Achill Island Blueway, Achill Island
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Achill Island, Mayo,
Achill Island is home to picture postcard Blue Flag beaches, some of Europe's highest cliffs and large tracts of blanket bog sweeping over the island's two peaks and down to the shore.
Achill Island has long been a popular water-sports and walking destination with a range of accommodation, dining and entertainment options. The Blueway trails on the island are located on the north and western coastline at Doogort and Keem.
The Blueway is a network of water trails at which you can to experience a variety of water based activities, including kayaking and snorkelling, in a safe controlled environment.
Kayak Trail - Doogort
This trail extends 2.4 km between Golden Strand and Silver Strand in Doogort village, and is only suitable for proficient kayakers with sea kayaking experience. Less experienced kayakers may wish to complete the trail under the guidance of a suitably qualified kayaking instructor. The trail is closed during periods of offshore winds.
Start at either strand, depending on the tide. The coastline here is rocky with small cliffs and there are tidal flows at the eastern headland near Silver Strand. It is possible to land at a small beach past the western headland from Golden Strand - this should only be used as an access or exit point in emergencies. Sightings of bottlenose dolphins and seals are possible along this trail.
Snorkel Trail - Keem
Keem Beach snorkel trail is accessed via the main car park. The trail takes you along the right (southern) side of the bay and can be accessed at all stages of the tide. Tidal flows here are weak making this snorkel trail suitable for beginners.
Keem was once home to large numbers of basking shark which can grow to 11 metres in length but have no teeth. The sharks move slowly through the water feeding on microscopic plankton and in 1940s and 50s were hunted extensively for their oil which was extracted for export as a fine grade lubricant for the aerospace industry. Occasionally basking sharks visit the area, as do porpoises. You may also spot trigger fish and spider crabs, usually from mid-July and just out from the beach, a few meters under the surface.
There are a number of water-sports providers operating on the island and these providers can introduce you to snorkelling and kayaking in addition to a range of other water sports. To avoid disappointment you are advised to contact and book in advance, although you might be lucky and be able to book them on the day.
Do you have your own equipment and some experience? Use the Blueway Be Safe guide and map to plan your route. Phone a local water sports provider if you want additional information - see the back of the on-site information board for local water-sports provider contact details.