Why Ireland is a superb adventure destination
Blessed with a wealth of stunning scenery, a huge variety of unspoiled mountains, valleys, pristine lakes, rivers, jaw dropping coastline and superb accommodation, Ireland is quickly becoming a top choice when it comes to all manner of outdoor activities. This combined with our rich cultural and 1st class hospitability is drawing is an increasing number of adventure seekers from Europe and farther afield.
For too long the adventure potential of Ireland has been overlooked but a realisation of the quality of our adventure conducive resources has prompted a mushrooming of adventure centres, adventure guides and activity providers to provide a plethora of ‘soft’ or ‘hard’ adventures. 26% of global tourism is made up of adventure seekers whether that be a hike in the hills, trout fishing by a lake or abseiling down a sea stack. It is a large and growing percentage of holidaymakers who wish to experience nature, adrenaline or simply avail of something different.
Tourism minister Michael Ring said it best: “Ireland was once the best kept secret in activity tourism but increasingly, due to the great product we have to offer, the word is getting out there.”
Never before has there been so much water based activity in this country, how so many are now embracing its benefits when for so long Irish people viewed the sea with suspicion and fear, after all it was the main facilitator of emigration and fishing tragedies. Windsurfing, Coasteering, surfing, sea kayaking, paddle surfing are all relatively new pursuits, only 20 years ago a surfer was a very rare sight! Now there are surf schools all along the west coast and Ireland is internationally recognised as a big wave mecca. The established sailing and angling opportunities in Ireland are among the best worldwide. A very popular new pursuit is the multi activity adventure of Coasteering which includes swimming, jumping and rock climbing surely must be one of the best ways of discovering the magnificent Irish coastline.
The recently opened Western greenway cycle route along the wonderful Co. Mayo coast and the new blueway watersports trail are some of the fantastic adventure routes that can be accessed by all ages and fitness levels.
Inland the epic Ballyhoura walking and professionally designed mountain biking trails are an example of such adventure destinations which have been recently developed. Zorbing and Archery Tag are among the many new land based activities that are readily available. Adrenaline based paintballing or Laser combat are available in adventure centres the length and breadth of the island. Rent a 4x4, and experience an off road adventure, skydive or hire a hot air balloon there is so much to choose from.
The adventure world summit took place in Killarney this year attracting trade groups, suppliers, vested interests and gives exposure to the Emerald isles adventure status with emphasises as a top adventure destination.
Lonely planet recently listed three Irish activities in their top 1000 adventure activities worldwide which is great recognition for adventure tourism here - the climbing pilgrimage of Croagh Patrick in Mayo, horse trekking in castle Leslie and surfing (or watching even) the monstrous Mullaghmore waves in Co. Sligo.
With the launch of the Wild Atlantic way, the longest defined coastal driving route in the world; the future looks rosy for the adventure sector and will encourage more adventure opportunities.
Whether it’s a Dublin Stag Do or a Team Building Ireland event, our natural penchant for hospitality, fantastic hill walks, archaeological gems, world class scenery, culture, friendliness and wealth of activities to choose from, Ireland really is a playground of adventure!