Barleycove Beach is a vast expanse of pristine sand with a fine view out toward the Mizen Head cliffs; despite the trailer park and holiday homes on the far side of the dunes, large parts of the beach never seem to get crowded. Take R591 to Goleen, and follow signs for Mizen Head. Inchydoney Beach, on Clonakilty Bay, is famous for both its gorgeous beach and the luxe Inchydoney Lodge & Spa ★★★.
The Mizen Head, Sheep’s Head, and Beara peninsulas offer fine roads for cycling, with great scenery and few cars. The loop around Mizen Head, starting in Skibbereen, is a good 2- to 3-day trip; a loop around the Beara Peninsula from Bantry, Glengarriff, or Kenmare takes at least 3 days at a casual pace. In Skibbereen, 18- and 21-speed bicycles can be rented from Roycroft Cycles, Heron Court, Town Car Park (www.westcorkcycles.ie; 028/21235); expect to pay around €15 to €20 per day, €70 to €80 per week.
The Baltimore Diving Centre in Baltimore (www.baltimorediving.com; 028/20300) provides equipment and boats to certified divers for exploring the many shipwrecks, reefs, and caves off Cork’s western coast. Cost is around €30 to €65 per dive. Various 2-hour to 15-day certified PADI courses are available for all levels of experience.
The West Cork coast is known for its many shipwrecks, making this one of the best places in Ireland for wreck fishing. Courtmacsherry Sea Angling Centre, Woodpoint House, Courtmacsherry (www.courtmacsherryangling.ie; 023/884-6427), offers packages that include bed-and-breakfast in an idyllic 18th-century stone farmhouse, plus a day’s sea angling aboard an Aquastar fishing boat that can reach the wreck of the Lusitania in about 40 minutes. A day’s fishing costs around €70 per person (€80 to go out to a wreck). Rod hire cost €10 per day. They also run 2-hour dolphin and whale-watching excursions for €35 per person. B&B starts at €40 per person, €70 with dinner, and fish is likely to be on the menu.
With hundreds of islands, inviting inlets, and sea caves, the coast of West Cork is a sea kayaker’s paradise. Lough Ine, one of the largest saltwater lakes in Europe, offers warm, still waters for beginners, a tidal rapid for the intrepid, and access to a nearby headland riddled with caves. In Skibbereen, Atlantic Sea Kayaking (www.atlanticseakayaking.com; 028/21058) specializes in guided trips around Galley Head in Clonakilty and Mizen Head.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.