Water Sport Activities for All the Family

Like ducks to water, Irish families are making a splash and enjoying water activities in increasing numbers this summer.  Maybe it’s the ‘staycation’ phenomenon. Maybe everyone is feeling more adventurous after months of tortuous lockdown, but whatever the reason, Irish families are making taking a plunge with water based Outdoor Adventures this year.   The range of organised water activities that are on offer is astounding. Surf schools, stand up paddle trips, diving and kayaking have all become more mainstream and accessible to all.  Of course, Ireland has never been short of water.  Most of it has been falling down on us incessantly.  But when the sun shines, we have the best lakes, rivers and seas for all kinds of watery fun! Families are embracing these opportunities!

water sport activities

Stand Up Paddling

Supping, or Stand Up Paddling is a really pleasant water activity for all.  Yes, you guessed it.  It is standing up on a board and paddling along!  A very gentle way to enjoy nature as you glide serenely along the lake or river.  There is no age limit. No huge physical demands and it is so much fun.  We have even heard of dogs who love hitching a ride on the paddle boards.  There are lots of places offering this unique activity.  It’s also good for social distancing! It is usually a calm, easy event, but supping can be done on any body of water from mild to wild.  So supping the waves of the Atlantic is available too for the more adventurous types.  Check out the best places to stand up and get paddling here.

Stand Up Paddling

Surfing

Surfing was once the sport of a few tanned demi-gods and goddesses, who strode down the beach as Jack Johnson music played loudly in the background, to paddle out proudly and ride the waves like the bosses they were. It’s not such a niche sport these days.  Now the shorelines are full of surfers, young and old, in family groups, making the sport look genuinely easy and loving the waves.  Bodyboarding is a great starter for the younger ones and there are surf lessons to be had at any sea side that is lucky enough to have waves.   A wet suit can be hired, but if you like the sea, and you live in Ireland, it is not a bad idea to invest in one.  Not every day is a day for the swimming togs and a wet suit can make the experience a much more enjoyable one.  Check out our blog here on which wet suit you should choose.   And if you are wondering if the surf is up?  Check out this live cam from Strandhill Sligo before strapping the board to the car.

Surfing in Ireland

Wild Swimming

Yes, that’s the new cool term for swimming in wild waters.  It could mean the sea, a river or a lake.  Generally it refers to freezing cold swimming and those hardy folk who jump off the 40ft in Dublin, Salthill pier in Galway and lots of other wild windy spots.  The die-hard types who even swim when, and especially when, there is snow falling!   For the rest of us mere mortals, wild swimming means checking the lifeguards instructions, making sure it’s a safe place, a warm day and plunging in within our depth, to enjoy splashing each other and swimming in nature.   Buoyancy aids for kids are an extra safety precaution and will allow the young ones to appreciate the freezing cold waves even more.  At Outdoor Adventure Stores we carry typhoon brand, which we find to be great value and totally reliable.  Swimming never gets old.

Wild Swimming in Ireland

Kayaking

Kayaking is hugely popular in Ireland.  Some love the gentle paddle on a calm lake and others crave the wild white waters of Mountain Rivers.   Whatever your kayaking preferences,  the beginner sessions for  all ages, including the children,  are a relaxed and calm way to experience kayaking. Give it a GO!   Family kayaking sessions in Dublin are perfect for getting started, learning new skills and having a fun.  In no time, you will be hooked on one of Ireland’s fastest growing water activities.  Enjoy learning to kayak at the scenic canal location and the stunning Dalkey coastlines lend itself to sheer pleasure. But there are opportunities to kayak all over Ireland now and your outdoor adventure with a paddle awaits.

Kayaking in Ireland

Scuba Diving

The best scuba diving in the world may well be on your doorstep.  The famous marine biologist, diver, explorer, Jaques Cousteau once said that some of the very best diving was ‘at the northern side of the Dingle Pennisular, where the Atlantic meets the Brandon Mountains in exceptional beauty’.  No one will argue with him.  Ireland’s coastland and islands offer amazing diving experiences.  Scuba diving is another fast growing water activity.  Scuba Dive West in Galway and Baltimore Dive Centre in Cork, both report sell out classes this summer. It is not surprising.  The wealth of marine life to be seen just a few meters offshore is just awesome.  Check out these spots for the best diving.

Scuba Diving in Ireland

Snorkelling

If you don’t fancy scuba diving, then why not try snorkelling.  It’s accessible to all ages, and relatively easy to do.   The trick is to find a nice easy spot to enter the water. Since Ireland has a rocky coastline, finding a safe place to snorkel can be a challenge. Avoid steep cliffs and find a walking path leading to the water. There are great snorkel friendly beaches on the west coast in County Donegal, Mayo, Sligo, Clare and Kerry. Equipment can be hired or purchased and snorkelling is easy on the environment and apparently good for your wellbeing too!  With over 3,000 miles of coastline, we have endless opportunities to lie face down peering at the watery underworld. Get more information from the professional snorkelers here.

Snorkeling in Ireland

Safety

With aqua parks, boat hire, canoeing and all manner of water sports to investigate and enjoy, it is possible for your family break to be less land/earthbound and more on the waves. However, safety should always be the first and last thing on your mind when taking wee ones and older ones out on the water.   Follow all the safety guidelines for each activity and for each geographical area.  Learn to swim competently and ensure that the more vulnerable family members wear lifejackets etc. 

Ireland’s love of water based activities is set to grow and grow as we all become more adventurous and enthusiastic about trying new things.   From swimming to diving and from surfing to water skiing  we will all be at sea! 

It’s not surprising, we do live on an island after all.  So dive on in and try something new this summer.

Water Sport Activities Ireland

Back to the Hills

It has never felt better to get out and about for Outdoor Adventure.  Our enforced time at home may have been pleasant but it is time to run for the hills.  The easing from 2km to 5km felt amazing, but now we are flying free again. We are unleashed to enjoy all that this great country has to offer in terms of thrilling treks, fantastic walks and amazing scenery.  At Outdoor Adventure Store, we have missed you all as much as we have missed walking, climbing, running and revelling in the outdoor life.   To celebrate our joint freedom and renewed appreciation for the world, we have generous reductions on many items in-store.  So, take this opportunity to treat yourself to some new outdoor equipment as you get back to the hills.

Hiking and Walking Boots

Before you invest in some awesome footwear, take a wee moment to decide what is best for your needs.  Consider which type of hiking, hill walking you plan to do and what kind of terrain it involves. This will be the deciding factor when it comes to choosing appropriate footwear.  A good pair of hiking boots is an investment in many years of comfortable trekking. Getting back to the Hills will be a charm with the right footwear.    Hiking long distances and upland trails comfortably and without blisters or wet feet while reducing the dangers of slipping and falling, is dependent on good footwear.    A good pair of hiking boots are optimised for ankle support on all terrains and will protect your feet from rocks and spikey trail debris.   The wrong shoes are simply not suitable and those who start walking in regular footwear, often regret their decision quickly.   It may be that the type of hiking/hill walking that you are planning to do, would be better suited to a walking shoe or sandal.  The important thing is not to get blistered and footsore.   Check out our blog on how to choose the right pair of boots for you, or call into the store to avail of the expert advice of our friendly staff.

Walking and Trekking Poles

Perhaps you are not as fit as you were prior to the Covid-19 lockdown, but this should not deter you from getting back to the hills with vigour and enthusiasm.  A good walking pole is not just an extra piece of equipment, it can be the difference between making the summit, and safely descending your favourite mountain with a smile on your face.  At Outdoor Adventure Store we have a fantastic range of trekking poles and hiking poles to suit every expedition, whether they are big or small.  For walking pole novices, we recommend the robust three-piece trekking pole from Leki .  Its adjustable safety strap and rounded supporting surface on the new Evocon trekking grip are particularly pleasant for a downhill climb.  The length of the poles should be adjusted to suit your height and the activity you are planning. Generally speaking, lengthen the poles for descents, and shorten them for ascents and the length for walking along flat or gently slopes should be around waist height.  To avail of our great offers on walking poles, see the range online or talk to one of our knowledgeable staff.

Trekking poles for walking

Baby comes too!

There is no reason why baby cannot come too!  Especially when we have great offers on all baby carriers.  One of our most popular models is the Osprey Poco Plus Child Carrier, a sturdy model that boasts the same innovated suspended mesh back system as some of our most comfortable hiking and backpacking packs. It also has essential sun protection. The rapid deploy Poco Plus Sun-Shade, with an UPF 22 rating it protects your little cargo from harmful sun rays, making the perfect shaded spot for an afternoon nap. When the weather takes a turn for the worse, deploy the integrated rain-cover.  See our previous blog on which is the best buy for you and your little one. 

hiking with baby

Tents

We truly cannot keep the tents in the warehouse this year!  Our unbelievable value in tents for family staycations or for solo travellers has seen an unprecedented amount of canvas sold since the lifting of restrictions.  But don’t worry, we have plenty of tents still in stock for your camping needs. RockNRiver have the very best in adventure camping packages for as little as €99.00, and if you are looking for some luxury at the campfire, the Vango range of tents has all you could ever need and more.

As we all enjoy our staycations in Ireland, with a reborn appreciation for alfresco living let’s do with the best equipment possible.  Whether we are camping with the family, hiking solo or climbing to the top of the tallest mountain.  Outdoor Adventure Stores have everything you need to make the experience a pleasant, fun and unforgettable. We have your back as you get back to the hills.

Family camping in the garden

Are you and the kids bored of lockdown life?  Have a mini-Outdoor Adventure camping trip,  just a wee hop, skip and jump from your own back door.  

Camping in the back garden (or front garden, or balcony or under the stairs) can be a lot of fun and a great way to break up the monotony of home life at the moment.  We might not be able to go far, but we can still have a camping experience to rival the best of them!  When the weather is good and the skies are clear and bright, a night camping at home will give the whole family a taste of the things to come when movement restrictions end and we gain back the freedom we once enjoyed. You can think of it’s the ultimate staycation and a perfect way to check all your camping equipment for the wonderful outdoor adventures that lie ahead.

What you will need:

  • Tents
  • Sleeping Bags (or duvets)
  • Fire Pit
  • Goodies to roast, toast and munch on
  • Torches or head sets for the ghost stories and the stumblings in the dark
  • Buckets of enthusiasm and a determination to have the craic together!

The classic pop up tents are perfect for nights in the garden campsite and we have special offers on a whole range of tents in a variety of prices to suit all needs on our website.  But this may well be the time to splurge our on a deluxe tent like the Vango Tent range.  These tents are super easy to erect, durable and comfortable and they could provide an extra outdoor room for the family, even when you are not all sleeping al fresco.  An investment tent such as these is a joy to behold.  They almost put themselves up and are so classy that you may never go back in the house again!

Lockdown ideas with kids

Sleeping bags are never wasted in a house full of kids.  Even when not snuggled up in the great wilderness of your urban garden, the comfy sleeping bag has been a mainstay of every Saturday morning chilling on the couch watching cartoons and eating cereal.  Buy a good brand that does both this luxury past time and then comes into its own when you and yours can finally get out to the big wide world, to camp once again. If you haven’t camped in a while (since your days of crazy music festivals and mad long hikes), then you should consider air mattresses or sleeping mats for your older and more fragile bones!

Fire Pits are fantastic for making the evening glow with the warmth of outdoor fun and the best place to toast marshmallows, squash them between biscuits and declare Smores to be the greatest outdoor food ever!   Again, the investment in a good fire pit is a great addition to outdoor living both for home and away that will pay back in the days and night ahead

Family camping in the garden

There isn’t a child in the world that doesn’t love a good torch or head torch. Rechargeable torches make good sense when little folk forget to turn them off or use them constantly for hiding under beds and finding insects in the hedges.  We stock a fantastic extensive range of torches for all uses.  Even when not camping  at home, a young child can spend daylight hours  exploring the world with a torch, and who knows you might even get a quick cup of undisturbed tea while they are distracted.

There are lots of reasons for taking the tent to the garden at the moment. We all agree that it might break the potential tedium of lockdown life.  It’s also a good way to check your equipment in advance of all those camping holidays that we will eventually enjoy again.  For the little people who have never camped before, the positives about introducing them to the ‘wilderness’ so close to home are multi-fold.  The magic of waking up in a tent, with the sun light filtering through and the sound of birdsong is the same whether you are a million miles away or just a few feet from your own shower, TV or fridge.  If you need something, the house is just a shout away!

The special experience of gathering around the lit fire pit to chat and watch the shooting stars is no less wonderful when you don’t have to drive miles to enjoy it. 

The Covid-19 pandemic might have put a stop to our gallop, but we have learnt to enjoy the small things.  Make some wonderful memories in your own home camp site and enjoy your outdoor adventures no matter how the world is turning!

Now is the pitch-perfect timing for a camping staycation in Ireland!

The best places for family staycations camping in Ireland and the very best reasons why you should choose to holiday at home in 2020

The time has never been more right for a camping holiday in this beautiful country. An increasing number of families are now considering holidaying in Ireland.   A camping staycation. The desire to leave a smaller carbon footprint on the planet makes staying closer to home for your annual holiday, a very inviting prospect.  The high cost of fuel, both to our own pockets and to the environment, means that long journeys are increasingly unappealing.    A camping staycation in Ireland allows families to enjoy a wonderful break with the smug and self-satisfied knowledge that they are not contributing further to climate change, pollution or toxic emissions.  Of course, the fact that we have the most awesome scenery and incredibly beautiful places to pitch your tent, makes the sacrifice of staying home, a very easy one to make.

Best Campsites in Ireland

Foreign travel involves a lot more organisation than a home camping trip.  Packing for a staycation is a less tedious task.   Airports and ferries can be expensive and stressful and you may lose a few days traveling to your destination.  A staycation has a lot of positives to offer, particularly for camping families.   No queues or cancelled flights/ferry sailings.  Doggie people can enjoy the company of their best friend for the duration and no kennel fees when you choose dog friendly sites. It makes sense on many levels to vacation at home.  Often you can be one short-dated passport, or one unfilled prescription away from disaster when traveling abroad!

The money you save on international flights can be invested in a family tent and some great camping equipment. The Vango Airbeam tent is a hassle free, no poles, no arguments, comfortable and stress free camping dream for any family to spend starry nights dreaming in.  It has two bedrooms that are separated by a centre porch. Fits up to 8 people and only take 12 minutes to pitch. This is camping luxury that you will enjoy for years to come.    

Camping can be quite luxurious now and has come a long way from burning a tin of beans over a fire before sleeping on rocks with various insects for company.  See our blog on Glamourous camping.

Camping Ireland

Where to pitch up…

Here are some of Ireland’s unique and best camping sites for the family tent.

Pure Camping in Querrin Co Clare

On the Wild Atlantic Way and near the scenic village of Kilkee, Pure Camping is an eco-retreat that welcomes pitching tents and even has some pre-pitched, if that is your preference. A sauna, solar showers and rainwater harvesting add to the eco-friendly vibe.  Children love the donkeys and chickens, and the nearby woods for adventuring. A communal dome tent provides a place to make new friends. 
Visit www.purecamping.ie

Coomshanna Wild Camping in Co Kerry

The views over Dingle Bay are incredibly inspiring.  A stream runs by and other than this, there is a field devoid of rocks and bumps in which to pitch your tent.  Take your wee shovel when you want to use the toilet and no fire rule is enforced.  This is eco-friendly and   peaceful camping.  The starry skies are incredible.
 

Nore Valley Camping and Caravan Park Co Kilkenny

Family friendly, child friendly and well… just really friendly. Nore Valley has a lovely vibe. Maybe the hay trailer rides, the crazy golf or the petting zoo have something to do with Nore Valley being one of the most popular family camping sites on the East Coast.  Get lost in the wooden maze.  Go for a trip on a pedal powered go-kart.  This camping site is close to Kilkenny city and is a great camping base to just chill with the ostriches (Gail and Ragsy) or to explore the East Coast treasures.

Hidden Valley Holiday Park Co Wicklow

Classic campsite in Rathdrum which boasts fantastic facilities for families.  Kayaking and swimming on and in the Avonmore River.  Fish too, if that is your jam! Riverside campfires, a kid’s adventure fun park and cinema nights with beanbags are all on offer in this beautiful campsite.  The Wicklow Mountains are on the doorstep for hiking, biking, sight-seeing and generally enjoying the wonders of the garden of Ireland.

Eagle Point Camping Co Cork

Eagle Point campsite is a 20-acre campsite, a few kilometres from Bantry in West Cork. A great family campsite which hugs the water, with pebble beaches and great views over the sea.  A kids TV room, football, basketball and the usual facilities make Ballylickey/Eagle Point an easy place to pitch for a gentle fun filled holiday.

Affordable Camping Gear

Perhaps in the rush to explore foreign climes, we have forgotten all that there is to offer here at home.
This is just a wee taste of the fantastic camping choices available around Ireland The Wild Atlantic Way has a trail of camping sites that will bring a new experience every day. Stay-cationing is fun and make sense. It contributes to saving the environment, by cutting down of fossil fuels and air miles.  It is good for local employment and the sustainability of rural communities.  But most of all its good for your own sanity, and isn’t that what a holiday is all about.