ACHILL ISLAND by KATHRYNNovember 29th, 2019
My Achill Island Experience
Over the summer we went on a family holiday to Achill Island in County Mayo. There was eighteen of us in total including cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles. We rented out three Toblerone houses to cater for us all, each with fabulous views overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
As soon as we arrived, we changed into our wet suits and before we knew it, we were down on the beach. The water was cold but refreshing. We took it in turns to try out the surfboard we had found in one of the houses, each of us failing miserably and becoming submerged in the water. The beach was busy but not crowded. Most of the people were staying on the campsite beside the beach. There were caravans, tents and mobile homes all set up in what is a very family friendly environment. There are many facilities on offer in Achill island making camping a practical option but also a very enjoyable experience.
When leaving the beach, we decided we would book some surfing lessons for the following day. We each got a Nutella crepe from the small van parked on the beach and then we made our way home. The walk back to the house only took us about ten minutes in which we saw the beautiful landscape and lots of sheep!
That evening we had a barbeque outside the house. We played football, card games and shared many memories from previous times spent in Achill and around the island. We finally decided it was best if we went to bed and got some rest prior to the busy few days ahead.
The following morning was spent on the beach. We met with our instructor and were given a surfboard and some surf shoes. Wetsuits were also available. There was about fifteen in our group all eager to get into the water and learn to surf. Although it takes a while to get the hang of, I found the surfing enjoyable and oddly relaxing. There is something about being in the water that allows you to switch off from everything else and just focus on the waves and getting up on your board. That afternoon we went into a small pub in the village called the Amethyst which I would highly recommend. Achill has many great places to eat, we were spoiled for choice!
We brought bikes with us and spent a lot of our time cycling around the island, exploring. We would also cycle to the shop and the beach. The bikes were a great idea and came in very handy. If you are unable to bring a bike, I would recommend renting one. They come in very useful when travelling around the island while allowing you to have the full Achill experience. The fresh sea air is great for the body and mind and adds to the appeal of a cycle along the coast taking in the beautiful scenery.
The weather was quite good for the first few days but with typical Ireland the rain came back with a bang and with it being too wet to head down to the beach or partake in any other outdoor activities we decided we would visit the aquarium. We spent the day with Daniel, our aquarium guide. He was full of knowledge and very passionate and was able to answer all our questions about the different sea creatures found off the Achill coast. We then went to the Visitor centre and discovered Achill’s rich history. Afterwards we went to Pure Magic for some pizza and yet again our food was lovely.
The following day when the sun returned to Achill and the rain left us, we went on a pony trek. Our instructor took us up little bog roads to Keel Lake, the Deserted Village and then for a gallop across the beach. It was the perfect opportunity to discover the more rural parts of Achill and to see the amazing views the little Island has to offer.
On our final day we went to Keel Beach which has become infamous for its
beauty. It also plays host to Basking sharks who have been spotted on many a
time indeed. The drive to the beach is stunning as you go over a huge hill that
looks out over the Atlantic Ocean. There are loads of parking spaces available
which are easily accessed. We spent hours splashing around in the water and strolling
along the beach. We also went supping which allowed for a closer look at the
basking sharks. The water was crystal clear and matched the colour of the
surrounding cliffs. The scenery there is simply stunning.
My overall experience in Achill was extremely enjoyable. The island is known to be “The most mindful place in Ireland” and I honestly believe its true. It offers you the chance to switch off and detach from our busy every day lives. The coast has some of the best waves on offer across Europe. For both beginners and expert level. From Surfing, windsurfing, snorkelling, pony treks, kayaking, rock climbing, kitesurfing and outdoor workshops.
The range of activities available means there is always something to do. It allows you to see the ever-changing light of Achill island that has inspired generations of artists, musicians and writers. It was an amazing experience, a place where memories are made, and I will definitely return.
Blog post by Kathryn
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