities to keep the family happy. Surfing, fishing, golf, horse-riding, cycling and walking are just some of the many activities available.
The stunning coves, cliffs, and inland mountains of the Iveragh Peninsula are hugely popular and simply have to be seen.
The spectacular Skellig Islands are world renowned and have been given World Heritage status by UNESCO. These three sandstone rocks lie off the Kerry coast, sticking out of the Atlantic Ocean and visible from the Ring of Kerry.
The Skellig’s are world famous and not just for their ornithological and archaeological significance. Skellig Michael is the site of a well-preserved monastic outpost from the early Christian period, while small Skellig is the home of around 27,000 pairs of gannets.
The monastic site on Skellig Micheal is reached by climbing over five hundred steps on a 1000-year-old stone stairway. Beehive shaped stone huts where monks lived and prayed centuries ago cling to the sandstone cliff edges.
The island and their beehive structures were used as Luke Skywalkers home in the recent Star Wars movies. Bringing the magic of the Skellig’s to a global audience.
The world-famous Giant's Causeway lies at the foot of the basalt cliffs on the edge of the Antrim plateau. It consists of over 40,000 black, hexagonal, basalt columns that stick out of the sea creating a landscape like no other.
This unusual site was caused by volcanic activity around 50 to 60 million years ago. Over the years it has inspired legends of giants striding over the sea to Scotland and created one of the Emerald Isle’s most iconic tourist attractions.
The Giant’s Causeway is Northern Ireland's only UNESCO World Heritage Site, highlighting its global importance. The area is also a recognised Area of Special Scientific Interest, an important National Nature Reserve and lies within the Causeway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Chart your course
Ireland offers families so much to see and do and there’s no better way to explore this spectacular landscape than by boat. So chart your course and experience a holiday you’ll never forget.