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West Cork: Whale-watching and treats by the beach at Inchydoney

Picturesque: Inchydoney, Co. Cork
Balcony views: Inchydoney
Sleep tight treatment: Inchydoney
Inchydoney strand
Inchydoney, Co. Cork
Dinner at Inchydoney. Photo: Gillian Tsoi
Gillian gets ready to go whale watching
Inchydoney Island Lodge and Spa, Co. Cork
  • West Cork: Whale-watching and treats by the beach at Inchydoney


    You've heard of the famous Inchydoney beach. But did you know West Cork can claim to be the capital of whale-watching?



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You've heard of the famous Inchydoney beach. But did you know West Cork can claim to be the capital of whale-watching?

7am: Breakfast by the beach

Its an early-morning start at the Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa in West Cork as we make our way down, bleary-eyed, for breakfast at the hotels Gulfstream Restaurant. Overlooking the beautiful Blue Flag Inchydoney Beach, the menu is a dream for seafood lovers like me: smoked mackerel fillets, scrambled eggs with Ummera smoked salmon, and todays local catch (sea bass) served with lemon, are all up for grabs.

I tuck in to a slice of the hotels famous walnut brown bread (sweet and treacly with a delightful nutty crunch – an almost cake-like affair), as the sun shines over the Atlantic Ocean – its windy this morning and the sea is more than a little choppy. Washing down my hearty brekkie with the last of the fresh coffee, Im feeling slightly nervous about our impending expedition.

8am: A whale-watching adventure

Gillian gets ready to go whale watching

We take the scenic drive along the coast to the nearby town of Courtmacsherry, before checking in at the headquarters of the Atlantic Whale and Wildlife Tours. Our guide, Christopher OSullivan (whos also a local Fianna Fáil councillor), talks passionately about the local marine animals that live and play around Inchydoney Bay.

Cork is fast becoming the whale-watching capital of Ireland; the number of humpback whales in local waters have tripled to more than 100 in the last four years, and word of the world-class wildlife adventures available here is spreading quickly around the globe.

Life jackets secured, we hop on a boat and brave the choppy sea waters, hoping to catch a glimpse of some of Inchydoneys ocean giants, which include Barnacle Bill, the resident humpback whale. Sadly, conditions are too rough to go out far enough to see any wildlife, so we have to make do with a shorter tour.

May to June, when conditions are warmest, is the best time to come for the wildlife tours, when almost every trip will guarantee a sighting of a dolphin. Sharks, seals and porpoises are also regularly visible, while September onwards is large whale watching season.

Details: €50/€30pp; atlanticwhaleandwildlifetours.com

1pm: A reviving lunch

Inchydoney Island Lodge and Spa, Co. Cork

Chilled to the bone after our boisterous sea adventure, the open fires in the lobby of Inchydoney Island Lodge are a welcome sight. The hotel is furnished in sandy beiges and pale-blue hues with woody textures… a colour palette that brings the seascape indoors for a fresh, beach-house feel.

We make our way through to Dunes Bar for a big, warming bowl of steaming seafood chowder – chockfull of fresh fish, my companion described it as the best chowder shed ever had. We mop it up with some buttery brown bread and, sufficiently heated up, make our way to the hotels Island Spa.

3pm: Pampering time

Sleep tight treatment: Inchydoney

Relaxation heaven is looking out at a blustery beach from Inchydoneys heated seawater pool. Everyday, ocean water is pumped into the pool and warmed to an ideal temperature of 31 degrees – this heat encourages the skins pores to open so that the body can fully benefit from the salty water with all its healing nutrients.

Dotted around the pool are a variety of powerful jet streams and luxurious bubble seats, as well as counter currents that offer a kind of underwater workout for the muscles. Its like a therapeutic playground for stressed-out adults, and I swim my way around each station before making my way to a candlelit therapy room for a Face & Body Indulgence treatment.

This involves a toxin-busting, circulation-boosting, hot-stone body massage and a soothing anti-ageing facial (using renowned Elemis products), that leavRead More – Source