Clare Island Cliff Hanger: A coasteering adventure for all the family in Mayo
Catherine Mack jumps at the chance of a coasteering adventure on Clare Island, in Mayo's Clew Bay.
Set the mood
I've always had a bit of a thing about Clare Island.
Years ago, I even came close to buying a site there, so scared was I of the Celtic Tiger's roar. Not as scared as I was of Clare Island's cliffs, however - which became a recurring nightmare for me as I watched my toddlers running towards an island precipice but was unable to shout stop. I never bought the site. Ironic, then, that here I am years later standing on the edge of a 20-foot cliff, urging my boys to jump. They do, and I follow - screaming loudly, with exhilaration and celebration.
The great thing about signing up for an adventure like this is that you have to just feel the fear and do it anyway (I'm scared of heights and still managed it). I have done a few adventure holidays in my day, but found that these instructors were really top notch in terms of training, safety and giving very clear instructions.
A cliff hanger on Clare Island!
Coasteering, as it is now known, is run by Clare Island Adventures, a new partnership created by islander Carl O'Grady.
In 2012, Carl reopened a derelict hotel on the island, converting it into the Go Explore hostel with six dorms, a superb restaurant and the most spectacular views across the Atlantic. He wanted to offer his guests a total immersion in the island. And so, not one to sit and wait for the boat to come in full of tourists, he approached adventure expert, Ian Moore, to bring his outdoor expertise - knowing that they needed qualified, experienced people if they were going to do island adventure tourism properly
Clare Island's no-frills hostel accommodation keeps the cost of this holiday down. Go Explore Hostel also has en suite bathrooms, which are pretty rare in hostels, but an added treat as you run to your room after the activities, strip off in private and head straight into a hot shower. The dancing dolphins seen from the restaurant didn't cost a cent either! The trad session in the bar on Saturday night was free too.
These breaks are available all year round, so brave an early autumn or half-term escape. Their wetsuits are quality and the hostel is toasty warm, as are the showers. Be sure to bring travel sickness tablets; that Clare Island ferry crossing always has me turning green.
The Clare Island Adventures website needs a bit of work - often a feature of adventure companies, as they prefer to be out and about than online. So, best give them a call to enquire about dates, etc.
Get me there
A two-night adventure break on Clare Island costs €213pp - based on a group booking with a minimum of four people (clareislandadventures.ie). This includes ferry, two nights B&B, two dinners, two lunches, two adventure activities and all equipment, including high-quality wetsuits to cope with the Atlantic chill. Choose from coasteering, rock-climbing, snorkelling, raft-building, hiking and orienteering. Get the ferry to Clare Island from Roonagh Pier, 22kms from Westport.