Ten ways to get wet in Westport
1. Pirate Plunge
The Pirate Plunge log flume water ride at Westport House is a sure way to get a good splash and pack in some silliness to your day. Climb aboard your own log, and before you know it you’ll be flying down a steep incline towards a ‘splashdown’. Shrieks of delight guaranteed! If you haven’t had enough of the water after that, head out on a swan pedalo, and let your fingers trail in the water as you propel yourself around Westport House lake.
2. Pool cool
If you’re a pool person, you won’t be stuck for a place to do a few lengths in Westport. The town’s municipal pool, Westport Leisure Park boasts a 25-metre by 10-metre, five-lane swimming pool, as well as a 112-meter by 6-meter children’s pool. There’s also a jacuzzi, a steam room, a sauna and a plunge pool so cold you’re guaranteed to squeal in delight, or fright.
3. Luxury and comfort
Many of Westport’s fantastic hotels have wonderful pool-and-spa facilities, including the Knockranny House Hotel (Spa Salveo’s Bijoux Vitality Pool), the Castlecourt Hotel (20m, and a kiddies’ splash pool), the Westport Woods Hotel (18m) and Hotel Westport (20m). Why not book yourself in for a massage afterward, and really float away?
4. Out to sea
Take the coast road 12k south of the town, and keep an eye out for the sign to Bertra Beach, a natural promontory that stretches out into the sea. Walk along the wide strand and the dune’s narrow sandy paths, and soon you’ll find yourself way out in the bay, surrounded by water on three sides. It’s like being on a Clew Bay island, without having to get a boat. Enjoy swimming from the Blue Flag strand as the sun sets over Clare island straight ahead, Croagh Patrick to your left, Mulranny and Achill to your right
For a picturesque swim, you just can’t beat Old Head, just 16km from Westport, just before the seaside village Louisburgh. Overlooked by an oak forest and Croagh Patrick, this Blue Flag beach has beautiful rock-pools that are exposed when the tide is out. Beautiful soft sand and crystal-clear water welcomes swimmers, whether they take a dip at the car park end, bravely plunge off Old Head pier or do the front crawl down at the ‘Falduff end’. Stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking are also popular here.
Head over the other side of the pier and you’ll find another gem – a small sandy strand, with a real ‘private beach’ feel.
6. Lovely Lecanvey
Lecanvey beach and pier, located just passed Bertra, is a gorgeous sandy stretch of beach sheltered from the south and west and therefore well-suited for swimming. Locals love this spot – and if you jump into the pristine water from the pier and swim around the pier wall to the open sea, you’ll understand why: The sea suddenly expands, Clare island rises up before you, seabirds circle around and you can lie back and let the waves carry your worries away. Pure bliss.
7. Slip, slide away
Slip into in a warm bath filled with locally sourced seaweed, and slide down into the water as the plants’ minerals, vitamins and trace elements work their slippery magic on your skin and tired muscles. Check out the seaweed baths at the Westport Woods Hotel’s Beech Club Spa, or take a 20-minute spin down to Leenane for a salt-water seaweed bath in the Leenane Hotel.
8. Surf’s up
Fancy some board time? Carrowmore and Carrownisky beaches are perfect for surfers. Less than a mile from Louisburgh lies stunning Carrowmore Blue-Flag beach, overlooked by cliffs. Another four miles along the coast is Carrowniskey, famed as one of the best beaches in Mayo for catching waves and learning to surf. Wide and sandy at low tide; at high tide, the water reaches the rocks.
9. Forest frolics
If you fancy a paddle but in dappled light, under a canopy of leaves, head out to Brackloon Woods, just outside of Westport along the Leenane Road. This incredible forest is one of the largest surviving remnants in the west of the original woodland landscape that covered much of Ireland in ancient times. Brackloon contains a gorgeous, undemanding 4k loop-walk trail that runs alongside the babbling Owenwee River. Stop and let your feet dangle in the water as you take in all sights, sounds, smells of an ancient forest. It’s all very Game of Thrones.
10. Rock on
Adrenaline junkies will get their pulses racing by coasteering along the rugged coastline around Westport. Scramble along rocks, jump into the wild sea and explore local sea caves and sea stacks with an experienced guide. You can also get up close and personal with the wildlife. Watch out for the curious seals, who will probably be looking at you as though you’re crazy. (They might be right.)